Friday, September 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ban on SIMI triggers violent protests
Curfew in Lucknow as 3 killed in firing

New Delhi, September 27
The Centre today banned the radical Muslim outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) following a strong demand by some states but the action immediately touched off violent protests in which three persons were killed in police firing in Lucknow.

The two-year ban notified by the Home Ministry under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 after Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh pushed for its proscription in the wake of the involvement of SIMI activists in communal violence in Kanpur, Pune and some other places.

Official sources said the government had information that some SIMI leaders were found to have links with Kashmiri militant outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.

Shortly after the Centre’s order reached Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh police, in a statewide swoop, arrested 67 SIMI activists. At least three persons were killed when the police opened fire on violent demonstrators protesting the arrests.

Uttar Pradesh Principal Secretary (Home) Naresh Dayal said indefinite curfew has been clamped on Chowk, Wazirgunj, Saadatgunj and Bazar Khala localities of Lucknow.

SIMI was floated after emergency was declared in June 1975.

The police has been searching for its head Shahid Badr, who has been charged with sedition and inciting communal disharmony in Uttar Pradesh. The police want Badr for making ‘highly provocative’ speeches at a local conference of the organisation in Bahraich town.

Besides flaying the Indian Government for offering support to USA in its war against Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden, Badr, while addressing his volunteers in Bahraich, had gone to the extent of eulogising Laden as a ‘champion and true saviour of Islam’.

On July 30 this year, the Delhi police had arrested four terrorists of the Hizbul Mujahideen, including two Kanpur-based SIMI activists. Later, the Centre ordered police forces in various states to launch a search for SIMI operatives, leading to the arrest of a large number of members.

The Uttar Pradesh Government had recently decided to ban the proposed meeting of SIMI in Azamgarh starting on October 4.

The Shiv Sena has welcomed the Centre’s ban and demanded “drastic steps to crush Islamic terrorism” as also arrest of Shahi Imam Ahmed Bukhari, even as a prominent Muslim leader called for a similar action against Hindu outfits such as the Bajrang Dal.

Terming the ban as a “right decision”, RSS spokesman M.G. Vaidya said: “Ban alone is not the only way to crush terrorism. The education of people is equally important.”

Describing the move as “welcome though belated,” VHP senior vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore said: “No government can tolerate the activities of such outfits.”

He, however, demanded that the Centre take “stern action” against “fundamentalist leaders” such as Shahi Imam of Delhi’s historic Jama Masjid for their “anti-national outbursts” and arrest them forthwith.

Welcoming the ban, Bajrang Dal’s national convener Surendra Jain told PTI on the telephone from Rohtak: “We (Sangh outfits) have been demanding a ban on SIMI for long. The government should crush Islamic terrorism with a firm hand and arrest radicals like Shahi Imam.” PTI, UNI

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