Shia politics in Lucknow: Attack on Kalb-e Jawwad’s house

It was 2 pm on Friday, 25 February. After the Jum’a prayers, Kalbe Jawwad, the Imam-e-Juma of the historic Asifi Masjid in Lucknow, was back at his house. The usual hustle-bustle at his residence was, however, missing as he sat with his two kids to get them out of the trauma of the preceding night when his drawing room was gutted, all belongings ruined and everything turned into rubble. Jawwad is a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and a nephew to Kalbe Sadiq, the Board’s Vice President.

An eerie silence enveloped the black charcoal walls as staff briefed visitors in hushed tones. The adjoining washroom too was burnt. Thankfully, the fire could not spread to the adjacent rooms as the fire brigade had been called in promptly. The fire had broken out at around 4 am and only by 4:30 am could it be put out. No First Information Report (FIR) was lodged. An investigation by the station house officer at Chowk Police Station is being conducted. Officially, it was declared that an electric short-circuit was the possible cause. On 26 Feb., a sit-in protest at the Dargah Hazrat Abbas road was organised.

But that is not just what meets the eye. It was only two days before this incident that at the Dargah Hazrat Abbas compound some urchins had tried to forcibly occupy a shop. It was thwarted by Shamil Shamsi, a first cousin of Kalbe Jawwad and president of Husaini Tigers. The urchins belonged to the coterie of the erstwhile trustee of the Dargah who was at the helm of affairs for around 40 years, and who had almost made the Dargah his personal fiefdom. Kalbe Jawwad, who had been spearheading the ‘save-awqaf’ campaign, had removed him and brought in a new trustee, thus resulting in some heart burn. Dargah is one of the most revered places in Lucknow where thousands pay their homage everyday.

Maulana Saeedur Rahman Azmi (left) welcoming the Iranian visitor

Kalbe Jawwad’s campaign did not win him friends. In fact, his long time friends, relatives and those in his immediate neighbourhood not only totally abandoned him but instead have all been conspiring against him. Smear campaigns and character assassination have become a part of their pastime. Unfortunately, he could not convince his uncle too. It was only the other day when Naseemuddin Siddiqui, who is the blue-eyed boy of UP CM Mayawati, castigated Jawwad during an open meeting at his residence, using foul language, accusing Jawwad of lobbying against Sadiq’s move for a degree college in the name of Begum Hazrat Mahal -- a plan now in controversy, courtesy the BJP Mayor Dinesh Sharma. Interestingly, it was Shia Central Waqf Board’s former chairman Waseem Rizvi who contradicted Naseemuddin, saying that Jawwad had only wanted the state government to first give the concerned land to Husainabad and Allied Trust which would thereafter transfer it to the degree college.

It should be noted that the same land, which lies opposite Clock Tower, actually belongs to Husainabad and Allied Trust but was numbered as “Nuzool” by the British. This Nuzool sobriquet was given to the confiscated lands which belonged to those who had fought against the British in 1857. The Government of India very comfortably goes by the British-made laws, obviously as undoing them would help Muslims.

Husaini Tigers, meanwhile, will not give up their commitment to Jawwad and his policies. Shamsi rues the moment when he was given the worst dressing down by Jawwad over his purported remarks of offering 15 lakh rupees for the construction of Ram Temple, after the Ayodhya verdict on September 30, 2010. “He was in Karbala, Iraq at the time and he was terribly angry with me. I don’t know what made me burn my fingers in an ostensible run for headlines. I withdrew my reckless remark,” said Shamsi. In fact, very soon after this, he was named in an FIR alongwith 150 others, when on 14 November, Lucknow had seen unprecedented chaos as many buses were burnt in the wake of Kalbe Jawwad having been arrested by the district administration. The incident had taken place when Jawwad had sought permission to enter Shia Post-Graduate College, Lucknow, which was denied to him, and he was arrested instead. District Administration too wants an alternative leadership so as to contain Jawwad’s increasing influence.

As for SPGC, Jawwad had been campaigning against the rampant financial scams and embezzlements there. Jawwad’s demand is for a fair and transparent election of the executive which has been long overdue. The executive is constituted by a franchise of a particular group known for its contempt for Jawwad and his family. “They have traditionally flirted with Bhartiya Jana Sangh and later with Bhartiya Janta Party. Jawwad will also try and knock at the doors of the High Court and is yet to win. Raja of Mahmoodabad Amir Suleiman Khan has supported Jawwad in his efforts. The Raja is a member of the board of the college trustees.

Gutted drawing room of Kalb-e Jawwad

“We are providing security to him. There are elements that are all out to liquidate him. There can be hired killers too. There can be an assault anytime as he has ruffled the feathers of corrupt of the corrupts. An official burnt alive in Bombay over his raid on diesel mafia can find a simile in Lucknow too,” said Shamsi. He also brought to light a startling fact: someone in the name of “Kalbe Jawwad” had applied to the Israel embassy to be recruited as a prospective Mossad agent. “We have zeroed in on the Internet Protocol (IP) address and know which cyber café was used for the purpose. District Administration was given the details. The conspirators are breaking their own records as to how low they can stoop,” piqued Shamsie.

Meanwhile, Jawwad had taken Ayatullah Mehdavi, the permanent representative of Spiritual leader of Iran Ayatullah Khamenai to Nadwatul-Ulama on 28 February where the delegation met its principal Saeedur-Rahman Azmi and later its rector Rabey Hasani Nadwi. The delegation had discussed how the unity between Shiites and Sunnis has been well-cemented despite the moves to destroy it. The delegation is part of an exercise by the Iranian government to study the welfare and functioning of madrasas in the country.

Hence, all is not that well with Lucknow. It is sitting on a real tinder box and is perhaps just waiting to erupt. It was Jawwad who, since the past one and a half decade, successfully scuttled every move to instigate a Shiite-Sunni riot in Lucknow, a place which is notoriously known the world over for this ignominy, apart from it’s fast deteriorating etiquette, and could have yet again led to a spiral of violence much like the earlier riots in the 1970s and 1980s. “The making of the All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) has just added to the fear. This Board, it may be mentioned, had been formed in Jan 2005, after US embassy officials, miffed by the anti-US rally on May 30, 2004 over the US occupation of Iraq, in which around 40,000 had protested, were found frequenting the small lanes and bylanes of Lucknow splurging their resources. For AISPLB, the BJP, RSS, Israel and US are fellow sisters. US wanted Lucknow to become like the streets of Karachi, Baghdad and Mosul. AISPLB is in their pocket as it supported India over its vote against Iran at IAEA something which even communist parties in India opposed tooth and nail,” said Jawwad.

So, Jawwad is fighting the cause of AIMPLB and Muslim unity in order to cement the solidarity of the Muslim Ummah. Today despite all odds, his stature stands taller than any time in the past.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2011 on page no. 8

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