The Haunt Of Our Past Lives

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MH JAWAHIRULLAH, 48, is a Muslim leader in Tamil Nadu. He often leads delegations to the government on issues concerning Muslims. In September 2007, his organisation, the Tamil Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), played a crucial role in securing reservations for Muslims in government jobs. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi graced a TMMK public function and commended its work. Karunanidhi donated two ambulances to TMMK, which now runs 42 ambulances offering free services across the state. Hundreds of volunteers of the TMMK had jumped to rescue work in 2004 when the tsunami struck the state’s coast. District officials of the worst-hit Nagapattinam city wrote them letters of thanks. In 2007, TMMK won an award for bringing the highest number of blood donors in emergencies.
Imagine, then, Jawahirullah’s shock when he found that the background note the Centre issued with the February 7 notification banning SIMI said: “SIMI was closely associated with… TMMK and was involved in various incidents of violence relating to killing of Hindus, especially persons associated with RSS/ Hindu Munnai organisations, since August, 1993.” When the tribunal travelled to Chennai in June, the feisty Muslim leader landed before it and appealed that his organisation’s name be struck off the background note. “What is the evidence against my client?” his counsel asked. Although the Central government’s lawyers had made such a sweeping remark against TMMK, they had no clue if they had evidence.
So they asked for a day. The next day, Jawahirullah deposed before the tribunal. The Central government’s lawyers cross-examined him. Of course, said Jawahirullah, he was a SIMI member, but left it way back in 1989 when he turned 30, the age of superannuation. SIMI was then a legitimate organisation. Jawahirullah admitted that, as SIMI’s state president, he had taken on rent an office from the local mosque. But after he left SIMI, he had nothing to do with that transaction. At this, the Central government’s lawyer claimed that Jawahirullah had been paying the rent for that office until the year 2000, which established his links with SIMI. Grandly, the Centre’s lawyer waved alleged rent agreement letters between SIMI and the mosque committee for the years 1997 and 2000 saying it was written in Jawahirullah’s name. The judge asked to see it. Turned out it had no signatures from Jawahirullah. Too bad, said the judge, can’t be used against him, can’t be taken on record. So much for the Centre’s watertight case against SIMI and TMMK on “violence relating to killing of Hindus”.
“Innocents are being caught and the real culprits are left scot free,” Jawahirullah said to TEHELKA on the sidelines of the Chennai hearings. “In the end, only Muslims suffer.” •