The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scrap terror law, shout minorities

Ahmedabad, Oct. 12: The largest gathering of the minority community in Gujarat since the post-Godhra riots today issued a call to take to the streets if the anti-terror act is not repealed because of its discriminatory use in Gujarat.

A resolution adopted at the “all-Gujarat conference”, organised by the Jamiat-Ulama-e-Hind, said of the 350 people booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, all but one was from the minority community.

The law “is being selectively used to harass the minorities”, the resolution said, citing that all the accused in the Godhra train carnage had been booked under it. But those responsible for the Best Bakery and Naroda-Patia killings during the riots had been spared, though their identities are known.

In another resolution, the Jamiat — which has strong nationalist credentials and had opposed Partition — seeks a ban on the VHP, the RSS and the Bajrang Dal for spreading communal hatred.

The resolutions will be handed over to chief minister Narendra Modi. Mehmood Asad Madani, national general secretary of the organisation, said if Modi did not act, the minority community would launch a statewide agitation.

“If this government does not concede to our demands, we will be forced to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers to go to jail,” Madani said.

Almost all sects — including the Shias and the Bohras — were represented at the conference attended by around 40,000 people. Some liberal Muslims did not turn up as they were unhappy with the way religion had been used to organise the meet.

Safi Memon, who was one of the organisers of the biggest riot camp in Ahmedabad, said: “There was no need to use mosques to mobilise crowds.”

During Friday prayers, the clerics had asked everyone to attend the conference, Memon added.

Social activist Digant Oza, one of the invitees, was happy to see the large gathering, but was disappointed that the leaders showed no political vision and only engaged in loud rhetoric.

“It is still not too late Mr Modi,” cautioned noted advocate Majid Menon.

“If you (Modi) are an intelligent person — I presume you are — you must understand that you cannot get away with whatever you do to protect the culprits. The Supreme Court observation about the Best Bakery case should open your eyes.”

Filmmaker and social activist Mahesh Bhatt called for introspection, pointing out that just a few rabid organisations are not responsible for the communal holocaust in Gujarat; the entire nation is.

Why did the silent majority not react' he asked.

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