New Delhi: Until 2017, RSS leader Indresh Kumar was an accused in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast that killed three people. Now, he has an honorary doctorate from a Lucknow university named after the 13th-century preacher whose shrine was targeted in the blast.
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Urdu, Arabi~Farsi University, named after Sufi preacher and scholar Moinuddin Chishti, awarded Kumar an honorary doctorate in literature at its convocation on 21 November. It is a Lucknow-based state university overseen by the Uttar Pradesh government.
The vice-chancellor of the university, Mahrukh Mirza, confirmed this.
“This was a decision taken after much deliberation by the administrative council, keeping in mind Indresh Kumar’s special contribution to society,” Mirza told ThePrint.
“Indresh Kumar has done a lot of work on the ground for minorities. Honouring him this way helps keep the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb intact,” he added.
According to Mirza, three others were awarded the doctorate along with Kumar — Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad, spiritual leader Swami Sarang and Saeed-ur-Rehman Azmi, principal of the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema seminary.
The Ajmer blast dates back to 11 October 2007, when a bomb reportedly hidden in a tiffin box went off in the courtyard of the famous Moinuddin Chishti dargah during the fasting period of Ramzan. Three people were killed and 17 injured in the blast.
In April 2017, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) gave a clean chit to Kumar and four other accused, including MP Pragya Thakur. Two suspects, Bhavesh Patel and Devendra Gupta, were subsequently convicted in the case, but their life sentence was suspended by the Rajasthan High Court in August 2018.
‘Kumar doing outstanding work for minorities’
Mirza cited the NIA’s clean chit for Kumar to argue that the 2007 blast allegations could not be held against him for eternity.
“Imagine if someone files a fake case against a mosque’s imam, and he gets cleared of those charges after many years,” Mirza said. “Wouldn’t we want him to move on in life? Indresh Kumar has done some outstanding work for minorities in the country.”
However, the decision has not been received well by Syed Sarwar Chishti, one of the descendants or ‘khadims’ of Moinuddin Chishti and a complainant in the Ajmer blast case. Speaking to ThePrint, Syed described the incident as nothing short of a “travesty”.
“For the RSS, this is like taking a token certificate of secularism from the Muslims in order to cleanse their image and legitimise themselves,” he said. “But no one will fall for this.”
“The people behind conferring this doctorate know that this is a way to rise up the ladder. They will get access to all the plum government posts after this.”
ThePrint tried reaching Kumar for comment but his team said he is out of the country. This report will be updated as and when a response is received.