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Glorification of invaders, anti-CAA campaign, tirade against Ram Mandir and ties to radical Islamist outfits: Meet Shahnawaz Ali Raihan, the Islamist given election ticket by Mamata Banerjee

"Zor se bolo azaadi/ Hum kya chahtey azaadi" Shahnawaz Ali Raihan was quoted as saying by The Telegraph during an anti-CAA protest in London outside Indian High Commission building.

On Sunday (10th March), the Mamata Banerjee-led-Trinamool Congress announced the list of candidates for all 42 constituencies in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. One of the candidates happened to be an Islamist named Shahnawaz Ali Raihan.

A native of Kaliachak town in Malda district of West Bengal, Raihan has been fielded by the TMC from the Muslim-dominated Malda South constituency.

While the TMC ecosystem has been justifying his candidature by highlighting his education at Oxford University, the party has carefully skirted over his radical Islamist views, glorification of invaders, and downplaying of terror activities.

TMC candidate fearmongers about India

After the victory of the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Shahnawaz Ali Raihan was invited by Turkish State-owned media ‘TRT world’ to spread canards about India.

The now-TMC candidate did not waste time in scaremongering about the country while peddling the ‘Jai Bheem, Jai Meem’ narrative in the hopes of separating the Dalits from the Hindu fold.

Raihan brazened out, “It’s not only bad news for Indian Muslims, but for the Dalits, for the Adivasis, the tribals, for the farmers. It’s bad news because Narendra Modi somehow succeeded in polarizing India, and this election held in an environment deeply vitiated over the last five years. There was a relentless assault on the democratic institutions who organized mob lynching, mob lynching of the Muslims, the Dalits, the attacks on the Dalits, and Modi’s government somehow curtailed the freedom of press.

Shahnawaz Ali Raihan joined anti-CAA protests in London, raised ‘Azadi’ slogans

Following the legislation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by the Indian Parliament in 2019, Shahnawaz Ali Raihan joined a group of ‘motivated protestors’ in demonstrating outside the Indian High Commission in London.

The protest was organised by the ‘South Asia Solidarity Group’ and the ‘SOAS India Society’ against CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). During the demonstration, Shahnawaz Ali Raihan was seen raising the divisive and communal ‘Azadi’ slogans.

Zor se bolo azaadi/ Hum kya chahtey azaadi“, he was quoted as saying by The Telegraph. “I could hear the cries of azaadi as I walked briskly towards the protest venue in Aldwych…It was raining but despite the chill, the crowd kept swelling,” he had said.

Screengrab of the report by The Telegraph

Shahnawaz Ali Raihan also insinuated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been speaking like a ‘white supremacist’ and that he would be behind bars if he had been in England.

Interestingly, the event was attended by anti-Brahmin activist Meena Kandasamy, who has previously been accused of ‘faking her Dalit identity.

Lies about CAA, repeats Pakistani talking points on Kashmir

In December 2019, TRT World again invited him to peddle disinformation about the Citizenship Amendment Act and Raihan did not disappoint.

“…The government is asking them to prove their citizenship. Their forefathers decided not to migrate to Pakistan. During the partition of India back in 1947, they decided to stay in India, and now the government is asking them to prove their citizenship. So this citizenship bill actually is a racist and very discriminatory bill,” he had claimed then.

This was despite the fact that CAA has nothing to do with Indian citizens and applies to illegal immigrants from religiously persecuted communities who entered India before 31st December 2024.

During the interview, Raihan also alleged, “I definitely believe that this law will turn Indian Muslims as a second class citizen in a Hindu state. So, I mean, you tell me which country will accept that huge amount of population? Is it Bangladesh, Pakistan? No one is going to accept us. And the government can’t simply throw us out from the country. So what will happen? There will be a trauma. There will be anxiety. There will be protests. There will be discrimination.”

Later, he was heard repeating Pakistani talking points about the abrogation of Article 370 and claiming that the Modi government imposed a ‘state of emergency on Kashmir’, scrapped its autonomy and left it in extremely volatile state. “So is Indian government trying to impose this Kashmir modern on the Muslims living other parts of India? So I think, yeah,” he went on a hysterical rant.

Connection with Students Islamic Organisation of India

As pointed out by ‘Stop Hindu Hate Advocacy Network (SHHAN)’, Shahnawaz Ali Raihn served as the National Secretary of Studens Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) as early as 2010. SIO is the student wing of the radical Islamic outfit, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

Interestingly, one of the core agendas of SIO is to convert people to Islam through the concept of ‘Dawah’.

As recently as May 2023, the official X (formerly Twitter) handle of SIO posted about Shahnawaz Ali Raihan and his participation in a disquisition titled ‘Decolonising History: The Subaltern Challenge to Dominant Narratives.’

This shows that the TMC candidate is still associated with the radical Islamist outfit.

Association with ‘Human Welfare Foundation’ raided by NIA

Raihan has also been pictured at events, organised by the ‘Human Welfare Foundation’. Interestingly, the same NGO was raided by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in October 2020 in connection to a terror funding case.

At that time, the central investigative body had seized incriminating documents and electronic devices that suggested the diversion of funds meant for charitable activities to “secessionist and separatist activities.”

Downplaying terror attack

In a video from 2015, shared by popular X user ‘Subham (@subhsays), Shahnawaz Ali Raihan was seen making a case for the terrorists involved in the deadly 2014 Burdwan blast.

The incident claimed the lives of two people, namely, Shovan Mandal and Shakil Ahmed in the Khagragarh locality of Burdwan district of West.

The TMC candidate had then suggested that a conspiracy was underway by anti-terror organisations in India to copy the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and implicate Muslims by suggesting extra-territorial connections.

While the Islamist had tried to downplay the terror attack in 2015, a total of 19 individuals including 4 Bangladeshis were convicted by a special NIA court in connection to the case in August 2019.

The convicts were associated with the banned Islamic terror outfit, Jamat-ul-Mujaheedin of Bangladesh (JMB).

RSS BJP is not fascist but terrorist: Shahnawaz Ali Raihan

In February 2020, Shahnawaz Ali Raihan featured in a video posted by ‘The Companion’ and spoke on the ‘Chronology of Hindutva Terror.’ In the video, he was heard saying, “This Bhagwa terror has been going on for a long time. And it has a long history.”

Until recently, the co-religionists of Islamic terrorists would often claim that ‘terror has no religion’. This was done to hide the religious motivations behind their crimes against humanity.

Raihan who has maintained silence on radical Islamism and even attempted to whitewash the 2014 Burdwan blast alleged that BJP and RSS were running a terror network in the country. “From now on, stop calling it a communal or fascist party. Call it a terrorist party,” he brazened out.

While shielding his radical co-religionists, the TMC candide had claimed, “When a Muslim stands up for his rights, he is called an Islamic terrorist. But neither an Islamic terrorist nor a Maoist terrorist is the biggest threat to the internal security of India. Hindutva terror is the biggest threat to India.”

“Everyone has to come forward and accept that the biggest challenge of Hindustan is Hindutva Terror and this network is run by BJP and RSS,” he concluded.

Glorification of Islamic invaders

In October 2020, he participated in a programme titled ‘From Babri Demolition to Babri Verdict: The Crisis with Indian Nationalism’ hosted by an organisation named ‘India Tomorrow.’

At the very onset, Shahnawaz Ali Raihan shamed Bengali Renaissance leaders such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee for supposedly piloting the ‘Hindutva project’ and considering Muslim invaders as more dangerous than the Britishers.

He shamelessly defended Islamic invaders by claiming that they only colonised the land for 800 years but continued to live here, unlike the Britishers who took away resources and raw materials from India. Shahnawaz Ali Raihan shrewdly glossed over the barbaric rule of Islamic invaders

India is an Islamophobic country: Shahnawaz Ali Raihan

Ahead of the Pran Prathistha ceremony of the Ram Mandir, Shahnawaz Ali Raihan was roped in by the Turkish State-owned media to present a distorted history of the reconstruction of the majestic Hindu temple.

During the interview, the now TMC candidate alleged, “So you can understand how much Indian Muslims are alone today and how much are they on the edge. So yeah, I mean, in 1992, Islamophobia had not yet reached that unprecedented peak…We are living in an Islamophobic country. It’s clear in front of the whole world.”

“Of course, I mean, why he is going to inaugurate this incomplete temple? I mean, why is he in a hurry? This reimagining of India with Muslims as a second-class citizen is done through tomorrow’s event,” he claimed.

The Islamist lamented that the Opposition did not interrogate PM Modi about secularism and constitutional values. “Look, oppositions are trying. I mean, many opposition leaders said they will boycott tomorrow’s ceremony. We welcome their decision,” he was heard saying.

“The land we love, the land we cherished, the land where our forefathers had built it, the land what we called our own home. Now today we feel like outsider and all the opposition party, all the leaders of the opposition, you failed to stand up to the fascism of India. You haven’t done your best,” Shahnawaz Ali Raihan further added.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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