NEW DELHI: Even though the Supreme Court has declared Prime Minister Narendra Modi innocent in the Godhara Rights 2002, it seems that the anti-Modi parties continue to target him for his involvement in various anti-Muslims activities.
In a recent incident, the Indian wing of the terror outfit Al-Qaeda has named Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a video message released by its publicity wing As-Sahab on May 2.
The Chief of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) Maulana Asim Umar in the video titled ‘From France to Bangladesh: The Dust Will Never Settle Down’, mentioned PM Modi claiming there is war going on against Muslims through World Bank and IMF policies, drone attacks, writings of Charlie Hebdo and words uttered by Narendra Modi.
While the intelligence agencies are investigating the matter, they however, do not take this as a threat. The video has yet not been established.
AQIS also claimed responsibility for the murder of an American blogger Avijit Roy in Bangladesh along with other ‘blasphemers’ there and in Pakistan, as per SITE Intelligence Group in the USA.
A prominent writer and secular activist, Avijit Roy was hacked to death by two assailants with knifes on the Dhaka streets in February as he was on his way back from a book fair with his wife.
The responsibility claimed by Umar for the deadly attack was reported to have been posted in a video posted on May 2 on jihadist fora. The AQIS Chief also claimed responsibility of the killings of other ‘blasphemers’.
“Like the companions of the Prophet who defended him with their lives,” Umar was quoted as having said in a statement that was released online yesterday, “The mujahideen of al-Qaeda have dispatched to hell many who blasphemed against God, and insulted the Prophet.”
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri declared the structure of AQIS and introduced Asim Umar as its leader in a video posted online in September 2014.
The wing was publicized when the terror outfit said Myanmar, Bangladesh and Assam were some of the primary areas of action.
There is nothing much known about Asim Umar and is believed to be of North Indian origin who migrated to Pakistan in the nineties.
The AQIS in the past has even attempted to use the missiles aboard a Pakistani frigate to attack American and Indian ships.
The teams of the group that tried to take the frigate were contained with former and active officers of Pakistan. While they failed to launch the missiles, they still killed Pakistani servicemen in the resulting shooting, reports suggest.
Modi Vs Muslims
The primary Modi-Muslim conflict began after the Godhara riots in 2002 which slammed PM Modi, then Gujarat Chief Minister for his alleged involvement in it.
The incident that killed 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus and injured over 2, 500 leaving 223 missing continued to revolve around Modi until the Supreme Court declared him innocent, 10 years after the episode in 2002.
On the other hand, the speech offered by PM Modi last year in September too stirred a controversy when he talked about the patriotism of India’s Muslims in a televised interview with a news channel.
Modi in his first interview in September after becoming the Prime Minister of India in May 2014 stated that Al-Qaida would fail if it intended to spread its terror network in India as the terror outfit would not get any support from the Muslims of India.
PM Modi was quizzed about the formation of Al-Qaeda’s Indian wing last year where he had said, “According to me, they are doing injustice towards the Muslims of our country. If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their tune, they are delusional. Indian Muslims will live for India. They will die for India.”
Even today, several Muslims in India continue to be doubtful of Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while some community leaders stated that the comments made by him did little to change their perspective towards him.
Following the interview, President of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, a New Delhi-based umbrella body of Indian Muslims organizations, Zafarul-Islam Khan stated that Modi’s comments were at major clash with reality as many Muslims are being harassed as terror suspects in the country.
“It sounds good when PM Modi makes such comments about the Indian Muslims but, at the same time, the fact on the ground is that people are being arrested, people are being stopped and Modi's government has started something very new, which is profiling at railway stations, profiling at airports. This kind of profiling of course, I think it will become a very big problem for Muslims in India, when our youth wearing caps or wearing beards will be stopped and taken into custody,” Khan said.
On the other hand, Secretary of Milli Ittehad Milli Ittehad Parishad, a Muslim body in West Bengal, Abdul Aziz claimed that the comments made by Modi do not match his actions.
“Narendra Modi in the past has been extremely unkind to Muslims and often cursed, mocked and humiliated them. And if today he couched that India’s Muslims are patriotic, it only sounds good to hear but his words seems to be at distance with his actions as he has not bothered to change the attitude of many of his party colleagues,” Aziz said.
The links of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party to more right-wing, radical Hindu nationalist groups continue to raise concerns in India and abroad.
While he on one side has avoided statements that could arouse public anger, politicians and lawmakers with his party and allied parties have often accused Muslims if harming the Hindu majority.