Mumbai rights activist wants to contest assembly elections, appeals for fund
By Abdul Hameed, TwoCircles.net,
It is a good omen for Indian politics that now criminals, corrupts and other ill-intended people are being shunted out by the voter, and people of good character and enthusiasm to do for common public are entering politics. Among such persons is Shakil Ahmed, a human rights activist and criminal lawyer in Mumbai. He will be contesting Maharashtra Assembly elections to be held in the end of this year from Sion-Koliwada constituency as an independent candidate.
Good people so far have kept themselves away from ‘dirty’ politics. ‘It is not the right approach to stay away from politics blaming it to be dirty. If we want to purify it, and we must do, then we ourselves will have to come into it,’ says young Shakil Ahmed.
Shakil is known for his social activities. He came into fame for his take in high profile cases of Ramabai Firing and 1993 Hari Masjid Firing. He has traveled across the country on independent fact-finding committees set up to probe cases of human rights violation including the illegal eviction of slum-dwellers in Indore over a decade ago as well as the 2004 Malegaon riots. For the implementation of the Shri Krishna Commission report he has struggled a lot.
The prevailing illiteracy in Sangam Nagar area of the Sion-Koliwada Assembly constituency where he lives, made him restive and along with his colleagues he strived for education there. They founded Parivartan, an NGO that works towards providing education to children in the Antop Hill slums in the same constituency. The private schools which had cropped up in Sangam Nagar were not affordable for poor. Shakil had a Bombay Municipal Corporation school constructed for the area after seven-year-legal battle with BMC. Before the school was set up, children from the slum had to walk 30 minutes to the nearest BMC school.
Born at Sion Hospital, Shakil was brought up in the shanties in Sion-Koliwada constituency which still lacks basic amenities. The dirty, narrow and uneven lanes dotted with mud and stones lead to a small narrow room in Sangam Nagar which he uses as his temporary office. The room symbolizes the abysmal condition of the constituency.
Shakil Ahmad wants to see his constituency developed, having at least basic amenities. ‘I have grown up with these problems and now I want to put an end to them. Different welfare schemes are launched keeping in view the interests of capitalists and industrialists and no one takes care of the poor, the dehumanized people especially from minorities. I want to enter the politics as a representative of these people. I have been involved in social activities since long but my triumph in elections will give me power to do more for people,’ says Shakil reasoning his decision to enter politics.
Belonging to a poor Andhra Pradesh family Shakil Ahmed had worked as a carpenter, a milk seller, a newspaper delivery boy and a mechanic. From selling bean bags in Malabar Hill housing societies to selling paan masala in Kamathipura his life so far has been full of thrones.
The family of Shakil Ahmed is neither educated nor has any political background. Overcoming all odds Ahmed completed his graduation in commerce. He also has a post-graduate degree in journalism. And now he is pursuing an MA in economics from Mumbai University.
Angry with the ‘family politics’ Shakil Ahmed says it is a challenge for the country’s welfare. ‘Nearly 500 families have overpowered the Indian politics depriving others. They take funds from multi-national companies and launch schemes according to their will. The poor have grown poorer and the rich richer. I want to change this trend with the help of common citizens. I will make the government think about poor, minorities and marginalized section of the society too.’
Sion-Koliwada assembly constituency has a mixed population of Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Christians, Sikhs and Koli (fishermen) etc. coming from UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Bengal and Punjab among others. Shakil is confident of getting their full support. ‘I have worked from them. Whenever anyone was in trouble, I extended my helping hand to them regardless of caste and religion,’ said Shakil.
He is sure that his indulgence in politics will not affect his social activities in the least. The area where he lives has been witness to elected candidates’ neglect as it still lacks basic amenities and education facilities. Shakil believes that only the person who takes care about the residence of common people, their education, water and other necessities of life deserves to be their representative.
Shakil will contest Assembly elections as an independent candidate. According to him no political party deserves to be supported. ‘There is no need of joining a party for a stable work. We fielded our independent candidates in the last Municipal Corporation elections and their performance encouraged us to stand in the Assembly elections. Since our resources are little and the scope of Lok Sabha is vast we are not thinking right now of contesting LS elections,’ says Shakil.
Though Shakil is all set to contest the Assembly elections, he is still in the process of collecting fund, both for the candidate’s deposit money and his election campaign. While he will need an estimated Rs 10 lakh, at present he is far short of the budget.
Anybody who wishes to find out more about him or donate money to his campaign can contact him on 99699 25602 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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