Fformer Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board chairperson Syed Wasim Rizvi on Monday quit Islam and converted to “Sanatan Dharm” (Hinduism) in Ghaziabad’s Dasna temple in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and was rechristened Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi.File photo NEW DELHI: Creating another row, controversial former Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board chairperson Syed Wasim Rizvi on Monday quit Islam and converted to “Sanatan Dharm” (Hinduism) in Ghaziabad’s Dasna temple in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and was rechristened Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi .
Though Rizvi’s conversion alone will not impact the forthcoming UP assembly election likely to be held in a couple of months, he will certainly add to the already communally-polarising atmosphere of the state.
Rizvi has remained in the limelight due to his controversial remarks for about a decade but he particularly shot to prominence after Yogi Adityanath became the UP chief minister on March 19, 2017.
Being a Muslim from UP and holding the important post of the state’s Shia Waqf Board held much significance.His remarks did have the potential to influence people.No wonder, his polarising comments have been met with extreme reactions and even threats to life.
The political atmosphere in UP has already got charged up communally even though the Election Commission has yet to announce the poll schedule.
Adityanath’s remarks about Pakistan’s first prime minister MA Jinnah and using terms like “abba jaan” and “chacha jaan” directed at the alleged appeasement policy of Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav for Muslims has already created ripples in the political cesspool.
The BJP accuses SP and Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of playing communal and caste politics to woo their respective vote banks.
Wasim Rizvi and electoral maths of UP
SP has a dedicated vote bank of Yadavs – who constitute about 9 per cent of the 24 crore population of UP – and Muslims – who are over 19 per cent – who catapulted it to power in 2012 assembly election.
BSP core vote bank which led it to victory in 2007 assembly election comprises Jatav Dalits and Brahmins.While Dalits constitute 22 per cent of the state’s population, Jatavs – to which Mayawati belongs – are 11 per cent of the population.Brahmins also constitute about 11 per cent of the state’s population.
On the other hand, all major BJP rivals – SP, BSP and Congress – have accused it of communalising the state politics ahead of the election.
The BJP’s efforts have generally been to consolidate the Hindu voters, be they Yadavs, Dalits and Jatavs among them, or Brahmins besides the other such as the Rajputs (who are about 7 per cent of the population), non-Yadav OBCs (about 35 per cent of the population) and baniyas (constituting about 3.5 per cent of the population).
This is where Wasim Rizvi’s role comes into play.His views align with that of the BJP.
Converting from Islam to Sanatan Dharm would be viewed as the propagation of the ruling party’s rightist ideology, which is reflected through its various moves.
They include the proud mentions of the construction of a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya and fulfilment of BJP’s long-pending election manifesto, the Diwali celebrations in Ayodhya and the remodelling and beautification of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi, the seat of Lord Shiva.
Moreover, Rizvi has adopted the Tyagi surname of Jats who are the dominant caste of western UP.Several Jat families are active participants in the farmers’ protest against the three farm reform laws for over a year.
The Jats may relate themselves with Rizvi based on religion.
Therefore, Rizvi’s conversion to the Hindu fold has been welcomed by the BJP.In the party-ruled Madhya Pradesh, state home minister Narottam Mishra said on Twitter: “The Indian culture and tradition have always been talking about the world being a family and also about the wellbeing of the whole world.”
#UttarPradesh में शिया वक्फ बोर्ड के पूर्व अध्यक्ष #WaseemRizvi के फैसले का स्वागत है।भारतीय संस्कृति सदैव से वसु… https://t.co/jQcpwkY443
— Dr Narottam Mishra (@drnarottammisra) 1638774233000
Over the years, Rizvi has been saying things that have been music to the BJP’s ears even though many of them were controversial.
He was an SP corporator from Kashmiri Mohalla ward of Old City in Lucknow in 2000 and was considered close to that party’s MP Azam Khan.
He became a member of the Shia Waqf Board in 2008.However, he was expelled from SP in 2012 for six years after falling out with Shia cleric Kalbe Jawwad, who accused him of siphoning off funds.
However, Rizvi later got relief from the court and was reinstated.
Wasim Rizvi’s controversial remarks
As the chairperson of UP Shia Central Waqf Board in October 2017, he suggested the demolition of the Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi and its conversion into a graveyard for Muslims.He wrote a letter to Prime Minister Modi and said this would help solve the grave problem of the shortage of graveyards being faced by the Muslims of Delhi.
Rizvi’s suggestion came in response to letters written by the All India Rabta-e-Masajid and Madaris-e-Islamia of Yamuna Vihar to the UP Shia Central Waqf Board.
They said since the old burial grounds had got filled up they requested the board to provide land for a graveyard in UP, close to the Delhi border.
Denying the space, Rizvi suggested the demolition of the Humayun’s Tomb and its conversion into a burial ground.He said Humayun’s Tomb was not a religious place but was considered a graveyard because of the grave present there.
Rizvi was always in favour of a Ram temple at Ayodhya even when the matter was being heard in the Allahabad high court or was pending in the Supreme Court.He advocated shifting of Babri Masjid from Ayodhya to Lucknow.
In November 2017, he antagonised Muslim groups by stating that the Shia Waqf Board favoured the construction of the grand Ram temple at the erstwhile disputed site in Ayodhya.In October 2017, when the Yogi Adityanath government proposed the construction of Lord Ram’s 100-meter tall statue in Ayodhya, Rizvi offered 10 silver arrows on behalf of the Waqf Board.
In February 2018, he was in the limelight for saying that Muslims who were against a Ram temple in Ayodhya “must go to Pakistan and Bangladesh”.
In 2019, he wrote and produced a movie called ‘Ram Ki Janmabhoomi’.
In February 2018 itself, Rizvi kicked up a row by saying that the Muslim community should hand over nine mosques across states including UP, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi to Hindus because they were built by Mughals after razing temples.
In January 2018, Rizvi wrote a letter to PM Modi and requested him to shut down madrasas.He alleged that these religious educational institutions bred “terrorists”.
Next year, Rizvi favoured the Modi government’s law to ban triple talaq.When the Centre proposed imprisonment of up to three years for the convicts of triple talaq, Rizvi recommended a bigger punishment of 10 years’ imprisonment.
He has also spoken in favour of bringing a population control policy, which is often talked about by several right-wing leaders.To give birth to more children like animals was not good for the society as well the country, he said in the past.
Last month, he released his controversial book titled ‘Muhammad’ in Dasna Devi temple in the presence of Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati .
The book has been vociferously protested by Muslim bodies.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi lodged a complaint against him for allegedly making insulting statements against the Prophet.Addressing the Hyderabad police commissioner, Owaisi alleged that Rizvi’s book written in Hindi vilified Prophet Mohammad and used objectionable language.
A lawyer based in Moradabad, UP, has been booked for allegedly announcing a reward of Rs 11 lakh for “beheading” Rizvi.A state-based Muslim outfit Shiane Haider-e-Karrar Welfare Association has announced a Rs 20,000 reward for beheading him.
Some Muslim religious leaders have already announced the excommunication of Rizvi from Islam.
Last year, Rizvi’s family, including his wife, children and brother, reportedly disowned him after disassociating with his remarks.
However, nothing has dissuaded Rizvi from creating controversies.Last month he announced his will and declared that instead of being buried, he should be cremated as per Hindu customs and rituals by Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati.
On Monday, he finally adopted Hinduism and continued with his tirade against Islam, and of course, controversies.
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