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Padma awardee Muslim teacher ‘fears for life’ in Mamata’s Bengal, calls CAA protesters actors

Kazi Masum Akhtar was assaulted in 2015 for asking his madrasa students to sing the national anthem, and claims the ruling TMC is protecting the perpetrators.

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Kolkata: The Narendra Modi government has awarded Kazi Masum Akhtar the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour, in the fields of literature and education. But the 49-year-old teacher and author, one of the five Padma awardees this year from West Bengal, says he still fears for his life.

Back in 2015, Akhtar was beaten up by a mob of fundamentalists when he asked students at a south Kolkata madrasa, where he was serving as headmaster, to sing the national anthem every morning.

So while the Padma Shri is a “moral victory”, Akhtar is still fighting the assault case in court, and says his tormentors are still moving freely, thanks to the “appeasement policies” of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress government.

A long wait for justice

Akhtar was assaulted on 26 March 2015 with rods and sticks. Bleeding profusely, he was rushed to the state general hospital, but there, he was assaulted again, and sustained critical head injuries.

Akhtar says he lodged an FIR with the Rajabagan police station on 26 March 2015, a copy of which is with ThePrint. But he claims no action was taken on the FIR.

The FIR filed by Kazi Masum Akhtar in 2015 | By special arrangement | ThePrint
The FIR filed by Kazi Masum Akhtar in 2015 | By special arrangement | ThePrint

“In last five years, I have filed three petitions in the Alipore court. The court asked the investigating officers to take action in my case, but the police filed a report and stated that the accused persons were absconding. On 10 January, the court issued an arrest warrant against the culprits,” Akhtar said.

He accused the Trinamool Congress government of practicing appeasement politics, and said that was the reason he wasn’t getting justice.

“I know the government will not touch them as it will go against the appeasement policies of the ruling party. I still fear for my life and I can be murdered any day,” he said.


Also read: Acquiring Singur land doomed the Left in Bengal. Now, farmers want to get rid of it again


Ostracised by own community

The assault wasn’t the only reason Akhtar fears for his life. He has also had multiple fatwas issued against him for “introducing” Hindu practices, such as celebrating the birthday of Bengali cultural icon Rabindranath Tagore, into the madrasa.

He has written articles about the upliftment of Muslims, and against the vote-bank politics that revolves around them, and also spearheaded a movement against the practice of triple talaq, collecting over one lakh signatures and submitting a memorandum to the President of India.

Akhtar was stripped of his position as headmaster at the madrasa after a section of Muslim clerics petitioned the government against him, stating he was trying to “mislead” the students and insulting the religion by singing national anthem and writing “anti-Islamic” pieces in newspapers and books.

Almost ostracised by his own community, Akhtar is now headmaster of a government school in Jadavpur. Ironically, the same Mamata Banerjee government he accuses of protecting his attackers gave him a ‘best teacher’ award in 2017.

Mamata Banerjee felicitating Akhtar with a ‘best teacher’ award in 2017. | By special arrangement | ThePrint
Senior Trinamool Congress leader and former MP Idris Ali says Akhtar must rectify his mistakes.
“He made some comments that hurt a particular religion. Nobody should make any comment that may hurt someone’s faith. If he has done something wrong, he must rectify his mistakes. Rest, he does not need to worry, as he already got an award from the chief minister,” said Ali, chief of the All India Minority Forum.

CAA protesters are ‘actors’

Akhtar also spoke about the ongoing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Bengal and many other parts of the country, and insisted that Indian Muslims had nothing to worry about.

“The Act was passed by both houses of Parliament. In the Rajya Sabha, the BJP did not have numbers, but non-BJP parties supported them. The same parties are now fuelling protests and lawlessness for their vested political interests,” Akhtar said.

“Indian Muslims have nothing to worry about. There is one discriminatory clause in the Act, for which we all should approach the judiciary and not protest by blocking roads,” he said.

Akhtar also said Muslim protesters singing Jana Gana Mana to protest the CAA were “actors”.

“I feel so amused and surprised when I see the same people who hit me with rods and sticks in broad daylight for asking my students to sing the national anthem, are now sitting at protest venues with national flags and singing the same. This is a farce,” said Akhtar.

Akhtar recounted the days when he was barred from the madrasa for not growing a beard, for singing the national anthem and for condemning mob violence in different localities.

“Political parties are pushing my community behind, and using them as mere political pawns. They are completely brainwashed. They were encouraged to set public property on fire and then asked to sing the national anthem and wave the national flag to cover their criminal activities. I can be murdered any time, but I will continue speaking the truth,” Akhtar said.


Also read: Mayawati, Mamata skip CAA meet: Can Congress-led opposition give protests political shape?


 

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9 COMMENTS

  1. ”“Political parties are pushing my community behind, and using them as mere political pawns. They are completely brainwashed.” Sad but true. Muslims all over the world are brainwashed. One reason why they are the last man in the queue.

  2. Akhtar should spell out why he is calling CAA protesters “actors”; has Padma award gone to his head and is indulging in senseless talk ! Or, he should spell out the virtues of CAA ! CAA is a way to make the citizens of India to lose their right to vote. At present the citizens elect their representatives ( i.e., MPs and MLAs ) and under CAA these representatives will decide who will vote , those who are unable to see the chicanery are
    deliberately feigning ignorance at their own cost !!

  3. I am ashamed that this is how a great teacher is being treated in wb. “life in danger” or “CAA protestor r actors” maybe exaggerated opinions, but the mon lynching is a fact. The fact that these lyncher were not bright to justice is shameful.

  4. Muslims won’t speak for him as he kept nation ahead.
    TMC will definitely harm him and no FIR is gonna protect him it seems.
    Secularism, freedom of expression and every rightful things die here.

  5. Was the padma conditional? for saying that protesters are actors is not telling the truth – I know because I am a protestor and definitely not an actor, could not act to save my life!

  6. The ideology of Kazi Masum Akhtar should be followed not only by the people of his own community, but also by the people of other communities too, who are trying to cause harm to the country in the guise of pseudo-secularists. People like him are the ideals of the muslim community for better integration with the the main stream of the Indian life and culture. At the same time, his life should be a lesson to the pseudo-secularists of all communities. He is really a Lotus (Padma) in the mud of opportunist and anti-national people. Salute to Mr Akhtar, a true Bengali

    • These people will soon won’t do anything that is not acc to their muslim culture.
      For them Indian culture is hell of a thing

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