Indian human rights lawyer Mr. Shafeeq Rehman Mahajir spoke to members of the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago at a lunch meeting on Monday, April 19, 2010. Mr. Mahajir spoke to the American Muslim legal community about the rule of law in India and the struggle to safeguard a secular democratic society in a multi-religious society like India.
Mr. Mahajir spoke of his personal efforts working with truth commissions to expose police brutality and corruption in the city of Hyderabad during the bombing of the Mecca Masjid (a 400 year old mosque in Hyderabad, India) several years ago. Mr. Mahajir discussed numerous examples of police fabrications concocted by local Indian police forces to cover up extrajudicial killings on the scene of Mecca Masjid immediately after the bombing.
Mr. Mahajir was keen give credit where it was due and pointed out numerous instances where Indian Hindu judges and other officials acted fairly. He added, however, that there are multiple aspects of India and while the up-and-coming and technologically savvy aspects of Indian society are often showcased in the media, there remain very pressing and very troubling civil liberties and human rights issues within India still.
Human rights activists and lawyers like Mr. Mahajir are working within the system to deliver justice to aggrieved religious minorities in India. Mr. Mahajir stated bluntly that if India’s Muslim minority, which constitutes 15% of the country’s total population, is left marginalized and the justice system continues to fail to redress the wrongs perpetrated by the saffronized, hindutva-minded masses, then he fears the alternatives to which they will turn.
Following a brief and very engaging presentation Mr. Mahajir took questions from the American Muslim lawyers in attendance. Afterwards the audience introduced themselves to Mr. Mahajir and gave some background about their respective legal careers. The conversations continued on well after the formal program ended.
The afternoon lunch was part of the MBA’s occasional “Lunch & Learn” series which provides a networking and educational setting for American Muslim lawyers to meet from time to time. Mr. Mahajir’s presentation was made possible thanks to the cooperation of the Indian Muslim Council USA which invited Mr. Mahajir to the United States for a series of lectures and presentations.
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