A conspiracy to halt progress of Azamgarh Muslims: ex-SIMI chief

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,

Dr Shahid Badr Falahi, an Azamgarh native and former president of banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), runs his two Unani medical clinics in Azamgarh. One of his clinic is in a village that is over 90% Hindus. Hindus have no problem coming to him for their medical needs.

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During his visit to the town Mumtaz Alam Falahi of TwoCircles.net caught up with him to get his views on Batla House encounter and its follow-up vis-à-vis Azamgarh’s Muslim youths and economic and educational condition of Muslims there.

Impacts of Batla House encounter and its follow-up on Azamgarh’s Muslim youths

The issue has affected rather shaken everyone here in one way or the other. The worst affected are the youths who were studying outside the district or were trying to make a career out of education. In the last 15 years the Muslim community in Azamgarh witnessed a sort of educational revolution. In the wake of growing educational awareness people went out in good number to Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia and Hamdard University for higher education. Earlier people did not give much weight to education. Just one or two would go out. They would focus on earning. Hardly one could find a graduate in an entire village.

But in the last 15 years a crowd set out for higher education. In 1991 I went to Aligarh Muslim University. Then, for example, there was hardly a student from Mubarkpur area of Azamgarh. But today students from that area are at No. 2 in population at AMU.

In the recent incidents those students have been targeted who were getting higher education – those killed or arrested or absconding all are such students. Their aim was to get higher education and get good job. Their fathers did menial work in Gulf countries but they do not want their sons go that way, and so they encouraged and invested lot on the education of their children.

But the latest development has watered down their enthusiasm and ambition. It is feared that this will dampen their spirit to send their children out for higher education. Youths are in fear and it is feared they will get frustrated and hopeless. Indiscriminate picking of youths from the district has frightened those going out for higher education. It is feared that they will not gather courage to go out and this will keep them from higher education. In this district there are no opportunities for higher education. What they can get in Delhi or Aligarh, DU or JNU, they can’t get here. If it happens then they will be again where they were 15 years back.

Frightened youths

The Muslim youths haven’t yet come out of fear. Because arresting is on, so is harassment of innocents. Neither those arrested have been released nor has an enquiry been ordered in the Batla House case. Without these how can one come out of fear? Until people are safe and rule of law is restored and no one is allowed to do atrocities, how can one be hopeful? If oppression continues and problems remain mounting, fear will also increase.

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Why Muslims of Azamgarh?

Post-Independence history is replete with examples that show that areas where Muslims were financially well off or doing well, despite their minimal presence in government jobs, have been targeted in the form of communal riots. In Muradabad, also called “Brass City” or Peetal Nagri, Muslims dominated the trade of brass handicrafts. Riots were carried out and Muslim businesses were destroyed. Several cities in the country have been targeted in that way. They include Firozabad, Meerut, Bhagalpur, Aligarh, Kanpur, Bhiwandi and Malegaon. As culprits were known to all, the victims, mostly Muslims, would get sympathy and help from many.

Now the trend has changed. Now Muslims are being targeted in the garb of terrorism. Muslim youths are being killed and arrested as “terrorists.” Now their fathers and mothers are not able to even cry as their sons have been described as terrorists.

Muslims from Azamgarh went Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries. They did hard work there and earned money and brought prosperity in the district and so contributed in the development of the country. They thought to give good and higher education to their children. Muslims still have very low presence in government jobs here. But people could not digest progress and prosperity of Azamgarh Muslims. Azamgarh has never witnessed any riot, so local Muslims are now being hit in the garb of terrorism.

Impact of the issue on Hind-Muslim relations

Very few places in the country can compare deep-rooted communal harmony and Hindu-Muslim brotherhood that has been here in Azamgarh for long. In my village, Hindus and Muslims have shared their happiness and sorrow. They invite us at their wedding ceremony and so do we. There has never been any communal feeling or hatred among people from either community. But Advani’s Rath Yatra taken out before the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 sprinkled some red dots on the canvas of the communal harmony here and first time people felt that the wall of communal harmony has been shaken.

Even at that time there was no communal clash. The district of Azamgarh has never witnessed any communal riot. True, some anti-social elements from outside the district came and tried to instigate communal violence but they failed. Very recently Aditya Nath Yogi, BJP MP from Gorakhpur, had come here and tried to push the city into communal riot but people from the majority community did not respond to his move and the city remained almost peaceful because local Hindus did want communal clash. The credit for the communal harmony goes to its centuries-old composite culture and civilization. Maybe one or two locals have changed tone and attitude over the time but the anti-socials could not shake the root of the communal harmony.

In Sidhari village there are families of two brothers. One brother converted to Islam and other remained Hindu. But there is no clash between them. They are living comfortably and there are strong and good relations between them.

Muslim doctors in Azamgarh

In the district of Azamgarh most notable presence of Muslims is in the health sector. Top doctors including specialists and surgeons are Muslims. Ten years back there were just a couple of prominent Muslim doctors, today there are 20 leading doctors. Credit for this goes to Aligarh Muslim University. Most of the leading doctors of this city have done medical courses from AMU, some are from Lucknow and Kanpur also.

Some doctors are also running hospitals like Aqsa Hospital, Nazma Child Care Centre, Nazir Memorial Hospital and Iqbal Hospital.

Azamgarh Muslim youth and terrorism

Much before the disclosure about the involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and others in blasts, I have been telling media persons that not a single Muslim is involved in terror acts in the country. And the allegations against Azamgarh Muslim youths are just part of a conspiracy against the economic and educational progress of the community here. About 15 years back Muslims here were very backward but now when they have emerged as successful doctors and teachers and politicians, the conspiracy has been hatched to halt their progress. Not a single Muslim child from Azamgarh is involved in terrorist activities. And why should a Muslim do such act when his community itself is affected by its impacts. I am sure all Muslims arrested in connection with blasts will be acquitted as they are innocents.