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SIMI in the eye of a storm
By Syed Ubaidur Rahman

Seven activists of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were charge-sheeted on 29 September for allegedly inciting the sentiments of people by making 'communally sensitive' statements. Three activists have surrendered to the police and the rest are absconding.

The seven persons who were implicated under several counts are alleged to be present in a press conference addressed by Muhammad Amir, the U.P. state unit president of the SIMI on 7 September. The three who have surrendered to the police are Ejaz Aslam, Mahboob Alam and Shakeel Ahmad, the president of the Lakhimpur Khiri unit of the SIMI. The government has ordered confiscation of the properties of two of the absconding members. Suspension orders have been issued in respect of three of the charge-sheeted activists, namely Ghayasuddin, Abdul Qayyum and Saghir Ahmad, who are government employees.

Earlier three SIMI activists were charge-sheeted in Azamgarh, on more or less the same charges. Shahid Badar, the All-India president of the organization and the local president of the SIMI, Faizan, were among the accused. In Allahabad several members were accused of asking 'anti-national questions' in a general knowledge competition. They were rounded up by the police. 

Some of SIMI members were allegedly involved in bomb blasts in various parts of the country on the eve of the Independence Day. The state BJP president of Uttar Pradesh has stated that the U.P government will consider banning the organization. Though the chief minister has denied this, indications point that this may not be fully ruled out. Reportedly the central government has sought reports on the activities of the outfit in all the 83 districts of the state. 

SIMI, in the meantime, is trying to reach out to its cadres and common people. It has reiterated that its activities are not anti-national and that it does not believe in terrorism. The organization says that it cannot be banned for crimes it did not commit. 

SIMI general secretary Safdar Nagori told The Milli Gazette that SIMI members charge-sheeted in Lakhimpur are innocent and have senselessly been implicated. When asked as to what SIMI is doing for their release, he replied that the organization's legal cell is handling the case. Though he did not disclose names of the members of the legal cell, he added that this cell is fighting for the immediate release of its cadres. He also said that he has full faith in the judicial system of the country and is sure that they will be released soon.

Several organizations and people in the meantime have opposed the idea of banning the outfit. Talking to this correspondent, Syed Sadatullah Husaini, all-India president of Students Islamic Organization (SIO) said that SIMI should not be banned at any cost. He added that there has not been any concrete proof of its involvement in anti-national activities. He also said that no one can ban any organization merely on whims and suspicions.

When this correspondent asked Syed Shahabuddin regarding the SIMI, he said that no democratic government should ban any organization without judicially acceptable evidence.No organization can be banned on whimsical ground. But if it ban the SIMI,the organization has always an option to fight a judicial battle in the court. 

Waseem Ghazi of Citizens Forum said that if the government has concrete proofs against the outfit it should proceed further. But if it does not have enough proof of its involvement in anti-national activities, and there are enough indications to believe that it does not, it should tread cautiously and should not ban the organization. He also said that due to the involvement of a few members in some misdeeds, no outfit can be banned.

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