Move ahead, leave Gujarat riots behind: Deoband Rector

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,,

Patna: A week after getting elected as rector (vice-chancellor) of Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, seems to have courted a controversy by saying All is Well in Gujarat under chief minister Narendra Modi, an accused in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom.

A leading English daily quoted the Maulana in a news report on 19th Jan. 2011 as saying: All communities are prospering in Gujarat and there is no discrimination against the minorities in the state as far as development is concerned.

Darul Uloom Deoband mosque

When contacted MBA degree holder Maulana Vastanvi to verify his statement in Times of India the Surat (Gujarat)-based cleric said: “Muslims are doing businesses here. They are getting education. There has been no violence in the last eight years. They are living peacefully in Gujarat. Now tell me my son, what should I say? Should I say Muslims are oppressed here, they are facing atrocities. If I say so, Modi will ask me where are the oppressed Muslims, and then how many such Muslims will stand behind me?

“Why should I create a controversy by saying everything is wrong in the state and nothing is good for Muslims?” he asked.

On the Gujarat riots also he reiterated his views: The riots happened eight years ago. It was wrong. It brought bad repute to the state and the country. “But what should we do now? Should we sit and weep or should we move ahead? But it does not mean the guilty should not be punished. Those involved in the riots should be punished and justice should reach the victims,” said Maulana Vastanvi who has been elected rector of Deoband after the death of Maulana Marghoobur Rahman last month.

However, on the issue of relief to riot victims, the Maulana said his complete views were not published by the paper. “As far as relief work riot is concerned, it has been carried out very well by government and people of Gujarat,” the TOI had quoted him as saying.

When TCN asked him how he can say so when several hundreds of riot victims are still reported to be living in relief camps, the Maulana said this was not his complete view. “I had also said that the victims should be rehabilitated. Houses should be built for those whose homes were looted, put on fire and destroyed,” he said.

According to the Maulana, he had also demanded release of innocent Muslim youths who have been put behind bars in terror cases but this also did not get space. There are hundreds of Muslims languishing in Gujarat jails in terror cases.