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Arrest of 124 delegates to the Educational Conference at Surat

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the uncalled for arrest of 124 delegates who had gone to Surat to attend an educational conference and who were arrested on 27 December 2001 without any reason and who were subjected to violence and torture by the police. In this connection some facts are given below to inform the community and the nation and also the human rights organizations:

An educational conference was held in Surat (Gujarat) in the last week of December 2001 in which 124 delegates from many part of the country participated. However, all the 124 delegates were arrested by the police without any reason. Rumours and wrong informations are being spread by media in this regard. The arrested persons were subjected to violence and torture by the police. This was disclosed by Zuleikha Sayed, a lawyer, who was allowed to meet the arrested persons three days after their arrest. The 65-year old Maulana Ataur Rahman Wajdi of Saharanpur (UP), who also had gone to Surat to participate in the educational conference, was also subjected to humiliation and violence, as disclosed by their lawyer, Zuleikha Sayed after she met the Maulana.

After getting the facts and correct information, we the under-mentioned signatories sat together to review the situation. We are submitting these facts for the information of our leaders and institutions to take immediate action so that the cruelty being meted out to them by the police could be stopped and ways should be found out to facilitate the release of the innocent persons who have been falsely imprisoned.

1. The media and legal advisers in Surat had stated that the administration and police in Surat had accused the educational conference that this was a secret session of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

2. In fact, the media had also reported that this educational conference at Surat was organized by All India Minorities Education Board, the educational institution of the Tehreek Ahyaye Ummat. According to our information, the Movement for Revival of Ummat is actively engaged in creating social, moral, educational and religious awakening among Muslims for about eight years and annual conferences are arranged by this Movement in different cities of the country.

3. In view of the above-mentioned facts it is clear that this educational conference of Surat had no connection at all with SIMI. Moreover, the lawyers of Surat had also confirmed that most of the people arrested in this connection were aged between 35 and 50 years whereas membership of SIMI is restricted to people only upto 30 years of age after which they are retired. Moreover, there was nothing secret in this conference. Hence the accusation of the police and administration that it was a secret session is totally baseless. This false information is being spread under a wider and bigger plan so that the activities of minorities in the country could be suppressed.

We now declare that the arrest of the delegates on 27 December in Surat is illegal, arbitrary. They are all innocent but baseless and misleading propaganda against them is being carried on and through them, human rights are being violated on a large scale.

We request all Milli organizations, political parties, human rights activists, organizations and leaders to take serious notice of the fact that these people have been falsely implicated and made victims of cruelty whereas they are completely innocent. There was not the least justification for their arrest.

We also request that a fact-finding team should be sent to find out the facts. We also appeal that the violence let loose on these people should be stopped and steps should be taken for their immediate release.

1. Sayed Aminul Hasan Rizvi (Delhi)
Member, All India Muslim Personal Law Board & Former Editor of Radiance Viewsweekly, New Delhi;
2. Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi (Hyderabad)
Research Scholar & Writer;
3. P.M.A. Islam (Delhi) 
Member, Council for the Movement for Protection of Islamic Principles.

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