Hyderabad: Prominent cleric Moulana Mohammed Naseeruddin, who was jailed but later acquitted in the killing of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya, passed away here on Saturday, following brief illness.
The leader of Tehreek-e-Wahdat-e-Islami breathed his last at his residence in Saidabad. He was 75.
Police tightened the security in the area as a precautionary measure for Moulana”s burial scheduled later in the day at Eidgah Ujale shah.
Popular among the community, the cleric was known for his frank and fearless views on various issues but always remained under the scanner of law-enforcing agencies as they suspected him to be radicalizing Muslim youths.
It was in April 2004 that Moulana was arrested by a team of Gujarat police in the case relating to assassination of Pandya.
Naseeruddin”s supporters tried to stop the Gujarat police team from whisking him away and the police officer leading the team Narendra Amin (who was later arrested in the encounter killings of Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi) had opened fire killing Mujahid Saleem (26), son of well-known cleric Moulana Abdul Aleem Islahi.
Naseeruddin had denied his involvement in the killing of Pandya, who was found murdered in his car after a morning walk in Ahmedabad on March 26, 2003.
Gujarat police charged him with instigating Pandya”s killers and subsequently also booked him for alleged conspiracy to avenge 2002 Gujarat riots.
Naseeruddin spent six years in Gujarat jails before he was acquitted by a POTA court in 2010. After his return to the city, he merged his organisation Tehreek-e-Tahffuz-e-Sha”air-e-Islam or the movement for protection of Islamic signs with Wahtdat-e-Islami.
Naseeruddin had shot to prominence in 1992 when he led prayers on a road at Abids in the heart of the city following demolition of Babri Masjid. He and some others were booked under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (prevention) Act (TADA).
He remained under the surveillance of intelligence agencies after his release from Gujarat prison.
He had led funeral prayers in absentia for Osama Bin Laden after he was killed by US forces in Pakistan in 2011 and also for Afzal Guru, a convict of attack on Indian Parliament who was hanged in 2013.
Naseeruddin”s three out of his four sons were also arrested and jailed for involvement in various terror incidents and conspiracy cases in states like Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana. However, all were acquitted.
He had stated on many occasions that he and his family were implicated in false cases and a lot of injustice was done to them as each one spent several years in jail.
Denying involvement in terrorism or violent activities, Naseeruddin had stated that their only crime was to raise their voice against injustices.