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UP police mows down five
By Obaid Nasir, Lucknow

A blood thirsty UP police gunned down five Muslim youths protesting against the arrest of Tablighi Jamaat people from Khajoor wali Masjid in old Lucknow area of Wazirbagh. It was just a co-incidence that the central government had imposed a ban on Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) on the same day and the Lucknow police raided the SIMI office in the same locality and arrested three of its activists Humam Ahmad, Obaidur Rahman and Ashfaq Ahmad. Both these incidents got so much mixed up that the saffronised administration got a golden opportunity to blame Muslim youths for violence on the arrest of SIMI activists. It may be remembered that the same UP police had gunned down two Muslim youths on the eve of Prophetís birth anniversary (5 June 2001) just because they had protested against the evil designs of two police constables against a hapless Muslim girl of minor age.

In the small hours of 27 September, Sadatganj police raided Khajoorwali Masjid and arrested 40 people of a Tablighi Jamaat. At the same time they raided the SIMI office in the same locality and arrested the three above-mentioned office bearers. The Tablighi Jamaat people were released and deported out of city after interrogation but the damage was done. Immediately after Fajr Namaz the news regarding the arrest of Tablighi Jamaat people spread like a wild fire and Muslims, mostly youths, gheraoed the Sadatganj police station demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Tablighi Jamaat people and refused the administrationís repeated assurance that they have already been released and deported . The mob wanted to know their whereabouts if they have actually been released. Sensing the trouble the police shifted the SIMI activists to Talkatora police station which further strengthened the doubt of the mob that there is something wrong at the bottom. Rumours spread all over the old Lucknow area and the over enthusiastic youths started compelling the traders to down their shutters. In the meantime their number also swelled into thousands.

The top brass of the district Administration including District. Magistrate Jeevesh Nandan, Senior Superintendent of Police BB Bakshi, SP (east), RKS Rathore and others reached the spot and tried to pacify the mob. Samajwadi Party leader and younger brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal Singh Yadav and other senior leaders of the party also reached the spot and spoke to the officers who agreed to release the SIMI activists on personal bond and asked the five respectable persons of the area to accompany them to police station and meet the SIMI activists to see for themselves that no third degree method has been adopted against them. Shivpal Singh Yadav told MG that after this offer and the acceptance by the saner elements of the community he went back to attend the assembly gherao programme of his party. But the BJP and the district administration obviously under pressure from political quarters is now fully blaming the Samajwadi Party for the trouble, so much so that Mulayam Singh Yadav has personally warned the concerned officers to behave in a democratic manner and not indulge in political games at the instructions of their political bosses other-wise in the event of a Samajwadi government. coming into power they will face the music. But according to reliable sources the district administration is planning to involve Samajwadi Party activists Shahid Rizvi (corporator) Ravi Das Mehrotra (ex-MLA) and Shivpal Singh Yadav in the case for inciting communal riot.

In the meantime someone from the mob allegedly threw a stone on the police injuring one sub inspector of the notorious PAC. This was the sufficient ground for the PAC to go berserk and it started wielding lathi on the mob which was retaliated by brick-batting. Police then resorted to teargas shelling and finally started indiscriminate firing, killing five youths on the spot .

The administration fails to reply as to who was the 'competent officer' to order 'shoot to kill' and how many policemen and administrative officers were injured, or why other means of controlling the mob like firing in the air, firing on knee, and water cannon etc. were not used and why the administration miserably failed to check the rumour mongering and could not satisfy the angry mob. Senior Superintendent of Police Mr. Bakshi parrots "firing was resorted into self defence.'

The situation was brought under control by imposing curfew order in Sadatganj, Talkatora and Thakurganj police station areas of the old city. Normalcy however returned the very next day and Muslims offered Namaz Juma in curfew bound localities also and the police did not resist. After three days curfew was withdrawn. All the victims of the police brutality belong to poor families. The only Hindu victim Ram Lakhan was a rickshaw puller. The administration has yet not announced any financial relief to the victims and their relatives.

Prime Minister Vajpayee who represents Lucknow in the Parliament asked the chief minister to probe the incident and bring the culprits to book. The responsibility has been assigned to the Commissioner of Lucknow division, Saurabh Chandra who has been asked to submit his report within a month. We still remember the report of Mukharjee committee that probed the Kanpur incident and put all the blame on SIMI. This is also not going to be any different, this much is sure. This fact prompted Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, Vice President of Muslim Personal Law Board and Maulana Sajjad Nomani, member of its executive body to term it as a mere eyewash.

The administrationís fraudulent approach and malafide intentions can be gauged from the fact that the three SIMI activists who were released on personal bonds were later declared "fugitives" and the police started a manhunt to nab them .Perhaps it was a second thought on the part of the administration on two counts, firstly to please their "saffron bosses" and secondly to save their own skin as to why SIMI people were released on personal bonds. 

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