Saturday, April 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Muslims protest against UP Bill
Plea to President to withhold assent

NEW DELHI, April 21 (PTI, UNI) — Thousands of Muslims today protested against the UP Regulation of Public Religious Buildings and Places Bill and appealed to President K.R. Narayanan not to give his assent to the legislation aimed at “destroying the secular fabric of the country”.

Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Abdullah Bukhari, addressing the congregation at the Ram Lila Ground here, said the Bill was aimed at destroying the secular fabric of the country.

“Muslims will not remain mute spectators to any attempt that would put the secular character of the country into trouble, Mr Bukhari said amidst raising religious slogans.

He also warned the Centre to refrain from reviewing the Constitution and alleged “the exercise was aimed at giving an RSS colour to the constitution.”

Earlier, addressing the Friday congregation at the historic Jama Masjid, he said the President should not give assent to the UP Bill and sought dismissal of the Ram Prakash government in the state.

The Imam alleged that “communal and fascist forces” were targeting mosques and madrasas (religious schools) to implement their agenda of turning India into a Hindu nation.

He said “every single Indian Muslim will stand against such an attempt to divide the nation in the name of religion.”

People from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Bihar came in a procession from the historic Jama Masjid for the rally.

Mr Bukhari said the Muslims remained economically and socially backward. He said in the past 50 years, scores of communal riots took place in the country and the minorities were subjected to victimisation and harassment.

He lambasted the Congress for its anti-minorities policies, stating that the demolition of the Babri mosque was its glaring example.

Syed Ahmed Bukhari said the Muslims were ready to fight communal and divisive forces, which are posing a serious challenge to the country’s unity and integrity.

He condemned terrorism stating, “it is against the basic tenets of Islam. The Muslims are main target of terrorism, he said and criticised US President Bill Clinton for his anti-Islamic policy. He said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, but asked the government to stop state-sponsored terrorism against them.”

Maulana Shafi Moonis of the Jamat Islami and Mr G.M. Banatwala of the Indian Union Muslim League also addressed the rally. Prof Akhtarul Wasey presented various political resolutions at the rally. Syed Yahya Bukhari also spoke.

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