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Who Is Waseem Rizvi?

Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI—Waseem Rizvi, who filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court on March 12 this year demanding removal of 26 verses from the Holy Quran, is not new to create controversies.

Rizvi, who worked in Saudia Arabia, Japan and the United States of America before launching his political career by fighting municipal elections in Lucknow, worked as chairman of the Shia Central Wakf Board from 1995-2020. He was first appointed Shia Board’s chairman under chief ministership of Mayawati in 1995 and later on, shifted his loyalties Samajwadi Party when Mayawati lost power. During his tenure as chief of the board, he took a number of unpopular initiatives angering Shia leaders and clerics.

FIRs Registered Against Rizvi

Rizvi, who was fully backed by the then SP Minister Azam Khan, had a number of cases registered against him, for alleged illegal sale, purchase and transfer of waqf properties in Lucknow and Allahabad (now Prayagraj).

While the FIR in Prayagraj was registered in 2016, the other case was registered in Lucknow in 2017. Both the FIRs were lodged by UP police. He was also chargesheeted by CB-CID, UP. But both the cases were, later on, transferred to CBI after BJP came to power with Yogi Adityanath as chief minister in 2017. He has also been booked in a case of cheating along with Azam Khan in Rampur. CBI re-registered the case against him.

In the two cases registered against him, the CBI levelled charges of cheating, breach of trust and criminal intimidation against him. The Prayagraj case is in connection with illegal construction of shops at Imambrara Ghulam Haider. The FIR lodged in Lucknow is in connection with cheating and intimidating the caretaker of a waqf land. There are also allegations of embezzlement of board funds to the tune of  Rs. 70 crores against him. Rizvi, however, has denied all charges against him, saying that these charges have been levelled against him to “weaken his argument”.

Rizvi, who worked under the mentorship of former minister Azam Khan, however, changed his political leanings after the Yogi government handed over the cases against him to the CBI and after the arrest of Azam Khan, perhaps fearing that he might also be arrested and put behind bar like Azam Khan, his wife and their son.

Demands Closure of ‘Madrasas’

He stirred hornest nest for the first time on January 10, 2018 when he wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking closure of all ‘madrasas’ as he said that they produced “terrorists”. He claimed that ‘madrasas’ were used to give training to make explosives. He also claimed that ‘madrasas’ promoted fundamentalism and terrorism in the country. He called ‘madrasas’ a ‘curse’ for the society.

He demanded that ‘madrasas’ be converted into regular schools and affiliated to CBSE and ICSE boards, in which Islamic education can be an optional subject.

In a similar letter to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, he described ‘madrasas’ as “hotbed” of terror ideology.

On February 3, 2018, he went to Ayodhya and gave a statement saying that those who opposed Ram Temple at Bari Masjid’s site, should go to Pakistan and Bangladesh. Such people, he said, had no place in India. His statements were described by Shia leaders as a bid to save himself from the long arm of law as he is involved in grabbing and illegal selling of waqf properties.

Accused Of Working To Create Rift Between Shias, Sunnis

Shia leaders including Maulana Kalb-e-Jawwad accused Rizvi of creating rift between Shia and Sunnis at the behest of certain forces who want to marginalize the Muslim community as a whole.

In September 2018, he levelled allegations that homosexuality was prevalent in ‘madrasas’.  After this statement, he was expelled from the community by Shia clerics.

He not only supported the construction of Ram Temple but also donated Rs. 51,000 for it.

Rizvi Makes Provocative “Ram Janmabhoomi Film”

In November 2018, he courted further controversy when he came out with the trailer of a highly provocative and polarizing film, Ram Janmabhoomi. During release of the trailer in Lucknow, Rizvi claimed that the script of the film was written and produced by him. He claimed the film was shot in Ayodhya.

It led to a lot of outrage among Muslims as the trailer of the film targeted Muslims and showed them as a violent community while RSS leader Indresh Kumar, who was chargesheeted in Ajmer bomb blast case in March 2011 by National Investigation Agency (NIA) case, was shown as a “Hindu leader”. NIA had alleged that Indresh Kumar had taken part in a meeting in Jaipur where the conspiracy for Ajmer blast was hatched.

The trailer of the film was about incidents of 1990 when ‘kar sevaks’ climbed atop one of the domes of the Babri Masjid during chief ministership of Mulayam Singh Yadav. It shows ‘kar sevak’ as peaceful people, with fabricated and false scenes of Muslims provoking the Hindutva people.
There were also scenes that showed Muslims using violence against Hindus, with references about police conspiring with Mulayam Singh Yadav mentioned as Netaji in the trailer.

A sign board of Shia Waqf Board was also strategically shown in the film. While Rizvi is shown acting in the film, Indresh Kumar was shown as a guest at a television news within the film.

To defame Muslims and Islam, the film showed a character Jafar Khan not only as a terrorist but a member of a Shariya Board drinking alcohol and committing ‘halala’ with her daughter-in-law.

With scenes of Muslim men indulging into lynching of ‘innocent Hindu kar sevaks’, the trailer also showed Muslim ‘icons’ and flags as a symbol of aggression of violent Muslim mobs.

The trailer also showed Rizvi using derogatory language against three of the four rightly guided Khalifas, with a view to instigating Shia-Sunni conflict in India. This was perhaps in line with BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s statement given on September 14, 2017on “uniting Hindus, by creating division among Muslims”.

However, Rizvi failed in his objective because Shias and Sunnis did not react to his provocations. Shias and Sunnis understood the larger conspiracy behind all this and instead of fighting among themselves, ignored it and collectively condemned Rizvi and demanded registration of a case against him.

Rizvi’s Latest Mischief

Rizvi’s latest mischief is his public interest petition (PIL) filed in the Supreme on March 12, 2021 demanding removal of 26 verses from the Holy Quran. He claims that the verses were incorporated into the Quran by three Caliphs-Abu Bakr, Umar and Usman-to justify their own aggrandizement and that these verses incite Muslims to violence and violent Jihad. Through this, he is trying to show that the entire Quran is not the word of Allah as believed by Muslims ever since Quran was revealed more than 1400 years ago on Prophet Mohammed through Angle Gabriel. But his mischief has again united Shias and Sunnis as both the Muslim groups are jointly launching protests all over the country and demanding appropriate action against him for hurting sentiments of the Muslim community, not only in India but all over the world.

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