Ulema Council: More people feel cheated than elated

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,

Azamgarh: “Ulema Council was born on the Batla House encounter issue, but it did nothing for the victims and their families. It just took a train to Delhi and came back,” says 68-year-old Shakeel Ahmed in Beenapara village, just five kms from Sanjarpur – the village of two youths killed in the September 19, 2008 encounter.

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He says the prospects of Ulema Council in the ongoing assembly elections have got bleak. They are not going to win a single seat, rather their support base will drastically go down.

“The support Ulema Council got in 2009 Lok Sabha poll will go down in this assembly poll and it will go further down later, thanks to Amir Rashadi (chief of Ulema Council). He does not do what he says. He makes big announcements. He says he is fighting cases of youths, but fact is and their top leader Maulana Tahir Madani has admitted it, Ulema Council is not fighting any case,” Shakeel says.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Ulema Council had fielded half a dozen candidates and collectively it had polled over 2.5 lakh votes. But the scene will be altogether different this time.

Dr Shamim Ahmed of Sanjarpur says Ulema Council will not get even 10% of Muslim votes in this assembly poll. “Some well-off people and unemployed youths are with Ulema Council. The support they got in 2009 will drastically go. They will not get even 10% of Muslim votes,” Dr Shamim says.

Ask him the reason of the fall of Ulema Council, he says: “The reason is that people are now getting aware of the realities of Ulema Council. Their leaders are striving for power. They have no strong agenda and plan, they have no democratic system in the party. Just one man dictates.”

Social activist Masihuddin in Sanjarpur says: Victim families are angry with Ulema Council because they did nothing on the Batla House issue, rather harmed them. They gave false statement on legal help, they collected funds on that but never used them.

Dr Shahid Badr says: “the support base of Ulema Council has developed big cracks because even victim families have started saying that Ulema Council have cheated them and did not keep promise on Batla. They had promise to fight legal case to secure their release and also to help their families. The message among people is Ulema Council got benefit of the issue, but did not benefit the victims.”

Didn’t Ulema Council instill courage among local Muslims in the bad days after Batla encounter? “Mufti Abu Bashar was picked on 16 Aug 2008, Batla incident occurred on 19 Sep 2008, and Ulema Council was born on 16 Oct 2008. From 16 Aug to 15th Oct there was no Ulema Council. People would keep awake all night. They observed a sad Eid while wearing black armband on Eid day. Masses thronged to Beenapara and Sanjarpur on their own to extend sympathy. There was no Ulema Council then. Masses had woke up earlier than Ulema Council. Yes, masses then gave them leadership and all resources, but they did not do for anything for victims,” says Dr. Badr.

Dr. Jawed Akhtar who contest 2009 Lok Sabha poll from Azamgarh on Ulema Council ticket but now has no association with the party, does not want to make any direct comment on the position of Ulema Council as just as just one day is left in voting.

However, he admits that Muslim parties are in a hurry to win election, and are not interested in grassroot work as Kanshiram and BSP had done.
“Muslim parties are in a hurry to win election though they are not in a position to win even a single seat. Before the LS poll in 2009 I had said that we should prepare ground as BSP had done. We are hurried for winning election, it is injurious for us. We wanted to work for 5 to 10 years to mobilise support and unite people. We could have raised the issue on roads outside parliament in between. Your own ground is not prepared and you are going to poach others’,” says Dr. Jawed.

Ulema Council was born on Batla. You and your Ulema Council made lots of promises, but did nothing and so people feel cheated by you as you have done nothing serious and sincere on the issue. Isn’t it true? “Certainly it is true,” he says.

However, a section of local Muslims still supports Ulema Council and cites the courage it instilled in the people in the dark days after Batla House.
Abul Kalaam of Beenapara says: “Support to Ulema Council has not gone down. Youths had joined it and they are still with it. Ulema Council may not win a seat, but it has disturbed the equation of all political parties.”

Salman, an 18-year-old boy from Fariha village is a hardcore supporter of Ulema Council. Salman reads in a school but on free day he works as conductor on an auto. Ask him who he will vote, he says: “I will vote for Ulema Council.” Why? “Because if we are in trouble they come in 10 vehicles and ensure our release. I fear police, I fear they can pick anyone at any time,” answers the boy.