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Published in the 1-15 May 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Naqvi his usual best

New Delhi: Hindutva showboy Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi put his foot into the mouth when in his usual cavaliar style attempted to draw comparison between Ghatkopar bomb blasts case and the 1993 Mumbai riots case. The "spokesman” of BJP put his party and its allies in the dock as he did not know what he was talking about in a press conference here on 14 April.

When mediapersons enquired about BJP’s reaction to the acquittal of Zaheer Ahmad Sheikh (see page 1), Naqvi said, "The Mumbai blast being a serious matter, the same [order] should be reconsidered as the acquittal was due to lack of evidence. Retrial of 28 accused in 1993 Mumbai riots case should, therefore, be done. Moreover, it raises the fingers at the way the Congress-NCP government handled the matter."

Displaying his usual poor knowledge of important developments, the BJP “spokesman” did not know that he had demanded the retrial of Shiv Sena members who were acquitted for lack of evidence by a local court because of shoddy case built on purpose by the police. Shiv Sena, the staunchest ally of BJP, was actively and openly involved in rioting, arson, attempt to murder and causing mischief during the 1993 Mumbai riots case. 

When the BJP rank and file came to know that Naqvi has committed a blunder, the party tried to play down his statement. It hurriedly issued a press release the same evening saying, "In today’s press conference, a journalist asked Naqvi’s views on the release of the accused in the Mumbai bomb blast case. To this, Naqvi replied that the Mumbai blast being serious matter, the same (order) should be reconsidered as the acquittal was due to lack of evidence. However, Naqvi learnt later that the case was not related to Mumbai bomb blast and the acquittal was actually in some other case."

The truth is that so far POTA has been selectively used against Muslims or to settle political scores like the case against Vaiko. In the case of 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat, 240 people were arrested under POTA among whom 239 were Muslims while one was a Sikh! An Amnesty International report "India: abuse of the law in Gujarat – Muslims detained illegally in Ahmedabad" released on 6 November said that there was "damning evidence against Gujarat police contained in court documents", which also provided "evidence of the disregard of the Gujarat High Court for the rights of detainees".

Despite Congress Party’s dogged opposition to the draconian legislation, the terrorism law has been used unsparingly against Muslims in Congress-ruled states. However, as it has more often turned out to be, in most of the cases so far the "accused" Muslims are released by courts for lack of evidence after they had undergone severe harassment, brutalisation and victimisation at the hands of police and law-enforcing agencies for years. Not only this, besides the victims even their family members have to face a near ostracisation by the society, and which of course, is never compensated by either the government or law-enforcing agencies at whose hands the victims have suffered brutalisation. 

— Danish A. Khan  

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