Around two lakh Muslims gathered at a Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind conference in Godhra where prominent community leaders and social activist Swami Agnivesh spoke about the growing “insecurity” in the country and also rejected the “need for a certificate” of nationalism amid raging political debate over the issue of “Bharat mata ki jai”.
The conference was held Sunday evening in presence of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani who avoided any direct reference to the “Bharat mata ki jai” issue, but said Muslims in the country are Indians “by choice”, as he mentioned the partition and creation of Pakistan in 1947. “We are partakers in this country’s struggles, but we are treated like tenants. This is our country and our land. We have given lives for the freedom struggle and now they are demanding our sacrifice again,” he told the gathering.
Earlier, he told reporters, “One community is particularly feeling insecure. When such a feeling is born in the minds of the people – even if it does not exist in reality – it leads to hopelessness, which is not a good thing. Similarly, communalism creates a bad atmosphere. So, we thought that there was a need to awaken people and raise real issues.”
Madani also condemned acts of terrorism and said, “Terrorists are spreading terror in the name of Islam. It is haram to even hurt people’s feelings.”
On the community’s demand for reservation benefits, Madani said, “Reservation will not change anything. We should have the thirst to earn the knowledge… It is time for the Muslim youth to change. I see, even today, a young Muslim wakes up when the rest of the world has worked hard for half of the day. Changing the government will not change the situation. If you want to change the situation, we have to change our aspirations and our character.”
Other speakers, especially Agnivesh, launched a scathing attack on the BJP-led central government and spoke about a “sinister design” to break the society for political gains. “They (BJP and RSS) want to give us a certificate based on whether we say Bharat mata ki jai or not. Why should we chant Bharat mata ki jai? What is the jai that you are saying? (Vijay) Mallya ki jai? A liquor trader who has duped the country of thousands of crores and decamped. What were Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinking when they knew that the Kingfisher trader has Rs 9,000 crore bank loan? Why hasn’t he been charged with sedition and called anti-national? You book a JNU student leader Kanhaiya for sedition. What is happening in this country,” Agnivesh said.
He also spoke on the Sabarmati train burning incident in Godhra, which had triggered communal riots in several parts of Gujarat in 2002. “The committee of retired judges headed by Justice B R Krishna Iyer stated that the fire was not from outside. Those who conspired to execute this tragedy (riots) should be booked,” he said.
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