By Our Special Correspondent
PUNE—At a time when India, despite being a non-permanent United National Security Council (UNSC) member, has reiterated its “strong support for the just Palestinian cause and declared its unwavering commitment to the two-state solution at the global level, the police forces in different parts of the country are going into overdrive to book Muslim community members who either peacefully protested against the Israeli aggression or appealed to the community to demonstrate their solidarity with Palestinian brothers.
Close in-house events are also under the radar of the local intelligence units of police who ensure that any such event held must be dealt with strongly and cases lodged against the organizers at the drop of a hat. Muslim community members across the country are of the opinion that the inherent anti-Muslim bias amongst a section of the law enforcement agencies was the prime reason behind the witch-hunting of the community for simply raising voice for justice and peace at the global level.
It all began a few day ago where the Uttar Pradesh police arrested a Muslim man in Azamgarh district after he asked people to put the Palestinian flag on their houses and vehicles to express their solidarity over Gaza offensive of Israel against ordinary Palestinians. Azamgarh district’s senior superintendent of police Sudhir Kumar Singh told the media that the police had arrested the man identified as Yasir Akhtar after he posted a message on his Facebook page appealing the residents in his native Saraimeer village to display the flag atop their rooftops and vehicles after the Friday namaz. The man is now cooling his heels in the jail. “Justice related work and voicing truth has become a cause of concern for the police from any section of countrymen. Instead of blindly following the rule book, the police must think from the perspective of humanity as it is essential elements in delivering justice to the masses,” said social activist Feroze Khan.
Earlier the Jammu and Kashmir police had launched a major crackdown against anti-Israel protesters and arrested 21persons including an artist and a cleric for expressing solidarity with the Palestinians. The state police warned people against what they call attempting to leverage the unfortunate situation in Palestine to disturb public peace and order in the Kashmir valley. The Israeli attack on Gaza has upset many in the Kashmir Valley and the J and K police is keeping a close watch on the Kashmiris over the evolving situation in Palestine.
Pune City Police lodge FIR Against 25 Persons For Organising Meeting Over Israel-Palestine Conflict
The Pune Police on Thursday booked 25 persons including local politicians, social activists, lawyers and prominent clerics for organising a meeting under the aegis of Kul Jamaat-e-Tanzim, an umbrella body of Muslim organisations, over the Israel-Palestine conflict in Kondhwa on May 18. No arrest has been made in the case yet.
The FIR has been registered for offences under section 188, 269, 270 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, Maharashtra Police Act, Disaster Management Act and Maharashtra COVID19 Regulations 2020.
A Kondhwa police station official said that corporator Haji Gafur Pathan (40), former corporator Rais Sundke (38), Haji Feroze Sheikh (42) husband of corporator Parvin Shaikh, Mujib Patel (35), Usman Hiroli (41), social worker Salim Mulla (46), Feroz Sheikh (38) Maulana Qari Idris (72), President of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Pune and his son Shoeb (32), Maulana Nizamuddin (43), Mohammad Qais (38) (President of Popular Front of India (PFI) Pune), all residents of Kondhwa, Chand-Tara Friend Circle Group President Shoheb Shaikh of Mominpura, Ilias Sheikh (38) of Camp and 10-12 other persons have been booked in connection with the case.
According to police, the incident took place between 8.30 pm to 9.15 pm on May 18 at KGN Hall next to Hotel RC Kitchen in the Kausarbaug area of Kondhwa. The Maharashtra state government has banned all programs including religious and political in the backdrop of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The FIR states that “the meeting was organized by Mujib Patel and Ilias Sheikh on behalf of Kul Jamaat-e-Tanjim. The meeting was organised to show solidarity with the people of Palestine and to condemn the Israeli attack on people at Masjid al-Aqsa (Baitul Muqaddas) in Jerusalem and other areas. It was discussed that those present at the meeting should go to their nearest mosque to offer Namaz ( prayers ) for the victims of the attack and express their sympathy for them. Also, all Muslims should stand behind the citizens of Palestine. Discussions were held to impose a boycott on as many Israeli items as possible. A memorandum was to be prepared in this regard and it was discussed to give it to the District Collector, Pune. A total of 20 to 25 people were present, the complaint stated. Police officials said that an investigation is going on and further action will be taken in next few days.
Prominent Cleric Qari Idrees, who is the President of Jamiat Ulema E Hind, Pune, said, “It was a general discussion where all prominent Ulema, social workers, lawyers and thinkers of the Muslim community had gathered for ‘Dua’(asking assistance from God) regarding Israeli attack against Palestinians in Gaza. Our own people have conspired along with the police to file a case against us. A separate meeting was held at the office of another community person on Palestine issue before our meeting was held and the event was made viral on social media through pictures and videos. It is surprising that the Local Intelligence Branch (LIB) of Kondhwa Police and CP office came to know only about our meet and not the earlier meeting. We have been unfairly targeted by the police and injustice has been done to us ,” he said.
“The police is obsessed in lodging cases against the Muslim community for such minor violations in the name of COVID 19. There is no human empathy, compassion and love for brotherhood left in the society which unfortunately reflects in the biased attitude of the state institutions and police. It seems we are already into a police state where every action of the community is being kept under surveillance. It is warning to other citizens that their rights too will be trampled and freedom of expression snatched away if they don’t stand shoulder to shoulder with their fellow countrymen who are demanding peace, justice and universal brotherhood,” said Sajid Shaikh, a student from Mumbai.