The recent breakthrough in the blasts cases has been completely politicised in Uttar Pradesh. As a result it has become a millstone around the Mayawati government’s neck.
However unpalatable, the fact must be faced: the recent crackdown is alienating large sections of the Muslim community. The Azamgarh raids, in particular, have left them livid. Whether or not the steps being taken are justified is a secondary issue.
Quick to sense the mood, the Samajwadi Party, which has a substantial Muslim base, dispatched a nine-member fact finding team, headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother, Shivpal Yadav, to Sanjarpur, the village most of the recently arrested youth hail from. Shivpal railed against the ‘atrocities’ being committed against Muslims by the police and promised them ‘justice’. The SP has also demanded a judicial probe into the police raids and in the same breath sought a ban on the Bajrang Dal.
Equally alert the BJP has been buttressing its own Hindu vote bank by supporting the raids wholeheartedly. Its controversial MP from Gorakhpur – which adjoins Azamgarh – has announced he will be holding rallies in the region to raise awareness about the dangers of terrorism.
But Mayawati, heading the government, cannot take any extreme position. She knows that failing to cooperate with the investigating agencies will invite national calumny. Yet she also knows that allowing them a free hand is losing her Muslim support. BSP leaders are extremely uncomfortable with the repeated visits of police teams from different states, but there is nothing they can do about it.
Peace loving Muslims are deeply troubled. “Innocents are being framed,” declared Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, member of the All-India Personal Law Board. But there remains a niggling doubt – after all if blasts have occurred in which innocents have been killed, someone must be responsible.
What if, heaven forbid, the police are on the right track? Suppose some misguided Muslim youth have indeed been influenced by global radical Islamist trends? “The community is extremely concerned and we are hotly debating how to reverse this trend,” said Maulana Misam Jarwali, well know Shia cleric.