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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

SIMI ban: On, off, on in 15 hrs

Hope turned into despair for SIMI activist as the Supreme Court restored the ban after the Centre swiftly moved a special leave petition seeking a stay, reports Zia Haq.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2008 00:26 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times

Eleven hours after a court lifted the ban on the Islamic student body SIMI, an unidentified man opened a creaking, cobwebbed door inside a three-storey building at Zakir Nagar’s lane no. 9 — after six years.

The furniture is crumbling and the air is musty. The man who opened the door refuses to say who is, jumps on a motorcycle and speeds away.

This is the deserted national headquarters of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India in the heart of the Capital’s Muslim neighbourhood.

Before the Islamic group was banned in 2001, this building was almost a 24x7 office. Each day, stacks of posters, banners and printed material arrived from a now-defunct press a kilometre away.

The conference room routinely hosted Islamic seminars and SIMI’s mouthpiece Islamic Movement was published from here.

Though there is little activity at the building now, at Shaheen Bagh, two kilometre away, excited SIMI sympathisers are waiting for Shahid Badr Falahi, their former chief. “It’s a moral victory. The SIMI leadership will soon decide on reactivating the organisation,” says former Islamic Movement editor Yasin Patel.

Falahi was supposed to reach Delhi from Azamgarh in UP and meet supporters after a Delhi High Court Tribunal lifted the ban on Tuesday.

“It won’t be difficult to revive the organisation. The government has to allow the sealed offices to be opened,” said Qasim Rasool Illyasi, a SIMI supporter and Muslim personal law board member.

By afternoon, hope turned into despair as the Supreme Court restored the ban after the Centre swiftly moved a special leave petition seeking a stay.

A message from Azamgarh comes as depressing news for SIMI supporters. Falahi has reportedly called off his visit to the Capital, where he planned to address the media on Thursday.

A SIMI activist, requesting not to be identified, said Falahi and the SIMI leadership were planning a huge rally of several Muslim organisations in the Capital in the next few days.

Nusrat Ali, secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, described the stay on the ban as "shocking". SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav and Union minister Lalu Prasad had welcomed the lifting of the ban too.

As news of the stay on the ban spread, SIMI sympathisers appeared to be retreating into their shells. Patel says: "The few hours of legal status that we got when the ban was lifted is enough oxygen for us to survive. The ban will be lifted eventually. We will talk then."