INDIA: Court nod sought for case against Yaqoob

Lawyer files case against minister who announced bounty on head of Danish cartoonist

Times of India
Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lucknow --- A Ghaziabad lawyer on Tuesday filed an application before a district court to get a case registered against Uttar Pradesh minister Haji Yaqoob for announcing a bounty of Rs 51 crore for the head of the Danish cartoonist who sketched a caricature of the Prophet. The court will take up the case on February 24.

In another development the Lucknow police "sought" some more time to dispose of a similar complaint lodged by a local resident against Yaqoob. Meanwhile, clerics in Deoband have supported fatwa by a Sharia court in Lucknow on the grounds that Koran provides for stringent punishment against anyone who dares to challenge the Prophet.

The clerics were addressing a night-long congregation held at Deoband on Monday to discuss the cartoon issue. "We will hold a massive protest at Ram Lila grounds in Delhi on March 1 against Denmark and the US," Maulana Masood Nadwi of Darul-Uloom Deoband told TOI.

In Ghaziabad, lawyer Chowdhary Ajay Veer Singh on Tuesday approached the court of additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM) VIII Narendra Kumar seeking directives to the police to lodge an FIR against Yaqoob.

"I used the provisions of Section 156/103 of the CrPC which provides for court's intervention for registration of a complaint related to a crime in case the police refuse to entertain such an application," Ajay told TOI.

"I have requested the court to order for an FIR against sections 115/120 (B), 153 and 108 (A) of IPC," the lawyer said.

"These provisions cover charges of criminal conspiracy to instigate a crime which may be committed outside the country but where the conspiracy to such instigation is hatched in India," he argued.

'UP minister should be sacked'

New Delhi --- A group of eminent Muslim scholars and intellectuals on Tuesday demanded the immediate sacking and prosecution of Haji Yaqoob Qureshi, the UP minister who announced a Rs 51 crore bounty for the murder of the Danish cartoonist who sketched Prophet Mohammed.

"UP's chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is constitutionally obliged to uphold the law of the land, must immediately sack Yaqoob Qureshi," said a statement by the group Muslims for Secular Democracy, which includes noted lyricist Javed Akhtar.

The statement said Qureshi's remarks, made at a rally on Friday in Meerut to protest the publication of the cartoons by a Danish newspaper, "openly incited Muslims to violence."

Such calls, made by politicians with an eye on the Muslim vote, "have done more damage to Islam and Muslims than the original offenders against whom they protest," it said.

The UP government has rejected calls for action against Qureshi despite there being a clear violation of laws on incitement to murder and call to violence.

No Muslim support for fatwas against cartoonist

Lucknow --- Two little known Shariat courts have joined an Uttar Pradesh minister in prescribing death for the Danish cartoonist who sketched a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed but have found little endorsement from prominent Muslim groups.

While one fatwa was issued by the Irada-e-Sharia Darul Qaza on Monday, another was issued by the equally unknown Ifta Firangimahli Taksal on Tuesday.

Both have interestingly been signed by Maulana Naimul Haleem Qadri, a member of both institutions. However, he has found little support in Uttar Pradesh, which has a considerable number of Muslims.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said the fatwa had no meaning.

AIMPLB legal adviser Zararyab Jilani said: "The board has nothing to do with these fatwas; but even if we consider that the Shariat does prescribe death penalty for anyone committing blasphemy with the name of the Prophet, such a fatwa would have legal sanctity only in a country governed by Islamic law."

 Northern India's widely respected 300-year-old Firangi Mahal has also dissociated itself in no uncertain terms from the fatwas.

Firangi Mahal head Maulana Khalid Rasheed said categorically: "Let me make it clear that Firangi Mahal, which is among the country's oldest institutions authorised to issue fatwas, has nothing to do with the fatwas issued by some organisation which has given itself a name similar to ours."

"A fatwa can be issued only when a formal reference is made by someone before the authorised institution; and a 'darul qaza' (Islamic court) can issue a verdict only after hearing both parties involved in a dispute."

In a move that has attracted widespread condemnation, state Minister for Haj and Minority Welfare Haji Yaqoob Qureshi had declared a reward of Rs 510 million for the head of the Danish cartoonist.