Insisting that there was no need to make this a 'political issue', Sharad Pawar, however, said the plight of Muslim youths merited national discussion
Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said he was planning to discuss what he called “illegal detention" of Muslim youths with secular parties and bring the issue to the notice of the prime minister.
Insisting that there was no need to make this a “political issue", Pawar, however, said this was an issue that merited national discussion. He said a delegation of 28 non-political Muslim organisations called on him in Aurangabad two days back and made this suggestion. “I am planning to discuss this with all parties, especially the secular parties, and then bring it to the notice of the Prime Minister. I don’t want to make this a political issue but I want a national level discussion," the NCP president said at a press conference.
Pawar said the Muslim organisations had provided him with details about specific cases of Muslim youths picked up by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on mere suspicion that they were associated with the Islamic State (ISIS). “The representatives of these organisations gave me specific cases where Muslim youths have been picked up by the ATS and no charges have yet been filed nor have they been produced before a magistrate. The law says that any person who has been arrested must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of being arrested. But these organisations gave me documents about cases where the arrested youths have not been produced before a magistrate for 120 hours or days. This is illegal detention," Pawar said.
The NCP chief listed out three demands on behalf of the Muslim organisations. One, the ATS must stop illegal detention. Two, those who are in reality associated with ISIS must not be spared. Three, all these cases must be tried in a fast-track court, Pawar said. “The sentiment among Muslims is quite intense on this issue. They are not saying that those found guilty should be spared. They are against illegal detention," he said. He also pointed out that the Muslim organisations which met him had publicly condemned the ISIS and asked Muslim youths to not fall prey to the ISIS message. Pawar did not agree that the ISIS was spreading in Maharashtra. “I do not think it is rising. If that is the case the government should inform us," he said.
Asked if he would take up the issue with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis who holds the home portfolio, Pawar said the issue merited a national discussion. The NCP president also objected to the draft of the proposed Maharashtra Protection of Internal Security Act, which was later withdrawn after protest.
“I have read about it only in newspapers and there is a proposal in the draft which makes police permission mandatory for even a private gathering where there are going to be more than 100 people attending. Does this government want to bring in a new sort of Emergency," he asked. He also questioned the logic in getting “such a policy legislation" drafted by the home department officials. “Policy decisions and direction have to be given by the political leadership and those leading the government. In this case, it looks like a secretary is advising the ministers," he said.