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Clerics hounding me as I’ve hit them where it hurts most, says UP Shia Waqf Board chairman

In an interview to Hindustan TImes, UP Shia Central Waqf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi speaks about his stand on the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2018 23:36 IST
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Waseem Rizvi,UP Shia Central Waqf Board,Ram Temple
Chairman of UP Shia Central Waqf Board Waseem Rizvi in Lucknow on January 19.(Subhankar Chakraborty/HT PHOTO)

About six months ago, not many had heard of UP Shia Central Waqf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi. He has been making headlines in the for his statements on various issues — be it his support to the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya or his claim that some madarsas breed terrorists. Speaking to M Tariq Khan, Rizvi, 48, spoke about his stand on several issues. Excerpts:

Q: What prompted you to write to the PM and UP CM on madarsas?

A: You have to visit a madarsa to understand what I am trying to say. It was in August last year when I happened to visit a madarsa in Shahjahanpur. I asked a 10-year-old boy to recite English alphabets. He couldn’t do so. I am being hounded by the ‘clerics’ because I have hit them where it hurts the most.

Q: Was it a move for publicity?

A: No. Running madarsas has become a ‘dhanda’ (money-making venture). A lot of money is given by way of donations and grants, both from within the country and abroad. Ironically, those running madarsas send their own children to convent schools but want poor Muslim children to study here.

Q: If education was the focus why raise the terror-link issue...?

A: I did not say all ‘madarsas’ are breeding ground for terrorists. I referred to only a few institutions in West Bengal and Kerala. Terrorists emerge from colleges and universities too. I raised 27 points in my reports about teachings in madarsas but only one point — the terror angle — was highlighted by the Muslim clergy. My remarks were twisted and used out of context...

Q: The UP CM said there is a need to modernise and not shut down madarsas. Comments?

A: I am grateful that he has taken cognisance of the issue which affects the entire minority community. The issue has been greatly emphasised by justice Rajinder Sachar in his report on educational and economic backwardness of Muslims.

Q: You never uttered a word in support of a Ram temple in Ayodhya before. Why are you speaking on the issue now?

A: I submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya case in July last year when the court suggested that efforts should be made for an out-of-court settlement. I tried to convince the Sunni Waqf Board for a compromise but they refused.

Q: Your appeal to Muslims to give up their claim on the disputed site is being seen as an attempt to save your position as there are charges of corruption against you.

A: The CB-CID is investigating charges against me, most of which are politically-motivated... I am sure I would be exonerated. So far as Ram temple is concerned I have met religious leaders and litigants from both the sides and presented a formula.

Q: After Ram temple you sought demolition of Humayun’s Tomb to make a graveyard and then you urged the Centre to increase the jail term for triple talaq offenders.

A: It is a democratic country and I have every right to express my opinion.

First Published: Jan 19, 2018 23:32 IST