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SIMI's 'secular' admirers

SIMI's 'secular' admirers

Author: S Gurumurthy
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: August 21, 2008
URL: http://www.newindpress.com/newspages.asp?page=m&Title=Main+Article&

A few publicly known facts expose the state of the Indian debate on- Islamist terror. The Ahmedabad serial blasts of July 26 killed over 50 people and injured over 200. The serial blasts in Bangalore, a day before, did not yield the same rich harvest of blood. After the blasts, day after day, the Gujarat police kept uncovering and defusing dozens of live bombs in Surat that fortunately did not explode.

Even as the recovery of such bombs was being telecast live on all channels, on August 5, a court in Delhi annulled the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), faulting the UPA government for providing "no fresh evidence" to continue the ban.
How did the "seculars" react to the court lifting the ban on SIMI? Mulayam Singh and Lalu Yadav said that the ban was wrong in the first place! Congress party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said the order was "no setback." He went one step further and said, "Wherever terrorist attacks have taken place in the recent past - Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat - it is the state governments that are investigating the matter. It is their responsibility to submit the evidence against SIMI to the Central Government," almost implying that, as the state governments had not provided any, no evidence existed against SIMI. Other secular parties, the "seculars" in the NDA included, were careful not to fault the government for allowing SIMI to escape the charge of terror.

Stunned by the court's view that "fresh evidence" of terror was necessary to keep the ban on, the state rushed to the Supreme Court and got the ban continued.

It was against the background of such prevarication on SIMI that the Gujarat police announced on August 16 that it had arrested 10 top SIMI officials and activists who had masterminded the Gujarat blasts; and also the blasts in Rajasthan and elsewhere. It also came out with an irrefutable story of how the terrorists conspired, how many of them and when and where, with identities, dates, sequences and locations.

When the secularists were handing out negative certificate of good conduct to SIMI, thanks to the court order, a study by the Institute of Conflict Management headed by KPS Gill, the terror of the Punjab terrorists, had already catalogued over 100 incidents from 2000 to July this year, that characterised SIMI as a terror outfit. Its cadre had been charged as motivators and perpetrators in major attacks from 2002 to 2008.

State governments, including Congress and communist governments and the UPA government at the Centre, had told courts and the Parliament at different times that SIMI was an anti-national, terrorist organisation; that it was linked to Lashker-e-Toiba and other Islamist terror outfits; that huge quantities of arms and ammunition including RDX were seized from their hideouts and cadres.

In February 2007, holding that the SIMI was secessionist, the Supreme Court said that it had not stopped its activities when its counsel pleaded that, after 2003, there was no evidence to link it to anti-national activities. Moreover, it is the secular Maharastra government's police that alleged in a chargesheet that SIMI was linked to Pakistan!

And now a brief note on SIMI. It was founded in 1977 by Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Professor of Journalism and Public Relations at Western Illinois University Macomb, Illinois, but originally from Lucknow!

To make "the Holy Koran the governing text of human life, propagation of Islam, and jihad in the cause of Islam" were its founding goals.

Javed Anand, a secular icon, has this to say about SIMI: "True to its ideological mooring, in the '80s, SIMI produced eyecatching stickers proclaiming "Secularism, no; Democracy, no; Nationalism, no; Polytheism, no; Only Islam." But no one seemed unduly perturbed by this dangerous drift of a section of Indian Muslim youth spreading wings under the loving care of its patron, JeI (Jamait-e-Islami Hind). It was only in the late '90s that the JeI officially snapped the umbilical cord that organically linked it to SIMI." But Javed Anand wrote this not in the 1980s, not in the 1990s, not even till August 15, 2008, but only on August 16, after SIMI was seen as the culprit in the Gujarat blasts.

How did SIMI grow to these menacing proportions? The plain answer is that it was receiving open and clandestine political patronage from the seculars. The NDA government first banned SIMI in September 2001 and extended the ban in 2003,which continued till September 2005. The UPA government, which came to power in 2004, did not extend the ban when it expired in September 2005, helping to revive a disintegrating SIMI. This, according to Wikipedia, was the state of SIMI after the second ban: "It was unable to function in any manner because all its members were demoralised or had crossed the age of 30 years which automatically disentitled them to continue as a member of SIMI ... and due to lack of offices and as all its accounts were frozen, some of the erstwhile members also had to fight criminal cases foisted against them by the state."

But why did the UPA not continue the ban? Because Sonia Gandhi and her party opposed the first ban on SIMI in 2001. They were not only admirers of SIMI, but also its advocates - yes, really, advocates as Salman Khurshid, president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress committee, was the counsel defending SIMI in the high court and in the Supreme Court against the ban.

See how these secular admirers of SIMI defended a terror outfit that was anti-secular, anti-democracy, anti-India according to Javed Anand, when the NDA government first outlawed it in 2001. While speaking against the introduction of POTA in the special Parliament session in 2002 Sonia censured the government for banning the SIMI, which was not involved in terrorist activities!

Sirprakash Jaiswal, UPCC president in 2001, said the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was a greater threat to the nation than SIMI."

The government of the same party had to re-impose ban in 2006 after its own Maharashtra government found SIMI involved in the Mumbai train blasts in 2006. Later, the very same Jaiswal, as junior minister for home affairs in this government told the Rajya Sabha on April 23, 2007 and the Lok Sabha earlier, that SIMI was linked to LeT and was anti-national and that huge caches of arms and ammunition were seized from its cadre! But this was after SIMI had grown to gigantic proportions and struck at India some 10 times between 2004 and 2008 before it struck again in Gujarat on August 26. Even now, Sonia has not uttered one word against SIMI. Does it mean that she admires it still? Or she is so saintly that, like one of the three noble monkeys of Mahatma Gandhi, she sees no evil whether it is SIMI or LTTE or Nalini or Afzal - the RSS and its allies being the only exceptions!

- comment@gurumurthy.net

About the author: S Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues.

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