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Ulema Council threatens stir against cleric's arrest
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 05:11:16 PM, IANS
Lucknow: The Ulema Council Wednesday threatened to launch a statewide agitation against the arrest of a leading cleric, nabbed for his alleged role in last week's communal clash in Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly district.
"If the police fail to release Maulana Tauquir Raza Khan in the next one-two days, we will hit the streets along with thousands of Muslim residents of the state," national general secretary of the Ulema Council (a body of clerics) Mohammad Tahir Madni told reporters in Azamgarh, about 300 km from here.
Maulana Tauquir Raza Khan, president of the Ittehad-e-Millat Council, was arrested late Monday from Bareilly, about 250 km from here. It was his "rabble rousing speech" that had led to communal tension in the district last week, officials said.
"The cleric's arrest projects the anti-minority face of the Uttar Pradesh government and police. Charges levelled against him are baseless. In fact, instead of punishing the real culprits, the Bareilly police acted against the victims of a minority community... The real culprits are still to be nabbed," added Madni.
Fearing a backlash from Khan's supporters, heavy security has been put in place in parts of Bareilly district, police said. Curfew continues in Kotwali, Kila, Premnagar and Baradari areas, but is being relaxed for up to 12 hours in some places, officials said.
Trouble began March 2 when the Barawafat procession was passing through. A minor communal clash followed by sporadic arson led to curfew.
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