Azamgarh: Nursery of Terrorism

A few years ago there was a report published in some newspapers that hundreds of crore of Rupees lying unclaimed in the Azamgarh branch of State Bank of India. On a further investigation it was learnt that most of the money was sent from abroad mainly from Gulf countries to be used for Hawala purposes. There is not an iota of doubt that fundamentalist Islamic forces are well entrenched and have deep roots in Azamgarh and Maunath Bhanjan. These forces have been active here even during the freedom struggle. At the time of partition a large number of Zamindars and middle class Muslims migrated to Pakistan. It is also true that there has always been the undercurrent of sympathy among Muslims of Azamgarh for Pakistan. This does not mean that all Muslims could be tarred with the same brush. There have been numerous among them who have been vociferously nationalist and their patriotism has been remarkably above board.

Most of the Muslims of Azamgarh and neighouring districts are low caste Ansaris, Dhunias, Qureshis and Telees, who embraced Islam emulating their landed Rajput masters who had converted to Islam for many reasons including that of currying favours of the then Mughal Subedars. It is a matter of history and this has relevance only to the extent that rich Muslims deserted their land of berths and settled in Pakistan but poor Muslims remained in Azamgarh because they had no alternatives.

As a result of little or no modern education and poverty it became very easy for the communalists and anti-social elements to make inroads in the Muslim populace of the district. That is why, there should be no surprise when we are told that the ‘sharp shooters’ of Azamgarh are virtually the terror in Mumbai or even some Gulf countries. Azaamgarh is the centre of Madarasa education, where students from Bihar Bengal, Assam and other parts of the country come every year, although the oldest centre of Modern Education in Azamgarh is the Shibli College founded by a reputed Muslim Contemporary of Sir Saiyyed Ahmad Khan, the illustrious founder of Aligarh Muslim University. There is hardly any village of the district, which has not sent some youths to Gulf countries. When they come back from these countries, with lots of money, they eschew all traces of liberalism and become diehard Islamists.

I do not say it on the basis of hearsay but on my own personal experience. Such Muslims get alienated from other communities and concentrate more Islamic dress and construction of Mosques. This leads to further wedge between Muslims and Non-Muslims. That is why; Azamgarh is a hot bed of communalism and is considered a most sensitive district gripping it communal riots on very trivial matters. However, what is disgusting is that politicians of all hues and colours create further chasm between Muslims and Non-Muslims for their own narrow political ends. SIMI i.e. Student Islamic Movement of India is, in fact, a brainchild of a person belonging to Azamgarh. And it has, undoubtedly, a very large following in Azamgarh and other neighouring districts. The venom of communalism injected by the SIMI is fast degenerating into anti-nationalism. The arrest of Mufti Abu Bashir the mastermind of Ahmedabad and Surat bomb blasts amply proves the point. The saddening part of it is that the persons like Abu Bashir and Abu Salem are getting respectability and hero’s welcome in Azamgarh. Abu Salem is thinking of contesting the Assembly elections. Mufti Abu Bashir’s house in Sarai Meer has been thronged by persons like; Ram Naresh Yadav, a former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and a prominent Congress leader, Akbar Ahmad Dumpy, the Member of the Lok Sabha and the BSP leader, Abu Azami, Member of the Rajya Sabha and the Samajwadi Parti leader, apart from Saiyyed Bukhari of Delhi’s Jama Masjid. Bashir is being given a hallo by these leaders and this again shows the ebb to which our politics has gone down.

The visit of these leaders also indicates the connection which they have with these out-laws and with whose support they win the elections. This also amounts to interference in the independent investigation of the case by the police. And hence, the visit of these leaders should be condemned in no uncertain terms and it would have salubrious effect on others if some action is taken against these leaders, who are fomenting and fostering the elements like Abu Bashir and Abu Salem.