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SIMI ban an election issue in UP
By PM Damodaran, Lucknow
|Serious differences have cropped up
between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leadership and the state
government in Uttar Pradesh over the ban on the Student Islamic Movement
in India (SIMI). In late April while the state BJP president, Mr. Kalraj
Mishra, sought an immediate ban on the SIMI, the Chief Minister, Mr.
Rajnath Singh, did not favour such a move.
Mr. Mishra had reiterated his demand for the ban on the militant outfit
and felt that any delay would harm the interest of the country. The state
BJP chief alleged that SIMI's activities were a serious threat in U.P. and
held the outfit responsible for the communal riots in Kanpur in February
this year. He said that there were enough evidence to show the involvement
of the SIMI activists in creating disturbances in the state. To buttress
his claim for action against the organization, Mr. Mishra pointed out that
even the Congress-ruled states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh had
come across with the SIMI's anti-national activities.
In fact he was not alone in the ruling BJP to demand a ban on the
organization. The firebrand Bajrang Dal leader and the BJP MP from
Faizabad, Mr. Vinay Katiyar and the state party spokesman, Mr. Hriday
Narain Dixit, have come out with statements demanding the immediate ban on
the outfit. Besides, the Sangh Parivar outfits like the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad had already expressed its apprehension on the activities of SIMI,
which it alleged was colluding with the ISI and Jaish-e-Mohammad to
demolish the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
The state unit of the Shiv Sena has also strongly favoured a ban on SIMI.
The Sena had even threatened the BJP that it would snap its ties with the
ruling party if its government in U.P. failed to take steps to ban the
On the other hand, the Chief Minister, Mr. Singh is not convinced on the
need for a ban on the organization. Hardly within two days after Mr.
Mishra reiterated his demand for a ban on SIMI, Mr. Singh made it clear
that the state government had no plan to do so. Mr. Singh's statement had
come during his interaction with the mediapersons on the occasion of his
completion of six months as chief minister on April 28. Though he did not
go into the details, Mr. Singh said that he felt that no purpose would be
served by banning SIMI. But the Chief Minister was categorical in stating
that he had no differences on the matter with the leaders of his party
though Mr. Singh could not comment on the statements made by Mr. Mishra,
Mr. Katiyar and Mr. Dixit.
In fact the issue was raised by the mediapersons during the press
conference of the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee in Lucknow last month.
But Mr. Vajpayee just maintained that the central government would
consider the ban on SIMI if a proposal to this effect was made by the
state government. The Director General of Police, Mr.M. C. Dwivedi
contended that the matter had to be decided by the central government. But
his statement, by and large, gave the impression that like the Chief
Minister, he did not favour a ban on SIMI. Yet his comments had attracted
condemnation from some senior leaders of the BJP.
There is a difference in perception between the leaders of the Sangh
Parivar and the government, particularly the Chief Minister, on the
proposal on the ban on SIMI. The party leaders want to exploit the ban
politically by connecting the activities of SIMI with the militant
organizations like Jaish-e-Mohammad, which the Sangh leaders allege, was
planning to strike at the disputed Ram Temple structure in Ayodhya. (Three
ultras belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad were killed in an encounter with the
police in the trans-Gomti area in Lucknow last month when they were
reportedly proceeding to Ayodhya to strike at the structure).
The government is against a ban on SIMI due to two reasons. First the
Chief Minister and others consider that the ban may alienate the minority
community from the BJP. But more than that, they are not so sure whether a
ban on SIMI will hold water in the court of law. They point out that the
court had struck the ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh after the
government had banned the organization following the demolition of the
Babri Mosque structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. On the other hand,
the government is in favour of tightening the noose around the SIMI
leaders to nullify their activities. So it considers that the best course
will be to prepare cases against the leaders of the organization and get
arrest warrants against them.
Significantly the opposition parties have not come out with a clear stand
on the ban issue. They apparently apprehend that a demand on the ban on
the organization may alienate the minority community from them. Moreover,
they are not sure about the role of the SIMI leaders in the communal riots
in the state, particularly in Kanpur in February.