Mangaluru, Apr 19: Even as preparations are afoot for the ‘Mangaluru Chalo’, a protest meet against the alleged police atrocity on Ahmed Qureshi, an accused in multiple criminal cases, several Islamic scholars belonging to various organisations have expressed concern over the politicisation of the case.
Former Mangaluru Mayor K Ashraf, who is also the convener of the United Muslim Front, has claimed that over 60 organisations have extended their support for the protest meet scheduled to be held on May 2 at Nehru Maidan in the heart of the city.
However, prominent leaders of Muslim Central Committee, the official umbrella body of Muslim organisations from Dakhsina Kannada and Udupi districts, have opposed the planned event and called it a politically motivated move.
The local units of major Islamic organisations such as SKSSF, SSF, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and Khazis of Mangaluru, Ullal and Udupi too have refrained from endorsing the agitation.
Activist gets threat calls
Meanwhile, Umar U H, a social activist, has reportedly received several threat calls after he questioned the real intention behind the ongoing campaign against Mangaluru police.
Mr Umar, who is also the president of a city-based Muslim literary association, says that even though the government has ordered a CID inquiry into the case of alleged police atrocity, a section of people are trying to get political mileage. “The ‘justice for Qureshi’ campaign has turned into a movement against U T Khader and B Ramanath Rai, the two prominent ministers from Dakshina Kannada district,” he laments, while pointing out that Qureshi doesn’t hail from the constituencies of the above two ministers.
“Qureshi is an accused. I am aware that he was reportedly tortured. However, using this case to target someone who they don’t like and trying to gain political benefits is a matter of shame,” says Mr Umar.
Claims and allegations
Ahmed Qureshi (25), a resident of Katipalla, was produced before the magistrate on March 27 by the police, who claimed that he was arrested on March 26 in connection with an attempt to murder case. Qureshi had stated that the injury marks on his body were the result of a road accident.
However, later Qureshi claimed that he was actually picked by the police on March 21 and that he was brutally tortured in the illegal confinement. He also claimed that the police had forced him to give false statement about his injuries by threatening to implicate him in unsolved Karthik Raj murder case.
According to police, Qureshi is an accused in two attempt-to-murder cases — attack on Sudarshan in Surathkal (2014) and attack on Prakash Poojary in Jokatte (2016) — apart from other cases.
The issue of alleged atrocity on Qureshi snowballed into a major controversy after the police canned the activists of PFI when they staged a protest in front of the office of police commissioner in Mangaluru on April 4. Apart from demanding action against those who tortured Qureshi, the protesters had also warned the police against arresting Khader Kulai, a local leader of PFI, who is also an accused in an attempt to murder case.
Community dragged into controversy?
Meanwhile, many Islamic scholars have expressed displeasure over attempts to turn the issue of police atrocity on an accused into a conflict between Muslims and police department.
“Custodial torture is condemnable. At the same time, the attempt to throw the entire community’s weight behind an accused in two murder attempt cases is also condemnable. If Qureshi is innocent, they should fight for him legally instead of blowing the issue out of proportion” said a cleric, on condition of anonymity.
“When you glorify an uneducated person with criminal background just because he belongs to your religion, you actually defame your religion. This religion has produced thousands of great scholars, thinkers and scientists. They should be your role models and not uneducated people,” said another cleric.
Stating that insulting police and using foul words against them is a non-Islamic act, an Islamic scholar said that religion advises people to be kind to all. “Quran teaches us that the God had asked Prophet Moses (a) to speak gently even with Pharaoh, the worst tyrant in the history of mankind. If one follows Quran, he cannot be rude with anyone. Then, how can we consider entire police department as our enemy? They are also human beings like us. You can find good and bad elements everywhere,” he said, adding that Prophet Muhammad(s) had exhorted the Muslims not to be communal and suspicious.