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Minister?s ?kill cartoonist? call creates flutter

WHILE UTTAR Pradesh minister Haji Yaqoob Quereshi?s call for killing Danish cartoonist for making objectionable cartoons of Prophet Mohammad has caused a flutter in political circles here, the minister is unrelenting on the issue. Though the Congress has condemned the call and the BJP has demanded dismissal of the minister, the SP is unlikely to go against the minister.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2006 01:12 IST
M Hasan
M Hasan
None

WHILE UTTAR Pradesh minister Haji Yaqoob Quereshi’s call for killing Danish cartoonist for making objectionable cartoons of Prophet Mohammad has caused a flutter in political circles here, the minister is unrelenting on the issue.

Though the Congress has condemned the call and the BJP has demanded dismissal of the minister, the SP is unlikely to go against the minister. The ruling party, which has been dilly-dallying in taking penal action against the “stung” Minister for Backward Class Welfare Mehboob Ali who accepted his involvement in drug trafficking and other criminal activities, could ill-afford to punish Quereshi on such sensitive issue. The party has already been trying to tap Muslim anger on the cartoon and Iran issues against the Congress. The minister’s call is music to the ears of the party. The SP, which has been desperately trying to woo Muslims, cannot afford to publicly oppose the minister.

The minister made the call in the presence of prominent Ulema (clerics) Hakim Islam, Meerut Shahr Qazi Zainul Rashdin, Shia Personal Law Board member Maulana Sharafat Hussain Kazmi, Jamiatul Ulema chief Qamrul Islam and others.

“I am not alone in the battle against anti-Islamic forces”, the minister said today. Claiming that the Muslims were with him, he said he “never bothered about ministership when it came to a religious issue”.

In fact his statement at a rally in Meerut is also being seen here as tussle among Muslim leaders in the ruling Samajwadi Party for one-upmanship. Quereshi and Urban Development Minister Mohd Azam Khan had always been at loggerheads in the SP over the leadership of Muslims. The tussle between the two has been going on for the last two years. The Meerut rally thus provided an opportunity to Quereshi to project himself taller than Khan. However, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has also not taken his statement kindly. The board spokesman Qasim Rasool Ilyas told HT that such statement could “help a political party but was not in the interest of the Muslim community”. He said the politicians should not exploit the sentiments of the people. Legal expert and AIMPLB member Zafaryab Jilani, while condemning the call, said there was always joint responsibility of the State Cabinet on any issue.

He said under Shariat law only Qazi was authorised to pronounce judgement.
Interestingly, Shahr Qazi Meerut was present when the minister pronounced his verdict. Naib Imam Eidgah Khalid Rashid assailed the minister for his outrageous comments. However, the minister today shot back that “he never expected opposition from these people”.

While the state government did not see any “offence” in the call of the minister, legal experts said Quereshi could be prosecuted under various sections of IPC, including section 108 for abetting crime and 108 A, which covered abetment in India for committing offence outside the country.

First Published: Feb 19, 2006 01:12 IST