'Lashkar' imams spent night at my home after riots, says UP headmaster

MuzaffarnagarHafeez Rashidi and Shahid visited home of Liaquat Ali in Kulehri village in Muzaffarnagar. (IE Photo)

On October 13, one month after the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in western Uttar Pradesh began, two imams from Haryana's Mewat district — Hafeez Rashidi and Shahid — visited the home of Liaquat Ali in Kulehri village near Charthwal Kasbah in Muzaffarnagar.

The headmaster at a government-run junior high school in Jalalabad, Liaquat, 60, had apparently met Shahid in Deoband earlier that month, during the last week preceding Bakr-Id.

"On October 13, in the evening, I got a call from Shahid. He was introduced to me as an imam in Mewat, who's been doing a lot of good work there. When he called, he said he was coming to Muzaffarnagar and wished to stay the night," Liaquat told The Indian Express.

Shahid came over that night but he was not alone. "A man, who I learnt later was Hafeez, was with him. Shahid told me that he was also from Mewat and the two helped the community together. I had told them that there was tension in the area and it wasn't a good time to come. But they insisted on coming that very night," said Ali.

The two imams stayed the night at Liaquat's home. The next day, they said they had to go to the nearest train station. Liaquat, who was on his way to work, offered them a lift in his Maruti car. Liaquat said that while on the way to the Thanabhawan railway station, they stopped for a few minutes at the mosque of Liaquat's moulvi friend Zamiruddin in Jalalabad village in Shamli district.

"Jalalabad is on the way to the railway station and I had called Zamiruddin for some work, and he happened to be in almost the same spot I was. So we met. While we met, I went to relieve myself in the nearby bathroom and the three of them were alone. When I came back...we said our goodbyes and then I dropped them to the railway station," Liaquat said.

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