Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Muzaffarnagar:Ground Zero- A political chawpal and story of 'Hindu Jat uncle' and his Muslim Jat nephew

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. Perhaps, it is this feeling and added to it - the element of fear that had driven out Jat Muslims from Khard village in Budhana Assembly segment out of their homes in September 2013.      But the Jat Muslims are back in the village now and trying to reconcile with the fate. 
      For 56-year-old Haji Ayub Ali, the world had changed in September 2013 when he heard that Hindu bhai-log (brethern) had decided to attack his village targeting Muslims.
       "I am here and my family is back. But the pain remains," he told UNI taking his turn with the traditional Hookah. Alongside his younger brother Qayum Ali, members of both the families had left the village to a "safer destination".
Ayub Ali and his Hindu friend Ravindra Mallick

But Ayub had stayed back in his house thinking he should at least think of the future and that his parental house should not be left unguarded.
        Didn't he fear for his life?
        ''Of course I did....Dar sabko lagta hae (Everyone would fear)," he says shyly but hastens to add in the same breath, "I had the protection of my Hindu uncle Rajpal Singh Mallick. He came and stayed in my house for a week when my entire family was away".

The story sounds too good to be true. "Wait for a while," says Ayub and dials a number using his black Motorala mobile of late 1990s model and within 15 minutes - his childhood friend Ravindra Mallick arrives into the courtyard riding his motor cycle.
The message seems to be clear. This Hindu friend is just a phone call away and he rushed to his Muslim friend in a short notice. "Me and Ayub grew up together. My father loves Ayub a lot. So when he heard that Ayub is alone in this house, he came to give him protection," says Ravindra Mallick proudly.
But why then Muzaffarnagar riots happened? And why Ayub's family had to flee?     
The informal chawpal-type meeting in Ayub's spacious neatly maintained courtyard had just begun. Shahnawaz Ahmed, a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind also present in the meeting tries to sum up the paradox: "Tragedy is no one is pious. All are thugs. If BJP tries to play with fear psychosis of Hindus, Samajwadi Party has been doing so with Muslims. The result is Muzaffarnagar type conflicts".
Shahnawaz of Jamaat sharing his views
Ayub agrees and nods his head in agreement. His brother Qayum is more vocal and says,"The riots could not have happened without politicians' complicity. Both BJP and Samajwadi Party are responsible". Ravindra Mallick also joins the debate and says, "Many Muslims who were victims of the riots did not get their compensation because they did not have money to bribe concerned people. I don't think all the Muslims will vote for SP". 
"Things could have been controlled if Samajwadi regime was more sincere about it," says Ayub.
The Muzaffarnagr riots have left many Muslims homeless and according to UP government's assessment, nine villages were "identified as worst affected". Several Muslims seem to agree to what Ayub says. In the meantime, one gets a message that the Jats - either Hindus or Muslims - in Budhana Assembly segment are likely to vote for RLD candidate Yograj Singh. Many Hindu Jats in the locality say, the community has decided to "defeat" BJP -- as the party betrayed Jats on the issue of reservation.
       So will RLD nominee win the seat?
"You cannot say so easily. Muslims always play influential role in elections in this constituency and thus Samajwadi Party candidate Pramod Tyagi has a fair chance," says Saddam Hussain, 26, a riot victim who had to leave his village Phugana and is now residing in a rehabilitation colony Falah-E-Aam set up by Jamaat-I-Islami Hind.
However, many in the colony are not happy with Samajwadi regime of Akhilesh Yadav either.
Naushad (35) says, "It is a myth to believe Samajwadi Party is pro-Muslim. They did nothing during riots. Our tragedy is even BSP did not do anything.Thanks to Jamaat that we survived and now staying here in the rehabilitation colony".
  It is also a fact that BSP's Sayeda Begum may attract substantial Muslim votes and ultimately influence the poll outcome.
        Hence, probably things stay unclear.

Like many constituencies in western UP witnessing four-cornered contest, Budhana Assembly segment is probably heading for a photo finish.
       Jats - either Muslims or Hindus - want to vote for a genuine Jat, but if Ravindra Mallik's contention is to be understood in right perspective, "BJP has good support base in Budhana town and the Nagar panchayat chairman is a BJP man Jitendra Tyagi".
       All Muslims in the area are not against BJP per se. "BJP's Nagar palika victory was like Narendra Modi's wave in Lok Sabha polls. There was a sort of wave," says Imtiaz Haq, a small time trader, also identifying himself as a BJP supporter.

In the 2012 Assembly elections, Samajwadi Party nominee Nawazish Alam Khan won this constituency by 10,588 votes. While has polled 68,210 votes, the nearest contender was Rajpal Singh Baliya of RLD who got 57,622 votes.
(UNI Election campaign/on Field story)

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