Hundreds of Muslims from Azamgarh demand probe into Batla shootout (Lead)

January 29th, 2009 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj PartyNew Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) Hundreds of Muslims from Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, gathered at the Jantar Mantar here Thursday, demanded an end to the police harassment of youths from the community and a judicial enquiry into the Batla House shootout last year, in which two alleged terrorists were killed.The protesters, numbering around 3,000, gathered at Parliament Street here and raised slogans against the politicians and the police.

“We want an impartial time-bound judicial enquiry into the Batla House encounter by a sitting Supreme Court Judge. We also want an end to the police atrocities on youth of Azamgarh on the pretext of tackling terror,” said Maulana Amir Rashadi Madni, convener of Ulama Council that organised the Ulema Express.

“All those found guilty in the judicial enquiry should be put on trial. Though Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma died (in the Batla House shootout) but the Ashok Chakra given to him should be taken back. The protest has just started, it will slowly and slowly spread across country,” Madni told IANS.

Madni also made clear the council’s political plans.

“We will fight elections on two seats - Azamgarh and Lalganj - in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. We are in discussion with several big and small political parties,” he said.

“Muslims have supported others for nearly 60 years and now they should support us. We have made clear to the political parties that the formation of a third front can only be under our leadership,” he added.

The protesters, ranging from students to the elderly, arrived at the Old Delhi Railway Station around 1.30 a.m. Thursday in a special train that set off from Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh town around 12.30 p.m. Wednesday.

The council has paid Rs. 1.4 million for booking the train and Rs.300,000 as a security deposit for the journey.

The train reached nearly three hours before the scheduled time of arrival, as it was not allowed to halt at any station between Kanpur and New Delhi for security reasons.

Besides Madni, numerous leaders from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi also addressed the protesters

“We want the government to take action on our demands before the parliamentary elections. We will support only that political party which will work for us,” said S.Q.R. Ilyas, the joint convener of Co-ordination Committee for Indian Muslims (CCIM).

CCIM, a joint group of several Muslim organisations, has supported the protest in the capital.

“Political empowerment of Muslims is necessary as those elected by the community to work for their welfare and cause generally don’t work once elected,” Ilyas added.

The Muslim leaders criticised the Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party and said it’s time that they came up with a common strategy and empower their community.

Protesters, most of whom were wearing skullcaps, raised slogans such as ‘Azamgarh Zindabad’, ‘Ulema Council Zindabad’ and ‘Nara-e-taqbeer Allah-o-Akbar’.

They were also holding placards. Some of the placards read, “We are students, not terrorists” and “Mere kaatil ko kaun giraftar kare, uske to ghar mein bandook bhi sarkari hai (who will arrest my killers, when their weapons are of the government)”.

“We just want a judicial probe into the Batla House encounter and people also should stop blaming youth of Azamgarh for everything,” a 20-year-old boy Abusham Azmi, who had a placard in hand and was raising slogans, told IANS.

Azmi is a college student and has come from Sarai Meer in Azamgarh area.

However, several others refused to talk, saying that they have been asked not to speak to the media.

Nearly 250 students from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Milia Islamia and Delhi University also took part in the protest march.

The council demanded an impartial enquiry into every “encounter” in the last 10 years.

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