Special Reports

Ulama Council to protest in Delhi for Batla House encounter probe

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Rashtriya Ulama Council to hold a rally in Delhi tomorrow.

Lucknow: By any standard, the office of Rashtriya Ulama Council (RUC), is a place of brisk activity on a busy road in the vicinity of the UP Assembly House, all propped up with latest gadgets, furniture and staff.

Welcome to the office of Aamir Rashadi, head of RUC, since its beginning in 2008. Rashadi hails from Ghazipur and his grandfather had migrated to Azamgarh where he cultivated his lands and served the people. Rashadi was born in 1961 and completed his education in Medina. Rashadi is engaged in running a couple of madrassas in Azamgarh.

Interestingly, the Ulama Council was born in the immediate aftermath of Batla House (fake) encounter of 19 September 2008, and it was soon rechristened by adding “Rashtriya” (National) to it as it envisaged a much higher role as an independent political outfit primarily for the marginalised Muslims of the country, and to work for other marginalised sections of society, in terms of their political empowerment. RUC contested assembly polls in Maharashtra and parliamentary elections in 2009 where it was able to make a mark of its own though it failed to win any seat. One of its candidates got more than a lakh votes in 2009.

Rashadi betrays all signs of endeavour as his frail frame is quite deceptive as he has steel nerves inside, for he can withstand a storm and create one. He acknowledges with composure that Government of India wants to portray him as a prospective Bhindarwale of Eastern UP, which he considers is a ploy to derail his people’s movement. “There has been a barrage of personal attacks of every kind on me but everyone should know that I have been into public service since I was five years. I am proud to hail from Azamgarh which is today euphemistically called “atankgarh” (den of terrorism) and I am here to set the things right,” he says.

Rashadi today is a busy man. He talks to his cadres, enthuse them to gear up for the September 19 show in Delhi, and in-between offers his prayers too. His non-Muslim party members sit like attentive boys, as he prepares them for the next move -- to organise a train journey from Azamgarh to Delhi. The train is slated to reach Delhi by the evening on September 18. “We had sought  three trains. We were assured two and finally we got one. The train in typically called “Azamgarh to L-18 Batla House, New Delhi,” informs Rashadi. He adds that the last time he took such a train was on 29 January 2009, and this time it is to coincide with the third anniversary of the Batla House fake encounter. The expenses incurred then were around 13 lakhs and this time it would exceed a budget of 15 lakhs. Around 25,000 people are expected to march to Jantar Mantar on Sept 19, from New Delhi railway station.

What is the immediate focus? “We demand Batla House probe under a Commission of a sitting Supreme Court judge. The whole world knows as to how brutally the three innocent youths were murdered, supervised by the then Union Home Minister Shiv Raj Patil, known for his penchant for changing suits to suit all occasions. The intelligence agencies are opposed to such an enquiry and want the nation to believe that Batla House encounter was a diabolic conspiracy which had to be confronted the way they did it. We will put our legal and genuine demand for the probe in order to ward off the lurking fear made to hover over the heads of Muslims and also to expose the brutal face of our police. The government does not shy away from providing an alibi that the probe would demoralise the police. We believe that such a probe will strengthen our police system and our democratic institutions as the autopsy reports of the three innocents killed prove beyond doubt that the three were killed in the most gruesome cold-blooded manner,” said Rashadi.

What is your political agenda? “For 45 years, Congress made Muslims its bonded labourers and twenty-two and-a-half years Mulayam Singh did the same. This is the sum of our deprivation. This will not be allowed any more. We will contest on all the 403 seats in UP and will hit the political windscreen in 2012.  19 September will be again our show of strength and will be the bugle of our election campaign,” he added.

His political manifesto, as of now is to seek an amendment in the Presidential Order of 1950 under Article 341 of the Constitution which bars a non-Hindu and later a non-Sikh and a non-Buddhist to enjoy reservation in government jobs. “That is the bone of contention for the last six decades and it is time that Muslim and Christian Dalits also get their well-deserved due in the avenues available across the nation through reservation. And also that Muslim OBCs be given a separate 9.44% quota inside the 27% reservation given to OBCs and an immediate implementation of Ranganath Misra Commission report,” he replied.

He further demanded an expeditious hearing and a time-bounded-limit of the on-going RD Nimesh Commission, probing the Nov 2007 blasts of Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad. The Commission, formed in 2009, has undergone four extensions as yet. “Two innocent Muslim youths -- Tariq Qasmi and Khalid Mujahid -- are incarcerated in jail and we thoroughly believe that justice would be done to them,” he said further. Rashadi demanded that those Muslim youths who have been acquitted of terrorism charges should be rehabilitated by the government and the erring cops should be reprimanded, as such a step, would make the general people become confident of the rule of law in the country.

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