By M Ghazali Khan
Most disappointing in the ongoing anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests is the role of traditional Muslim leadership, especially the ulema and Islamic seminaries.
But this is not a bad news. There may be more difficulties ahead but InshaAllah this will pave the way to a new transitional period and emergence of new leadership with new thinking.
Interestingly the process of traditional leaders being sent into oblivion has been as spontaneous and natural as was the protest by the students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and the ensuing support to them from everywhere in the country.
Having silently and patiently faced lynchings by Hindutva goons, having suffered humiliation in the name of non-issues like Triple Talaq and having experienced injustice in Babri mosque case, a reawakening is taking place among young Indian Muslims against this injustice. They seem to have decided to free themselves from the tradition of dutifully obeying these leaders who, they allege, have been teaching them nothing but submissiveness and surrendering and compromising on their legal and democratic rights.
When the Jamia and AMU started their anti-CAA and anti-NRC campaigns they could even imagine that fair-minded and peace-loving men and women all over the country and fellow students in other universities would demonstrate such an exemplary solidarity with them. What we have witnessed during the last few days was unthinkable in a Hindutva-hate-filled environment. But innate goodness in humans does not let the darkness of minds and hearts last long.
While the bravery of JMI and AMU has been and is being reported by the media and police brutalities against them are being deplored, what has gone unreported is the unprecedented expression of support with them by students in madarsas.
One of the organisations who organised massive anti-CAA and anti-NRC demonstrations in various parts of the country is Companions of Peace and Justice (CPJ) —also known as Karvan-e-Amn-o-Insaf— a socio-political organisation, run and headed by young madarsa graduates with branches in various places in the country.
The cities and towns CPJ has particularly targeted for its campaign and has held impressive protests include Mumbai, Amravati, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Khargone in Madhya Pradesh, Supaul in Bihar, and Ahmadabad.
Similarly students of Darul Uloom Deoband staged a protest but were stopped and discouraged by the administration of the seminary itself.
On 11th of December students of Darul Uloom Deoband organised a peaceful protest in the town. A young Islamic scholar, an old student of the seminary, Maulana Mahdi Hasan Aini, who also runs an institution and is involved in various social activities, who was leading the protest, called it off at Masjid-e-Rasheed.
But some agitated students reached the Deoband highway and kept it blocked for two hours. As he learnt about it, Maulana Aini rushed to the scene and persuaded the students to return to their hostels. But instead of appreciating his efforts, police tried to arrest him there. This angered the students further and they tried to gherao Khanqah police station. But Maulana Aini again convinced them to leave and go back to their hostels.
Shamefully, at 8pm SSP Saharanpur had a meeting with the authorities of Darul-uloom in the guesthouse. It included the rector Mufti Abul Qasim Naumani, Vice-rector Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi, Mufti Ehsan Qasmi from Darul Uloom Waqf.
All of them caved in the pressure of the police and told them that those who had organised the protest had nothing to do with Darul Uloom and that they did not know who Mahdi Hasan Aini was. They are reported to have told the police that Maulana Aini was a trouble maker and that they should take necessary action against him.
During the last few days representatives of at least four different madarsas of Deoband have held meetings with police authorities and have told them that they want Maulana Aini arrested.
Not to be left behind, Nadwatul Ulama authorities too stopped students from participating in these demonstrations.