On a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at Salman Nizami at a campaign rally for allegedly saying that “Modi should answer who his father and mother is”, among other disparaging remarks, and the Congress distanced itself from him, saying that he is not a member of the party, the former journalist from Kashmir said that he joined the Congress in 2014 and belongs to a known Congress family in Banihal, in J&K’s Ramban district. He also said that he has “never said anything anti-national — ever”.
“I don’t know why the Prime Minister would attack me. I am a nobody. I joined politics, and the Congress, only three years ago,” told The Sunday Express. About Modi’s remark that Nizami “says he wants Azaad Kashmir”, the 34-year-old said, “There is nothing I have written as a journalist, or said as a politician, that can be remotely termed anti-national. I am a third-generation Congressman, and in J&K no one can be more Indian nationalist than the Congress.”
Claiming that four members of his extended family have been killed by militants, Nizami said, “My grandfather’s brother, Akhtar Nizami, was a well-known Congress politician who was elected MLA from Banihal and Ramban”.
At a rally today, Modi, quoting from posts purportedly tweeted by Nizami earlier, said, “There is one Congress youth leader called Salman Nizami, who is campaigning for Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat. He said on Twitter that Rahul Gandhi’s father (Rajiv Gandhi) and grandmother (Indira Gandhi) had sacrificed their lives, while his great grandfather (Jawaharlal Nehru) was a freedom fighter…. Then he (Nizami) went on to ask that Modi should answer who is his father and mother…. Do we use this language in public discourse?”
Nizami said there are five or six fake Twitter accounts set up with his name. “I have no control over that,’’ he said. “A few years ago my own account was hacked and I filed a police complaint against that at Jammu in 2015”.
He also said, “I have been in Gujarat for two weeks but I am not some important and big leader of Congress. Many top leaders in Congress don’t even know me or about me.”
Nizami left Gujarat soon after Modi lashed out against him today. “I am in Delhi,’’ he said. In Jammu, the SHO of Nowabad, Neeraj Bhagat, said that Nizami is wanted by the state police for allegedly duping some people on false promises of getting state government jobs. He said an FIR under Section 420 Ranbir Penal Code was registered on a complaint from the National Rural Health Mission in 2015 of allegedly duping people.
Bhagat said that about three months ago a police team was sent to Banihal to apprehend Nizami but he could not be found. The police, he added, are looking for him. Sitting Congress MLA from Banihal, Viqar Rasool, meanwhile denied having ever seen Nizami in any party activity or function in the constituency.
Coming from Kharpora locality of Banihal town, on Jammu-Srinagar national highway, Nizami is the elder of Rubina Begum’s two children. His father Mohammad Imtiaz Nizami, who married Rubina after his first wife’s death, ran a small shop in Banihal town until a few years ago, when he closed it after losing vision in both eyes. Rubina works an anganwari worker, and her daughter is married and lives in Kishtwar. After graduating in mass communication, Salman Nizami worked as a journalist with a local news channel, and thereafter with a newspaper in Jammu.
Nizami later left Banihal and moved to Delhi.
What PM Modi said:
“There is one Congress youth leader called Salman Nizami, who is campaigning for Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat. He said on Twitter that Rahul Gandhi’s father (Rajiv Gandhi) and grandmother (Indira Gandhi) had sacrificed their lives, while his great grandfather (Jawaharlal Nehru) was a freedom fighter. Okay, very good, we do not have a problem with that. Then he (Nizami) went on to ask that Modi should answer who is his father and mother…. Do we use this language in public discourse? Do we ask such things, this Salman Nizami is their star campaigner?
“What else has he tweeted? He is from Kashmir and he says he wants Azaad Kashmir. He called Indian armed forces rapists…. That person has further said in his tweets that ‘ghar ghar se Afzal niklega’… Do you want Afzal in every home?”