Row over anti-prophet statement: Amid protests, Hindu outfit denounces remarks

ABHM, of which Tiwari claims to be the working president, issues statement saying ‘any disrespect to the Prophet is not appropriate’.

Written by Mohd Faisal Fareed | Lucknow | Published:December 14, 2015 5:06 am

 

PROTEST-759 Police lathicharge during a protest against Kamlesh Tiwari’s remarks, in Lucknow. Express

The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) has distanced itself from self-proclaimed Hindutva activist Kamlesh Tiwari, whose alleged remarks against Prophet Muhammad led to massive countrywide protests by Muslims. Tiwari claims to be the working president of ABHM.

“Any disrespect to the Prophet is not appropriate. ABHM does not agree with Tiwari and it is his personal view. We respect all religions and their leaders. We are committed for Akhand Hindu Rashtra, Hindu, Hindi and Hindustan. We are a supporter of development of all communities,” said a written statement by Munna Kumar Sharma, who claims to be the national general secretary of the ABHM.

Angry over Tiwari’s alleged remarks, Muslims have held large protest rallies in Ludhiana, Indore, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Bhopal and other regions over the last few days. On Sunday, there were protests in Hyderabad and Lucknow, with protesters blocking the Lucknow-Hardoi road for hours.

In UP, protests have been held in at least a dozen districts so far. On Friday, large scale protests were held in Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Moradabad, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Farrukhabad, Lucknow and several other districts. At Deoband, students of Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, too, joined the protests.

Earlier, on December 5, All India Muslim Personal Law Board President and Rector of Islamic Seminary Nadwatul Uloom, Maulana Rabey Hasan Nadwi, had written to CM Akhilesh Yadav asking him to formulate a policy for punishing those who issued statements against other religions.

Later, in his meeting with prominent Muslim clerics on December 9, the CM assured stern action against Tiwari. Subsequently, the Lucknow police invoked NSA against Tiwari on December 10.

In a sharp reaction to a reported attack on RSS members by the state’s minority welfare minister Azam Khan on November 29, Tiwari issued his statement that was widely circulated on the social media for at least two days. After the statement was reported in the Urdu media, it triggered the first massive protest in Saharanpur on December 2. Tiwari was arrested the same day, and continues to be in jail.

“We condemn his statement. He should not have given such a statement. He does not hold any post in the organisation and there is no need for giving him importance,” Munna Kumar Sharma told The Indian Express.

At a press conference in Lucknow on Friday, Tiwari’s supporters had claimed that he had issued the statement in reaction to Azam Khan’s comments against RSS leaders. Even Tiwari’s lawyer, Mahadev Singh, said that while his client had indeed issued the statement on November 30, “he did not mean” to comment on the Prophet.

Tiwari had announced temple for Godse

A native of Sitapur district, Tiwari is known for raking up controversial issues. He was arrested on January 22, soon after he announced a temple to honour Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse in Sitapur. He was again arrested in August for announcing to perform Jalabhishek at Shringar Gauri temple in Varanasi, which is restricted for visitors, and for getting Gyanvapi Mosque removed from the Kashi Vishwanath temple area.

Earlier, Tiwari had also allegedly threatened journalists of a news channel in Lucknow while protesting against a show after Afzal Guru’s hanging. He had even reportedly demanded the beheading of actor Aamir Khan for calling India intolerant.

While the police denied his links with ABHM, the outfit admitted that Tiwari was a decade-old worker, adding that he held no official post.

“Earlier, he was state president and then the president of a committee. However, currently he does not hold any post,” said Nand Kishore Mishra, who claimed to be working president of ABHM’s protem committee.

He, however, added that since Tiwari was in a “crisis” and the organisation will help him.

“For this, we have sought time from UP Governor to apprise him about the situation,” he said.