Babri Masjid And The Two Chairmen Of Shia – Sunni Waqf Boards

COPYRIGHT THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD A photograph of the Babri Masjid from the early 1900s.
COPYRIGHT THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD A photograph of the Babri Masjid from the early 1900s

As the Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid, Ayodhya/Faizabad,UP case draws to a close the Muslim society faultlines, contradictions, loopholes and potholes have all as yet again come out in the open. In fact since independence out of the thousands of Muslim organisations, devoted to charity, welfare, human rights, culture or community service, probably all been have ‘engineered’ by agents or agencies . The gruesome fact notwithstanding that Muslim organisation heads and members ultimately end up all as ‘police-informers’ with very myopic interests.

There are however two notable exceptions which have defied the norm as being the typical ‘letter-head’ i.e. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board-which is the prime most Muslim body in the country, though its members have had ‘different- different’ political affiliations, yet the body, by and large, has remained foolproof to government manoeuvrings and Babri Masjid Action Committee, which was a motley group of lawyers, human rights activists, politicians and common Muslims devoted to the cause of Babri Masjid.

Mushtaq Ahmed Siddiqui

Mushtaq Ahmed Siddiqui

Zafaryab Jilani

Zafaryab Jilani

Mushtaq Ahmed Siddiqui, a lawyer hailing from Faizabad where Babri Masjid stood is one of the prime most pillars of Babri Masjid campaign, the next two utmost pillars are Muhammed Azam Khan and Zafaryab Jilani as co-convenors of BMAC. It is this duo who together charted the doom of Congress party, after Rajiv Gandhi, got the Babri Masjid be unlocked, as it was lying locked since December 22/23 1949, on Feb 1, 1986, and since then Congress party, which was the number one liking of Muslims, failed to enthuse Muslims, as Samajwadi Party (SP), took its place.

Muhammed Azam Khan

Muhammed Azam Khan

BMAC by and large remained invulnerable to any government manoeuvres (to abandon Babri Masjid) in lieu of anything and its sentiment remained paramount for nothing in exchange of Babri Masjid. Although government tried its best to bug the organisation. Mushtaq Ahmed Siddiqui, Zafaryab Jilani are leading lawyers of Lucknow and Muhammed Azam Khan is a nine-time MLA from Rampur, an Ex. Rajya Sabha MP and now a Lok Sabha (SP) representative from Rampur. Zafaryab Jilani also served as Additional Advocate General to SP government (2012-17).

The other two organisations worth mentioning which have remain insulated to government subterfuge are Jamaat-e-Islami-e-Hind which got banned twice, in 1975 and in the aftermath of demolition of Babri Masjid in 1993. Student Islamic Movement of India was a pan India campaign to bolster Muslim youth aspirations towards character-building but was banned after September 11, 2001, and more than two decades later it still stands banned. Many of its cadres served in jails for months, years or more than a decade and are still asunder as the witch-hunt against SIMI has refused to go unrestrained. There are other organisations too but that would warrant a separate chapter.

Babri Masjid, as may be known, stands vitally as a Waqf (trust) registered under UP Sunni Central Waqf Board which is one of the parties contesting the Babri Masjid suit in Supreme Court, on which a judgement is likely to come in a few days from now. The Chairman on Sunni Central Waqf Board is Zufar Farooqui who is a political animal as he very comfortably changes his allegiances to the niceties of every political dispensation. In between 2007-12 when BSP government was in vogue he was with BSP ‘heads over ears’. He got one of his stooge Jasmir Ansari win Assembly seat from Sitapur and later Ansari’s wife Qaiser Jehan its parliament seat in 2009-that was the time when Azam Khan was having the worst of his time as he had then been expelled from SP. Farooqui was a rubber-stamp sticker to the then powerful BSP minister Naseem-ud-Din Siddiqui. But, the political fortunes turned in 2012 and SP assumed to power, making Farooqui to desperately seek a new political-fatherhood and who else could that be as Azam Khan held the Waqf portfolio but was weary of Farooqui and detested him for his spineless conduct under Siddiqui. As things would have had to be Farooqui started flirting with Afaq Ahmed, the face of new power structure as Afaq was Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Azam Khan. Afaq played liaison and very soon Farooqui was openly scouting with Azam Khan, much to the consternation of Azam Khan colleagues as they had stood by Azam Khan in ‘odd-weather’ conditions and Farooqui was hogging the same limelight even inside the new political spectrum.

However, this love-triangle got broken on Feb 9, 2018 when Farooqui was flown to Bangalore with Salman Nadvi to forge the ‘selling’ of Babri Masjid, in order to contemplate an out-of-court-settlement which was to surrender the claim of Babri Masjid and get it built somewhere else, and pave way for the Ram Temple construction on its demolished site. This was on the invitation of Sri Sri Ravi Shanker who had been trying to settle the dispute in favour of Hindus since 2003 when AB Vajpayee government was in power. Babri Masjid was demolished by Hindu fanatics on December 6, 1992. Azam Khan was stunned and refused to entertain Afaq who still had the temerity to act as mid-wife to Farooqui’s overtures. Ironically, in the Salman Nadvi delegation Farooqui was the only figure who ‘held the key’ or else all the others were mere cronies to Nadvi. Nadvi’s efforts were doomed to fail, as negotiations for an amicable solution to Ramjambhumi/Babri Masjid case have long had failed earlier too. Nadvi today is frothing under his own weight and history would remember him and his coterie as betrayers of Babri Masjid.

Zufar Farooqui third from right with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Zufar Farooqui ( third from right) with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

For about a year and a half Zufar Farooqui lied low until he could not contain his ‘frog-croaks’, which occur when the frog intends to mate, and finally acceded to giving-up the claim on Babri Masjid, through an affidavit submitted to the mediation panel, on the last day of ‘day-to-day’ hearing of the Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid case on October 17. This mediation panel was formed in March 2019 on the orders of SC and had a SC retired Justice Khalifullah, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Sriram Panchu. Interestingly, the details of which were to remain confidential but are all splattered in newspapers. Whosoever leaked the details is certainly a component for contempt of SC orders. Sri Sri contemptuous attitude for the mediation was only to ensue for Ram Temple as he has for ‘time and again’ stood for it.

Zufar Farooqui counsel Shahid Rizvi, however, does not divulge the details of the affidavit but conjures that the ingredients (of affidavit) would serve to Muslim betterment. Shahid Rizvi, has of late, started cosying up with Central Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who had made him a member of Dargah Ajmer Sharif and got his due. Zufar Farooqui, as it came out now has been named as co-accused in a FIR filed in Rampur for misuse of Waqf property along with Azam Khan on August 19, along with another cog Waseem Rizvi Chairman of UP Shia Central Waqf Board, but Farooqui refuses about any pressure applied on him by UP government to forsake Babri Masjid, but wasn’t he who had invited Zameer-ud-Din Shah, Ex VC of AMU, on October 10, to declare that Muslims should give-up Babri Masjid claim to Hindus even if Muslims win. The taste of pudding is in its making! Zufar Farooqui changed his loyalties and supported Congress in 2019 general elections

Kalbe Jawad with his once protege Waseem Rizvi

Kalbe Jawad with his once protege Waseem Rizvi

The story of Waseem Rizvi is very abominable in which I too had played a role which I rue to this moment. Before a take on it, it may be reminded that while during 2007-12 BSP government Waseem Rizvi was the proverbial lap-dog of Naseem-ud-Din Siddiqui but was brought-down from his Chairmanship due to various intrigues from inside the house of Kalbe Jawad (in 2009) , who was a powerful Shia cleric in Lucknow. Jawad had become synonymous with his ‘Save-Waqf’ campaigns (1997-2006) and had become a force to reckon-with as he spearheaded a million Muslim march against Prophet cartoon which qualified him to become a power-house where politicians would make a beeline before elections. His downfall, as a ‘non-status-quoist’ took to its first beating when he started playing to the tunes of SP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav (2003-2007) and notched-up a state-holiday on 13th Rabi-ul-Awwal ( birth of Hazrat Ali A.S), this he did after ditching the making of Muslim political front (PDF) and instead openly sided with Yadav. Muslims were then very hurt as Gujarat massacre (2002) was new and had made Muslims to start to probe for a Muslim political outfit rather than succumbing to secular-parties as a compulsion, but Yadav could not reclaim to power and in 2007 came the BSP government and Jawad no sooner than later deserted Yadav to join the BSP bandwagon. Waseem Rizvi had climbed to be Chairman of SCWB on the courtesies of Jawad (in 2005), despite Jawad friends warning him about Waseem’s dubious past in which Waseem is also said to have been an accused in a murder case. Waseem before that only qualified as a street urchin and a lumpen of the yore as he would just serve as a shadow to the now deceased local mafia don.

Azam Khan, meanwhile, then had been debarred from the party (SP) he had founded, as MS Yadav had made a coalition with Kalyan Singh, the Ex. CM of UP and also a convict in the Babri Masjid demolition case which led to Azam Khan’s revolt and his expulsion which led to none of the SP 13 Muslim candidates winning any seat in 2009 parliamentary elections. MS Yadav later regretted his decision and re-inducted Azam Khan, after Babri Masjid demolition was legitimised by Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on Sep 30, 2010, which divided Babri Masjid site into two-third to be given to Hindus and one-third to Muslims. The same order was challenged by Hindu and Muslim sides and which is now nearing its completion in Supreme Court.

Azam Khan (2009-10), it may be known had been deserted by friends from even his own party, yet was instrumental into agitating over a Waqf property ( Husaini Sarai) being sold-out in Rampur, and he and I went to meet Kalbe Jawad who gave a very arid response to us, as for Kalbe Jawad and his ilks, it was perhaps the time to make merry under BSP regime. We both went to Jawad place where Jawad was given a representation which he assigned to cold storage. We both were hurt by the curt behaviour of Jawad. Waseem meanwhile was trying everything to anyhow reclaim the Chairmanship which he ultimately did by defeating Kalbe Jawad blue-eyed boy, and became Jawad worst bête-noir thereupon in 2010.

Waseem lived at a place near my house and invited me to his daughter’s marriage. It was a gathering of Kalbe Jawad baiters. Jawad who was a symbol of resistance had by then started to openly liaise with political elements. He campaigned for a billionaire Akhilesh Das as BSP candidate in 2009 general elections (along with Waseem) from Lucknow and who finished third as Lal Ji Tandon from BJP won. When I saw Tandon gracing Waseem daughter’s marriage, I was aghast as Muslims brushing openly with BJP leaders, by then was a rarity and was also a new beginning too. I did not drink even a cup of water, gave the ‘pleasantry-envelope’ to Waseem and left the venue. Meanwhile, Assembly elections 2012, were also soon to follow and Jawad sided with Congress, his lieutenant Shamil Shamsi, who announced 15 lacs for Ram Mandir in 2010, even went to Rampur to campaign for Congress against Azam Khan. Tables were turned and SP formed the government and Akhilesh Yadav became CM. BJP could not win even 50 seats in 2012.

Jawad a turncoat now rushed towards SP and MS Yadav who wanted to co-opt every Muslim, after Azam Khan debacle (ouster), embraced Jawad the same older way but Azam Khan this time had his reservations. This is despite that Azam Khan had his utmost respect to the father of Jawad, Kalbe Abid and no qualms for paying the same respect to Jawad too in his earlier stint to ministership (2003-07) under previous SP government.

Jawad only and single time agenda thence was Waseem’s ouster and Azam Khan wanted to avenge Husaini Sarai episode which was performed by his historic rival-the Nawab of Rampur, and asked me to bring Shia Waqf Board chairman. Azam Khan did not even know Waseem then. This triggered the worst political spleen on Lucknow streets as Jawad upped the ante and Akhilesh Yadav could not over-rule (Azam Khan) to strike down Waseem. However, Shiv Pal, brother of MS Yadav, now Akhilesh bitterest enemy, forced Waseem to resign but Azam Khan got embittered over it. Waseem went to Court and got reinstated. Slowly- slowly Waseem turned his fight into a full blown Jawad-Azam duel. It also once led to a brutal lathi-charge by SP government on ‘fasting’ Shia Muslims during Ramzan (2014) in which one person died too. Jawad deserted by SP campaigned for Narendra Modi in 2014 and Rajnath Singh became his new mentor. Came 2015 and I advised Azam Khan not to ‘go-ahead’ with Waseem as Chairman again but Azam Khan gave me a typical reply M.ain taqaiyya nahi karta ( I don’t engage into double-speak) and I was brought crashing down.

Afaq Ahmed the OSD of Azam Khan

Afaq Ahmed, the OSD of Azam Khan

Little I had then realised that Waseem had long distanced himself from me and had co-opted Afaq Ahmed. Afaq organised a dinner at Azam Khan 17, Vikramaditya Marg bungalow, in which Azam Khan’s whole family and some choicest friends were welcomed and I was not even informed. Waseem has foot the bill of it and Afaq helped Waseem to crawl into the closed-coterie of Azam Khan to an extent that Waseem and Azam Khan flew together into the same helicopter! Afaq was at his whimsical best , as just a La Macbeth’s wife, he had already prevailed over Azam Khan to such an extent that the entire Secretariat staff of his ministry revolted against ( Azam Khan in September 2013) and this gave Afaq his ‘field-days’ ahead (until 2017) as he substituted them with his ‘yes-sir’Jal Nigam clerks! Afaq thereafter took total control and lavished favours & contracts, of all the portfolios under Azam Khan, to his near & dear, friends, friend’s friends, sycophants etc , while Azam Khan got 24X7 involved into making his Muhammed Ali Jauhar University at Rampur, which now, after 2019, is in news for all the wrong reasons. Afaq is a retired Engineer.

Azam Khan who had become so overtly busy could not fathom to the wrongs of Afaq Ahmed. Many or rather most of his friends, including me, were to stand outside Vikramaditya premises, for hours as Afaq Ahmed with Zufar Farooqui and Waseem Rizvi regaled with Azam Khan inside the plush bungalow. Both of them were otherwise a regular feature at Afaq’s place and the same ‘set of two’ have betrayed Azam Khan and also the Muslim community by playing to the gallery of Ram Temple. Azam Khan, a name synonymous with Babri Masjid, however, has remained tight-lipped and is yet to disown them publically although personally he abhors them. Afaq Ahmed had become so complacent that he would show open disdain for Azam Khan friends to an extent that Azam Khan became incommunicado to his friends and this logjam is yet to break in its totality.

It was in July 2017 when somehow I reached Azam Khan at his 34-B Darul Shifa residence. It was four- months when SP government was brought down and BJP strode to ultimate power in UP. Waseem and Afaq were also present and it was just unknown to Azam Khan that Waseem was readying to make the worst volte-face, within a fortnight, as he filed an affidavit in SC, through his counsel MC Dhingra, that Babri Masjid was built by Mir Baqi, a Shia (which he was not) and hence it was a Shia mosque which ought to be given to Hindus for Ram Temple. Waseem resurrected a case which Shias had long lost in 1946 but Azam Khan would not wax eloquence on it although he returned the two Doberman dogs which Waseem had gifted to him.

Thereafter Waseem licked the boots of probably every Tom Dick and Harry (inside RSS and BJP) to anyhow hang-on with his chairmanship as Jawad who is now with BJP wanted Waseem scalp. Waseem developed a forked-tongue for Muslims at large, and dreamt that Lord Rama cried to him for getting delayed with his temple construction and once even threatened suicide if BJP is not sworn to power in May 2019 at Center. Soon Waseem would finance a film on Ramjanambhumi where Muslims were shown in utter bad light. The film could not be released in cinema house but is available on Youtube. When Waseem could not impress his new masters he devised a devilish plot and has made another movie on Hazrat Aisha, the wife of Prophet of Islam. His worst expletives on Hazrat Aisha and the first three Caliphs of Islam are available as audio-clips on social media and the film, no doubt, is all set to turn into a fireball, as protests against its release are gaining momentum not only in India but also in Pakistan.

It may also occur here that Kalbe Jawad scripted the loss of three SP seats in 2017 from Lucknow alone, which were with SP in 2012, as he diverted Shia community votes towards BSP, and thereafter openly canvassed for Rajnath Singh in 2019. Azam Khan, a politician who is in public life for forty years, was certainly caught spinning the wrong urn. Waseem episode probably ended up alienating a large part of Shia community from SP. Interestingly, Azam Khan never discussed Waseem with me throughout his tenure of 2012-17, despite I assuming as UP State Information Commissioner (2014-19) on his recommendation. Shias make around 10% of the 40 million Muslims in UP approximately.

A man is known by the company he keeps, goes the maxim, and certainly, Azam Khan fortuitous relationship with Waseem Rizvi and Zufar Farooqui will go a long way to heal up the wounds incurred on Muslim community psyche. Meanwhile, it is yet to be known, if SC gives any credence to the two affidavits filed by Azam Khan’s erstwhile protagonists, and if that be so, then the Muslim devastation would come full circle.

The writer is a lawyer, journalist and former UP State Information Commissioner.




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