[The fate of a Bangladeshi known as Abdullah who has been arrested from a neighbouring village will be decided by the court whether he is a fraudulant person or a terrorist. (Photo: Deepak Gupta/Hindsutan Times)]
Maulana Manazir Ahsan Gilani, one of the disciples of Maulana Mehmoodul Hasan Deobandi (imprisoned in Malta for participating in the freedom struggle), writes, ‘The grand teacher in response to a question asked by me said, “The madrisa of Deoband was established to compensate for the failure of 1857 freedom struggle. I am not in the way of those whose prime aim and field of mission is to educate and to spread knowledge and learning. However, for myself I adopted this very path that was set up by the great teacher Maulana Mohammad Qasim Nanotvi and I have been fulfilling my God-given duties as much as has been possible for me. Only one last part remains to be done and I will leave no stone unturned to complete that task.’ (Ahata-e-Darul-Uloom MeN Beete Huwi din, page 171).
What was that ‘last part’? The word ‘failure’ explains it all. That was to rid the country of the foreign colonisers, the British, and achieve freedom once again. This movement suffered failure in 1857 but that didn’t mean that the mission was to be buried and forgotten for ever. The visionaries get motivation from their failures and learn from their experiences, buried but not forgotten under the debris of their failures, their march continues until victory. It was this mission of Shaikhul Hind and it was this goal to achieve which he strived throughout rest of his life.
Anjuman Samarat-ul- Tarbiat, Jamiatul Ansar, Nazaratul-Ma’aarif, Reshmi Rumal Tehreek, exile of Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi and formation of a provisional government in exile by him. Imprisonment in Malta, formation of Jamiatul-Ulema, Khilafat Committee, Tark-e-Mawalat, Salt making Movement, Civil Disobedience and Quit India Movement, all these were the results of that untiring mission of that ever-active fighter.
Hakeemul Islam Hazrat Maulana Qari Mohammad Tayyab had, in one of his speeches, said, ‘After [the setback of] 1857 it was only this group [of ulema] that kept the concept of freedom alive and at last made everyone fall in love of it. Not only have the ulema of Deoband been the front runners in the freedom struggle but have often led it themselves.
‘If one looks at it honestly and objectively then one would find out that it were they [the ulema] who gave the concept of freedom. The desire for freedom was ignited by them and the zeal for it among the masses was infused by them and the credit for making it a popular movement goes to them. Many of them waged Jihad against the British occupation. Twice they fought against the British army. Many of them spent of their lives in prisons. The fact is that the history of India’s freedom and the participation of ulema and religious figures in it is one and inseparable movement.’ (Tareekh Darul Uloom Deoband, Pp 509,510).
The pain that I am feeling now during writing this column has come back because the time now happens to be the month of August. The armed battle that started and was fought against the British occupiers in Plassey spread in other parts of the country under the leadership of Tipu Sultan, Syed Ahmad Shaheed, Shah Ismail Shaheed and Haji Imdadullah Mahajir Makki and their spirited and faithful followers far and wide in the country and continued to be fought for the next 200 years. At times this struggle got its incentive from the fatwa of Jihad by Hazrat Shah Abdul Aziz and sometimes its banner was raised from the ramparts of Darul-Uloom Deoband and then ended on 15 August 1947.
During the last 200 years of the struggle millions of ulema and masses shed their blood in their struggle to rid their country from the foreign occupiers.
Each year we celebrate this day as our Independence Day. What is really sad is that in these moments of rejoicing and festivities we forget those who gave their lives to make this freedom a fact of life. No president or prime minister ever feels obliged to mention the battle of Plassey and pay tribute to Tipp Sultan, remember the movement launched by Syed Ahmad Shaheed and Shah Ismail Shaheed, recall the sacrifices of those who sacrificed their lives in the plains of Shamli in 1857.
This history spanning over two hundred years is becoming a forgotten tale. Darul-Uloom Deoband stands as a splendid symbol and as a great monument of Muslims’ participation in the Indian freedom struggle. History demands that each year while celebrating their independence the Government and the general public should have paid their tributes to and expressed their love for this great monument for the seats of power they are occupying today owe to the struggle of the scholars of this institution. But alas, instead of displaying their gratitude governments have been busy in defaming and tarnishing its image instead.
The manner in which innocent madrisa students were harassed in Deoband only one week before the Independence Day reflects upon the evil intentions of the Government. Allegations that terrorism is promoted here have been levelled in the past as well but has never been substantiated with any proof. L. K. Advani, as the Home Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, had categorically admitted that there was no proof to prove that madrisa had ever been involved in terrorism. Notwithstanding this history, intelligence agencies keep their radars focussed over Deoband.
Armed personnel of Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) held two students from Deoband and three from Jalalabad. They were alleged to be in contact with terrorist groups. The students are reported to have been subjected to stringent interrogation. But the interrogators had to bite the dust and they had to release all the five students within 24 hours.
The fate of a Bangladeshi known as Abdullah who has been arrested from a neighbouring village will be decided by the court whether he is a fraudulant person or a terrorist.
After a 24 hours long drama ATS gave clean chit to the detained students. However, all of the news channels of our country spent their time in proving that they were terrorists. How could the Hindi press be left behind? They devoted their front pages to run a campaign to prove that terrorism is being promoted from Deoband.
Government’s attitude, role of intelligence agencies and the conduct of the media raises many questions. For how long will Muslim youths continue to be condemned as terrorists and used as show pieces in this campaign? it was their sheer luck that these students were honourably released after 24 hours by the ATS. Who knows? How many have wasted their youthful days in prisons and have now entered old phases of their life.
Many are still languishing in jails while some have been exonerated by law courts. Except Maulana Arshad Madani not even a single Muslim leader could muster the courage to ask the Government for how long will this practice continue? He has also asked the government why no investigation was made before arresting these students and why such a big step was taken simply on suspicion and who is responsible for all of this?
As soon as they were detained everyone in the community was talking about their innocence but no one could dare raise his voice against these detentions, plead to the Government on their behalf or knock at the doors of law courts. Most of the madrisas in the town took comfort from the fact that none of the detained students was enrolled there.
Looking at this insensitivity and cowardice one finds it hard to believe that we are the inheritors of Shaikhul-Hind who even at an old age accepted to be imprisoned in Malta but did not bow to the British. Even after his release when his frail body had turned into a skeleton and old age had taken away all his energy his courage and determination was still as strong as it was at the time when he was preparing for his sojourn to Hijaz.
His speeches and writings after his release are a testimony to the fact that the flame of anger against the British colonisers burning in his heart before his imprisonment, had, after the release, turned into an inferno, desperate to burn down the bastions of colonisers. Are we really the inheritors of that Shaikhul Hind? This painful question fills tears of sadness into one’s eyes in this atmosphere of gloom created by the detention of innocent students during the jubilation of Independence Day.