By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-chief
Suhail Tirmidhi,a young advocate from Gujarat, Siraj Hashmi, a young educationist from Uttrapradesh, Owaisi, a young member of parliament from Hyderabad and Jawaid Akhtar, a seasoned movie song writer were the guests of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin in 2010. Jawaid Akhtar participated in AFMIâ€™s Detroit and Toronto conventions while Siraj and Suhail participated in Detroit convention, and Los Angeles AFMI programs.
Jawaid Akhtar was very critical of Muslim leadership in India. In his views, Muslim Indians were living in the past and they were confused about nationalism, secularism and patriotism. His advice to Muslim Indians was to fully participate in movements for social justice and educational upliftment without any fear from secular forces.
Suhail Tirmidhi focused on the Muslims struggle for social justice and peace in India. Suhail is one of those few young attorneys who have taken up the cases of the victims of violence during the Gujarat genocide of 2003. He recounted several cases, where even judges were not willing to stand for justice and where they took sides with the government of the perpetrators of violence. He gave several examples where through constant legal interventions, he was able to change the nature of judgment.
Suhail spoke of the fear among minorities and Muslims specially. He said that victims do not often come forward to speak up and give details of the wrongs done against them. They feel intimidated by the police and authorities. He said through his efforts, many of the victims who were silent came forward and spoke of their plight and gave evidence that brought many culprits to justice.
Suhail has been given the national human rights in India for his heroic fight against corruption and injustice. he lives in constant threat. Yet he is determined to carry on the legal fight. He is overseeing almost every case that deals with the victims of Gujarat genocide in 2003. Suhail is offering his services voluntarily. His story and his struggles are worth appreciation and AFMI members in Detroit and Los Angeles right recognized his efforts and honored him for his work.
Sirajuddin Hashmi runs eight private colleges in Amroha, a district in Uttrapradesh. He is in his forties. He has a Ph.d in Urdu and also a degree in Unani medicine. The colleges that he established from his family resources have become the catalyst of change in northern India specially among Muslim girls. More than 8,000 students attend these colleges that also include a law college. Hashmi is planning to build a medical college in Amroha and a degree college in the neighboring town of Hassanpur.
Siraj Hashmi introduced him as a man of action more than a man of words. He inspired the people in Detroit and Los Angeles for his tireless efforts in the field of education. He said that he would provide half of the cost of the construction of any educational institute by Muslims in any under developed part of the India. Hashmi had hosted a function in honor of AFMIâ€™s achievement in Amroha in 2009.
The presence of these two activists was a source of great inspiration. The two young people clearly demonstrated that even against the worst odds, people can stand up for their rights and achieve what they want to achieve.
Every year, the American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin invites activists, public officials and educationists to share their experiences with Muslim Indians living in a diaspora. Through its efforts, AFMI has launched several successful educational projects in different parts of India.