How Non-Muslims Fund Islamic Organisations Like Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Which Give Legal Aid To Terror Accused

Arihant Pawariya

Dec 24, 2019, 03:13 PM | Updated 03:28 PM IST

Halal logo of the Jamiat-ulema-e-hind on a packet of Cornitos Nachos.
Halal logo of the Jamiat-ulema-e-hind on a packet of Cornitos Nachos.
  • Founded in 1919, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUH) is one of the most influential, largest and oldest Islamic organisations in the country.
  • In the years leading up to the Partition, it split and one faction, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, backed the case of Pakistan.
  • The organisation, which constantly provides legal support to Muslims accused in terrorism cases, makes its money by charging Indian businesses for halal certification.
  • West Bengal minister Siddiqullah Chaudhary, who is also president of the state unit of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, threatened Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday (22 December) while addressing a rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Kolkata.

    “We may not allow him to step out of the city airport if necessary. We may gather one lakh people there to stop him,” he said.

    Founded in 1919, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUH) is one of the most influential, largest and oldest Islamic organisations in the country. In the years leading up to the Partition, it split and one faction, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, backed the case of Pakistan.

    It again saw a minor split in 2007 when differences emerged between Maulana Mahmoud Madani and his uncle Maulana Arshad Madani. Though both continue to operate from the same premises with offices next to each other, there is no difference in ideology between the two, as per the nephew. Madanis have run Jamiat for most part of its existence.

    RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had recently met JUH (A) and its leader Arshad Madani as part of its outreach programme.

    JUH is constantly in the news every now and then. On 2 December, it became the first entity to file a review petition against the Ram Mandir verdict of the Supreme Court. Earlier, it attracted severe criticism when it decided to extend all possible legal and financial aid to the killers of Hindu leader Kamlesh Tiwari who was assassinated in his office in Lucknow in broad daylight.

    This is not an exception. It constantly provides such legal support to Muslims accused in terrorism cases.

    In its defence, it claims it only does so for those it thinks are innocent but falsely implicated.

    The New Indian Express quoted Gulzar Azmi, secretary of the legal aid cell, saying that most of the cases are first investigated by its legal team.

    “When our legal panel is convinced that the accused is innocent and has no criminal background, we provide legal aid to the accused,” he told the Express.

    However, its backing of the accused in open and shut cases such as Kamlesh Tiwari gives little confidence.

    The 7/11 Mumbai train blasts, the 2006 Malegaon blasts and the Aurangabad Arms haul case were some of the initial cases taken up by the JUH legal cell which was started by Arshad Madani in 2007.

    On its website, JUH has listed various terrorism cases [PDF] where it is fighting on behalf of the accused Muslims. These include:

    • German Bakery bomb blast case (Mirza Himayat Baig v/s State of Maharashtra)
    • Lashkar Connection Case (Abdul Rahman V/s State SLP)
    • ISIS conspiracy case Kochi (State of Kerala v/s Arshi Qureshi & others)
    • ISIS conspiracy case Mumbai (Arshi Qurashi & others v/s State of Maharashtra)
    • ISIS conspiracy case (State of Rajasthan v/s Sirajuddin)
    • 26/11 Mumbai attack case (Syed Zabiuddin v/s State of Maharashtra)
    • Chinnaswamy Stadium Bomb Blast Case (State V/s Qatil Siddiqui and others)
    • Jungli Maharaj Road Pune Bomb blast case (A.T.S. v/s Asad Khan & others)
    • Indian Mujahideen Case (Maharashtra VS Afzal Usmani & others)
    • Zaveri Bazar Serial Blast (State v/s Azaz Shaikh and others)
    • SIMI conspiracy case (Madhya Pradesh) State V/S Irfan Muchale & others)
    • Jama Masjid Blast Case (Delhi State V/s Qateel Siddqui Others)
    • Indian Mujahideen conspiracy case (State vs. Yasin Bhatkal & others)
    • Ahmedabad Serial Blast Case 2008 (State V/s Jahid & Others)

    And on it goes.

    JUH has had quite a success in fighting such cases. According to this New Indian Express report, it has achieved 192 acquittals since 2007 with as many as 76 coming in last year. It has offered its services to around 700 accused.

    Some cases where it got Muslim accused acquitted came not because they were found innocent but the cases fell either due to technicality or lack of evidence or because of poor investigation by the police.

    Take the case of 11 Muslims who were recently acquitted by a special TADA court in Nashik due to lack of evidence and violation of TADA guidelines during investigation. They were accused of hatching a conspiracy and carrying out terror attacks to avenge the demolition of Babri Masjid.

    Five Muslims (one of them a Pakistani national) who were awarded life sentences by a trial court in 2007 in Uttar Pradesh were acquitted by the Allahabad High Court in August this year because the police had not taken the required sanction from the state government to prosecute them under sedition charges.

    Be that as it may, JUH has every right to represent and provide legal support to the accused Muslims even in terrorism cases. It is no one’s case that they should stop doing so.

    What is of concern is that non-Muslims are unintendedly funding out and out Islamic organisations like JUH which are funding such cases and those non-Muslims have a right to be informed where their money is going.

    One of the methods that it gets money is via Zakat, i.e. charity given by Muslims. The other is Halal certification.

    JUH runs a Halal trust. By virtue of being the oldest and largest Islamic organisation in the country, its Halal certification carries a lot of weight.

    JUH Halal trust claims to be “one of the most influential, reliable and popular organization in India" which provides Halal Certification to the Halal Compliant Restaurants, Hotels, Hospitals, processed food manufacturing unit, Slaughter houses, halal-compliant products of dairy, processed foods, additives and ingredients, nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals formulation and other Halal certification related services.

    As opposed to common perception, Halal is not just about meat products, it’s a whole lifestyle and practically extends to every product and service under the sun.

    For instance, take this vegetarian chips packet certified by the Jamiat. See the blue logo.

    Halal logo of the Jamiat-ulema-e-hind on a packet of Cornitos Nachos.
    Halal logo of the Jamiat-ulema-e-hind on a packet of Cornitos Nachos.

    Halal Trust India is well recognised by most of the Muslims residing in India, Australia, South Africa, Canada & America and this is the reason why its halal certification is widely recognised worldwide.

    No surprise then that when Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali had to export its products to Islamic countries, he also got halal certificate from none other than JUH.

    Below is a Patanjali certificate issued by the JUH.

    Halal certificate issued by JUH to Patanjali Ayurved Limited
    Halal certificate issued by JUH to Patanjali Ayurved Limited

    Since JUH’s halal logo and its certificate carries a lot of weight, it charges its customers a hefty sum in lieu of providing its stamp. Here is its fee structure.

    Food outlets in India are increasingly imposing Halal on non-Muslims in the country. Recently, multinational giants like McDonald’s faced flak on social media for stating that all their outlets in India have halal certificate.

    Many non-Muslims demanded that it provides Jhatka meat too as an option. Food delivery service Zomato also came under scrutiny recently when it sermonised how food has no religion while it was advertising for Halal-certified restaurants on its app. Halal is the embodiment of religion defining dietary choices.

    JUH is charging as high as Rs 20,000 for certifying a new outlet as halal (GST charges are extra). The certificate is valid only for one year and has to be renewed for which they have to shell out Rs 15,000 as an additional fee.

    Every product is required to be halal-certified separately, which costs Rs 500 (see the fee structure).

    Since, most of the businesses in India are run by non-Muslims and the customers are also non-Muslims, the major chunk of money that is going to Islamic organisations like JUH for certification is not coming from Muslims.

    And if these organisations are funding accused of only one community and that too in heinous crimes such as terrorism, non-Muslims have the right to be aware of what they are funding.

    Arihant Pawariya is Senior Editor, Swarajya.

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