Goa Muslims outraged at madrassa raid

December 17th, 2008 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Dec 17 (IANS) A section of the Muslim community in Goa Wednesday expressed outrage at the way in which police raided a madrassa (seminary) in the port town of Vasco and picked up 88 girls for “verification”.The Association of All Goa Muslim Jamaats, at a press conference with the madrassa management, demanded the immediate suspension of the police inspector and deputy superintendent of police who led the police team that stormed the seminary.

“We have nearly 88 girls studying and residing at the madrassa, most of whom are minors who were resting in their quarters when the raid occurred,” said Tahir Karol, who runs the madrassa.

“The police demanded that the girls immediately come to the police station without delay. When we explained that the girls needed to get dressed, the two officers asked us if they roamed naked in the madrassa. This is shocking. How can responsible police officers speak about minors in such a vulgar manner,” Tahir remarked.

He also slammed the police of accusing the madrassa students and management of stashing weapons.

“They should have searched the premises for weapons, but they did not. The police loaded nearly 15 girls to a jeep, with male constables escorting them while taking them to the police station. Can you imagine the stress and shame the minor girls went through?” the madrassa in-charge questioned.

The girls, most of whom hail from Karnataka and Goa, were released after being detained for nearly three hours.

A police official had Tuesday claimed that the madrassa was functioning in a guest house called ‘Pravasi Niwas’ in Vasco. The police accidentally stumbled upon it during a tenant verification drive, which was initiated after the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai.

“When we learnt about the madrassa, we wanted to carry out verification of the students who were put up there. But we were not allowed to go in,” claimed Vasco Sub-Divisional Police Officer Deu Benaulikar.

Benaulikar said the madrassa management was then warned that the verification was essential and were asked to report to the Vasco police station under police escort.

“There were 88 women and six teachers who were picked up for verification,” he said.

Goa Inspector General of Police Kishen Kumar said that the verification process was peaceful and that all the women were released as soon as their personal details were recorded.

Tahir admitted that there had been a delay in submitting verification forms to the police because of a communication lapse between the police constables on the beat and the management.

“We had the file containing information on every student ready. The constable was supposed to pick it up from us, but he did not come for several days. The police reaction was shocking. For a moment during the raid, I felt so humiliated that I felt like becoming a terrorist,” Tahir exclaimed.

He said that the seminary had been functioning for the last 10 years and its officials had always cooperated with the police.

Salim Kazi, general secretary of the Association, also denounced the incident and accused the police of terrorising the minority community in Goa.

“What else can you make of this incident? We are Indians first and Muslims next. The police should stop harassing us under the guise of terror,” Kazi told IANS.

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