Meet at Ramlila Ground sets the political agenda for the Muslim community's empowerment.
New Delhi, January 31: A large gathering of Muslims, variously estimated to be 40,000-50,0000 strong, at the historic Ramlila Ground here today resolved to fight terrorism, struggle for justice and equal opportunity and concentrate on acquiring education for the community’s young men and women.
In a 28-point “Delhi Declaration” readout by Dr Kumar Rajiv this “Grand Conference” of the All India Milli Council (AIMC) reiterated some of its familiar demands like Scheduled Castes (SCs) status to Muslim Dalits and reservation in education and jobs for them like their Hindu counterparts.
In his address the AIMC Patron, former Chief Justice of India, Justice A M Ahmadi, said that yesterday, on the 61st anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, he had a thought on how the nation had closed its ranks and united in the face of that tragedy. It was the same national response at the time of the Mumbai attacks several weeks ago. He said it was what the Constitution described as “unity and integrity of the nation”.
He told the gathering collected from all over India that all civilised nations, including India, gave the same constitutional rights to everyone, “except a couple of special provisions for the minorities”. However, he pointed out, “whenever we talk of our rights, heavily-loaded expressions like ‘appeasement’ and ‘pseudo-secularism’ begin to fly around”.
That is done to instill fear in Muslims, who are obliquely told that they are living in India on sufferance and can be driven out at will. “Throw out the fear, because it would not allow you to savour the flavour of freedom.” He reassured the meeting that nobody could drive them out. “Hum yehin rahenge”, he added emphatically.
Justice Ahmadi said that being called a vote bank was an unpleasant experience for Muslims. But, ironically, it was a source of strength as well. “Know the value of your vote and exercise it thoughtfully to get your democratic rights”, he counseled. Courts had protected and advanced the Fundamental Rights, but courts acted only when citizens approached them. “Only those who struggle for their rights are able to get them”, he added.
However, he asked the gathering, “What have you done for your uplift over the last six decades? Have you availed of the right to education?” He said Muslims must get educated, especially their women. “Education is free from age 6 to age 14. Avail of it”, he advised.
Urdu Sahara daily editor Aziz Burney said that every caste had its own party, but Muslims had stayed with the Nehru family, Bahuguna, Mulayam, Laloo and Mayawati. “We don’t want our own party, but from now on we must think and act independently while making our political choices”.
Contradicting Justice Ahmadi, Burney asserted that when Muslims focused on Aligarh Muslim University in their pursuit of education, Aligarh was targeted for frequent communal riots. When they resorted to madrasah education, madrasahs were defamed by anti-Muslim groups. Now that they were turning to Jamia Millia in New Delhi the Jamia Nagar encounter of L-18, Batla House was used to defame the Jamia locality and drive them away from this seat of learning.
In his address, the social reformer and anti-child labour crusader Swami Agnivesh said that L-18, Batla House encounter had too many unexplained aspects, which had to be explained through a proper enquiry. He said that was important for justice to prevail.
The AIMC president, Maulana Abdullah Mughaisi, pointed out that no politician had been invited because the Council did not want any political party to hijack its agenda.
He recalled the great contributions of the “ulema” (Islamic religious scholars) to the independence struggle. However, he regretted that people who had no contribution to independence struggle had sidelined Muslims when they came to power. He emphasised justice and fair play for the prosperity of the country.
Mufti Ashraf Ali, Ameer-e-Shariat Karnataka, said the country was by and large being run on constitutional lines, but hate groups had been trying to derail it. He cautioned that such groups must never be allowed to have their way and deny justice to the minorities.
The President of Jamait-e-Islami Hind, Maulana Jalaluddin Umri, said that nobody could justify terrorism for any reason, but some groups were justifying the terror tactics of Abhinav Bharat and associated organisations. He said, “all of us must come clean on this subject. Terrorism cannot be justified”.
AIMC treasurer Mauji Khan said that the source of Muslim disempowerment lay in their inadequate political representation. “We don’t want political promises, we want action”, he said.
Leaders from other Muslim organisations like All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat president Dr. Zafar Islam Khan and representatives from sufi shrines also participated.
The additional general secretary of the AIMC, Maulana Abdul Wahhab Khilji, in his welcome address said that gruesome events like Mumbai terrorist attacks and the Israeli invasion of Gaza must be condemned in strongest terms, and must never be allowed to recur.
The AIMC General Secretary Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam read out a separate “Internal Resolution” for the AIMC and the Muslim community to act upon. It had largely to do with social and educational reform.
It renewed the commitment to live by the teachings of Islam as law-abiding citizens of the country. It also resolved to participate more actively in business and trade, enrich the existing educational assets like madrasasahs and community-run schools with better teaching methods and tools.
An important point was the resolve to shun political parties which use fear to elicit Muslim vote. It said it would decide on more positive factors like development and equality.
Dr. Alam took a pledge from the gathering to implement the resolutions immediately.
Among messages circulated in the meeting, one was from journalist M J Akbar and another from All India Muslim Personal Law Board Chairman Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadvi. Akbar’s message said Islam accommodated all religious groups except the munafiqeen (hypocrites), who said one thing and did another. His message warned Muslims not to vote for parties that claimed to be friends of Muslims but were not.
Christian leader Dr. John Dayal and Fr. Dominique, Sikh leaders, Sardar Pramjeet Singh Sarna and Sardar Gurdeep Singh were present, so was Amnesty International India Director, Mukul Sharma, Maulana Jalaluddin Umri Ameer-e- jamaat, Jamaate Islami Hind, Dr Zafrul Islam Khan, Mulana Yasin Ali Usmani. A delegation of Sikhs also participated. Delhi Minority Commission chairman Kamal Farooqui was also present.
The Urdu version of the Delhi Declaration was read out by Mr. Zafaryab Jilani (Advocate).
Mohammed Ataur Rahman