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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Shia-Sunni clash a conspiracy

By Masood Hasan

The Milli Gazette Online

Lucknow: While the UP government has announced a magisterial inquiry into the Shia-Sunni clashes which occurred on 13 February in Hussainabad Old area of Lucknow over the Tazia procession which claimed three lives and left seven injured, two of them seriously, simmering tension still prevailed in the curfew-bound areas of the Old City. The sectarian clash has shocked the Shia and Sunni Ulama but there is hot discussion among the religious leaders who believe that the clash was a fallout of the Shia Personal Law Board recently formed in Lucknow. Prominent Shia and Sunni religious leaders are of the view that a conspiracy was hatched to shatter the peaceful atmosphere of Lucknow. 
The Naib Imam of Eidgah and a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Maulana Khalid Rasheed of Firangi Mahal said that there was a conspiracy behind the clash but held that the Shias were violating the tripartite agreement reached between the Shia and Sunni leaders in 1999. He said that Shia religious leaders had given their consent in writing that the processions would be taken in accordance with the agreement reached between the leaders. There were several charges that the Shias were violating the agreement, he said adding that a conspiracy is clear from the fact that no one from the Shia community was injured and only Sunnis bore the brunt of the loss of the lives and property. Maulana Khalid Rasheed pointed out that shops and other properties which were set on fire by miscreants all belonged to Sunnis. When asked to comment if the clash was a fallout of the Shia Personal Law Board recently formed by a group opposing Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, the Naib Imam said that there was some information that a group of Shias was assailing Maulana Kalbe Jawwad during majlis but, according to him, that was their internal matter. He said that there was a limit to tolerance and demanded stern action against the culprits. 

The question of conspiracy was doing rounds in police circles about the sectarian clash. The state government has also been trying to establish "political links" behind the Shia-Sunni clash which erupted after two decades.

While prominent Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad has dubbed it as a "saffron conspiracy" through some Shia ulama close to the BJP, police officers have come out with the name of a political party leader who according to them was "instrumental" in instigating the Shia mob. The name has reportedly been forwarded to the chief minister. The state Congress president Salman Khursheed along with other leaders visited the hospital to see the injured. 

The clash was being linked to the formation of the All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) recently formed in Lucknow which led to the clash between the two communities, shattering peace which lasted for so many years.

Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad said that he had recorded tapes of sermons of some ulama close to BJP who provoked the community. Maulana Jawwad in his first sermon at Ghufran-e Maab on February 11 had said that rivals had been personally targeting him. He was firm that the BJP moulvis were instrumental in the clash and that they were determined to break the Shia-Sunni unity for their political gains. 

AIMPLB member Sajjad Nomani did not rule out the possibility of conspiracy. He said it was aimed at once again dividing the two communities for political purposes. Expressing concern over the development, Nomani said it would have national ramification. Lucknow certainly sends a message of Shia-Sunni unity to all parts of the country Nomani said adding that once again efforts were on for Shia-Sunni polaraisation in the city to help some political party. Another board member Dr Naim Hamid said that the new Shia-Sunni generation in Lucknow should be apprised of the past bloodbaths suffered by the two communities. However, Shia cleric Maulana Khadim Hussain accused the district administration of not making proper security arrangements in sensitive areaa. Laying stress on vigil, Hussain said Shia ulama should also desist from accusing each other on the issue. 

The UP government has announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs. 0.5 million to the kith and kin of the deceased and 0.3 million to those injured in the clash. Shia and Sunni leaders say that the swift action taken by the district magistrate of Lucknow has defused the clash which might have taken an ugly turn shattering the peace of the Old City.

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