On the day when clerics from several states converged in Delhi to press for “legal protection” of Muslims from police excesses, prominent Muslim leaders from the Congress met at Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K. Rahman Khan’s residence and decided to press for a judicial probe into the Batla House encounter.
Senior leaders who met at Khan’s residence — including minister of state for home Shakeel Ahmad — said the government should do whatever was needed to curb alienation of Muslims. Congress leaders have had to face hostile Muslims because of perceived harassment of the community, a source quoting them said.
A section of the UPA government has viewed the dipping confidence of Indian Muslims in the Congress seriously, the source said. What’s the harm in a judicial probe, if there was “nothing shady” in the encounter, a senior Muslim Congress leader said.
“The time-honoured faith reposed by Muslims in the Congress has weakened considerably, but the community still looks up to the party as other roads have hit a dead end”, prominent Muslim leader Arshad Madni of the Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind told HT on the sidelines of the Jama Masjid meet.
At the conclave, Imam Bukhari and Samajwadi Party MP Abu Asim Azmi demanded that the Act against atrocities on SC/ST be extended to Muslims. Minister of state for home Shakeel Ahmad’s decision to back the demand for judicial probe assumes significance because speaker after speaker at the Jama Masjid meet criticised him for not visiting the Capital’s Jamia area in the aftermath of the encounter.
A source said Muslim Congress leaders, led by Rehman Khan and Shakeel Ahmad will meet PM Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to push for a judicial probe into the encounter.
Congress leaders Mohsina Kidwai, Salman Khursheed, Anees Durrani and C.K. Jafar Sharief also attended the meet. A source said the PMO would be urged to direct intelligence agencies to “stop planting stories in media”.
Asked if the Congress’s institutional link with the Jamiat was on the verge of snapping, Madni said: “We have felt that only the Congress gives us a hearing at times of crisis but there seems to be a strong lobby within the party that is hampering Muslim-Congress ties.”
At the congregation, attended by leaders from several states, it was clear that the recent faith clashes have left the community dazed.