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Opposite sides blamed
for Kanpur riots
By Obaid Nasir, Lucknow

Chief Minister Rajnath Singh has hinted banning Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) for its alleged involvement in Kanpur riots which Muslims and other secular elements term as police action against Muslims. CM Singh has claimed that the government has solid proof against this organization, yet a thorough probe would be ordered once normalcy is restored in the city. Shahnawaz, an alleged SIMI activist, was arrested by Kanpur police from Phoolmati Tiraha with some explosives and objectionable posters and other material. He was thoroughly interrogated by the police which however, did not reveal what Shahnawaz told them.

It may be noted that the BJP, and particularly its state president Kalraj Misra, has constantly been demanding ban on this organization for its alleged links with Taliban, Lashkare Toiba and other similar outfits. Ram Prakash Gupta government had sent a proposal to the union home ministry for banning the organization but since solid proofs were not furnished the ban could not be imposed. The Kanpur riot provided an opportunity to state government and BJP to renew its demand.

However, the entire opposition including Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP and left parties have demanded banning Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and other Hindu militant organizations whose involvement in different communal riots has been proved beyond doubt. Mulayam Singh Yadav has threatened ‘direct action’ if unilateral decision to ban SIMI is taken. BSP’s Mayavati is of the opinion that the riots in Kanpur were engineered by BJP and Sangh Parivar to divert public attention from Tahelka exposures. She has also demanded a ban on Bajrang Dal and VHP.

On the other hand SIMI seems to be firm in its resolve to create more and more problems for the community. Its President Dr Shahid Badr Falahi recently addressed a press conference in Lucknow and made certain provocative and irresponsible statements. For example, when his attention was drawn towards the posters displayed by SIMI praying ‘Ai Khuda Bhej de koi Ghaznawi’(O God send a Mahmood of Ghazni) he justified it by saying that Dalits and other weaker communities are victims of atrocities and as Mahmood of Ghazni had invaded India to provide help to the weak and downtrodden, so a new Ghaznawi is awaited. However, this explanation hardly satisfies anyone.

On the destruction of Buddha statues in Afghanistan, Falahi suggested a debate on idol worship. He, however, refused to condemn the Taliban over this dastardly act which has invited condemnation from all over the world including Muslim countries. Akhilendra Pratap Singh state secretary of Communist Party of India (ML) who visited the affected areas with Muslim Forum President Nehaluddin told the MG that the PAC let loose a reign of terror in Kanpur and used anti-social elements of the majority community to loot properties belonging to the Muslim community and destroy mosques. He also criticized the role of SIMI and disclosed that a verse of Qur'an was wrongly interpreted to provoke Muslims.

The issue was raised in both the houses of the state legislature on the very first day of its budget session. The entire opposition was on its feet the moment Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri entered the house for his address. He was compelled to make a hasty retreat even without reading his address. The opposition was blaming state government for what happened in Kanpur and was demanding immediate withdrawal of PAC and deployment of the Army and central police. Pramod Tewari of Congress, Mr. Dhani Ram Verma of Samajwadi Party SP Maurya of BSP Kaukab Hameed of Lokdal followed by their respective members trooped into the well of the house demanding resignation of the chief minister. In the upper house leader of opposition Ahmad Hasan and BSP legislator Ghayasuddin Kidwai took the government to task and condemned the police atrocities and PAC's partial role.
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