Here comes a firebrand Muslim leader named Nazar Abbas. I just guessed if he was the same person about whom we heard in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) as a great orator. To my surprise I was right. He introduced himself as a former student leader of AMU.
And he stood up to my expectations. He was no less than any Maulana that we hear in mosque -- chaste Urdu with regular reference to Islam and some chosen couplets of Allama Iqbal.
He started with all praise for Mulayam Singh Yadav for his secular credentials and communal politics of Mayawati. He then went to international affairs explaining how America killed Saddam Hussain, and that BJP is funded by Israel (without citing the source of this information). He then came to Batla House encounter in which some Muslim youths were killed by the police, allegedly in cold blood. Finally, vote for Mulayam Singh. He is the only saviour and Muslims are living in great danger.
Then came the main mobiliser – Azhar Masood Kachauchvi. He said he hailed from the family of the Khankah of Kachaucha Sharief in Uttar Pradesh. He claimed his father once saved Mulayam Singh government in UP by one vote. Without speaking much, he asked people to vote for Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Amar Singh started by opening up his heart. He first said he will speak only truth because he is not doing politics here. Politics is all about speaking lies, he said. But, he genuinely wanted to relate to this crowd. He apologised he could not take this crowd inside his bunglow because there was no space inside to accommodate such a big crowd.
I gasped in wonder. I have personally witnessed several of Amar Singh’s interaction with such gatherings inside his residence.
He started by telling Muslims that they were living in great danger in India as all the political parties are hostile. Muslim youths all over are being picked up by the police doubting them as terror suspects. He was the only one who stood by the community during the Batla House encounter. Despite that, his party candidate from Batla House (which is a Muslim majority constituency) lost the recent assembly elections there. He complained why people of the area voted for Congress candidate who supported the police action. He also apologised Muslims for some mistakes his party committed due to which his party was dumped in the last assembly elections.
The hour-long public meeting came to an end.
I then approached Nazar Abbas with my camera and mike. I asked him why he only spoke about the fear factor and why there was no demand or any economic agenda for the community.
He probably never expected this question. He became silent and could not answer. With great difficulty he said security is most important. I then asked him what were the demands of Muslims in the coming Lok Sabha elections. He replied: “Muslims are backward. This is there in the Sachchar Committee report. There should be more schools for Muslims. Education is very important.”
I again asked him if there was any economic agenda. I asked him if he could tell me five major demands of the Muslims with regard to the forthcoming elections. I hinted him that the brass factories of Moradabad and lock industries of Aligarh are dying. Muslims in large number are being affected. But he could manage to say just this: “These are secondary issues. Security is more important.”
I then approached two young men wearing modern outfit but had sported skullcaps. I asked them if they wear these caps all the time. He replied: “No, we wear it while offering namaz.” I further probed he was not here to offer any namaz. He was honest enough to reply: “We actually wanted to look like Muslims. All the media is here for us.”
Befriending him, I asked if he was convinced by what Nazar Abbas or Amar Singh said. “These are all politics. Who cares,” he said. Then why was here? He explained his family follows the Khankah of Kachucha Sharief and he was here because Azhar Masood Kachauchvi had asked him to come with him. He went on to tell me he owns a small manufacturing unit of denim and jeans pants at Seelampur neighbourhood in east Delhi.
He told me that his business has been severely hit by the ongoing economic recession. His garments are not being sold as it used to do earlier and that his workers are running way.
Sadly, this was not an issue. Not for Amar Singh -- but most surprisingly -- not even for Nazar Abbas.