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SIMI banned by Advani
By S Ubaidur Rahman

Amid Amercian cries for revenge following the Black Tuesday, the central government here in blatant contradiction to the set tradition banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) on 27 September without taking anybody into confidence. Though the Union Home Minister LK Advani has been talking of banning the organization for quite some time, nobody believed that the home ministry will actually go through the motion of banning the organization without substantiating allegations.

The BJP-led central government’s move to ban the SIMI has come in for sharp criticism from all sections of the society including Muslim organizations of all hue and several political parties. Legal luminaries have also called the move as short-sighted and have said that the case does not stand any chance in a court of law. All-India Muslim Personal Law Board has decried the ban in categorical terms and called the central government’s move as politically motivated. The conglomerate that includes more than a dozen prominent Muslim organizations has said that not a single case against SIMI has been proved in courts so far.

It has formed a committee to look into the matter. Other organizations including Jamiatul Ulama, Milli Council and Majlis-e-Mushawarat have also criticized the move. Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party has come forward and criticized the ban on SIMI.

Samajwadi Party’s general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Azam Khan told MG that the move smacks of political vendetta against the Muslims of the country.
He said that it is a move to realign ‘Hindu’ votes towards the BJP. Maulana Aijaz Aslam of the Jamaat-e-Islami says that the ban is unlawful as the government has failed so far to substantiate charges of SIMI’s involvement in any terrorist activities in the country.

Maya Kamath/Asian Age

Saadatullah Husaini, president of Students Islamic Organization of India has also condemned the ban on SIMI and has called that it must be immediately lifted. He told MG that the ban on SIMI is unconstitutional as accusations have not been substantiated against the outfit.

There have been contradictory remarks regarding the SIMI’s involvement in ‘anti-national’ activities. Most recent case being that of the Kanpur riots where around two dozen Muslims were killed by the government machinery in total connivance with Hindutva outfits. Though SIMI was blamed to be involved in Kanpur riots by the Sangh Parivar the rebuttal of the Inspector General of Police would have cleared the air that there was no proof of SIMI's involvement in the riots. On SIMI’s alleged relations with Kashmiri militant organizations, the government has not presented anything to support this claim. On the other hand senior police officials in the troubled state have said that there is no proof of SIMI's relations with any militant organization in the Valley.

The charges for banning the organizations seem to be frivolous as there seems to be nothing new that could have prompted the BJP government to take such a drastic measure. All charges were old and there was no new development.

Projection of the SIMI as a monster remains unconvincing as the organization has a very limited reach among the Muslim youth. This simple fact can be gauged by the fact that despite being launched around three decades back it has not more than four hundred members (Ansars) to boast of. The organization that once used to send presidents and other office bearers in the Jamia Millia Students Union and was an important force to reckon with among student organizations in Delhi and Aligarh as well as some other educational institutions has been in the oblivion for quite some time till the government brought its fading image back to limelight.
Even in places where it is said to have a ‘strong’ cadre base, the organization may not be able to pinpoint more than a few people as its sympathizers, leave alone its members. According to official accounts Kanpur is the ‘stronghold’ of SIMI while same accounts say that it has one hundred members in Kanpur!. The cadre-base remains ice-thin and it was shrinking fast.

The media campaign against SIMI has brought some new youth towards this students outfit as well as revived the sagging community support for it. A larger than life image of the SIMI has helped the organization in more than one way. And the most important favour that the media did to the organization was to help it re-emerge at the forefront from imminent oblivion where it was heading. The government ban will do more favour to the organization and will attract more and more disgruntled youth towards this small youth outfit.

The argument that the home ministry has forwarded as a basis for banning the organization seems to be laughable. It has certainly not done any home work. It says in the report that, ‘ since inception, SIMI has consistently adopted a hard-line militant posture on various issues of concern to the Muslim community. According to its Constitution SIMI aims to achieve Allah’s pleasure through reconstruction of human life in accordance with the principle given by Allah and his messenger and the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah would guide the organization in all matters.’ If this argument is made the basis for banning any organization, then all the Muslim organizations in the country will be banned and every Muslim will be declared as ‘anti-national.’

One of the charges in the official notification banning SIMI is that it is working for an international Islamic order. Every Muslim should strive for achieving this fundamental goal. Followers of every religion, be it Christianity, Hinduism or even Communism, claim to be working for a an international just order according to their world-view. The Constitution doesn’t say that this dream is a ground for banning any organization.

Another charge that has been levelled against SIMI is that it has been demonstrating against the burning of the Holy Qur’an all over the country. Instead of arresting and punishing the criminals responsible for the sacrilege the government has tried to nab protesters!. It could happen only in our country only under the BJP rule.

There are people who say that SIMI was ‘talking’ too much. A number of people have said that SIMI was involved in mud slinging and its cadres and functionaries used to deliver inflammatory speeches. A senior Jamaat leader on the condition of anonymity told MG that though SIMI has been wrongly banned by the BJP government, it will be hard to defend its case in the court as it quite often used annoyingly harsh language. He said that though SIMI was never involved in any anti-national activity, its discourse has always contradicted this fact, particularly in recent times.

Even common people who have been sympathetic with SIMI have felt annoyed over the way it has been talking. People are sure that SIMI was not involved in any anti-national activity, but its language contradicted this fact. There are people who believe that when the Bajrang Dal, VHP, Shiv Sena and RSS which are involved in hundreds of riots and anti-minorities activities and who are responsible for demolishing the Babri Masjid can go unchecked, why the government singled out SIMI for ban only for its rhetoric.

Mohammad Azam Khan, the SP leader, says that the ban is aimed at increasing the communal divide on the eve of crucial assembly elections in UP. He said that if the government had decided to ban SIMI, first it had to ban VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena which are openly indulging in anti-national activities. He said that these organizations are openly imparting arm training to their cadres in order to indulge in violence against Muslims and other minority communities. Mulayam Singh Yadav has also demanded a ban on VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena. Ashok Gehlot and Digvijay Singh, chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh respectively, have also demanded banning these organizations.

Qasim Rasul Ilyas, editor of leading Urdu monthly Afkar-e-Milli and a former SIMI president, says that the ban against SIMI is totally unlawful as not a single accusation against the organisation has been substantiated. He says that SIMI is a socio-religious organization of Muslim youth and is involved in character-building of the youth. He says that the organization is also involved in social work. He says that SIMI's relief work in Gujarat after the earthquake has received accolades from all sides.

In the meantime, a large number of SIMI activists have been detained from all over the country. Most of these people till the filing of this report are languishing in police custody and jails. A large number of youth are reported to be arrested from UP, Madhya Pradesh, Andhara Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Apparently police has also detained a large number of those ex-members who have no formal relations with the SIMI now (it retires its members after the age of 30). Police is also reported to have quizzed members of several other Muslim organizations in the country. 

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