Cops quiz man who booked Azad Maidan for rally
The co-founder of Madinatul Ilm, a little known educational foundation, was questioned by the crime branch over the weekend in connection with the August 11 violence at Azad Maidan.
Maulana Ahmad Reza, through his foundation, had applied to the Azad Maidan police for permission to hold a peaceful rally to protest the alleged atrocities against Muslims in Mayanmar and Assam. Highly placed sources in the crime branch said Reza was questioned briefly before being allowed to go. “We plan to call him after a couple of days to record his statement in detail,” a source said.
The initial questions to Reza, sources said, pertained to the origin of the educational foundation that he floated six months ago in association with a Ghatkopar-based scrap dealer. The Kurla-based foundation, where Reza is said to have been teaching English and Arabic to underprivileged children from the community, is yet to be registered with the Charity Commissioner.
Police asked Reza how the massive effort required to host a rally at such a large scale could be managed by a little known group like his. They asked him if he had been used as a front by others to secure permission for the rally. Interestingly, though Reza was the applicant for the rally, he did not speak at the event. Five others addressed the rally; two of these five speeches appeared to be provocative and are being analysed by the police.
Little is known about Reza except for the fact that he is originally from Bihar and came to the city three to four years ago and settled in Sakinaka, where he is known as Maulana. Though he is not a known face and is a junior in the elite cleric circle of Mumbai, he was sent to a London seminary to teach and to give a discourse on religion. Police are also trying to find out how he was selected for the important assignment and by whom.
Reza had applied for permission for the rally on August 6. After police granted the permission, the Raza Academy and a few other groups stepped in and mustered support through advertisements in Urdu newspapers, pamphlets, text messages and social networking sites.