Hundreds of protesting Muslims from Uttar Pradesh reach DelhiJanuary 29th, 2009 - 11:16 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) Hundreds of Muslims from Uttar Pradesh, wanting to hold demonstrations in the national capital against the alleged harassment of youths by police on the pretext of tackling terror, arrived at the Old Delhi Railway Station here in a special train amid tight security early Thursday.A posse of paramilitary and police personnel welcomed the train, christened the Ulema Express, at the heavily guarded platform number A1 of the station at about 1.30 a.m., nearly three hours before the scheduled time of arrival.
The train, which set off from Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh town at about 12.30 p.m. Wednesday, was to arrive here at 4 a.m. Thursday but reached early since it was not allowed to halt at any station between Kanpur and New Delhi for security reasons, an official said.
Most occupants of the train, not willing to come out of the coaches before their scheduled 11 a.m. protest rally at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the national capital, pulled down window shutters when this reporter tried to speak to them.
The Muslims, angry about the killing of two young men from Azamgarh in a shootout with the police in the Batla House area of New Delhi a few months ago, want to hold the rally to press upon the government their demand to set up a judicial probe into the shootout, headed by a sitting supreme court judge and make the report public within 30 days.
The Delhi Police had accused the men killed in the shootout of being involved in the Sep 13 serial bombings in the national capital.
“We waited enough but by awarding the Ashok Chakra to M.C. Sharma (the police inspector killed in the shootout) the Congress led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) has authenticated the Sep 19 Batla House encounter,” Mulana Amir Rasadi, convener of Ulama Council that organised the Ulema Express trip, told IANS.
“The fact remains that we have lost our two promising youths. Sharma was honoured even before any probe into such a horrible incident. We have lost all faith in the system and are now united to show New Delhi our real strength,” Rasadi said.
The council has paid Rs.1.4 million to the railways to charter the train and Rs.300,000 as a security deposit for the journey. Each traveller bought a coupon of Rs.700 for the trip. The train will take them back Thursday evening.
“We have organised this historic train with the help of individual donations,” said the thin, bespectaled Rasadi, who is in his early 50s.
The 22 coaches of the train carried 90-odd passengers each. There was enough food for everyone on the train - bread, kabaabs, rice and gram. But they needed water and pulled the emergency brake chain at many railway stations between Azamgarh and Kanpur. After the passengers fell asleep, the train sped off, not halting till Delhi.
Maulana Wasiullah, a passenger who spoke after much persuading, said: “Very soon we will be a political force and in a position to dictate terms to the central government. This is the last option left with us to save our children from the bullet of the police. The UPA or the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), they all have anti-Muslim instincts, which is simply unacceptable in any civil society.”