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HVK Archives: Murder of 3 maulvis chills reformist clergy

Murder of 3 maulvis chills reformist clergy - The Indian Express

Sujata Anandan ()
July 22, 1998

Title: Murder of 3 maulvis chills reformist clergy
Author: Sujata Anandan
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: July 22, 1998

Unpublicised, and almost unnoticed, the killings of three maulvis
in the Jama Masjid area since January this year, has sent a chill
down the spines of 'reformist Muslim clergy in the city.

The killings have little in common save the fact that all three
men were moderates with two of them at the forefront of
organising the Tabliqui Ijtema in December last year that had the
blessing of Bal Thackeray and was engineered as a major thaw in
the stand-off between Muslims and Hindus.

Rafiq Ahmed, 29 and Siraj Ahmed, 30, were gunned down right
outside Jama Masjid on January 18 after the zohr (afternoon)
namaz. Both men, from the Deobandi school, had no criminal record
and we were known for their resistance to the rise in
fundamentalism in the city.

According to the First Information Report with the LT Marg police
station, soon after the prayers during the taqreer (a brief
sermon after the prayers), the two maulvis got into an argument
with a group of men over their pacifist preachings which is said
to have hurt the feelings of he other side. Among the other
reasons for the argument was also the fact that the two clerics
had distributed pamphlets in the area that day, justifying their
interaction with Bal Thackeray. Just as they emerged from the
mosque and turned towards the Abdur Rehman street, five men
whipped out revolvers and shot the maulvis in cold blood.
Subsequently, all five were arrested.

Initial consternation among the Muslims at the spilling of blood
in the fight between the hawks and doves turned into raw fear
when on June 3, another maulvi by the name of Hafizi, was found
dead at his home in Agripada. Once again, Hafizi was a known
pacifist who preached the Quran from door to door. Hafizi's body
was found with his throat slit and a suspicious suicide note by
his side.

But Agripada police, investigating the death have ruled out
suicide. t is almost impossible for a man to slit his throat
the way Hafizi's was, says one officer. The other reason that
rules out suicide is that the Quran frowns on anyone taking own
life and Hafizi was a very religious man. here was no way that
he would have gone against the diktat of the Quran, says the

He suspects tat Hafizi, too, was a victim of the ongoing war
between the various political parties fighting for space in the
Muslim dominated areas of the city.

Whatever the motives, the incidents have come as a warning to the
reformists among the community who, according to information
available with the Central Bureau of Investigation, have been
routinely threatened through a section of the Urdu press.

However, a top ranking police official told Express Newsline on
condition of anonymity that the charge that the police were
hushing up the cases was baseless and that the Muslim moderates
had failed to provide adequate evidence that there was anything

But by the police's own admission an environment of fear had
overtaken large sections of the Muslim population and was
affecting the stance of the moderate clergy. ake for instance,
the dispute over the celebration of the Prophet's birthday.
Normally there is no controversy over the birth date but this
year when the extremist group insisted on separate celebrations,
they were not opposed, says the police officer.

For similar reasons, the communist played down the attack on Dr
Mehmoodur Rehman, the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim
University, as he led a procession through the Muslim areas of
the city on the Prophet's birthday. To compound matters, Waris
Jamal, the general secretary of the AD India Tablig-e-Seerat, who
condemned the attack on Dr Rehman, is now himself under siege,
with extremists baying for his blood for his pacifist stand.

It took more than ten days for other moderates to summon up the
courage to speak out in his favour. And no sooner had they voiced
their opposition to the rising extremism - on Sunday than a group
of fundamentalists allegedly launched an abortive bid for the
take-over of Khilafat House on Monday, fiercely resisted by its
executives. Minutes before the arrival of police, they vanished,
and are now declared as "unidentified" by the authorities.
Khilafat House is leading the reformist movement in the country
and its promoters are now genuinely worried.

"We had already informed the police officials that we expect the
building to become the target of such an attack. But nothing is
being done," Khilafat House chairperson Dr Rafiq Zakaria said.
"This is typical of the police callousness shown in the regard
of. the threat to Muslim reformists. Even during the procession,
police had intelligence about a possible attack on it. But they
made no bundobast, not even caring to remove the road blocks put
up in Bhendi Bazaar and switch on the fights after a deliberate
blackout to stop our progress. We are genuinely worried," he
added. But the biggest cause for worry is elsewhere.

The five killers of the maulvis killed outside Jama Masjid Anees
Abdul Zakaria, Mazhar Khan. Pathan, Akeel Mansoori, Javed Kalia
and Farooq Mutija - have been known to operate at the behest of
Dawood Ibrahim. A frightening indication that for the first time,
the underworld might be getting involved in the fight of the
doves and hawks.

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