"We want the Centre to invoke Article 356 in West Bengal. We also want Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to go. He is an arrogant and stubborn leader. Let a sincere leader come as the chief minister. Please remove him. The United Progressive Alliance government should take action to send message to the poor people that they care," says Maulana Mahmood Madani, All India General Secretary, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind.
It is apparent that in West Bengal, the minority support to its ideology of "secularism" was shaking as the Army was called in to the streets of Kolkata. The city came to a halt after protests hit the streets against the Nandigram violence and to press the demand for cancelling Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen's visa. Since last year, Jamiat has been leading the agitation, along with NGOs in Nandigram, because large numbers of local Muslims are supporters of Jamiat.
While recounting the horrific violence in Nandigram in second week of November, Madani said: "In Gujarat, violence was spread out, but here it was concentrated. Hundreds of our mothers and sisters were raped in daylight and that too, on the roads. CPM workers destroyed their homes. Nobody has been able to enter the area. I must say it's a jungle raj in Nandigram."
He refused to give any details of rape cases, citing, "We are not allowed to go in the area." "Our leaders were helpless. The West Bengal police was with CPM cadres and helped them enter the area. Our only weapon was the media. We could not do anything because we did not have weapons. Hundreds of women and children are in camps today. I am not at all talking about Muslims only, I am talking about poor farmers."
He said: "Today a Rajya Sabha member was telling me that Buddhadeb has made a Gujarat out of West Bengal. I do agree with the view. Some murderers regret the crime and some feel proud of what they have done. Buddhadeb and Narendra Modi are proud of what they have done. Buddhadeb is saying that the killings are a fitting reply to whatever happened in the last 11 months. Buddhadeb and Modi both have no regrets for violence and that makes them similar to each other. Let both of them regret, let them say sorry and let both of them correct the mistakes we will not protest and peace will prevail."
"The issue of Nandigram will not die down, it will become a national issue. The national policy and debate of the Special Economic Zone's issue has changed due to Nandigram," said Madani. While commenting on the violence in Kolkata, Madani, who is also a member of the Rajya Sabha, said though the protests are organised by the All India Minority Forum, Jamiat is fully supportive of the cause to fight against writings of Taslima Nasreen.
West Bengal has given a refuge to the controversial author. The All India Minority Forum has specifically formed a group to take the issue head-on and they want to see that Taslima is deported out of India.
Madani said that four days ago all Muslim organisations had taken out a rally to press for the demand to deport her. He defended the violent protests staged by Muslims and said, "This is not enough at all! More aggressive protests are needed against her. The issue is not Taslima, issue is that thought that is hurting the largest minority of India under the pretext of freedom of speech. This is the conspiracy to spread riots all over India."
He even clubbed the case of painter M F Husain and Taslima. He said, "Both creative artistes are crossing lakshman rekha and hurting people's sentiments."
Madani said: "We do understand one should have freedom of ideas, freedom of speech and words. But, there is always a limit to it because you can't have freedom to hurt others. How can I have freedom to burn the Indian flag and tear it to pieces? We can debate over the issue, but criticism has its limits. Taslimaji may be a good writer and a good woman but her writings are hurtful. Our religious sentiments are her target and she crosses her limits everytime. When someone crosses the lakshman rekha, he is a tyrant."
Madani said: “Taslima can't go scot-free because she had hurt the feelings of Indian Muslims in the name of her own freedom". He said, "The West Bengal government has welcomed her as a guest. While sitting in India, she has not stopped her old ways. The media is also giving her too much boost. I have freedom to say abusive things against Shri Ramchandraji, Shri Krishnaji but my religion does not allow me to speak against someone's sacred deity."
He said: "Both, Taslima and MF Husain are misusing their freedom. They have no business to disturb India's social harmony. The government must take action to silence them or punish them."
On Nandigram, Madani said: "Jamiat is not against the Communist parties. But, we also believe that the Communist party destroyed the industries of Bengal because of their anti-capitalist policies. Now, they are blocking development of farmers and labours with their policy to favour market economy. This is a great shift from one extreme to another extreme. This is not acceptable to us. When we speak about Nandigram, we are not talking of Muslims who have been more affected by it, but we are talking of all affected sections." He added: "Jamiat is in forefront of Nandigram protests because we believe that a middle path in economic policy is the only way out."