Indian Express

Politics gives a miss to village that saw five terror arrests

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Lalu and Nitish address rallies in Darbhanga constituency, both Sunday. Lalu was pleased with his audience; Nitish’s was smaller.Prashant Ravi (PTI) Lalu and Nitish address rallies in Darbhanga constituency, both Sunday. Lalu was pleased with his audience; Nitish’s was smaller. Prashant Ravi (PTI)

Twelve kilometres from Darbhanga, where Narendra Modi, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar have all addressed rallies, Barh Samaila displays not a hoarding, poster or pamphlet of a political party. The village of over 5,000, mostly Muslims, which votes as part of Madhubani Wednesday, had made national headlines in 2011-12 after five young men were arrested for their alleged links to terror plots. This election, say villagers, no candidate has visited the village.

“No party could bring us justice. When our children were framed, the Congress was in power at the Centre, the JD(U) was in power in the state, and we had a BJP MP. One of our children (Qateel Ahmad Siddiqui) was killed in a Pune jail while the others wait endlessly for justice,” says 80-year-old Abdul Salam, father of Kafeel Akhtar who was arrested from his home on May 6, 2012, by a team of Karnataka and Andhra police for his alleged role in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blast in Bangalore.

Less than half a kilometre from Kafeel’s house is that of Qateel, who was arrested in November 2011 and died at Yerawada jail seven months later. “My son was killed but we could do nothing to save him. We can only pray other families don’t have to go through such an ordeal,” says Gulshanara, Qateel’s mother.

Salam believes there is no chance of the BJP coming to power. “Though we have suffered atrocities under the Congress government, most people here will vote for the Congress. What option do we have? There is no way the BJP is going to form the government. Their leaders want Muslims to go to Pakistan,” Salam says.

Gauhar Aziz was arrested in Delhi in 2011 and a Delhi court is hearing the case on his alleged IM links. In the village, his father Mohammad Luqman says, “It is our duty and we will vote. But we expect nothing from these parties. My wife’s cousin is a senior BJP leader but he could do nothing,” he says. “Too much should not be read into the remarks of BJP leaders. In election season, such remarks are made to polarise voters and other parties take the garb of secularism.”

The RJD has fielded Abdul Bari Siddiqui, former leader of the opposition, from Madhubani. Many villagers say Siddiqui is the only MLA who had visited the area, but that was weeks ago. The JD(U) has fielded Ghulam Gauss.

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