After the administration prevented Muslims from holding a public meeting at Old Bhopal’s Iqbal Maidan to take up the cause of eight SIMI members slain by police on October 31, many members of the community gathered outside the nearby Tarjume Wali mosque on Friday afternoon to demand “justice” for the deceased.
Though the city remained tense till 4 pm, the situation did not go out of control.
Prayers were offered at mosques in Bhopal between 1 pm and 3 pm, following which Muslims began gathering in and around the Tarjume Wali mosque to listen to leaders speak on the SIMI encounter.
Tight security arrangements were made around the mosque areas, with the deployment of many police and Rapid Action Force personnel. In congested Old Bhopal, the movement of traffic and pedestrians was affected for nearly three hours due to the huge crowd. However, there was no untoward incident, with Muslim leaders and activists repeatedly requesting the agitated crowd to remain calm.
Speaking to a huge gathering inside the mosque, Muslim leaders said the authorities had disrespected their desire to hold a peaceful rally at Iqbal Maidan after the Friday prayers. In his address, Mufti-e-Azam Madhya Pradesh Abdul Razzaq – also the vice president of the state’s Jamiat-Ulama-I-Hind – described the deceased SIMI members as martyrs. Some of the SIMI members were about to be acquitted because the charges levelled against them were flimsy, he said, adding that they would “fight this injustice” through legal means.
“The state government can’t suppress us like this. When they denied us permission, we decided to install loudspeakers outside this mosque, so people as well as authorities would know what we have to say about the encounter. But the administration took off the loudspeakers. Our voice is being suppressed, but we have decided to hold a massive meeting on this issue soon,” said another leader.
Alleging that the encounter was staged, they demanded that a sitting judge of the Supreme Court probe the matter. They raised many questions, and pointed at “holes” in the police version of the encounter.