Won’t entertain political leaders during UP election season: Darul Uloom Deoband

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A top spokesperson of Darul Uloom Deoband has said that the Islamic seminary in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district has decided not to entertain any political leaders during the election season in the poll-bound state.

Leaders of contesting political parties are expected to showcase their affinity for the seminary ahead of next year’s assembly elections in a bid to seek the support of the Muslim community.

Darul Uloom Deoband spokesperson Ashraf Usmani conveyed the decision, arguing the need to avoid what he called “manipulations” and “misleading” claims about seeking support of the seminary.

“We are apolitical and confined to the purpose of education,” said Usmani, recalling that political leaders in the past showed up at the site during election season and publicised such visits for electoral mileage.

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Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), wanted to visit the Darul Uloom Deoband and meet with officials after a rally in Saharanpur last week.

But Darul officials, including Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani, vice chancellor of the Deoband centre, refused to meet him.

Ashraf Usmani said that Owaisi and all other leaders of political parties could freely visit the Deoband seminary during the election season, but Darul officials will neither welcome them nor meet them.

“They can come [to the seminary in Deoband], have a look around Darul, but can’t meet office bearers during election season,” said Usmani.

The seminary’s stance brings back memories of Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav having once famously visited the Darul Uloom Deoband during the time of rector Maulana Magrubur Rahman.

A photo of the rector showing his hand placed on Yadav’s head had sparked talk of the seminary’s support for the SP. Darul later denied such an association, calling it merely a welcome gesture during Yadav’s visit.

Usmani said that none of the political leaders in UP have so far proposed to visit the seminary as they were aware of its stand on politics.

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