Zafarul Islam Khan shouldn't be allowed to head Delhi Minority Commission after his remarks on social media
Delhi Minority Commission chairman Zafarul Islam khan's post on Facebook on Tuesday was beyond any doubt provocative, communal and divisive. In different circumstances, his post may have passed off as yet another social media post by a radicalised element, something the law of the land would deal with in due course of time.
But the problem here is different, firstly because the post comes at a time when tensions between the Hindu and Muslim community in the country is high, thanks to the Tablighi Jamaat incident, the anti-CAA-NRC protests and the growing religious identity consciousness among Hindus at large. Khan’s message is only going to add fuel to the fire.
Note what he posted on Tuesday: “Thank you Kuwait for standing with the Indian Muslims! The Hindutva bigots calculated that given the huge economic stakes involved the Muslim and Arab world will not care about the persecution of Muslims in India.”
He then goes on to name some Indian Muslims who have contributed to the Islamic culture and civilisation, and in this connection he names Zakir Naik, a fugitive offender, as a “respected household” name in the Arab and the Muslim world.
There is a red corner notice by Interpol on India’s request against Naik who fled to Malaysia. He is booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), wanted in money laundering and terror-related cases. His properties in India have been attached by official agencies. But Khan holds him in very high esteem.
His concluding lines are even worse: “Mind you, bigots, Indian Muslims have opted until now not to complain to the Arab and Muslim world about your hate campaigns and lynchings and riots. The day they are pushed to do that, bigots will face an avalanche.”
Thank you #Kuwait for standing with #IndianMuslims! #Islamophobia #Islamophobia_In_India @kuna_en @kuwaittimesnews @OIC_OCI @Abdulmane@ZahraniAbidi @LadyVelvet_HFQ @DrAlshoreka @AHMAD_ALWAHIDAH @majedalenzi @JamalBahrain@arabtimeskuwait @gulf_news @arabnews pic.twitter.com/MdOOBviNdU
— Zafarul-Islam Khan (@khan_zafarul) April 28, 2020
Second, Khan did not make that hateful post as an individual but as the Chairman of Delhi Minority Commission. Not only does that Twitter account mentions his official position but he has signed off his post declaring it as posted by Chairman of Delhi Minority Commission.
Third, as Delhi Minority Commission chief, Khan holds a statutory quasi-judicial post — in his official capacity he has powers of a civil court trying a suit. He can summon and enforce attendance of any person and examine him on oath, require discovery and production of any document, receive evidence on affidavits, requisitioning any public or institutional record, or, copy thereof, from any office or institution of the government.
Fourth, his salary, official car and other perks, equivalent to that of a secretary level IAS officer are paid by the taxpayers money.
Fifth, it should be noted that the chairman of the Delhi Minority Commission is a nominated by the Delhi government to lead the quasi-judicial body.
The onus is now on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, if or not he would like to let Khan continue to hold this high sounding post or remove him immediately. It’s a difficult choice for Kejriwal.
Consider some facts:
Khan assumed the Office of the Chairman of Delhi Minority Commission on 20 July, 2017. As per the provisions of Delhi Minority Commission (DMC) Act, his term is of three years from the date he assumed office. He, thus, has another three months to go in the present office. He had for long been the head of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella body of Indian Muslim organisations. His bio on commission website boasts “Dr Khan frequently appears on top Indian and foreign television channels on issues related to the Subcontinent and the Muslim World".
Since Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party has not reacted to Khan’s controversial message, it is not immediately known how the Delhi chief minister and the AAP convener felt about the DMC chief and the issue. It’s also not known whether or not their relations have become strained for some time.
Khan surely has embarrassed Kejriwal and the Delhi government. The provisions of the DMC Act are such that it is not easy for Kejriwal to sack Khan from his current post. He will have to use extraordinary powers to sack him. Also, the AAP chief may have to bear a political cost, Khan's sacking may antagonise sections of AAP's Muslim support base.
The Act provides that the chairman of the DMC can be removed only if he becomes an un-discharged insolvent; is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an offence which in the opinion of the Central Government involves moral turpitude; become of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; refuses to act or becomes incapable of acting; has, in the opinion of the Government of National Capital Territory, so abused the position of chairperson or member, as to render that person’s continuance in office detrimental to the interests of minorities or the public interest: Provided that no person shall be removed under this clause until that person has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in the matters.
Khan's post on Tuesday was not an exception as the DMC chief has been consistently tweeting in a manner that gives a peep in his thought process. He had been a vocal supporter of the Tabligi Jamaat, calling the prolonged quarantine of the Jamaatis as "illegal detention" and supportive of CAA protests. He also gave a call to "all freedom-loving and godi-media-hating citizens to boycott IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir until they lift the ban on Kunal Kamra".
In one post he takes on Uttar Pradesh chief minister by saying, “Yogi Adityanath who leads an illegal militia Hindu Yuva Vahini which terrorises people in eastern UP is running UP like a fief” and his rant goes on.
The question is whether Khan who heads a statutory quasi-judicial body and thrives on taxpayers money be allowed to publicly pronounce his hateful feelings and get away with that.