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JIH conclave at Vijayawada
"Do not link terrorism with Islam": Maulana Sirajul Hasan
By Danish A. Khan

Vijayawada: For the first time after September 11 attacks on America and the subsequent killings of Muslims in Afghanistan, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s Andhra Pradesh and Orissa zone organised a three-day conclave at Mukthi Maidan in Vijayawada from 18 to 20 January. The JIH conclave has been organised at a time when Subcontinent is witnessing the worst stand-off since 1971 Indo-Pak war.

JIH president Maulana Muhammad Sirajul Hasan inaugurated the conclave. Emphasising on the theme of the conference, JIH president said that terrorism has never been endorsed by any religion, least of all by Islam. He added that the followers of Islam will not tolerate the vicious attempts of linking terrorism with Islam. Maulana Sirajul Hasan lamented that ever since the World Trade Centre bombings in America, attempts are being made at the behest of vested elements to tar Islam with the terrorism brush. This is nothing but atrocious and alarming, he said. ‘Terrorism is terrorism. A thief is not referred to by his religion. There is nothing like a Muslim thief, Hindu thief or a Christian thief,’ Maulana Hasan said. Declaring that the 21st century would be the century of Islam, the JIH president pointed out that besides the 20th century witnessing two great wars, the world also saw the wiping out of two ‘isms’ – Socialism and Communism. However, now materialism has taken the place of capitalism in a new garb. The advent of science and technology could also not bring solace to the people.

Muhammad Abdus Salam Dastagir, vice president of the AP & Orissa zone of JIH, presented a report on the organisation’s activities for the past three years. He stated that 51 symposiums were organised on various issues. According to him, the Telugu Islamic Publications, the publications division of JIH, printed five new books and re-published 26 other titles. The Oriya publication division published 17 translations in Oriya.

On the inaugural day a symposium on "The Challenge of Present Situation and the Muslim Community" was organised. It was addressed among others by Syed Hamid, Chancellor of the Hamdard University, Syed Shahabuddin, President, All-India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, and Syed Sa’adathullah Husaini, president of the SIO of India which is the JIH’s youth wing.

Andhra Pradesh Minister for Agriculture Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao, while speaking at a symposium on "Whither India – Our responsibilities," on the second day of the conclave, said that the demolition of the Babri Masjid by some communal elements was the greatest slur on the image of secular India. The forces behind the dastardly act have not been brought to book even after nine years. The minister, who deplored the attacks on Christians in Gujarat and condemned the bomb blast in a church at Machilipatnam, said: "Any act against secularism should be treated as a terrorist act."

The All-India Christian Council secretary general John Dayal, speaking on the occasion, pointed out that the Hindu fundamentalists are all out for minorities’ blood. He said that they must be reined in before it is too late. Mr. Dayal remarked: "There is conspiracy being hatched in the northern part of the country. Hindu fundamentalists have set up more than three lakh shishu vihars to brainwash the young minds in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. They are planning to build about 3.3 lakh temples in the belt." The government should order a high-level probe into the activities of such elements, he demanded. "The very tenor of Indian democracy is at stake and drastic changes should be made at the grassroots level for the survival of secular India. Everyone should respect others’ religious sentiments for a better future," he stressed. S. Sudhakar Reddy, Secretary, CPI, Andhra Pradesh, and M. Satyanarayana, President, AP Congress Committee, also addressed the gathering.

"The Role of Religions in the Reconstruction of the Country" was the theme of the symposium organised on the concluding day of the conclave. Hindu pontiff Jagatguru Shankaracharya Madhavananda Saraswati asked the gathering to espouse the cause of supreme religious tolerance. "First of all accept each other as a fellow human being, and then as a member of a religious sect. All paths lead to the same one God," Jagatguru Shankaracharya exhorted. There is no difference in human beings at all. Jagatguru Shankaracharya recalled that on various visits to his ashram (Peeth) the Jamaat leaders have offered Namaz there, and in similar vein he also embraced them for their ethos of religious tolerance. It is only political differences, which tend to cause chaos in the society, he observed. Sikh religious leader, Prof. Manjeet Singh, jathedar Anandpur Saheb, Punjab, and Mrs. Pratibha Bharathi, Speaker, Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly also expressed their views on the occasion.

Khwaja Arifuddin, chief organiser of the conference, praised the people of Vijayawada, and said that they were secular and helpful. He lauded the support of Vijayawada Chamber of Commerce president, Gaddam Subba Rao, for arranging the land free of cost for holding the conference. The conference was well attended despite some organisational failures.

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