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Azamgarh: Where guns have replaced roses!
Once known for its Hindu-Muslim unity and intellectual quotient, Azamgarh has gradually metamorphosed into a land of fundamentalists owning the tag of terror’s breeding ground. Are we ever going to get more Azmis and Sankrityayans from this region?

AZAMGARH, A district from eastern UP, has been in the spotlight in the recent times for all the wrong reasons, especially with terror and violence-related events and has earned the notoriety of being a nursery of terror in India. Azamgarh happens to be home to a good number of activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and its Indian Mujahideen outfit. It is a harsh reality that almost all the suspects for the recent attacks in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Varanasi and Hyderabad have a close nexus with Azamgarh.

It is a matter of pity for Azamgarh that every time there is a terrorist attack in the country, the investigators immediately try to find out the links towards Azamgarh, which has emerged as the biggest terror hub in the country in present times, only second to turbulent Jammu and Kashmir. The recent developments in Delhi blasts probe have put a stamp of a terror hub on Azamgarh.

A joint team of the Delhi police and UP anti-terrorist squad raided village Sanjanpur in Azamgarh district, the native village of key suspects in the September 13, Delhi bombings. These raids were in Sarai Mir block of Azamgarh, the homeland of the two suspects, Atif and Sajid, who were killed in police encounter on September 19, and their other aides.

Geographically and demographically, Azamgarh is one of the largest and at the same time one of the most backward districts in eastern UP with a roughly 30 per cent Muslim population. Once known for Hindu-Muslim brotherhood and its high intellectual quotient, Azamgarh has slowly and gradually metamorphosed into a land of fundamentalists and owns the tag of being terror’s breeding ground. This extreme fundamentalism has thus provided a very fertile land for SIMI and other such outfits to flourish and torment the nation.

A large number of young, uneducated and unemployed Muslim youth, having no clear-cut future prospects, have fallen prey to the world of terrorism and the place has become a fertile ground for breeding terror. The likes of notorious don Abu Salem, Abu Bashir, Atif, etc, hailing from Azamgarh, have been able to misguide and motivate the youth from the region to take up career in drugs and terrorism.

In the earlier times, Azamgarh used to be a place of heroic intellectual struggles and was known for its renowned scholars, poets, freedom fighters, cultural institutions and religious seminaries. Azamgarh’s culture was a reflection of the Awadh culture with people of various religions living in harmony and possessing a great taste for art and culture, food, clothing and mannerism.

Azamgarh’s history boasts of having great personalities from fields of literature, art, and culture. The great Hindi litterateurs, Rahul Sankrityayan and Ayodhya Singh Upadhyaya ’Hariaudh’ hail from Azamgarh; also, great Urdu litterateurs like professor Allama Shibli Nomani and Kafi Azami, who wrote stirring Urdu poetry for social change were the sons of this land. But, at present, Azamgarh is known for wrong reasons because of people like Haji Mastan, Abu Salem and Dawood Ibrahim who are related to this place.

In today’s Azamgarh, it seems that the youth has been misguided and the new breed of terrorists like Abu Bashir, Atif, Sajid, Saif have become a threat to the culture of this region and country. Where has the soothing and inspiring poetry of Kaifi Azmi gone? Why have the works of Sankrityayan and Upadhyaya been overshadowed by guns and bombs? Are we ever going to get more Azmis and Sankrityayans from this region or are we in for more Salems, Dawoods and Bashirs?

Kaifi Azmi’s daughter and a famous Bollywood actress- Shabana Azmi seems perturbed by the tag given to Azamgarh and wants to remove this terror tag. She said that she was anguished over the fact that Azamgarh is termed as a nursery of terror for its notoriety and wants to clean up this blotted image. She wants to bring back the historic glory of the town and, so do the peace loving Indians.

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