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Published in the 16-31 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Jilani files defamation case against UP minister
By Masood Hasan

Lucknow: Controversy over the statement of the Minister for Waqf Shakir Ali refuses to die down as the convenor of the All-India Babri Masjid Action Committee (AIBMAC) Zafaryab Jilani filed a defamation suit against the minister for the recovery of the Rs 5 lakh as damages in the court of the civil judge. The court has issued the notice to the minister and sought his reply by April 16 and fixed April 23 for framing of charges.

Shakir Ali who is a cabinet minister in the Mulayam Singh-led Government in Uttar Pradesh had termed the All-India Babri Masjid Action Committee (AIBMAC) and the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) a bunch of sycophants (Dalals) on December 18, 2003 in a function of the Minority Day in Lucknow. The statement of the minister had hurt the feelings of the convenor of the AIBMAC and had also irritated him and hence he served a legal notice on the minister claiming Rs 5 lakh as damages. The minister had later denied and clarified that he had never made such derogatory remarks against Jilani or AIMPLB.
Sensing the threat to the Mulayam Singh Government in Uttar Pradesh and a possible shift in the Muslim votes over the statement of the Cabinet minister, the Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan, known as a firebrand leader, took no time in tendering an apology. He said that if Shakir Ali had made such remarks against the AIMPLB then I tender an apology for this. But Azam Khan had strongly defended the minister and said that the intention of the minister was not bad and he did not speak against the AIMPLB.

The ganjshahidan (graveyard) which is situated in the Gomati Nagar area of Lucknow is a big piece of land that comes under the Anjuman-e-Islahul Muslimeen and is also controlled by it. Zafaryab Jilani is the secretary of the Anjuman-e- Islahul Muslamin and mutwalli of the ganjeshahidan (graveyard). As many as 52 waqf properties come under the Anjuman-e-Islahul Muslimeen. The Minister for Waqf had told a gathering at the function of the Minority Day that the mutwalli concerned of the graveyard situated in the Gomati Nagar area was misusing the property and this would not be tolertared.

The minister has told this correspondent that he had not issued any such statement but he said that he had launched a drive to free such waqf properties illegally occupied by the land mafias. The minister reiterated that the drive launched by him would not stop till the lands belonging to the waqfs occupied illegally by the land grabbers were not freed. He further said that the waqf properties were being misused and this would not be tolerated any more.

Sensing the threat to the Mulayam Singh Government in Uttar Pradesh and a possible shift in the Muslim votes over the statement of the Cabinet minister, the Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan, known as a firebrand leader, took no time in tendering an apology. He said that if Shakir Ali had made such remarks against the AIMPLB then I tender an apology for this. But Azam Khan had strongly defended the minister and said that the intention of the minister was not bad and he did not speak against the AIMPLB.

The statement was issued by the minister in the month of December in a function of the Minority Day in which the minister had termed the All-India Action Committee and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board a bunch of sycophants. He went to the extent of saying that the convener of the Action Committe Zafaryab Jilani is a black mailer and had occupied the land belonging to the Waqf in Gomati Nagar area of Lucknow which the minister had threatened to get vacated.

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