2010 Bareilly Riots: Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan Declared Absconding by UP Court, May Lose Properties

Tarique Anwar/ TwoCircles.net

The cleric-turned-politician has been described as the “mastermind” of the violence in a controversial order passed on March 5 by Additional District Judge-Fast Track Court Ravi Kumar Diwakar, who hailed Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for his religious belief and blamed Muslims for communal riots in the country.

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New Delhi: A court in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district declared Ittehad-e-Millat Council (IMC) President Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan absconding on April 1 after the noted cleric did not appear before it in person in a 2010 communal violence case. Expressing displeasure over his non-appearance, the court also directed the police to take further action if he does not surrender. The next date is April 8.

The cleric-turned-politician was directed to appear in person by Ravi Kumar Diwakar, additional district judge-fast court on March 5. Two non-bailable warrants have been issued against him by the court.

The case is now being heard in the district judge’s court after the ADJ made a series of objectionable remarks and praise for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in his March 5 order was objected to by a pan-India lawyers’ body. Subsequently, a portion of the order was expunged by the Allahabad High Court.

According to legal experts, when a court declares an accused absconding, a notice of proclamation under Section 82 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) is issued to the police for attachment of any property, movable or immovable, or both, belonging to the proclaimed person if he or she does not surrender. The law enforcement agency has to make an announcement in this regard by pasting a copy of the notice at the residence of the accused. If the concerned person is not found within a month, a notice under Section 83 (attachment) Cr.P.C. is pasted.

IMC’s media in-charge Munir Idrishi said that the party chief is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Delhi. He said there is an improvement in Khan’s health, but doctors have not discharged him yet.

“He respects the law. As soon as the doctors declare him completely fit, he will come to Bareilly and appear before the court,” he told TwoCircles.net.

In his brief comment, Bareilly Senior Superintendent of Police Ghule Sushil Chandrabhan said the court’s order will strictly be complied with.

A ‘Communal’ Judgment?

Heaping praise on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as a great example of a “religious person” in a position of power, ADJ Ravi Kumar Diwakar had invoked serious criminal charges, including attempt to murder, against the cleric-politician and directed him to appear before him in person on April 1.

The court had described him as the “main mastermind” of the Bareilly riots, which took place on March 2, 2010 over the route of a Muslim religious procession. Though no loss of human life was reported in the incident, several suffered injuries and properties worth lakhs were damaged. A curfew had been imposed in the city for several days.

He had blamed Muslims for communal riots across the country.

After recording the witness statement, ADJ Diwakar came to the conclusion that Khan’s speech to a Muslim gathering had sparked the violence. He began by saying that having a religious person in a position of power produces positive outcomes.

He referenced the idea of the ‘philosopher king’, which was propounded by the Greek philosopher Plato in his book ‘Republic’. Diwakar stated in his order that Plato had maintained there would be no end to misery in the Greek city states until they had philosopher monarchs.

“Justice is the lifeblood of a king,” declared Diwakar, quickly clarifying that while the term “justice” is used in the legal meaning today, it was used in a religious sense by Plato.

“Therefore, the head of power should be a religious person, because the life of a religious person is not one of enjoyment but of sacrifice and dedication,” he stated, citing the religious background of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister as an example.

“An example of this in today’s times is the peethadheeshwar (supreme pontiff or the head of a Hindu monastery or matha) of the great Siddhapeeth Gorakhnath Temple, mahant baba shri Yogi Adityanath ji, who is the current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, and has proven the above concept to be true,” Judge Diwakar said.

However, on the other hand, the judge stated riots break out and law and order is disturbed if any religious individual incites members of a group. Maulana Khan, according to Diwakar, is one example of this. The judge emphasized that the cleric has significant influence in the Muslim community because he is a religious leader, belongs to Bareilly’s Ala Hazrat dargah (shrine), which is highly respected in the Muslim community, and leads the IMC.

The “main reason for riots” in India, according to the ADJ, is “political parties here are engaged in appeasement of a particular religion”. Because of the security that power affords, he said, the morale of notable members of that “particular religion” (Islam) gets a boost to the extent where they begin thinking that even if they start riots, nothing bad will happen to them.

Mentioning Khan’s alleged comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the judge even asserted that the cleric would have incited a riot in Bareilly lately if Adityanath had not taken control of Uttar Pradesh.

He was alluding to the stone-pelting incident that happened in Bareilly in February this year while people were returning after taking part in a jail-bharo (fill the prison) protest that Khan had organised against a Varanasi court’s decision to give Hindus access to the Gyanvapi mosque’s basement for prayer.

The judge in the Bareilly rioting case noted that the mastermind of a riot is rarely punished in India. He criticised the police and government officials for allegedly failing to include Khan’s name in the chargesheet despite the investigation yielding “sufficient” evidence against him.

Despite being taken into custody, Khan’s was not named in the chargesheet.

ADJ Diwakar had passed several controversial orders in the Gyanvapi mosque legal battle while serving as a judge in Varanasi in 2022.

‘Prejudicial, bigoted and unconstitutional’

Terming the ADJ’s remarks made in his March 5 order “prejudicial, bigoted and unconstitutional”, an all-India lawyers’ body on March 13 wrote to Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, demanding action against Diwakar.

The All-India Lawyers’ Association for Justice (AILAJ) had also demanded that the superfluous remarks made by judge order be removed from the record. The group charged that Judge Diwakar openly showed a “disregard for constitutional morality” and showed “sympathy for a majoritarian viewpoint”, which runs counter to the obligation to protect the Constitution and its core principles. The AILAJ said that it could not go unpunished.

The AILAJ said the judge’s remarks effectively perpetuate misplaced stereotypes and bigoted impressions about the Muslim community. The judge, it said in the letter, violated standards of judicial conduct by making the remarks, which manifest bias and prejudice against the Muslim community — undermining public trust in the legal system.

AILAJ made it clear that its objection was only to the “excessive and unnecessary obiter”, not to the court ruling.

Following an uproar, the Allahabad High Court expunged the controversial remarks from Judge Diwakar’s order, and Khan’s case was transferred to the district judge’s court.