Who is Kalbe Jawwad
Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas
Milli Gazette Online
24 May 2006
Lucknow: The recent formation of Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) here on 15 May 2006 has focussed the limelight on Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, the Imam-e-Juma of Lucknow's Asifi Masjid, and a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). Asifi Masjid was built by Nawab Asafud-daula in 1775 and has its own grandeur. Kalbe Jawwad, on his side traces his lineage from Syed Dildar Ali Naqvi who came to India from Sabzwar (Iran).
Over the years Kalbe Jawwad had donned the mantle of the champion of the masses and after the success of Tehrik-e-Azadari (Azadari movement) in Lucknow, he became the tallest leader amongst the Shiites of India despite being so young. His late father Maulana Kalbe Abid too enjoyed the same stature but his simplicity won him many accolades and the same legacy has been nurtured by Kalbe Jawwad. Kalbe Abid died in a road accident on 12 December 1986 shortly after he had thrown his weight for the Babri Masjid movement. His burial saw a multitude of a hundred thousand people joining his Namaz-e-Janaza, which was also performed by the Sunnites at Tile Wali Masjid, led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman Waizi.
Kalbe Jawwad took the cudgels and spearheaded the Azadari Movement which was joined by Shahi Imam of Delhi, Abdullah Bukhari who came to Lucknow on 1 June 1997 and courted arrest on 3 June. On the call of Kalbe Jawwad, Shiites of Lucknow violated curfew and came out on the streets on 20 June 1997. Finally, the Shiites of Lucknow were granted the permission to bring out their Azadari processions while (a faction of) Sunnites were allowed to take out their Madh-e Sahaba procession. Three Shiite boys had committed self-immolation for the cause of Azadari Movement.
Buoyed by the success of Azadari movement, Kalbe Jawwad moved to his next priority agenda. He brought the rampant corruption in the Shia Central Waqf Board (SCWB) and Husainabad and Allied Trust into focus and successfully got the board disbanded paving the way for a new board. This movement, however, could not win him many accolades due to the reason that many Shiite bigwigs were involved in the mess. But, he did not budge and kept on pursuing the welfare of the-board-and-trust. The movement, therefore, pitted him against the UP government, big land grabbers, land mafias, corrupt-trustees, illegal occupants. Slowly he could find that his childhood friends and even blood relatives were deserting him.
Severely hurt by the disenchantment of his friends, Kalbe Jawwad started getting reclusive. It was at this time that some narrow-minded people started surrounding him. His office, Pasdaran-e-Husain, which once had a brisk activity started wearing a weird look. Corrupt Waqf officials and some makeshift "organisations" formed at the behest of his foes, launched a disinformation campaign against him. He started getting threats, anonymous letters, pamphlets laden with worst abuses and his name was dragged into fake controversies with the active participation of some of his former comrades. This phase made him fall ill due to a kidney infection while some of his relatives were murderously assaulted. The former BJP urban development minister Lalji Tandon was in the forefront of his foes. His old friends joined ranks with corrupt state and SCWB officials which gave him a severe blow.
The newly founded board under former MP, Mukhtar Anis, found the duo standing opposite each other. The local press gave extensive coverage to the stand-off between Kalbe Jawwad and Mukhtar Anis. Kalbe Jawwad, did not blink and got the powers of the chairman clipped by the majority votes of the executive of SCWB which controls some of the most lucrative properties and offices in Lucknow and adjoining areas.
During this time, Kalbe Jawwad organised one of the biggest rallies in Lucknow on 30 May 2004 in which more than 40,000 people marched against the US occupation of Iraq. He became the face of Muslim opposition to US and its policies in India. He called for a boycot of all US made products and soft drinks.
The growing popularity of Kalbe Jawwad and his opposition to US, UK and Israel led the US embassy to sit up. Jawwad ordered that no tourist from the above three countries would be allowed to visit Bara Imambara and other historical Shiite sites in Lucknow as they are a replica of the real ones in Iraq and Iran. US forces had then made a strike against the gateway to the mausoleum of Hazrat Ali, the first Imam of Shiites and the fourth Caliph of Sunnis. Suddenly the US embassy officials were found frequenting Lucknow and very soon an opposite group led by Maulana Mirza Muhammad Athar got germinated. The formation of All India Shia Personal Law Board in early January 2005 was nothing but a ploy to dent the importance of Kalbe Jawwad and to usher the will, from within "Muslims" for the ultimate implementation of the Uniform Civil Code in India. The US designs over Iran which had started getting shape since the beginning of 2005 resonated through AISPLB press meet on 7 May 2006 when the UPA’s foreign policy on the issue of Iran civilian nuclear technology was supported by Mirza Muhammad Athar at the Ahlebait Conference in Lucknow.
Riding on the crest of popularity, Kalbe Jawwad along with Shah Fazlur Rehman Waizi of Tile Wali Masjid successfully organised the biggest-ever show in Lucknow on 19 February 2006 condemning the cartoons of the Prophet. The duo addressed as many as 300 meetings within 10 days and saw more than half a million people converging in front fo the UP assembly building. This was the finest hour of Kalbe Jawwad's glory. The demonstration made the right wing organisations and all political parties realise that Muslims for the first time have stressed their unity using an an international issue.
During this time it was felt that the district administration may hand over the right to manage Husainabad and Allied Trust to Kalbe Jawwad. The mere assumption led his friends-turned-foes flocking back to him and surprisingly he embraced them again. This step made some of his diehard supporters feel subdued as it was found that perhaps due to lack of advice, Kalbe Jawwad has lost the sense of recognising his real friends. What made the matters worse was that he graced a dinner of the former royal family of Awadh which includes people who were involved into selling the historical Husainabad Minarets to BJP in early 1990s. The BJP minister Lalji Tandon had got them demolished as a prelude to the destruction of the Babri Mosque on 6 December 1992. The dinner was held in Chota Imambara on 13 May 2006.
Kalbe Jawwad has to be praised for his valiant efforts to douse the fires of the sectarian riot on 10 Moharram last year in which three Sunni youths were martyred. The riot was definitely an outcome of the provocative speeches and statements issued by AISPLB members. Had Kalbe Jawwad not been there, Lucknow would have been converted into the streets of today’s Baghdad as the reaction of Sunnis would have been on the same proportion of the killings of Moharram. But Kalbe Jawwad’s intervention and his visits to the bereaved families did not let the situation go out of control. He even stood as gurantors of Sunnis framed in cross FIRs.
Kalbe Jawwad’s overall involvement in Muslim affairs gained him immense credibility. His recording of statement in the Babri Masjid case and active participation into articulating Muslim issues made him a consensual candidate to lead all Muslims.
This is how he donned the leadership of the PDF on 15 May amid some controversy and counter-claims by Delhi's "Shahi Imam" Ahmad Bukhari who tried hard to be the king-maker. Bukhari asked Jawwad to resign, promising him at the same time that he (Bukhari) will appoint him as the head of the PDF on June 10, 2006.
There is another issue being raised here: Kalbe Jawwad is a member of the Joint Ulama Council, founded after 19 Februray, 2006, which had passed a resolution that none of its members would accept any political post. In any case, Kalbe Jawwad is the undisputed leaders of the Muslims in Uttar Pradesh and best suited to lead a front like