Lucknow, July 19: Frustrated with the continuation of Rihai Manch’s indefinite dharna demanding justice for Khalid Mujahid, the Uttar Pradesh government last night removed the tent at dharna site, forcing the protestors into the open sun. Today braving incessant rain, the rights activists continued their protest.
Rihai Manch started the dharna on 20th May, demanding arrest of the officers named accused by Mujahid’s family in the FIR and action on the recommendation of the RD Nimesh Commission. Mujahid was killed in police custody on 18th May. He was abducted by police in Dec. 2007 and later implicated in a terror case. The RD Nimesh Commission appointed by the previous state government of Mayawati declared Mujahid’s arrest as fake and illegal.
Wily strategists meet their nemesis at relative strangers hands. This old dictum is getting once again vindicated in the supposed ‘heartland’ of India namely UP.
A dead Khalid Mujahid, who lies buried in his native village, is proving to be the undoing of the mighty Mulayam Singh Yadav ‘led’ government. It has been more than two months that Khalid Mujahid – who along with Tariq Qasmi was languishing in jail for more than five years, for a ‘crime’ he never committed, as proved by the state government appointed Nimesh commission itself – died a mysterious death in police custody, (18 th May 2013) but this issue is still hogging headlines in a section of the regional media.For the UP police, which tops the charts of custodial deaths in the country and has been allowed to go scot-free most of the time, it was just another death ( ‘due to illness’ as claimed by Akhilesh Yadav, ) best forgotten. Perhaps it had miscalculated at least this time.
Death of this innocent young man, who symbolises today the ongoing persecution of a particular community under the charges of terrorism – despite the fact that many activists of RSS and other Hindutva Supremacist organisations have also been found to be involved in putting bombs at crowded places and placing explosives in trains – has galvanised an opposition ranging from leading left activists to religious minded people. A marker of the popular support demanding arrest of police officers involved in Khalid Mujahid’s murder, issuing the RD Nimesh commission report and action report, and the immediate release of innocent Muslim youth imprisoned in the name of terrorism can be had from the fact that the sit-in /Dharna organised under the banner of ‘Rihai Manch’ – A Political Front for the release of innocents imprisoned in the name of terrorism- in Lucknow completes exactly two months on 20 th July. (Event Link-https://www.facebook.com/events/579372732114302/, https : // www.facebook.com/ rihaimanch? Fref = ts) Leaders of different political parties and human rights organisations and independent intellectuals from different parts of the country have visited the dharna site to declare their support.
Public meetings at the dharna site are a daily occurrence where issues ranging from Akhilesh-Mulayam duo’s growing pandering of the Hindutva forces to the need for monitoring of security and intelligence agencies by the parliament come up which generate further discussion. A section of the media especially the Urdu media has been covering the agitation on a daily basis. Many other non-Urdu publications and channels have also given extensive coverage to the ongoing agitation.
It was a sign of growing frustration of the state government that it had no qualms in sending police officials to the Dharna site, who asked the protesters to fold up or less face consequences. When their instructions were not heeded to they swooped on the dharna site, removed the tent, forced the protestors into the open sun on 19 th July but the enthusiasm of the protesters continued unabated.
Perhaps the most troubling thing for Mulayam Singh Yadav – the wily wrestler he claims to be- who has his eyes fixed on the coming polls for Lok Sabha to be held in the year 2014 is that the ongoing agitation for justice for Khalid Mujahid has severly dainted his ‘pro Muslim’ image. Mulayam knows very well that growing alienation of Muslims had costed him badly in the last elections for the Parliament (2009) when his hobnobbing with Kalyan Singh, a Hindutva mascot, led to his ‘dumping’ by the minority community en masse and Congress became their first choice, puzzling even the Grand Old Party itself.