Azam Khan and his “sedition” story


Lucknow: The whole of last year, as well as until Jan 26th this year, has sensitivities on a high, particularly on the issues of Kashmir and sedition. The stone-pelters from Kashmir, emulating intifada were the rage the whole year. Kashmir streets had all resonated with the Azadi slogan. On Oct 6, 2010, the cornered Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had to say that Kashmir had acceded to India and did not merge with it. Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) found the remark laughable. UPA Union External Minister SM Krishna stood by Omar Abdullah.

Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani of Kashmir, (with nothing in common with Omar Abdullah), in a seminar ‘Kashmir Azadi: The Only Way’ in New Delhi on Oct 21, 2010, spoke for ‘Kashmiris’, only to invite a sedition charge. Later, for the sake of damage control, before the US President Obama’s visit to India, interlocutors were sent to Kashmir, their report has now been filed. Nothing new has happened. All things have started to fall in place.

But, the season of sedition, is however, not over yet. Binayak Sen has been convicted by the fast track court, Raipur, Jharkhand, over the sedition charge. All human rights groups, across the nation have opposed the order but to no avail. And, quite uniquely now, in the already charged national scenario, came a statement allegedly from Muhammed Azam Khan, the seven times member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Rampur and a former parliamentarian, that Kashmir is not a part of India! This is exactly what has been attributed to him.

What, however, is the real story is not known. Today Azam has been slapped with a First Information Report (FIR) on the orders of Pawan Pratap Singh Chief Judicial Magistrate, Badaun, UP. This has come on an application of a Bajrang Dal activist Ujjwal Gupta. Bajrang Dal is the armed off-shoot of RSS, the rabid anti-Muslim organisation in India. FIR was lodged on Jan 19 at Sadar Police Station, Badaun, under section 124(A) of Indian Penal Code, a day after the orders of CJM.

About a week later, Azam was in Lucknow. It was on Jan 25th, a day before Republic Day, when BJP was supposed to have unfurled the national flag, at Lal Chowk, Srinagar, Kashmir, and was stopped from it, by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government II. Tempers were thus high. BJP had organised a street protest, just next to Azam’s residence. Azam, confident and without the slightest diffidence, in his sparking white kurta-pyjamas and shining brown shoes-which he polishes himself, went past the protest to reach his party office, so as to join his euphoric cadres. He had travelled in a car fitted with transparent glasses. Azam it may be recalled has recently re-joined Samajwadi Party (SP) and according to one survey–there is a five percent upheaval in SP votes!

He would then sit at party office, deliberate on the political situation of the state and the country for about two hours. Slogans of “Azam Khan zindabad” would rend the air. Many would come to touch his feet. Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party (SP) MP, sat by his side.

What actually had happened? “Well, the reason for me making up to Badaun, in western part of UP, was for the sake that Abid Raza, the SP chairman of Nagar Palika, Badaun was on an indefinite fast, as a mark of protest over the finding of excreta on Badi Sarkar chador – a great hospice, in Badaun. I suggested Raza to have undertaken a token fast as the act had been done by Bajrang Dal and that the fascist forces have no issue to communalise the atmosphere except with the acts like these. These kinds of provocative misdeeds have always been the handiwork of RSS and its sub-allies. Since before independence it was Hindu Mahasabha, later the Bhartiya Jana Sangh, now by either BJP or its ilk,” said Azam.

He then elaborated that when he reached Badaun on 22 Dec. and in the presence of a great police bandobust, which included ADM and many subordinate officers, he spoke about the dastardly act of Bajrang Dal for trying to ferment a communal riot, and had sought their arrests. “Which of course never happened,” he satired.

Azam on that day had spoken his mind. He had called for a probe into the fake Batla House encounter. He said that the police apparatus has claimed that the probe would demoralise the police, which he does not want. “I want to enthuse and encourage the police, as obviously, the probe would unravel how dreaded the Batla House terrorists were, as one of them was shot five times in the skull! That too from above. Nothing could have been more shameful than the Congress doctored National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) clean chit to the police, and further rubbing salt to the injury, was the refusal of Delhi High Court, to order a probe. Thus, giving a stamp of approval to NHRC finding (sic). NHRC had sat pretty by never even trying to meet the kith and kin to those killed in the Batla House fake encounter,” said Azam to his attentive cadres.

“I was asked a question by an electronic news channel about Hindu terrorism. I said we ought to talk about Hindu-Muslim terrorism. It was in that vein I referred to the Congress as the front runner of Hindu-Muslim terrorism. It wants to orchestrate nation-wide communal riots–in order to secure its Muslim base by inducing the fear psychosis of BJP and, thereafter, debunk Muslims, as it has carelessly always done,” said.

“Well, Rahul Gandhi has said that a Muslim can become the Prime Minister of the country. This UPA II government wants the Muslim and secular vote. It should have instead a dozen Muslim ministers from each state of India, unlike just Ghulam Nabi Azad as its cabinet minister, Only one Muslim minister (Azad) is there in the (Union) Cabinet and that too not from India, but from Kashmir. That Kashmir, which is still controversial and we don’t know whether that is part of India or not. This is what I had been shown to have said. This is a form of bad journalism,” he clarified.

“Only one Muslim cabinet minister just cannot suffice. I want to pose a question. Does Ghulam Nabi Azad represent Kashmir? Can he even do that? Can he even visit the Kashmir Valley? What is Congress trying to prove? How long will it play with Muslim aspirations and continue to dupe them of their votes for no purpose. My remark was distorted. There was no conference on Kashmir. Kashmir was not the topic of speech. Kashmir was a symbolic reference, against Congress, playing con with tokenism as far as Muslims of Kashmir as well as Muslims of India are concerned. I had used Kashmir as a figure of speech and symbolism.

What is your take on this FIR? “We have to see it in the overall national atmosphere. After the Sep 30, 2010 Ayodhya judgement, there is no doubt that there are two laws in the country. One for Hindus and one for Muslims. Should I elaborate that the Honourable Supreme Court has as yet given death sentences only to Dalits, Backwards and the Minorities. A capital punishment to an upper caste Brahmin is a rarity! And, let me also state that those who usurp nation’s wealth to stuff it in Swiss bank are great patriots and those who are yet unable to afford even some proper clothes for their children are anti-national! I never went for any petrol pump or gas agency. I have even announced that my house be given to Jauhar Trust so that my children might not claim it after me. This Jauhar Trust was to run a university and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government of UP, as a part of its political vendetta, has got more than 54 cases registered against me. After the Sept. 30 judgement, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, had said that Muslims feel cheated, and therefore, has now to confront a contempt of court,” he clarifies.

He then went on to deliberate on the order of CJM. Azam is a lawyer too. He threw open the contents of the order. “What could have been a three worded order is a three pages document. Only the date when I am to be hanged has not been given. This is when the case is not to be heard under him as District Judge would hear the proceedings! CJM has become a party in his order. Who has given him such extra-constitutional powers? The application under 156(3) Criminal Procedural Code (CrPC) was for the registration of an FIR and the great CJM was just to order its registration or reject it. But, he has gone ahead to announce everything even before the investigation, its final report, and then its trial are all yet to begin. Trial would cross examine those police officers and other witnesses present at the venue, then, my own view on Kashmir would have to be sought, only then, it would be for the DJ to decide. But, CJM seems to be in hurry. I am consulting legal opinion to start proceedings against CJM as to how the constitution of India has given him such sweeping powers,” he announced.

What is the order like? “The gentleman CJM has conferred it all by himself. He has tried to put words into my mouth. He has with very extra-judicial powers (sic) derived his own conclusion. He has explicitly said, that if a reference that the concerned person (Azad) is not from India and is from Kashmir, then the reference (by me) is that Kashmir is not a part of India and which is also beyond the purview of the freedom of expression.

“Last and not the least is that the honourable judge has tried to influence the probe machinery! He has lamented the fact that the same investigation-people would be entrusted with the fact-finding, who are incapable of understanding the issue! Where are we headed to? Why is he trying to outdo the whole judicial process? Is he not bound by Constitutional propriety? Have Muslims to deal with such pre-judicial legal system?” he thundered.

So what is your actual position of the issue of Kashmir? “It is an inalienable and indivisible part of India. Anand Narain ‘Mulla’ and Raghupat Sahai ‘Firaq’ had taken their suffixes. I have added ‘deshdrohi’ after my name. I am right now writing a booklet on the whole issue, and would send it to every parliamentarian in order to illustrate how Muslims are made to reel under an extremely biased judiciary. If judiciary, as a part of our system, gets eroded, then where do we go for recourse? India seems to be heading for bleak days,” he cautioned.

It might be also mentioned that SP supremo, Mulayam Singh Yadav, had already come to stand by Azam on Jan 21, when he in unequivocal terms, called Azam a nationalist to the core and lambasted the gross violation by the electronic channels all of whom did not show the denial of Azam on the same. He also said that electronic channels have become incorrigible, and in the mad rush for headlines, have lost all their credibility. He however, gave print media, a mark for being responsible. He said that CJM should have ignored the application as Azam has impeccable nationalist credentials.

Later on, during the Feb 9-11, SP convention at Gorakhpur, UP Azam made his stand clear to his cheering crowd. He said that he wished India attained the length and breadth of Aurangzeb’s India–when it had Kabul, Peshawar and Dhaka inside it.

All is now said and done. Kashmir issue for him is a settled matter but he won’t be applying for bail. Meanwhile, Salman Khursheed has been promoted to the rank of a cabinet minister. All thanks to Azam.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2011 on page no. 6

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