Saturday, September 29, 2007

PMO Scuttles Arrest of Abdullah Bukhari

PMO Scuttles Arrest of Bukhari
A. B. Masoud
New Delhi: The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Union Home Ministry which were locking horns on the issue of directing Delhi Police to arrest the former 'Shahi' Imam Syed Abdullah Bukhari of Delhi's historic Jama Masjid for over a month, have now come to terms and decided to keep the matter in abeyance. Delhi Police had sought permission to detain Imam for his alleged provocative remarks during a rally here last April. The Imam recently abdicated the pulpit in favour of his son Syed Ahmed Bukhari.
According to informed sources, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee personally came to the rescue of the Imam recently and prevented the Union Home Ministry from giving its nod fearing that the arrest of Bukhari would trigger communal clashes in the walled city. It is to be noted that Delhi Police that functions directly under the Central government had sought permission from the Union Home Ministry to arrest and prosecute the high-profile Imam.
Taking cognizance of Shahi Imam's speech at the 'Mazhab Bachau Rally' at Ramlila ground in Delhi. Delhi Police had filed a case against him under the charges of treason and sedition. In his alleged inflammatory speech, Bukhari had lambasted the official agencies for branding Indian Muslims as ISI agents. He declared at the rally that he was the biggest ISI agent and dared the government to arrest him.
Delhi Police also wanted to teach Imam a lesson seeking permission to book him in another case of treason for his remarks on Jammu and Kashmir. In an interview to a local Urdu daily, Imam had termed the Chattisingpura Sikh massacre on the eve of American President Bill Clinton's visit, as the handiwork of official agencies hatched at the behest of the Prime Minister. He went on further to say that the massacre was aimed to tarnish the image of Muslims and Islam in the eyes of visiting dignitary and to create chasm between Sikhs and Muslims.
Thereafter, Union Home Ministry officials held several meetings with Delhi police officials to discuss the repercussions of Imam's arrest. Following the high-profile drama enacted in Mumbai recently leading Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray to appear in the court, Union Home Minister L. K. Advani is believed to have told his officials that there was need to show Imam his right place. Sources said Advani was particular to enact part-II of Thackeray drama in Delhi and creating an ellusion that nobody was above law.
But, the PMO swung into action soon and held back Advani's proposal. One argument stemmed out of the PMO was that by arresting high-profile Imam who is in twilight of his life and was soon to abdicate his throne would provide grist to the mill of opponents longing to label the government as of Hindu zealots. Already there had been attacks against the government for being too soft to Hindu extremists. The Home Ministry had to finally give in to the PMO's argument.
Furthermore, according to legal experts, the case against the Imam was full of holes and could not stand for trial in the court of law for a minute. They say that Bukhari pronounced the controversial remarks in the context of a particular situation.
It is also said that Imam Bukhari had even himself contacted the Prime Minister through an emissary to thwart his arrest. Imam is facing a dozen cases in different courts across the country. Whenever, any of these courts in past issued arrest warrants against him, Delhi Police complied with the unusual reply that "Imam is presently out of Delhi."

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