Anything for Muslim vote

| | in Oped

From scholarships for Muslim girls to freeing Muslim terror suspects, the Samajwadi Party is desperate

When the Akhilesh Yadav Government proposed to withdraw cases against Muslim terror accused, labeling them innocent, it faced opposition from the bureaucrats. The latter argued that these people are terrorists and their links with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence had been established beyond doubt. The Samajwadi Party brushed aside all these suggestions because it was eyeing Muslim votes and seeking to project its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as their saviour.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court overturned the apple cart of the Samajwadi Party's dream, and ruled that the State Government cannot withdraw the terror charges. Incidentally, the bureaucrats and police officials too had given the same argument which High Court gave, but the Chief Minister was not willing to listen to his babus at that time.

Lucknow District Magistrate Anurag Yadav in his letter to the State Government on January 31 had said that withdrawing cases against the terror accused would not be the right decision as “these people are threat to the society”. Government counsels Pravin Kumar Srivastava and Laxman Prasad Dixit, in their letter of November 5, 2012, had said that bombs and explosives were found in the possession of the accused. The then Superintendent of Police, Rampur, said that the links of these terrorists with the ISI was proved beyond doubt. District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, Varanasi, too had asked the Government not to release the accused.

The terrorists against whom Uttar Pradesh Government had decided to withdraw the cases include Shamin alias Sharif, accused in the Varanasi serial blast, Mohammad Tariq Quasmi, accused in the Gorakhpur serial blast, Mukhtar Hussain, Ali Akbar, Azijur Rahman, Naushad Hafiz, Noorul Islam and Yakub, held for their alleged role in the serial blasts in the civil courts of Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi, and Maqsood, Javed and Taj Mohammad, accused in the Central Reserve Police Force centre attack in Rampur.

The bigger question is: Why was the Samajwadi Party treating these accused as innocent? Why did the Government go against the advice of its own bureaucrats? During the 2012 election campaign, the Samajwadi Party had announced that it would withdraw cases against innocent Muslims. In public meetings Mr Akhilesh Yadav had claimed that he had information that those arrested under terror charges were innocent. The Muslims were swayed by the announcement and they voted for Samajwadi Party in large numbers.

Now that the party is in power, the onus is on Mr Akhilesh Yadav to honour his commitment. There is a buzz in political circles that if the Samajwadi Party Government could convince the court to release these accused, it would boost the party's pro-Muslim image that has been damaged after the Muzaffarnagar riots.

But with the court rejecting the Government's petition, the Samajwadi Party has put the ball in the Centre's court. Senior Minister Azam Khan said that the State Government will now petition the Centre to release these ‘innocent’ accused. The party is preparing to go to the town with the statement that the Akhilesh Yadav Government was ready to release ‘innocent’ Muslims but the Centre did not support it.

Muslims account for almost 18 per cent of Uttar Pradesh's population and the Samajwadi Party has always tried to keep them on its side, either by raising the bogey of communalism or by launching pro-Muslim schemes. In fact, the day the Samajwadi Party assumed power in Lucknow, it announced the construction of boundary walls around graveyards. The question is: Why only graveyards? Why were Hindu cremation grounds not included in this beautification plan? The Government has also announced the Hamari Beti Uska Kal scheme, under which Muslim girls are paid `30,000 after clearing Class X, but why not extend this largesse to economically weak Hindu girls?

Using the Sachar Committee report as a pretext, the Akhilesh Yadav regime ordered 20 per cent exclusive Muslim reservation in 38 departments. Questions were again raised: Why only Muslims? Why not include other deprived sections of society in the scheme? The Government did not care to answer but has been covertly giving shape to its pro-minority policies.

BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said that the Samajwadi Party is partisan in its approach. It differentiates between Hindus and Muslims. It has schemes for Muslim girls but nothing for their Hindu counterparts. The State Government in Uttar Pradesh is so desperate for Muslim votes that it is even ready to free terrorists.

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