"No Apologies for the Tweet, Will Continue Struggle Against Hate Politics in the Country": Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan
Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, MAY 3—Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) chairman Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan has said that he has not apologised for his tweet on the basis of which Special Cell of the Delhi Police has registered a case of sedition against him. He said that he has apologised only for its timings, and not for the tweet per se.
Speaking to India Tomorrow on Sunday, he also asserted that his struggle against hate politics in the country would continue.
In response to a question, he said that “no one from the Delhi police has so far contacted him with regard to the case registered against me. I have come to know about it through media only”.
He said that he has also not been contacted by Delhi’s lieutenant-governor (LG) Anil Baijal.
Stating that “a section of media has erroneously reported that I have apologised for the tweet and I have also deleted it”, he said that this was no true.
“I have apologised not for the tweet itself but because it was ill-timed and insensitive in the midst of a medical emergency faced by our country. The tweet is very much there on my twitter handle and Facebook page”, said Dr. Khan.
Will Continue the Fight Against Hate Politics
Stating that he stood by his “views and convictions”, Dr. Khan said that “I will continue, now and in future, the fight against hate politics in the country”.
He said that “FIRs, arrests and imprisonments do not change this path which I have chosen consciously to save my country, my people and the Indian secular polity and Constitution”.
No Legal, Criminal Action Can Be Initiated Without Govt's Permission
When asked that a demand was being made from certain quarters to remove you from DMC chairmanship, Dr. Khan said that chairman and members of the DMC are public servants and enjoy certain protections and no civil, legal or criminal proceedings can be initiated against them for any action done in good faith. “No action can be taken against him without government’s permission”, he claimed.
The DMC Act says, "No civil, criminal or other legal proceedings shall be taken against the Chairperson, Members or officers performing functions under this Act, or under authority of the Commission, in respect of anything which is done in good faith or intended to be done in pursuance of this Act by or under the authority of the Commission".
Why Media Campaign Against Dr. Khan
Though a media campaign against Dr. Khan was launched after his tweet, sources say that BJP leaders were allegedly demanding his removal from the chairmanship of the commission after he visited the violence-hit northeast Delhi areas of Khureji Khas, Chaman Bagh and Shivpuri etc and issued media statements saying that the it was not a communal riot but “pre-mediated and one-sided attack on Muslims”. Sources also say that FIR pertaining to sedition under Section 124-A and 153-A to promote enmity between groups was registered on the same day some BJP MLAs went to meet LG Anil Baijal and put forward their demand for removal of Dr. Khan.
Dr. Khan Strengthened DMC By Using Powers of the Commission
Unlike DMC’s previous chairpersons who were almost rubber stamps of the state government or the party in power and never worked independently, Dr. Khan used his position as DMC’s chairman to protect the rights of not only Muslims but all minorities. Many people compare him to former Election Commissioner (EC) T N Seshan who was the first to use the commission’s power to check politicians from indulging into violation of Peoples’ Representation Act. Similarly, Dr. Khan used the powers vested in him by the commission to protect the interest of minorities in Delhi, particularly Muslims, who are all the time exposed to attack and harms from the unscrupulous elements among the majority community and also many times by the wrong actions of the government officials themselves. Dr. Khan, a product of Al Azhar University, Cairo, is a renowned Islamic scholar and a journalist, well-versed in English, Arabic and Urdu languages and is popular among the Arab establishment.
Dr. Khan on "Illegal Mosques" in Delhi
So, it was no surprise that when BJP MP Pravesh Verma raised the issue of “illegal mosques” on government land and submitted a list of 54 such mosques and other Muslim religious properties to Delhi LG Anil Baijal in July 2019 and announced that these buildings would be removed if BJP came to power after Delhi elections, Dr. Khan immediately ordered survey of the mosques in Delhi. He submitted to LG a report from the DMC, proving that there were no illegal mosques anywhere in Delhi that came as a big slap on the face of BJP whose very survival and growth is based on anti-Muslim rhetoric which has now become a new normal under the existing charged political atmosphere in the country.
Delhi Violence was "Pre-mediated and One-Sided": Dr. Khan
Dr. Khan is also the first individual as DMC’s chairman who through his statements, had the courage to say that northeast Delhi violence in February was “pre-meditated and one-sided”, which was a harsh criticism of the Delhi police claiming itself to be the best police force in the country.
Dr. Khan also had drawn attention of the Delhi police with regard to the attacks on mosques and Muslim vendors as also members of the Tablighi Jamaat after the government agencies and media repeatedly propagated that the Tablighi congregation at its headquarters at Hazrat Nizamuddin was responsible for the corona spread in Delhi and rest of the country. He also wrote letters to police with regard to some lower level police personnel imposing ban on calling of ‘Azaan’ in several parts of Delhi, particularly in areas bordering Haryana. Police had to take immediate action in all these cases and restore the fundamental rights of the Muslims. Some arrests were also made after his complaints on attacks on Muslims as Tablighis.
Dr. Khan Asked Govt Agencies Not to Identify COVID-19 Cases on Basis of Relgion as It was Promoting Islamophobia
He also did not spare the Delhi Health Ministry as also the Union Health Ministry for bifurcating the COVID-19 positive cases as those spread by coming in contact with Tablighi activists and others. This conduct of the Delhi and central government’s health ministries, stating that Tablighis, and indirectly Muslims, had chief role in propagation of corona infection, provided ammunition to a section of the media to launch a campaign of vilification against Muslim. This resulted into Islamophobia in length and breadth of the country, with hate attacks on Muslims in different parts of the country and their economic boycott by Hindu bigots in the country. Dr. Khan issued directives to both the Delhi Health Ministry as also the Union Health Ministry not to mention the name of any religious groups while releasing data or information with regard to COVID-19 because it was generating hatred against Muslims in the country. In fact, after this that the government issued directives even to media not to use the names of COVID-19 patients, suspects and those who succumbed to COVID-19.
Campaign Intended To Prevent Another Term for Dr. Khan at DMC
All these actions of Dr. Khan, according to political leaders, were not liked by BJP and their supporters who trained their guns on him after his tweet on April 28 in which he drew the attention of the government and administration regarding the reaction from Arab Muslims with regard to Islamophobic tweets by Indian NRIs in the gulf countries. His tweet, according to Dr. Khan, was simply intended to warn “bigots” what consequences it would have for the country if such a bigotry was not stopped.
Social activists say that the ongoing media campaign against Dr. Khan is directed to generate a controversy around him so that he is not given another term as DMC chairman though he has been the most successful of DMC chairmen ever since the commission came into existence for the first time in 1992.