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Interview: Syed Shahabuddin
‘No parallel Mushawarat actually exists’
By Syed Ubaidur Rahman

Syed Shahabuddin, former MP, is among a very few gifted leaders, the leadership-starved Muslim community has. He has worked tirelessly for the welfare of Muslims at every level and has projected a number of issues at different levels. A few months back he was elected the president of Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat. Though the Mushawarat split subsequently and a few people left this body, Shahabuddin has taken up the task of reviving this platform and rejuvenating it. Syed Ubaidur Rahman of The Milli Gazette talked to him on a number of issues. 

Mushawarat has split. What are you doing for its reunification? Are you prepared to renounce your post to pave the way for its reunification?
Mushawarat has not split. If half a dozen disgruntled people walk away of any organization you cannot call it a split. The same happened in the Mushawarat's case. No parallel Mushawarat actually exists as is being claimed by the people who have walked away from the Mushawarat. They have not announced the names of their Markazi Majlis. If it is so, how are we going to believe that there is any parallel organization. They announced several names that these people are with them. But when we approached them, these very people denied that they have anything to do with the dissidents. For instance, they announced the name of Kalimuddin saheb, but when we approached him, he said that he is not with them and now he has joined ‘Friends of Mushawarat,’ a group we have created.
When they announced that they are going to hold their meeting on 8 July, we tried our best to placate them. I am trying to meet Mualana Salim Qasmi to talk to him directly on the issue. Actually he is not aware of the intricacies of Mushawarat. I have great respect for him and his father Maulana Qari Tayyeb. 
Actually, Maulana Ahmad Qasimi is behind all these activities. He, before the election of Mushawarat, approached me and said that you are the only person who deserves to be its president. He also told me that let’s revive the old Mushawarat. By this he meant that he should be made general secretary. But I said that we have a democratic set up and it will do its job. Actually this whole thing is happening for the money that the Mushawarat has in its fixed deposit. As general secretary from 1990-95 he withdrew considerable amounts from the fixed deposit of the Babri Masjid Legal Defence Fund and Central Relief Fund. He has to return Rs five lakhs to the Mushawarat. He has not furnished the account of this amount he withdrew from the fixed deposit of the Mushawarat to meet office expenses during his tenure as general secretary. 

It is said that Jamaat-e-Islami has hijacked the Mushawarat. Would you like to comment?
It is not true. It is an absurd allegation. The fact is only that they have taken pains to help the Mushawarat. Let me tell you that on 28 June I was told that Jamaat has decided not to lend any person to the Mushawarat. I myself went to Ameer-e-Jamaat and said that you are among only two or three well-organized Muslim organizations in the country. I asked them to review their decision. He told me that he couldn’t call the meeting of Shura, which has decided it. But luckily they decided to revoke this decision.
To be honest these people have helped Mushawarat a lot. Last secretariat was in Jamaat’s office as Maulana Shafi Munis was its general secretary. He did not take even a single penny from Mushawarat’s fund for expenses incurred during his five-year tenure. Let me tell you they are very accommodative people.

Are you and your Mushawarat ready to provide leadership to the Muslim community? 
No one can assume leadership. We want to monitor the problems of Muslims. Mushawarat is a deliberating body. We reached the conclusion that we should reach out to the people and interact with them. 
There is also great need to interact with central government, state governments, media and other bodies. We also believe that we should reach people at different levels - central, state and local. We shall monitor the problems, and when we see that there is consensus on any issue and that there is need to take action on that issue we shall take action.
Co-ordination is needed at every level. We are forming state units of the Mushawarat. We are also trying to form specialized committees at local levels to reach people at every level. Mushawarat will work as a catalyst. It will cater to the needs of the Muslim society. In this way it will also create leadership at every level.

What you are doing for Babri Masjid at present?
Liberhan Commission is looking into the matter. I have approached this commission and given them several suggestions. No Muslim leader other than me has approached the commission so far.

It is said that you are partially responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid by bringing the agitation to the streets. Anything to say?
It is an absurd question and I will not answer it. 

There is news that the government is considering banning the Students Islamic Movement of India. What do you say on this issue?
No democratic government should ban any organization without judicially acceptable evidence. No organization can be banned on whimsical ground. But if it happens, SIMI has always an option to fight it legally. Jamaat was banned, but it fought it legally. I would say that the government should not ban SIMI till it has concrete evidence.
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