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India: Islamic organization Raza Academy plots jihad violence in Maharashtra



In one of our earlier reports, we have covered how Muslims in Tripura, a northeastern state in India, first created a hoax about a mosque being burned down by the Hindus, and on the pretext of this nonexistent attack, tore down a Hindu temple in the same state. This could be considered an extension of the anti-Hindu pogrom orchestrated last month in Bangladesh, which shares borders with Tripura.

The shockwave of this violence has now reached Maharashtra, one of the most significant states in the country when it comes to India’s economy, industrial growth and political dynamics.

On November 12, after Friday prayers, Muslim organizations in Amravati, Maharashtra staged a protest against the “mosque vandalism” in Tripura. This was despite the Tripura Police clarifying with images that no mosque had been burned down in the state; this news was carried by all the major news platforms in the country. There was no reason why the Islamic organizations that were staging protests against the vandalism of the mosque would not know this, but they chose to hold protest rallies anyway. Out of nowhere, the protests shaded into violent unrest, with stone-pelting reported in various places, including Nanded, Amravati, Washim, Malegaon and Yavatmal.

With the situation spiraling out of control, the police had to be called upon to avert further aggression. A four-day-long curfew was imposed in Amravati city in east Maharashtra, and Internet services were cut after a mob hurled stones at shops the next day. Eight battalions of the State Reserve Police Force, with additional police from other districts such as Nagpur, Wardha, Buldhana and Jalna, had to be deployed in Amravati to restore normalcy. The curfew was later extended to other areas in order to avoid any untoward incident.

The involvement of the Islamic Raza Academy and a local political party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), supporting the academy in the violence, came to light later. NCP Corporator Ayaz Hulchul has since been taken into custody by the Malegaon police for his alleged connection with the violence orchestrated on Friday after evening prayers. BJP leader Nitish Rane has filed a formal complaint against Raza Academy, demanding severe action against them on account of their provoking of Muslim mobs to run riot and loot Hindu shops.

“This terrorist organization Raza Academy is behind all the violence and riots in different parts of Maharashtra! Every time they disrupt and break all the rules, the government sits and watches. Either the government bans them or we have to finish them in the interest of Maharashtra!” said Nitesh Rane.

It has also come to light that a tool kit was designed and followed deliberately in order to create mayhem in Maharashtra. Using forged pictures, Muslims spread false claims about the Quran, mosques, and Muslim homes being set on fire in Tripura. Social media platforms and local channels were also used to peddle the fake narrative further.

In Nanded, the Raza Academy had first called for a sit-in protest. Then youth belonging to the Islamic organization tried to foment disruption by storming into residential areas. The police thwarted their efforts by stepping in just in time. Riot control forces landed in the area to quell the mob. Frustrated to see their plans falling apart, the mob resorted to stone-throwing, and hurled stones at police officers as well.

This is not the first time that the little-known Raza Academy has caused massive disorder in the state. The Islamic organization was the major force responsible for the infamous Azad Maidan riots of 2012, when Muslim mobs desecrated the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial in Mumbai.

Raza Academy was founded in 1978 with the intent of popularizing the works of the twentieth-century Sunni leader Ahmed Raza Khan. The founder and president of the academy, Saeed Noori, rose as a leader of Sunnis, despite lacking a formal Islamic education. But gradually, Raza Academy shifted its focus from publishing Islamic literature to planning and plotting Islamic protests that often turned violent and resulted in bloodshed. The founder, as quoted by The Times of India, repented for none of this. Instead, he defended the actions of the Academy, asserting that it was providing the Muslims with a platform to express their anger democratically. “I will be held accountable for everything I do on Judgement Day,” said Saeed Noori grandly.

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