Justice Markandey Katju: My thoughts on Mufti Salman Azhari’s arrest

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju–

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

A Muslim cleric, Mufti Salman Azhari (pictured above), who has been delivering fiery public speeches against oppression and atrocities on Indian Muslims, has been arrested. His speeches and the subsequent legal action have gone viral on Indian social media. There have been huge protests and demonstrations by Muslims in Gujarat, Maharashtra and elsewhere after his arrest.

I disapprove of Mufti Salman Azhari’s inflammatory and intemperate speeches, particularly his speech in Junagarh, Gujarat, on 31st January this year, which can only further polarize Indian society, and stir communal passions.

But what action has been taken against Union Minister Anurag Thakur who said in a public speech, “Desh ke gaddaaron ko” (“What do we do to traitors of the nation?”) provoking the public to shout back, “Goli maaro saalon ko” (“We shoot the scoundrels!”).

Has Minister Thakur been arrested? Has he been sacked from his post? Not at all. Then why this selective and discriminatory treatment against Muslims? What about the hate speeches of Hindu cleric Yati Narsinghanand and other ‘saints’, who advised Hindus to take up arms?Narsinghanand was arrested, but a month later was granted bail, and he walked free.

What about these words of ‘Swami’ Prabodhanand? What about these brazenly communal songs? What action has been taken against those who shout anti-Muslim slogans during namaz (the daily Muslim prayer)? What action has been taken against the ‘godi’ media which constantly spews venom against Muslims? What about lynching of Muslims for allegedly eating or selling beef, or beating them up brutally for not saying Jai Shri Ram, or arresting them and keeping them in jail for long periods on false charges of being involved in terrorism?

And what is to be said of the Ayodhya verdict of the Indian Supreme Court which said that demolition of the Babri Masjid was a crime, but yet handed the site over for building a ‘bhavya’ Ram Mandir on it.

Secularism needs to be two-way traffic. I do not approve of inflammatory speeches by some Muslims. But neither do I support the religious hatred and atrocities against Muslims or the religious polarization which has been going on for many years in the country. The only correct policy in India is that of suleh-e-kul or giving equal respect to all religions, proclaimed by the great Moghul Emperor Akbar.

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