LUCKNOW: In a bid to keep Muslim youths away from fundamentalism, the RSS-backed Muslim Rashtriya Manch has started a drive to encourage them to adopt former President APJ Abdul Kalam as their "role model" and not Ajmal Kasab of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack notoriety.
"We have initiated a campaign to make former President Kalam, who was also known as the missile man and made the country proud, as the role model of Muslim students. We are organising national level seminars for this," MRM convenor Muhammad Afzal told PTI.
He said the campaign's objective is to "strengthen patriotism among the Muslim students and encourage them to take the path of Kalam".
When asked about the need for such a campaign, Afzal said, "We want to convince Muslim students that their role model should be former President Kalam and not terrorist Kasab. We will tell the difference between the two."
"Many a times, Muslim youths divert towards Kasab. We want them to bring close to Kalam's ideologies. It will help the country grow and progress. With his deeds, Kalam had proved that he was a true patriot," he said.
He said "in our campaign, we discuss in detail the life and achievements of Kalam to encourage people. Kalam had rejected even a NASA's offer for a job and gave his prime to the country, working on his dream project Prithvi missile and developing India's space centre. He remained bachelor to serve the country."
"Students of madrasas and inter colleges are invited in these programmes and experts, scientists and officers are called to talk to them," he said, adding the next such programme will be held in Lucknow next month.
One such programme was held in Delhi on October 19 and similar events will be soon be organised in 10 states including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal, he said.
He said though students of all religion participate in the events but Muslim students are given priority.
The MRM was set up in 2002 by former RSS chief KS Sudarshan to enable the Sangh to reach out to Muslims.
It had held 'Eid milan' programmes and 'Iftar' parties earlier in a bid to remove, what, it believes, are misconceptions among a section of the people about the Sangh and the BJP.
MRM has been reaching out to Muslims to apprise them of the RSS works and change their views about the organisation, Afzal said.
All india Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), however, termed the MRM's move as "humiliating", saying the Muslims do not have to prove their patriotism.
"What else can you expect from an organisation affiliated to the RSS? They are putting forward the name of Kalam to show what they feel about Muslims.
How can one insinuate as Muslim youths even thinking of having Kasab as their role model, when the community did not even allowed him to be buried in India?," asked AIMPLB member Yasin Usmani.
"Such campaigns which demean Muslims' contribution to the nation building is shameful and humiliating to us," he added.