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Mumbai violence: Organisers admit remarks against media led to tension

2 persons killed,54 injured when a protest by Muslim organisation turned violent.

The protest at Azad Maidan against the killing of Muslims in Assam and Myanmar was organised by Raza Academy and a few other organisations. Less than an hour after the riot started,president of the Raza Academy Alhaj Mohammed Saeed Noori Sahab said the “miscreants” were not associated with the academy. “Our protest was peaceful,” he said.

2 dead,54 hurt in Mumbai protest over Assam violence

However,two hours later,as it emerged that the violence began after a speech condemning “poor coverage” of the Assam situation by the media,Noori admitted that an “irresponsible” speech had been made but steps were taken to bring the situation under control. He,however,maintained that the miscreants who were involved in the violence were not part of the academy.

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“There were several persons on the stage. One irresponsible person made statements regarding the media coverage. He was immediately stopped and attempts were made to calm the situation. We had no idea that this will happen,” he said,condemning the attack on the media.

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The academy was formed in 1978 in Mumbai by Noori. The organisation routinely condemns acts of violence against Muslims and has worked with mohalla committees in Mumbai to maintain peace post-1993 riots and,more recently,called for celebrations when Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab was given the death sentence for his role in the 26/11 terror attack.

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Sources said the speech against the media was made by Maulana Sayid Moin Ashraf. He reportedly said the media covered even the smallest of human rights violations elsewhere but blacked out the Assam and Myanmar incidents.

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Ashraf,however,denied making such a speech. He said the protest was peaceful. “People began dispersing at 3.30 pm after a prayer,” he said. “Some posters were put up outside the venue but no provocative speech was made,” he said.

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Photographs of the event at Azad Maidan show him and retired assistant police commissioner Shamsher Khan Pathan on stage along with a girl holding a placard that read: “Media,Media,help us.”

‘Miscreants not associated with Raza Academy’

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Pathan,who recently floated a political outfit,said they had informed the police that they were expecting a crowd of around 20,000. He said the protest was going on peaceful till one speaker remarked about the media coverage,after which the situation became tense.

First published on: 12-08-2012 at 01:50:07 am
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