Shias, traditional BJP backers, divided over CAA

There seems to be simmering discontent within the Muslim community that has its nerve centre in Lucknow, a hint of which was also seen in Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s post last week asking the government to “confront extremist Hindus” ...

Reuters
LUCKNOW: The Shia community in Lucknow, known to unofficially support BJP due to popularity of its Lok Sabha candidates who have represented the city — Atal Bihari Vajpayee earlier and now Rajnath Singh — may now be getting divided in its support to the saffron party as the CAA-NRC issue intensifies. Many Shia clerics and representatives have increasingly voiced their criticism over the government’s handling of the CAA issue, although they hint at “elements within the party” and “lobbies” which want to malign the national leadership by indulging in violence.

There seems to be simmering discontent within the community that has its nerve centre in Lucknow, a hint of which was also seen in Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s post last week asking the government to “confront extremist Hindus” and “stop the massacre of Muslims”.

On Friday, when the UP government put up banners of the riot-accused across the city, the presence of Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas and son of renowned Shia scholar Maulana Kalbe Sadiq on them may have distanced the community further from BJP that also rules Uttar Pradesh through its Hindu monk chief minister Yogi Adityanath.


A minority within the minority Muslim population, Shias constitute 4-5% of the country’s population but had seemed to find a voice under the BJP rule while, earlier, in Uttar Pradesh, they would often get sidelined by parties like Samajwadi Party that pander more to Sunni Muslims.

In January, octogenarian Kalbe Sadiq, who is revered by Shias all over the country, had objected to the government’s move by visiting the anti-CAA protests at the Husainabad clock tower in Lucknow as a mark of solidarity. He had also criticised home minister Amit Shah’s stern statement at a Lucknow rally when Shah had dared people to protest as much as they wished asserting that CAA will not be rolled back.

Maulana Kalbe Jawad, national secretary of the Majlis-e-Ulama-e Hind, a national organisation representing Shias, had recently visited the riot-hit areas of northeast Delhi and called the violence “state-sponsored”.
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Speaking to ET, he said the government should hold a “high-level inquiry” against the police officials who were seen siding with the mob in various video footages. Though Jawad, or any other clerics, has never spoken of supporting a particular party, he is known to be close to Singh and had also likened him to Vajpayee during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Asked whether this “indirect support” to the party will continue in future, especially as the assembly elections is due in 2022, Jawad said “it will be difficult if atrocities against Muslims continue”. He, like many other influential Shias ET spoke to, said there were people and “lobbies” working against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The government is taking things personally and the public is being ignored and this will have ramifications going forward,” Saif Abbas said while maintaining that he has been “unfairly implicated” for causing violence in the city.

Wasim Rizvi, chairman of the UP Central Shia Waqf Board, had defended both CAA and the police’s role in the Delhi riots. Rizvi even slammed Khamenei’s statement calling it “irresponsible”.
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“Some misinformed Muslims have spread the whole confusion about CAA where no Muslim is losing citizenship. What is happening in the country right now is only a conspiracy by fundamental organisations to malign the government,” he said, adding that the Iranian leader’s statement could have also been a response to India’s hosting of US president Donald Trump. Another representative, who did not wish to be named, said leaders like Singh should come forward to instil confidence within the people.
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