THE MAYOR of the Meerut Municipal Corporation allegedly refused to let seven corporators participate in a meeting on Tuesday after they refused to sing Vande Mataram before the day’s proceedings got underway. Mayor Harikant Ahluwalia, who is a BJP leader, also issued orders that corporators who refuse to sing Vande Mataram will not be allowed to take part in the proceedings of the Nagar Nigam in the future. The situation arose when the seven corporators — all of them from the minority community — left the session soon after the rest of the members started singing Vande Mataram. Nearly 90 corporators and civic body officials were in attendance at the meeting. The group of corporators returned to the meeting hall after a brief period, but mayor Ahluwalia allegedly refused to let them in. As the mayor spoke about his directive for Vande Mataram, the other corporators reportedly shouted, “Hindustan mein rehna hai to Vande Mataram kehna hai (If you want to live in India, you have to say Vande Mataram).”
“The mayor ordered us to sing Vande Mataram and threatened that he will not let us sit in the Sadan (House) if we do not follow his directive. It is up to us whether we will sing it or not. The orders were delivered rudely, so we decided to boycott the proceedings,” Afzal Saifi, one of the corporators who boycotted the session, said. Saifi claimed he was supported by corporators Shahid Abbas, Nawab Qureshi and Deewan Shareef, among others.
“We have almost 90 corporators, of whom 18 are Muslims. Only a handful of people have an issue with Vande Mataram; the rest (want to) sing it,” the mayor told The Indian Express. “It was the decision of everyone in the session that those who boycott the national song should be boycotted. I just agreed with (the demand of) my people.” Ahluwalia said he had informed about the “activities” of these corporators to the previous Samajwadi Party government over the phone but no one took cognizance. But the mayor added, he will not let it happen any longer. Ahluwalia also claimed that all the corporators who refused to sing Vande Mataram were from the Samajwadi Party. While some of the corporators have allegiance to the party, it could not be verified whether all of them are SP leaders.
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