Jamiat Asks Govt To Clarify Report That JeM Chief Had Met Deoband Ulemas

4 January 2009
The Times of India

New Delhi: Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, a prominent grouping of Muslim clerics, has protested the second Administrative Reforms Commission report saying that Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar had 'interacted' with 'leading Deoband figures' in the mid-1990s. Jamiat chief Maulana Arshad Madani told TOI on Sunday that he would write to PM Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, demanding that the government clarify on what basis the ARC had arrived at such a conclusion. 'If Masood Azhar, who had entered India illegally, had actually met somebody in Deoband, then what were the government agencies doing,' asked Madani, who is looking after Darul Uloom's education affairs. He also condemned the ARC, headed by Congress leader M Veerappa Moily. Madani also wanted to know what action the government had taken if the allegation was true. Incidentally, the ARC report came much before Pakistan said in the UN Security Council (UNSC) in December 2008 that terrorists in NWFP and FATA areas were greatly influenced by Darool Uloom in Deoband and urged the seminary to issue a specific fatwa asking the terrorists to stop killings. Masood Azhar is one of the three terrorists whom India had freed to secure the release of passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines IC-814 aircraft in December 1999. He is one of the prime accused in the 2001 Parliament attack case. Referring to Azhar's stay in India, the ARC, in its report on 'Combating Terrorism' (June 7, 2008), said Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi had arrived in India in January 1994 'with the task of working out the reconciliation of the cadre of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami whose parent organisations had merged to form the Harkat-ul-Ansar'. The report, which was made public in September, added, 'His (Azhar) organisation's main objective was to liberate Kashmir from Indian rule and to establish Islamic rule in Kashmir. He also interacted extensively with the leading figures of the Deoband Ulema.' Though the panel remained silent about 'the leading figures' whom the JeM chief met, it referred to such interactions while explaining terrorism 'based on religious fundamentalism'. Six month later, in December 2008, Pakistan raised a similar pitch in the UNSC drawing a distinct link between the neo-Taliban and Deoband. In his speech at the UN, Pakistan's ambassador Abdullah Haroon said, 'Some of you here may not be aware where this matter has taken root in a very deep way... led entirely by the mullahs in India in Deoband. I am not pointing a finger, I am coming up with a very good suggestion. It is for the clerics in Deoband, who wield great influence in the North West Frontier territories of Pakistan and in FATA, to come to Pakistan, get together and embed, offer a fatwa in Pakistan against suicide bombing and killings of Muslims in Pakistan and also in India.' He added, 'I think it would have a very important effect in the North West Frontier Province and in fact (on) the most powerful politician in that province, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who also pays obeisance to Deoband.' Haroon was speaking at the debate on 'Threats to International Peace and Security' on December 9, 2008. Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind had, however, reacted strongly against Pakistan's statement. It had even lodged a complaint with the external affairs ministry and sent letters to the Pakistani high commissioner here as well as to the UN secretary general. The Pakistani envoy's remarks had also elicited sharp reactions from Darul Uloom - a respected institution of Islamic learning in India - which said it had no sway in Taliban-controlled areas and that 'controlling jihadis in their (Pakistan) territory is their business not ours'. Referring to Pakistan's statement, Madani said it was indeed a shameful attempt by Islamabad to deflect attention from the real culprits (of the Mumbai terror attacks), but he wondered on what basis ARC, which submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had made such a report linking Azhar with Deoband Ulema. 'The government should clarify the basis of the report and the action taken by it if the allegation is true,' said the chief of the Jamait-Ulama-i-Hind - the organization founded in 1866 and which opposed the two-nation theory that became the basis for the creation of Pakistan.