Delhi cleric held for ‘backing Caliphate, instigating youth’

The NIA claimed Qasmi had been “delivering provocative and inflammatory speeches in support of the Caliphate” and was “instigating youth for anti-national activities”.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary , Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Updated: February 7, 2016 8:10 am
isis-759 A man protests against the Islamic State during a rally in India.

A Delhi-based Islamic scholar, known for his fiery speeches, has become the first cleric to be arrested in connection with the National Investigation Agency’s ‘open FIR’ against the Islamic State. The agency, along with the Uttar Pradesh ATS, arrested Mufti Abdus Sami Qasmi from Hardoi late Friday as its 20th accused in the case.

The NIA claimed Qasmi had been “delivering provocative and inflammatory speeches in support of the Caliphate” and was “instigating youth for anti-national activities”.

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In a statement, the NIA said: “A non-bailable warrant against him had earlier been issued by the NIA special court at New Delhi. He has been arrested in the case of ongoing investigation into the conspiracy to form a terror organisation and to launch terror attacks in the country.”

Qasmi was produced in court Saturday and sent to NIA custody for ten days.

A resident of Seelampur in Delhi, Qasmi graduated from Darul Uloom Deoband. He runs a trust named Majlis-e-Tameer-e-Ummat and a madrasa, NIA sources said. “He studied in a regular school until class VIII and then spent eight years in Darul Uloom Deoband,” sources said.

The NIA said financial transactions related to his madrasa and trust were “under investigation”.

An officer claimed the agency found that alleged IS recruits arrested earlier had organised his speeches for the group. At least three accused from Karnataka — Syed Mujahid Hussein, Mohammed Afzal and Abdul Ahad — were said to have organised his speeches for the group. Ahad had been deported from Turkey last year for trying to enter Syria to join the Islamic State.

In speeches on the Internet, Qasmi talks about the duty of Muslims to establish a caliphate. In one speech, he said: “When US invaded Afghanistan… Iraq… Libya… people fought back. It is mandatory for every Muslim to go to war when attacked.” NIA sources said he a ran a website called http://www.abdussamiqazmi.in and uploaded his speeches there. The website stopped functioning after his arrest. “We have all his speeches,” an officer said.

Qasmi’s wife Dilshad Begum told The Sunday Express Saturday: “I received a call at 5.30 pm Friday. An officer said my husband has been arrested, that they are bringing him back from Allahabad airport. The call got disconnected. I called back. They said my husband is performing namaaz. My husband then spoke to me briefly. He asked me to come to Patiala House Courts at 10 am Saturday.”

Accompanied by over thirty of his “well-wishers” from Seelampur and Jafrabad in North East Delhi, Dilshad Begum reached the courts at 8 am.

Mohammed Ehsan, a resident of the Welcome area in East Delhi, said: “He is a popular cleric here. He is known for giving powerful speeches on the Shariat. We accompanied his wife to show solidarity with the family.”

He said he had known Qasmi for over 15 years after the latter joined as the Imam of Usmania Masjid in Lakdi Market in Welcome. “He spoke on Quran and its tafseer (interpretation). Through these interpretations he used to tell his audience what is good, bad. Over the years, he was was invited by various mosques in Delhi. Later, he was invited to UP and Rajasthan. In the last one year, he even spoke in Gujarat,” Ehsan said.

According to Dilshad Begum, Qasmi left the local mosque three years ago to focus on his madrasa in Muradpur Patna village in Hapur. There he provided primary education. “ He planned to introduce English and computers for the students,” she said.

He has two sons and a daughter. The elder son, who met Qasmi in court Saturday, said: “He told me not to worry. He asked me to keep his wallet and told me to prepare well for the medical entrance examination.”