Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Muslims...were looking to Pakistan for help..."

"Muslims...were looking to Pakistan for help..."
Arun Shourie

"Muslims all over the world including those of India were hopefully looking up to Pakistan for help and guidance and whatever happened in Pakistan or any other Muslim country cast its shadow on the Indian Muslims also. The Pakistani debacle of 1971 had caused immense grief to Indian Muslims."

The speaker? Maulana Abul Hassan ALi Nadvi, otherwise known as Ali Mian, whom the press always refers to as the widely respected scholar and moderate Muslim leader. The source of the extract? An official note. The occasion? The reception given by the secretary-general of the Pakistan National Alliance to delegates of the First Asian Islamic Conference at Karachi in July 1978. Almost all important leaders of Islamic orthodoxy in India had gone for the meeting -- from the Darul Uloom Deoband, the organisation without reading the publications of which our press lauds as the Al Azhar of India, from the Jamat-e-Islami Hind, the Tabligh Jamaat, the JUUH...Naturally, Ali Mian was among the most prominent delegates.

The convenor of the conference? The Rabita-e-Alam-e-Islami, Mecca, set up by the King of Saudi Arabia, which among other things, decides which Islamic body the world over shall get how much money. Among the founding members of the Rabita? Ali Mian, the moderate leader.

In whose view, "A religious order cannot be established unless religion comes to weild political power and the system of governance is based on Islamic foundations?" Who lauds the "lofty idealism" and the "mature political outlook" of Iqbal which "lay at the base of the demand for Pakistan?" Who has scorn for the "the modernists of the Middle East -- from Ataturk to Nasser -- and who exhorts the King of Saudi Arabia to hold fast to the ways of orthodox Islam? On whose reckoning did the arrival of Islam alone raise the country from "the age of savagery to the age of progress," from "oblivion and obscurity" to "the pinnacle of name and fame," from its "parochial ambit" to "the family of man?" In whose view the slaughtering of the cows is "a great Islamic act?" In whose view, while it may not be so in other countries, in India it is "a great Islamic act" because the cow is worshipped in India?

The answer to each question: Ali Mian, the head of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the rector of the Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow.

At the moment I am not on the question these views are justified or not, but on the more elementary one: We do not bother to learn the views of the person, we do not ascertain the idealogy which the "scholarly" works of the Nadwatul Ulema spreads, but the moment the place is raided a howl goes up. The minister of the state for internal security apologises. A cabinet minister from Delhi rushes and apologises. The chief minister of UP apologises. Two police officers -- one of the rank of IG and the other DIG -- are transfered out.

Look at how the place came to be raided. In the aftermath of the kidnapping of foreigeners and the subsquent encounter six persons were caught. Interrogation revealed that the operation had been masterminded by the now well-known student of the London School of Economics, and one "Shahji" of Pakistan. The latter had escaped. But during interrogation, one of the others disclosed the house in which the man stayed -- in Suiwala mohalla in old Delhi. The place was raided.

"Shahji" had not been to the place since the encounter, it transpired. But a briefcase was found. It yielded, among other things, an identity card of the Lucknow University and a railway ticket which had been used for a journey from Lucknow to Delhi on November 14, 1994. The identity card was taken to the University authorities in Lucknow. They established that it was a forgery.

A reservation had been secured against the railway ticket. Records were examined and it turned out that the reservation had been made for one "Khursheed Ahmed" who had given his address as Room 20/2 Athar Hostel, Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow.

It was this reason that the place was raided that very night. When the policemen were trying to break open the door of the room, students surrounded them, started throwing stones etc. It is said that a country-made "bomb" was also hurled at them. The police fired, in self-defence, and in the air, they say.

The raid was effectively thwarted. The police had to retreat. The room could not be searched. The seven boys who had been picked up could not be interrogated -- Mulayam Singh insured that they were released before they could be questioned.

How can it be held that officers of the rank of IG and DIG are not competent to decide whether or not to conduct a raid upon the receipt of specific information? By what law can it be held that because an institution is a "minority institution" or "an educational institution" it is outside the reach of the police?

Now is it just that the position is so totally without any basis in law. What nails the matter is intelligence information about the manner in which ISI as well as agencies of the other Islamic countries are executing their plans in India.

Intelligence reports submitted to the highest levels of government document show the recent phase of the activity of these organisations began with the Taif Summit of the OIC in January 1981. How funds began to be systematically channeled through the Rabita-e-Alam-Islami, the organisation we encountered earlier, the Motmar al Alam al Islami and the Supreme World Council of Mosques. How these funds were given to mosques, madarsas, "centers of Islamic learning" and other Islamic organisations.

How the overseas Islamic organisations and their funds spawned a series of organisations in India and invigorated others. The Supreme World Council of Mosques, for instance, was established as a wing of the Rabita-e-Alam-e- Islami in 1978. In March 1980, this new organisation passed a resolution asking the Indian government "to show due reverence to Muslim houses of worship" and to reserve a suitable portion of its budget "for Muslim affairs." In October the same year, the parent organisation, the Rabita asked the Indian government that it be allowed to open an office in India "for Muslim affairs".

How the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind was a member of the executive of the Supreme World Council. How as a follow up of these initiatives, the Jamaat-e-Islami lost no time in establishing the All-India Council of Mosques at the Jamaat's All-India Conference at Hydrabad in February 1981.

How the Hydrabad meeting was closely guided by Sheikh Ali Mohammed al Mukhtar, the assistant secretary-general of the Supreme World Council.

How a systematic attempt began thereafter to transform the mosques in India into live centers of indoctrination and to knit them into a network.

How other organisations, hitherto unknown, suddenly became very energetic and prominent -- among these the Jammat Ahl-e-Hadees and the organisation from which pressmen receive statements regularly these days, the All India Milli Council. How this Council had hardly been known till one Dr Manzoor Alam returned from Saudi Arabia about five years ago, and how it soon became the fastest growing Muslim organisation in India. How apart from Dr manzoor Alam, Mujahid-ul-Islam Kasmi, the Qazi of that other "center of Islamic learning," the Imarat-e-Sharia of Bihar is its most important functionary.

How it has very substantial funds at its disposal, most of which come from Saudi Arabia. How it is in close touch with fundamentalist and militant organisations like SIMI, the Students Islamic Movement of India, which had been set up in 1977 by the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind. How the All-India Milli Council and similar bodies have been systematically projecting militant and sectarian positions and fomenting a separatist mentality among targetted Muslim groups.

The intelligence reports speak of the rapid linking-up of these organizations: Ahmed Ali, alias Palani Baba, President of the All India Jihad Committee, a militant outfit operating in Tamil Nadu, for instance is recorded as having asked his followers to work in coordination with the All-India Milli Council. How in early 1993, the Majlis-e-Numaindgan (the Council of Representatives) of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind asked its general secretaries to set up an underground organisation, how its rukuns (active members) were asked to develop links with other Islamic bodies in every state.

The intelligence reports set out how ISI has set up operations in Nepal and Bangladesh. They specify the "organisations" which have been set up there through which Islamic organisations in India are being contacted and aided. They specify the "conferences" which have been organised in these countries as a cover for "scholars" and "theologians" to visit the places so as to cement the network. They speak of similar "conferences" in Iran and Saudi Arabia, of the Indian "scholars" who went there, and of the fallout for India. They speak of the great spurt in the number of "Islamic missionaries" coming to India in the last few years, and how the purpose of their coming here, to employ the officialise which these documents feel compelled to use, is solely to guide and encourage the Islamic institutions and organisations here.

The intelligence reports record how Muslims young men have been recruited for training in arms and explosives through organisations like SIMI, and the Islamic Sevak Sangh now rechristined as the People's Democratic Party in Kerala, how the functionaries of these organisations have played host to militants and the recruiting agents.

And so on. Much of this information has come from the horse's mouth, so to say -- for it has been obtained as a result of interrogation of terrorists and others who have been caught in the last five years.

Given this background and the obvious urgency of the matter, what are senior police officers to do when they chance upon information pointing to a specific room in a specific building -- be that a private house, a government office, a Hindu's house or a Muslim's house, an educational institution, or a "minority educational institution?"

Perhaps the information should have been cross-checked, for anyone can give any address while obtaining a railway reservation. But what if the person had escaped in the meanwhile? In any case, is it not for the officer on the spot to weigh the alternatives?

Instead of allowing government to penalise officers for doing their duty, we should:

*Have the government disclose the pattern intelligence agencies have formed about the way Islamic organisations are being used to jeopardize peace in the country;

*Urge that the government raid these places - and other places as the recent events at ISRO show - routinely so that it is established once for all that no organisation shall be a State within a State.

The Observer
December 16, 1994

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