Less than 100 metres from L-18 Batla House — the address that had in 2008 given the Muslim-dominated area in Southeast Delhi the ignominy of being known for a shootout involving the Special Cell and alleged operatives of the Indian Mujahideen — about 18 young Muslim girls assembled on Thursday afternoon at the request of local BJP member Yasir Ali Jilani.
Seated on a mat on the ground floor of SIMT Institute for Women, they listened to Sufi M K Chisty.
He flew down from Surat to inspire confidence among the students of Jamia Millia Islamia that the BJP was, in fact, a party that had treated Muslims right. He told the girls that under PM Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model, Muslims in the state were better off than anywhere else in the country.
“Gujarat has been maligned over the years. But it has nine per cent Muslims in government jobs and 10.5 per cent Muslims in the police department. Muslims in Gujarat have the highest per capita income. Since Modiji became the prime minister, there has not been a single riot or curfew in Gujarat. The literacy rate among Gujarat’s Hindus is 65 per cent but among Muslims it is 69 per cent,” Chisty said.
Chisty is currently the national secretary of the BJP’s minority wing and the chairman of the Gujarat Haj Committee. He is also the gadi nashin or the head priest at the Dargah Sharif in Atodara, Gujarat. Chisty is also the founder of Ummah, a religion-based TV channel based in the UK.
In the poll-bound capital, BJP workers are struggling to make inroads into Batla House, which falls in the Okhla constituency. During the Assembly elections in 2013, Congress’s Asif Mohammed Khan had won with a margin of 26,545 votes. The AAP’s Irfanulla Khan had bagged 23,459 votes.
Chisty’s audience, however, remained sceptical. “This party has been against Muslims. This is etched on our minds and it is not so easy to wipe that out,” Ansha Irfan (20) said.