Muslims irked with Kejriwal's comments on Batla House

The Batla House issue is now of much importance as it was raised about the same time as Kejriwal's demand for a SIT probe into the 84 riots.

Soumik Mukherjee January 31, 2014 18:53:06 IST
Muslims irked with Kejriwal's comments on Batla House

New Delhi: Demand for an SIT probe into the 84 riots that resulted into the death of thousands of Sikhs in Delhi and a clemency on the death sentence to Khalistani activist Bhullar might gain Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party a much needed break into the Sikh vote bank but Kejriwal's move recent move on the high profile Batla House encounter will probably further alienate his party from the Muslims. AAP has written a strong rebuttal condemning the action of Asif Khan, the Congress MLA from Okhla. AAP went on to say that it had never written anything about the Batla House encounter in its election manifesto.

Muslims irked with Kejriwals comments on Batla House

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Questioning the motives of Asif Khan's action and his moving to Congress from RJD probably will give AAP a temporary relief but observers are seeing red in the new political outfit's action. "Batla House is an issue that has been used by our political parties since the day it occurred. AAP is just a new addition to the list of political parties who used Batla House for their favour and then back tracked on their own stand," said Manisha Sethi, a member of Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA), a civil society group that has been actively campaigning against the false incarceration of Muslim youth.

The recent statement of Arvind Kejriwal, saying that nothing can be done about the Batla House case as the judiciary has already gave its verdict may hurt the popularity of his party among the Muslims in Delhi. "Our main Muslim support comes from not the Muslim clusters of the city but more from Muslims who live in isolation in the city and the number is substantial," senior party leader Yogendra Yadav told Firstpost prior to the election. The locals in the Batla house area feel a sense of deprivation after the statement by the new chief minister of Delhi. "We never had much hope on Asif anyway. He won in 2009 because he used the the issue but after winning he did precious little to get us justice and then he went on to join Congress. We had some hope from the new government and even that is also gone now," said Salim Saeed a resident.

The allegations of Batla House residents against Kejriwal is that he completely back tracked from what he promised before the election. "Kejriwal came here for the Iftar party and promised justice to us. Now his current stand shows that it was all a ploy for vote," said Afroz Alam an RTI activist and a former colleague of Kejriwal, who used to handle the media and publicity of Kejriwal's Drive against Bribe, an anti-corruption campaign. According to Afroz, both Asif and Kejriwal used the encounter issue to their advantage and then deserted. "Even Najeeb Jung as the head of the Jamia University had supported our movement but is completely silent now," said Afroz. Afroz has written repeated letters to Arvind Kejriwal and Najeeb Jung to bring the issue to their notice. "Both have remained silent on this. How is it that a chief minister is talking about grievance redressal of the citizens but paying a deaf ear to repeated pleas," he said.

Kejriwal is now accused of flashing Prashant Bhushan to allure the Muslim votes. "He circulated a letter in the Muslim majority areas in which it was written how Bhushan an imminent member of his party has been fighting to get the Muslims justice in Gujarat," said Sethi of JTSA. The controversial letter to the Muslims had drawn much ire of the political class before the election. The letter states that if the AAP came to power in Delhi it would fight for the justice to the Muslim youth who are arrested and put behind bar with false charges. Bhushan, however, could not be reached for a comment despite several attempts by Firstpost.

Sethi also trashed Kejriwal's remark on the status of the case. "There is a gross misconception about the high court verdict on Batla House that came out in July 2013. It never said anything about the killing of two innocents in the encounter. It was only the verdict on the death of MC Sharma, the Delhi Police official. It convicted Shehzad, but this is not a verdict on Batla House encounter," she said.

The Batla House issue is now of much importance as it was raised about the same time as Kejriwal's demand for a SIT probe into the 84 riots. "He is playing the politics of appeasing a community while neglecting other," said a senior leader of Congress. Another imminent AAP member lawyer HS Phoolka however, praised Kejriwal for demanding the SIT. "There systematic is atrocities against Muslims in this country. And both congress and BJP has been using the Godhra and 84 riots to their advantage. It's high time he political parties stopped this game of using religious sentiment, " said Phoolka, the counsel for the victim of 84 riots.

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