July 15, 2006 3:11:34 pm
When SIMI was banned in September 2001, its cradle, Uttar Pradesh, was heading for elections and the decision became a campaign issue. With its suspected involvement in the Mumbai blasts under investigation and the renewed ban on the organisation being examined by a tribunal, SIMI is yet again an issue for parties warming up for the UP polls.
Post-9/11 in 2001, BJP claimed credit for the ban and sought a Hindu consolidation against ‘‘Islamic fundamentalism’’. Mulayam Singh Yadav’s protest was prompt. ‘‘Muslims have always been persecuted,’’ he thundered. BSP leader Mayawati made similar protests while the Left and the Congress maintained a studied silence.
Irrespective of its suspected links with terror networks, SIMI’s support base among ordinary Muslims is very limited, a fact mainstream parties ignore. ‘‘To suggest that opposing SIMI will be taken by Muslims as a hostile gesture is an insult to the entire community,” says Javed Anand, editor, Communalism Combat.
However, Muslim intelligentsia created a buffer for SIMI by questioning the logic of the crackdown. For instance, the latest issue of Milli Gazette claims there is ‘‘no case against SIMI’’.
While Mulayam continues to be seen as supportive of the organisation, parties other than the BJP consider confronting SIMI a political inconvenience. ‘‘In Mulayam’s case, it is desperation. For the others, it is confusion,” sums up Anand.
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