By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,
On the first anniversary of Batla House encounter, two young Azamgarh human rights activists — from two different religions – recall the post-encounter incidents in their district. Neither Batla nor post-Batla incidents were accidents, rather the results of well-thought out politically motivated conspiracy hatched out years ago, Rajiv Yadav and Tariq Shafique tell Mumtaz Alam Falahi of TwoCircles.net
Was post-Batla incidents in Azamgarh were planned or just accident?
Rajiv Yadav: It was not an accident. It was a well-thought out politically motivated conspiracy hatched and execution of which began a year ago – coincidentally a year before the Lok Sabha elections. The post-Batla situation in Azamgarh and eastern UP was used by certain political parties. And this was not new. Gujarat and UP itself have witnessed such political conspiracies. Several encounters were staged in Gujarat just before elections. As all encounters were said to be carried out to save Narendra Modi, he got the dividends in elections. Same has happened in UP where many encounters took place in the name of protecting Mayawati. What happened in Azamgarh post-Batla was planned and being executed gradually for the last 10 years.
Why conspiracy against Azamgarh Muslims?
Rajiv Yadav: In the last one decade or so, the standard of living of Muslims in Azamgarh rose up, and big houses and madrasas came up. This was because of the affluence brought to the district by local Muslims living abroad mainly in the Middle East (in thousands). The local Muslims’ affluence was projected as the direct fruit of terrorism in which they are alleged to be involved. Then Batla House was executed and scores of people, mostly young and educated, were picked or arrested from Azamgarh and outside. Azamgarh was presented as a hub of terrorism.
Political parties and media wanted to show that Muslims in India are not merely assisting terror outfits working from foreign land but also hatching and executing terror attacks in the country.
Post-Batla, how many people were arrested from Azamgarh in connection with terror cases?
Tariq Shafique: Of 18 persons only one was arrested from Azamgarh. All the 17 people have been arrested from some other districts – at railway station, outside railway station or sometimes in trains. Only Hakeem Tariq was arrested in 2007 in Azamgarh.
According to charge sheets, 11 people are missing. There is no information about them.
Are people still living in fear in Azamgarh or the situation has changed?
Tariq Shafique: There is very slight improvement in the situation in the district. People still fear while venturing out. They fear that they may be picked. I fear whether I would reach home.
Every year more than 10,000 students would go out of town to get higher education. Bu this year only about 2000-2500 could go out. They fear they may be picked. Another problem they are facing is that they are not getting accommodation as they belong to Azamgarh. They are facing the situation in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities.
About two dozen youths from Azamgarh are in jails facing multiple terror charges with charge sheets in several thousand pages and witnesses in hundreds. As human rights activist are you sure the cases will reach natural conclusion?
Tariq Shafique: We have no option but to hope for justice. What is disturbing is that these accused are being tortured and denied of basic human and civil rights even in jails. On the day of Eid this year, the Muslim inmates were beaten up in Jaipur jail and not allowed to offer Eid prayers. Similar atrocities were meted out to the prisoners in Sabarmati Jail in March 2009. They were also not allowed to offer Eid prayers. The jail authorities have also banned letters in Urdu.
How do you see the experiment of Ulema Council which got about 2.5 lakh votes in the last Lok Sabha elections?
Rajiv Yadav: Ulema Council was created by some other political party. While Peace Party was created in Trai region of UP, Ulema Council in Azamgarh region. And this is clear from the rise of Congress in these areas after several decades that these two are politically sponsored parties.
Tariq Shafique: Muslims had joined and supported Ulema Council not on political issues but actually they joined the movement on the Batla House encounter. Now the Ulema Council has wrapped up the movement and thus Muslims have gone away from it. Ulema Council got everything – money, fame, honor — from Batla House but Batla House victims got nothing from the Council. Today Batla House has become a secondary issue for the Council, and the murder of their man by Ramakant Yadav supporters has become the top issue.
When they started the movement a lot of people including rights activists had joined them but as soon as they went political, people went away from them. And media also started to ignore the Batla issue.
Azamgarh speaks: TCN special series.