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Posted Online on Saturday, 11
November 2006 23:55 IST
Malegaon resorts to an unusual protest
Milli Gazette Online
New Delhi: In the face of Maharashtra police's attempts to implicate Muslim youths in last September's Malegaon blasts in a mosque and a Muslim graveyard which claimed 38 lives, Muslims of Malegaon staged an unusual protest Friday in the Muslim majority town known for its powerloom industry. Protesters donned same kind of hoods which police places on the heads of arrested criminals. Protesters also wore black bands around their arms in a show of protest against official attempts to portray victims as terrorists.
The protest was organised after the Friday prayers. The protesters staged a sit-in outside the Bara Qabristan and Hamidia mosque, the sites of the blasts on 8 September. They also formed a long human chain near the mosque.
Maulana Abdul Hameed Azhari, one of the leaders of the protest, told mediamen that people of Malegaon reject that all blame is placed on Muslim youths for the bomb blasts. He said that the people of Malegaon demand (a) the blasts must be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), (b) Human rights organisations must accompany police during enquiries, (c) Government must desist from putting the blame for blasts on Muslim youths as this will only lead to a deteriorarion of the situation in the town, (d) Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) should be removed from the arrested youths, (e) Report of the Patel Commission must be released and its recommendations put into action, and (f) a financial package must be announced to develop Malegaon and its powerloom industry as the town has been consistently neglected for long due to its Muslim majority nature.
Maulana Azhari announced that the people of Malegaon will not talk to the police now. Instead, they will go to the courts in order to expose the police and the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). Protesters said that they are ready to go to jails to press their demands. Representatives of Muslim organisations like Jami'at-e Ahle-Hadith, Jamaat-e Islami and others as well as the former Malegaon member of the state legislative assembly (MLA) Mr Nihal Ahmad took part in the protest donning the black hood.
People of Malegaon have decided to observe a total strike in the town on 14 November in protest against the attitude of the police and authorities. Maharashtra state chief minister Mr Vilas Rao Deshmukh is expected to visit the town on that day to lay the foundation-stone of a hospital, a long-standing demands of the people in the town. Kins of some victims of the blasts had rejected to accept the ex-gratia grants from the government and asked that the grant be used to fulfill the long-promised hospital in the town. They said that if there was a hospital in the town many lives could have been saved on the fateful day of the blasts.