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Arrest of Mufti Asrar seen as part of a plan

Is there an effort to ‘prove’ madrasas’ and Muslims’ complicity in anti-national activities? S Ubaidur Rahman tries to find it out in Saharanpur

Continued from

There are people who believe that all these are being done to give credence to stories that regularly appear on madrasa and claim that these are dens of ISI and other anti-national organizations. Mohammad Sabir, a Samajwadi party leader told this correspondent that 'so far there was not a single instance where any such accusation was proved. On the other hand senior police officials after long investigations in the state and elsewhere too have claimed that madrasas are not dens of anti-national activities. Now there is an effort to prove that these were not merely planted stories, but these are facts.'

Sabir who has been organizing peaceful agitation along with several other city leaders against the arrest of Mufti Asrar, and anti-Muslim incidents in the city, says that Muslims have done everything to ensure that the city remains peaceful, otherwise the bomb blasts in madrasas and mosques and provocative pamphlets that have been thrown in mosques here are reasons enough that could have easily gone out of control. He also ridicules the police claim that the bomb blasts in mosques and madrasas were the handiwork of some teachers in the madrasa itself. The police has already arrested Masroor, a teacher in Madrasa Imdadul Uloom for the twin blasts in the madrasa. 

Sources say that Masroor is innocent. Several people told this correspondent that three people had gone to see Mufti Asrar in Jail. The police arrested the trio on no ground at all. Two of them were released when large crowds from their villages gathered outside police station. Masroor was not released as the news of his arrest did not reach his relatives in time. He also happened to have some distant relationship with Mufti Asrar. He was later accused of planting bombs in madrasa Imdadul Uloom, where he is a teacher, and Khan Alampura mosque. 

Mohammad Tanveer of Jamaat-e-Islami adds that all these incidents have made the Muslims in the whole district restive. They are unable to understand as to why the police has failed so far to arrest people who are behind these incidents in the city. Tanveer, who is the local president of the Jamaat, questions the way police has been detaining Mufti Asrar without any evidence of his complicity in any anti-national activity.

The court has refused to give him in the police custody, that is reason enough to believe that there is no evidence against the Mufti, says Maulana Salman. When asked as to whether it is true that he has been suspended from the school after his arrest, he says how come we can suspend him when the police has failed to prove anything against him? He says that Mufti is an asset for our school and there is no question of suspending him. He adds that the court's refusal to give him to the police custody is enough indication that the court is not satisfied with police version. 

Mazahir Uloom has not participated in rallies and other demonstrations against Mufti Asrar's arrest. Several people in the city accused that the madrasa administration is not interested in the release of its own teacher. When this correspondent posed this question to Maulana Salman, he said that police did not arrest him from the madrasa. It did not raid the madrasa, but only two police officials came and said that it is the key of Maulana Asrar's desk and that they wanted to examine whatever was inside the desk. After they took away the desk, they never came back and never asked us to come to either police station or any of their offices. So why should we seek useless confrontation. The case is in the court. And we believe that Maulana Asrar will be released soon. The Maulana adds that we are running a very large institution where thousands of students are enrolled. We are interested in running this institution smoothly. We are in constant touch with Maulana Asrar's family and their lawyers.

Meanwhile people who sustained injuries in the bomb blasts in Khan Alampura mosque are still nursing their injuries. Mohammad Yasin who sustained severe injuries in his hand and leg is still bedridden. A sole breadwinner of his family, he has not been able to open his barber shop since the incident. On the other hand he had to spend thousands of rupees on medication. It has added to his and his family's woes. 

Alim Akhtar, imam of the mosque says that the police has done nothing to arrest the people who were behind the blasts. He says that the bombs were not as small as was made out to be by the police. The explosion shook the mosque and seriously injured two persons. 
Others too feel that not much has been done by the police to solve these cases. On the other hand they feel that the police and authorities are trying to incarcerate Muslims in these cases. 

Sabir says that so far Muslim leaders have tried their best to control rising tempers, but if things remain the same, it may not be possible for them to control any more. The city is sitting on a tinderbox and even a small communal incident can prove fatal here, says he.
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