New Delhi, Feb. 9: Uttar Pradesh Muslims today reacted for the first time to a development in Kashmir, voicing sadness and anger at Afzal Guru’s hanging and expressing scepticism about the Congress’s “even-handedness” towards the minorities.
The sentiments have, however, not yet reshaped political views. Those spoken to said the Congress should treat their words as an “early wake-up call to mend its ways”.
Zafar-ul Islam Khan, who heads the Majlis-e-Mushawarat, said: “Yes, we did not speak up for many things in the Valley because of the role of militants…. We spoke up against the injustices done on women and children by the security forces.
“But I stress that Afzal Guru was not given a fair trial, he never took part in the actual attack. He did not get legal help in time. He was the only one among the conspirators to be convicted. Therefore, it was reckless of the Indian polity to take such a step.”
Masoom Moradabadi, the national secretary of the Urdu Editors’ Conference was more scathing.
Moradabadi, who was part of the Congress’s war room during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and helped mobilise Muslim opinion in the party’s favour, said: “A terrorist is a terrorist, regardless of religion, state or sect. The same law should be used against every terrorist. Does it happen? No.”
He explained why: “Akbaruddin Owaisi (the MIM MLA of Andhra in judicial remand for making an alleged hate speech) is in jail, (Praveen) Togadia (VHP) is scot-free. Owaisi has been charged with sedition, his bail pleas are rejected. Togadia has also waged a war against the nation in his speeches, yet no action is taken. I accuse the Congress of adopting double standards. ”
Khalid Rashid, the Naib Imam of Lucknow’s Aishbagh Eidgah mosque, said if Afzal was hanged, so should the perpetrators of Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid, Samjhauta and the Malegaon blasts. These were allegedly done by activists who were or are associated with the RSS.
But not all Muslims shared the sense of part outrage, part regret. Kamal Farooqui of the Samajwadi Party said: “The law has taken its course and nobody is above the Supreme Court.”
Aijaz Ilmi, a partner of the Kanpur-based Siyasat group of dailies, still maintained the view that the problems of Kashmiri Muslims “are not entirely our problems”.