By Mumbai Mirror Bureau
A week after being untraceable, Maulana Sheikh Mehraj Rabbani of the radical Ahle Hadees appeared before the Sessions Court on Tuesday in a case of hurting religious sentiments of Dargah-going Sunni Muslims by his allegedly offensive speeches. Hearing his anticipatory bail plea, the court granted him interim relief from being arrested till February 16.
Maulana Rabbani outside the Sessions Court on Tuesday
On January 30, the Ghatkopar police registered an offence against the maulana for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of fellow Muslims, mostly Sunnis of the Barelvi denomination.
While addressing a gathering on January 28 at Ghatkopar’s Chirag Nagar, Rabbani had allegedly made abusive and hurtful remarks against Khwaja Garib Nawaaz, a saint whose shrine at Ajmer is India’s most famous Sufi shrine. At that time, a massive mob of protesters had gathered at the venue demanding an apology from Rabbani, but police escorted him to safety.
With Rabbani’s speeches escalating tension between different sects, police finally registered a complaint against him. Muslim leaders and scholars approached Home Minister R R Patil, apprehending a law and order situation.
Seeking anticipatory bail, Rabbani claimed before the court that he had not delivered any speech as alleged in the FIR. The court, however, noted that this could not be determined until the investigating officer’s report on the evidence is submitted and thereby granted Rabbani interim relief.
Meanwhile, Rabbani – who makes frequent trips to Saudi Arabia – has surrendered his Indian passport to the Sessions Court.
As the police escorted him out of the court, a group of Barelvis gathered around the van and began shouting slogans against him. As the van picked speed, some protestors climbed onto the van and began banging on the windows, attempting to hit Rabbani.
Advocate Rizwan Merchant, who has filed an intervening application to oppose Rabbani’s plea, said, “Despite the police issuing a gag order on Rabbani, he again made offensive speeches on February 1 and 2 in Kurla, Kandivli and Kalyan. His utterances not only abuse the revered Khwaja Garib Nawaz, but also the saint’s followers. Such speeches are capable of causing communal disharmony, creating law and order problems, putting the state’s security at stake.”
However, as Rabbani’s lawyer Sudeep Pasbola said, “Rabbani has never stated any such thing in his speeches. His recorded speech doing the rounds is one he had delivered in Saudi Arabia many years ago, in some other context.”