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Indian police desperate to arrest and humiliate Muslim head of statutory body

22nd May 2020
Indian police desperate to arrest and humiliate Muslim head of statutory body

M Ghazali Khan

Delhi police raided the house of the Chair of the Delhi Minority Commission (DMC) and internationally renowned Islamic scholar, Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, on May 7. He and his family were about to have ifṭār (breaking fast).

The raid by the Special Cell of Delhi police was in response to complaints by a Hindutva activist against Dr Khan. His case was registered against him for allegedly subverting the constitution and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.

Dr Khan’s arrest was stopped by Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover. She pleaded that according to the Indian Criminal Procedure Code, being a senior citizen, 72, and suffering from old age-related illnesses, Dr Khan could not be taken to any other place for questioning except his residence.
On the face of it, Dr Khan’s crime is a Facebook post and a tweet in which he had thanked, “Kuwait for standing with the Indian Muslims.”

In April Kuwait appealed to the Organisation of Islamic Conference to intervene in India to tackle anti-Muslim sentiments in the country and General Secretariat of Kuwait Council of Ministers issued a press release expressing “deep concern” about the treatment of Indian Muslims.

In the post in question, Dr Khan wrote, “The Hindutva bigots calculated that given the huge economic stakes involved, the Muslim and Arab world will not care about the persecution of Muslims in India.

“The bigots forgot that Indian Muslims enjoy huge goodwill in the eyes of the Arab and Muslim world for their services over the centuries to Islamic causes, excellence in Islamic and Arabic scholarly, cultural and civilizational gifts to world heritage. Names like, Shah Waliullah Dehlavi, Iqbal, Abdul Hasann Nadwi, Wahiduddin Khan, Zakir Naik and many others are respected household names in the Arab and world.”

He added, “Mind you, bigots, Indian Muslims have opted until now not to complain to the Arab and Muslim world about your hate campaigns and lynchings and riots. The day they are pushed to do that; bigots will face an avalanche.”

This gave the BJP’s spokesperson and probably the most venomous and foul-mouthed individual in the party, a god-given opportunity to rule.

He immediately responded by tweeting, ‘Friends posting the letter of Sh Zafarul-Islam Khan, Chair of Delhi Minorities Commission. Please go through the content. Not only Zakir Naik is hailed as a hero, but also there’s a threat in the form of an avalanche!! Do I need to say more?’

He was immediately joined by fellow Islamophobe Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, one of the most shamelessly hateful television anchors who said, “We are fighting two forces at one time, 1 Zakir Naik supporter in India. 2 Secular of India.”

This followed a vicious campaign against Dr Khan on social media, resulting in an First Information Report being filed by a Hindutva activist.

However, Dr Khan’s real crime is trying to serve the Indian Muslims as best as he can and breathing life into the lifeless DMC. Since he took over as DMC’s chairman three years ago, he has given a tough time by the ruling BJP and Delhi police both by making them stop many of their anti-Muslim initiatives.

According to veteran Urdu journalist and Secretary of All India Urdu Editors Conference, Masoom Moradabari, “… the chairmanships of minority commissions are always bestowed upon members belonging to ruling parties who can work as yes-men and keep silently enjoying the governmental favours. The DMC is no different.”

In a long piece defending Dr Khan, Morabadi wrote, “However, after taking the charge, Dr Khan completely overhauled the institution. One of the main reasons for this is that he is an apolitical figure without any political agenda before him. He served the institution with dedication. One does not need to go far to review his performance.”

He added, “No one cared for the victims of anti-Muslim riots of last February in northeast Delhi as much as Dr Khan did. He toured the riot-hit areas several times and arranged relief for the victims. He repeatedly highlighted and brought to the notice of Delhi government the problems faced by the Muslims of Delhi and got several issues resolved. It was due to his tireless efforts that attempt to ban Azaan in the mosques of Delhi were foiled.”

It should be borne in mind that one of the main features of Gujarat Genocide 2002 was that, in order to demoralise ordinary Muslims, Muslims elites were particularly targeted and a former MP Ehsan Jafri was lynched and burnt to death while still alive. The same philosophy is at work behind the police raid on Dr Khan’s residence.

The raid at Iftar time is a glaring example of the Indian Government’s and its police’s insensitivity and disrespect to Muslims’ sensibilities; this was also meant to tell common Muslims that if a renowned personality could be dealt with in such a manner, none of them is safe.

Leading Indian Muslim organisations have demanded the withdrawal of the First Information Report against Dr Khan while the Delhi High Court has granted him anticipatory bail and instructed the police to stop acting coercively against him until the next hearing on June 22.

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