April 2002 News

Maulana forgets scars of past to take peace path

22 April 2002
The Indian Express
Pradeep Dutta

Jammu: Last year, the state police committed a faux pass claiming that an innocent businesswoman from Delhi was the first woman fidayeen they killed after the Srinagar Airport attack. A year later, her cousin, Maulana Ather Hussain Dehalvi, is back in trouble-torn J-K — with no grudge, only a message of peace. President of the Anjuman Minhaj-i-Rasool, a religio-social organisation that literally means ‘to follow in the footsteps of Prophet Mohammed’, the Maulana today visited Raghunath Temple, recently a target of a fidayeen attack in which 10 people were killed, to spread message of communal harmony and brotherhood. Amid chanting of Om Namah Shivai, Dehalvi tiptoed into the temple and along with priests offered prayers for peace. On seeing bullet marks on the walls, he said: ‘‘People try to justify the backlash without realising that by doing so, communalism will have no end. People said the Mumbai blast was the outcome of the Babri Masjid demolition and recently, the Sabarmati train burning was justified with the carnage in Gujarat. The only outcome is hatred, nothing else." Before leaving, he said ever since he was a child he was told Ayodhya meant ‘no yudh (war)’. ‘‘But I am amazed to find the same place has today become the battle ground for militants,’’ he said. The young Muslim scholar, who was at a meeting with the Shankaracharya in Ayodhya along with others, believes communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims can’t be attained in a day or by building a temple at RamJanmabhoomi site or rebuilding Babri Masjid. He believes this can be done, instead by, ‘‘forming model colonies with a 50-50 population of Hindus and Muslims”. And in these colonies people should not be allowed to sell their land." Recalling February 16, 2001, when he saw a news bulletin in Mumbai calling his cousin a woman fidayeen, he said he immediately called police in the Valley to tell them she was his cousin Nasreen. Later, DGP A.K. Suri apologised to Dehalvi over the telephone. A few days later, Dehalvi received a letter from Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf criticising the incident. ‘‘I felt bad that somebody from across the border was condemning the incident,’’ said Dehalvi. Dehalvi’s association with Kashmir began in 1991 when militants killed Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University Mushir-ul-Haq. Then a student of class XI, Haq’s death upset him so much he went to the Valley to ask the killers what type of jehad they had been fighting.


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