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Muslim clerics defend blasts accused Bashar

By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
August 21, 2008 22:56 IST
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Prominent Islamic clerics led by the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Maulana Ahmed Bukhari on Sunday came out in a big way to the defence of the recently arrested madrasa teacher Mufti Abu Bashar, in connection with last month's serial blasts in Ahmedabad.

Joined by Samajwadi Party member of Parliament, Abu Asim Azmi, Bukhari virtually sounded a bugle of revolt against what he termed as "the anti-Muslim" policies of the Indian investigating agencies.

Azmi hails from a village that adjoins Bashar's native village of Bina Para in Sarai Meer area of Azamgarh district .

Their  call for a protest rally on the Lucknow-Azamgarh highway drew at least 5000–7000 people, who kept the road blocked for hours, while raising anti-police and anti-government  slogans. The crowds cheered the speakers, who openly flayed the government and the police.

While both Azmi and Bukhari termed the police action as "biased", Bukhari went to the extent of issuing a warning, "If the government does not take early measures to bring an end to undue harassment of Muslims who were indiscriminately labeled  as terrorists, this country is in for another partition, so let us be prepared for nation wide riots and violence."

Bukhari said, "all this talk about creation of  Indian Mujahideen needs to be probed . I would not be surprised if such an organization has been floated by fundamentalist bodies like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or Vishwa Hindu Parishad with the sole intention of defaming Muslims."

Abu Asim Azmi said, "I am not giving any clean chit to anyone, but the manner adopted by the investigating agencies speaks of a blatant bias and a predetermined approach."

Azmi felt, "an appropriate way to deal with the situation would be to constitute a  high level committee comprising secular minded judicial luminaries like Justice Sachar, Justice Krishna Iyer and Justice A A Ahmadi , it could even have representatives of Hindu organizations like RSS and VHP also. Let them question the arrested young Muslim boys  and if the committee is convinced that they are actually involved in terrorism, let them be hanged."

However , in the same vein Azmi went on to add a word of caution, "but what the investigating agencies are doing today is grossly unfair ; they were all declared as terrorists well before any trial and this is what needs to be stopped."
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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow