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April 26, 2003

Torture and Detention of Muslims in Gujarat Continues

Prominent Muslim scholars were arrested and allegedly tortured during their detention in the month of May and early June 2003. No charges were filed against them and no proper explanation has been given so far for their detention except that they are looking for some person who has absconded. Those arrested included Hazrat Maulana Khanpuri, Mufti Abdul Qaiyum Mansuri, Maulvi Anjum, Mufti Rizwan, Maulana Shaukat Alipuri, Mufti Imtiaz Ahmed, Maulana Ahmed Patni, Mufti Yahya Mastan.

The later three were detained in police custody for three days. While Mufti Tahir, Maulana Ahmed Hussein and Maulana Juned are still under police custody. All of them are scholars at Dabhel, the biggest and the most prestigious Islamic seminary in Gujarat. Maulana Khanpuri, the head of this seminary, was kept in custody for 11 days. During his detention he was interrogated and tortured.

Consequently, he is in a hospital in the city of Surat, Gujarat, undergoing
treatment. The police are reportedly interrogating them about one Mufti
Sufyan Patangia who was once a student of the seminary. Police wants to interrogate Patangia in connection with the murder of a politician Haren Pandya, who was an arch rival of the present Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. Hiren Pandya was murdered about couple of months ago by a group of unknown assailants. The father of the victim accused Narendra Modi of making Muslims scapegoats. However,
the Gujarat police arrested above mentioned Muslim religious leaders and accused them of knowing the where about of a person the police is looking for. The charges were never brought before the court and some of the accused were released later.

The arrest of religious scholars and teachers and the manner they have been systematically tortured and violated is a matter of serious concern to every one. Arresting scholars of a religious seminary under the suspicion that they may have some connection with a former student allegedly accused of playing a role in the murder of Pandya is against all norms of human rights and constitutionality.

*1. Stop persecution of religious leaders.
*2. Apprehend the real culprits and murderers of Hiren Pandya and punished them to the maximum extent allowed by law.
*3. Take all necessary steps to remove fear and anxiety among Muslims and other minorities in Gujarat and create a conducive environment for them to live in peace.
*4. Punish the people who propagate hate and fear.


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