Unprecedented Muslim rage over Hindutva rant
By MG Correspondent
Lucknow/Delhi: Indian Muslims all over the country have reacted in an unprecedented way, a manner not seen in recent years, against the objectionable comments made by a Hindutva activist against Prophet Muhammad on 2 December. Massive protests are being held all over India, especially in Uttar Pradesh where the abusive comments were made. Huge rallies were held in Deoband, Lucknow, Meerut, Rampur, Delhi, Bengaluru, Huballi, Ajmer, Tonk, Yadgir, Bidar, Patna, Agra, Saharanpur, Shamli, Deoband, Bijnore, Lakhimpur Kheri, Kanpur, Barabanki, Ludhiana, Bhopal, Mandiya, Indore and Kashmir Valley where south Kashmir observed a shutdown on 6 December. Protesters demanded strict action against the 45-year-old Kamlesh Tiwari who claims to be the working president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM). Demands for his hanging have been made in all these rallies. An organisation has even announced a monetary prize for anyone who kills Tiwari who was arrested on 2 December for vitiating communal peace. As a rare extra measure, UP government later slapped National Security Act against him under which he will not be able to secure bail for at least 11 months. Tiwari's own organisation has disowned him saying that he was expelled years ago from Hindu Mahasabha.
On Friday, 11 December, large-scale protests were held in Muzaffarnagar, Bijnore, Moradabad, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Farrukhabad, Lucknow and several other districts in UP. At Deoband, students of Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, too, joined the protests. Noted Shia cleric Mualana Kalbe Jawwad demanded capital punishment for Tiwari in a rally in Lucknow.
There are reports that irate mobs attacked other communities during the protests. Four policemen were injured during violence in Lucknow on 13 December. Several protesters have been arrested in Rajasthan.
Tiwari had earned notoriety when he announced in January last year that he will build a temple for Godse, the murderer of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.
To maintain peace, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav held a meeting with some prominent Muslim clerics at his residence in Lucknow on 9 December and assured them of stern action against Tiwari. A large delegation of about 50 persons including Muslims and non-Muslims like Bishop Austin Anthony, Baba Abimannu Das met UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and apprised him of the seriousness of Tiwari's outburst against the Holy Prophet. The chief minister assured the delegation members of strict action against the culprit so that it may serve as a lesson to others who may venture to insult highly revered religious figures.
A native of Sitapur district, Tiwari had earlier been arrested twice last year. He was arrested on 30 January last year soon after he announced to construct a temple in honour of Nathuram Godse in Sitapur. He was again arrested last August for announcing that he will perform Jalabhishek at Shringar Gauri temple in Varanasi and get the Gyanvapi Mosque removed from the Kashi Vishwanath temple area. Prior to that, Tiwari also had threatened journalists of a news channel in Lucknow while protesting against a show after Afzal Guru's hanging. Later, a case was lodged against him by those journalists.
Tiwari's radicalization began during his school days. He left a course in law midway. At the age of 22, he started an outfit called the Hindu Tiger Force in Sitapur and galvanized it by holding protests. In 1994, he affiliated with the Bajrang Dal and became its Sitapur unit chief.
In 1997, he went to jail for leading a Musalmaan Bharat Chodho (Muslims Quit India) campaign. After a few years, he got married and then joined Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha and became its general secretary.
Kamlesh has three sons. His wife Kiran work's for the Mahasabha's women's wing and bluntly echoes his views. He was given police protection in Lucknow where he lived with his family.
According to newspapers reports, the first case against Kamlesh Tiwari was registered and he was arrested from Mahasabha's office in Lucknow. The second case against him was filed by Tahrik-e Umar Society. NSA was imposed on him on 9 December but protest marchs have continued with Muslim religious leaders demanding death sentence for Tiwari.
There was little support for Tiwari in the Hindu community. His own outfit disowned him while leaders of VHP, Shiv Sena and Hindu Mahasabha asked the state government to revoke NSA against him and treat him as a political prisoner. They also called for action against the Maulanas who annoucned a prize on Tiwari's head.
On the other hand, UP state Hindu Mahasabha said in a written statement issued on 13 December by Munna Kumar Sharma, its national general secretary, that "any disrespect to the Prophet is not appropriate. ABHM does not agree with Tiwari and it is his personal view. We respect all religions and their leaders. We are committed to Akhand Hindu Rashtra, Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan. We are supporters of development of all communities".
Maulana Kalbe Jawad Naqvi, general secretary of Majlis Ulama-e Hind and Imam of Juma Asifi Masjid, Lucknow said 11 Decemebr that not only has Kamlesh Tiwari insulted the Prophet (pbuh) but the UP government minister [Azam Khan] also is responsible for this because he was the first to make a provocative statement against the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS.
Asaduddin Owaisi, Majlis Ittehadul Muslim leader and MP from Hyderabad said that blasphemy was not freedom of speech. "I agree that there is freedom of expression. But blasphemy isn't freedom of speech. This is why we have section 295 and 153 - A of the IPC and Article 19 G (of the Constitution)."
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) chief Syed Jalaluddin Umari said about Tiwari's remarks that the government should ensure swift and strict action against individuals who cast aspersions on figures revered by members of any faith. He also suggested that laws be enacted so as to deal with such cases appropriately.
MG comment: While we unreservedly condemn Kamlesh Tiwari's unrprintable abuses hurled at one of the most revered personalities of history, we are satisfied that appropriate action was taken against him soon enough and in good measure NSA too was slapped on him. Hence, it is not appropriate to continue to agitate and demand for his hanging which is not possible under the Indian laws. Muslims have made their point and forced the authorities to listen to them. Now we should move on and attend to our more serioous concerns to secure our rights and rightful place in our country (Zafarul-Islam Khan)