New Delhi, 4 July (Jadid Khabar bureau): A meet and a discussion between Anna Hazare with Urdu journalist was organised here by Urdu weekly Chouthi Duniya. It was started with an introduction of the programme that had been. ‘arranged for mutual exchange of views because there is a distance between Anna Hazare and the Muslims. This is an open session in which everyone has the right to speak and express his views.’
Fiirst some of the Urdu journalists expressed their views urging Anna Hazare to raise his voice on Muslims issues too, should he wished to take them on board after which Anna Hazare expressed his views on his movement and the situation in the country. This was followed by a question and answer session. The sad thing, however, is that Anna Hazare seemed to be very unclear on Muslim issues and appeared to be blank.
One of the direct question Anna Hazare was asked was, ‘Has injustice been done with Indian Muslims in the 66 years of post independence or not?’ To this he did not give any clear answer. When pressed to answer in, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ Anna said that what was wrong was wrong and he did not support wrong. But he added that he had no proof on whether or not injustice had been done and without a proof what could he say. Upon this another journalist asked him by reminding, ‘In the wake of Babri Mosque demolition a severe anti-Muslim riot had broken out in your own state, Maharashtra, for the probe of which Justice Sri Krishna Commission was formed. The Commission had, on the basis of thousands of witnesses, prepared a report in which it had clearly held Shiv Sena, BJP and RSS responsible for the riots. Is this evidence not enough for you? Besides there have been many riots in the country in which it has been established that injustices are meted out to Muslims. In the light of these facts what do you have to say?’ He evaded this question too and started going into unrelated issues. Anna Hazare kept repeating that he talked of everyone and wanted to change the system.
Anna Hazare was asked several other questions in relation to Muslims but he failed to give any satisfactory answer. He could not even explain why he did not include Muslim issues in his movement and if he had the intention to do so when would it be.
Akhbar-e-Mashriq’s editor Waseemul Haq praised Anna Hazare’s movement but added that the anti-corruption atmosphere created by him had ended. He advised that Anna should review the causes of the failure of his movement. He made particular mention of anti-Muslim riots in which, he said, Muslims were harassed.
Expressing his views on anti-Muslim riots and terrorism Urdu columnist and bureau chief of English daily DNA Iftikhar Gilani presented statistics on Muslim detainees. He asked Hazare how could Muslims think about anyone else when their own safety was under threat. Iftikhar Gilani stressed that Muslims felt insecure and this feeling needs to be removed. Giving the example of corruption free country Denmark Iftikhar Gilani asked, ‘Can India not become like Denmark?’ Anna Hazare did not comment on Gilani’s views nor did he say anything about the Muslims arrested for terrorism many of whom had been exonerated by courts.
Anna Hazare said that Indian constitution did not allow political parties to contest elections but it talked of individuals’ rights to stand. In his view participation of political parties in elections was against the constitution. When asked why he did not launch a movement demanding deregistration of political parties, Anna said that he was not aware of it before and now he is raising voice against it. Giving arguments in support of his demand of, ‘Right to recall’ and ‘Right to reject’ he said that unless and until people with clean character participated in politics political atmosphere could not be sanitised.
Former Army General V.K. Singh accompanied Hazare in the programme. When asked about human rights violation and rapes in Jammu and Kashmir, he said that 96% of complaints there proved wrong. Only 4% were right and the perpetrators were accordingly punished. With regard to Muslims he said that he talked of all the sections not of any particular community.
At the end of the programme Chouthi Duniya’s editor Santosh Bhartiya thanked Urdu journalists for their participation. He complained why Muslims always remained concerned only about their own problems and never about others. He said there were many non-Muslims who were raising voices in support of Muslims but Muslims remained focussed on their own issues. He said Muslims did not realise that there were those who were exploiting them and were using community’s name to grind their own axes whom they should recognise and should distance themselves from them. He also said that he was with the oppressed and supported the Muslims and will never go back on his stand even if had to pay with his life for this. He said his newspaper was for the oppressed people the pages of which were available to anyone who wanted to raise his voice against injustice. Known journalist A U Ausif, who is associated with Chouthi Duniya, conducted the programme.