When self-proclaimed local leader Amanatullah Khan floated the idea of terror accused Zia-Ur-Rehman contesting the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) election 2012 from Zakir Nagar ward number 205, some residents opposed it. They requested him to drop it. But Khan argued that a win would mean a ‘referendum’ on Batla House encounter.
Immediately his idea was backed by Okhla MLA Asif Md Khan, who since winning his seat has done little for the locality save decking up his office at Kalindi Kunj with exotic birds, dogs and plants. For Asif it was an opportunity to challenge sitting Congress councilor Shoeb Danish in his bastion.
Asif knew that a win would increase Danish stock in the locality and hence he made an all-out effort to finish his competitor politically. For Asif, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) alumnus Danish was a bigger threat to him in the Assembly election in 2013 than Amantullah Khan. Keeping their differences aside, they shook hands. Asif dumped his other proxy candidate Wasim Ghazi, a businessman, who is obsessed with politics, but until now has not won in any election.
The move sparked debate in the locality with some supporting it and others opposing it. A senior leader of the newly-formed Welfare Party of India (WPI) too was in two minds over the sensitive issue. His argument was what if tomorrow Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur also contests election. “Will we not oppose her candidacy?”
Legal help not politics
Amanatullah’s idea was also opposed by Ameeque Jamei, who claims to be a close friend of the local leader. He told OKHLA TIMES that what Rahman family needed was funds so that they could fight the legal battle. “But these two people took the family for a ride and dragged them into politics for their personal gains. I am with the people in demanding a judicial probe into the L18 Batla House shootout. Rahman, who was arrested in the Batla House encounter in September 2008 after the serial blasts, should get legal help. And I don’t want this issue to be politicized.”
Even before the election had taken place, Ameeque had raised the fear that what message will go if Rahman was defeated. “Even if he wins, the message would not be positive.” Also, he had said that the issue was so emotional that many educated Muslim youth would get carried away. An appeal for supporting Rahman’s candidacy was also posted in Jamia Millia Alumni Directory, a non-political forum.
L18 shootout genuine?
Now when the result is out and Rahman has lost by a wafer thin margin of some 517 votes, the question is: Was Batla House shootout genuine?
Kamal, who gave only one name, wrote to OKHLA TIMES in Hindi and I translate: “This is not defeat of Rahman but of the Muslims of Batla House. And today we have proved that Batla House encounter was real. Rahman is also a Jamia alumnus. The fact is that the election was fought on the ground that Batla House encounter was fake. By electing a Congress candidate, our people have sent a message that the encounter was real and Congress policies of terrorizing the Muslims are right.”
So has the leadership failed the community or has the community turned out to be disloyal?
The number game
Sitting councilor Danish got more than 8,194 votes. This is the double votes that he had bagged in 2007 election. On the other hand Rahman managed 7,677 votes. BSP candidate Jitu was also in the race at third position. But other candidates forfeited their deposits, according to a youth, who was actively involved at counting booth.
It was a tough fight for Danish. As long as counting of Muslim dominated areas like Batla House, Zakir Nagar and Joga Bai continued, Danish was trailing. In all these areas women empathized with Rahman’s 63-year-old father Abdur Rahman, his mother and sister, who had launched door-to-door campaign to garner residents support. And it worked well in their support. In some cases, women members even pressurized their males to vote for Rahman.
The two Khans succeeded in whipping up emotions of the residents, particularly women by their ‘victimization’ story. Confident about their win, they became complacent as their opposition claim. On the day of election Amanatullah Khan, who was found with his supporters in Joga Bai, told OKHLA TIMES that we are winning hands down. “Now the only question is with how many margins.” So did over confidence led to the defeat?
Social activist Hamid Ali said: “The group got highly confident and they thought they would single-handedly swing the votes. Had they approached other groups also the result would have been different.”
He said Rahman lost because Asif backed him. “There were many people in Jamia Nagar who had raised the Batla House issue. But at the end of the day it was Asif who got the cake and ate it himself. May I ask you what has Asif done in the last three years? People are unhappy with Asif as he had one nothing for the locality.”
Now when Rahman has lost, many senior residents have started the post-mortem. But it appears that the loss has given another wound to Rahman’s die-hard supporters and his old father who had thought that a win would send a message to the Congress-led government that never mess with the community.
But the silver lining in the dark cloud for many anti-Congress supporters is the defeat of Engineer Jamaluddin’s wife from ward number 206. She came second to Ishrat Beghum of SP who bagged more than 8000 votes.
Surprisingly, Congress sitting councilor Jamaluddin’s wife also got more than five thousand votes from ward number 206. During his tenure Jamal had been accused of doing nothing and still managed to reach the second spot. Are the people of Jamia Nagar pro-Congress? The Congress has a strong presence in the locality and is a cadre-based party, according to Shahnawaz Mallick, a local resident. And it this that has always worked in their support, he said, adding: “Despite anti-Congress wave in the locality, Danish won and Jamal got the second position. There is no alternative to Congress in this area.”