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MCD polls: Memories of 2020 riots in northeast Delhi may cast shadow over local body elections

MCD polls: The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is contesting from 16 seats, including Mustafabad. The Asaduddin Owaisi-led party had contested the civic body polls on nine wards in 2017 but drew a blank.

  • Mustafabad, one of the worst affected areas in the Feb 2020 riots in N-E Delhi, is singed by the memories of violence
  • Many think it will have a bearing on the December 4 Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls- the first election in the city after the riots
  • There is unconcealed anger against the ruling AAP, with people across the religious divide calling the incumbent MLA Haji Younus a "deserter"

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MCD polls: Memories of 2020 riots in northeast Delhi may cast shadow over local body elections

New Delhi: Mustafabad, one of the worst affected areas in the February 2020 riots in northeast Delhi, is singed by the memories of violence and many think it will have a bearing on the MCD polls. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) poll on December 4 is the first election in the city after the riots. There is unconcealed anger against the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), with people across the religious divide calling the incumbent MLA Haji Younus a "deserter."

People spent their savings to repaint and restore the burnt and damaged buildings and places of worship in Mustafabad, adjoining Brijpuri and Shiv Vihar, but no help came from the government, said Haji Yasin, 55, an owner of an automobile agency.

"AAP is useless and Yunus is even worse. He is a deserter. He fled to his Laxmi Nagar house after the violence erupted and did not come here (his constituency) even once. Students of Jamia Milia University, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and Sikh NGOs helped rebuild the lives here. Why would anyone vote for their party," he said.

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The Mustafabad assembly constituency is divided into five municipal wards -- Mustafabad, Dayalpur, Karawal Nagar East, Nehru Vihar, and Brijpuri. The Mustafabad municipal ward is reserved for women and witnessing a five-cornered contest, with CPI(M) and AIMIM also fielding their candidates.

There are around 53,000 eligible voters in the Muslim-majority ward. The Congress' Sabila Begam is considered a strong candidate as she has the support of the Saifi community which has around 13,000 votes.

The BJP has fielded Shabnam Malik who is banking on the 10,000 votes of the Malik community. Malik's brother-in-law Mainu Malik told PTI the "internal fight" in the Congress (incumbent councillor Praveen Maroof not given a ticket), the anger against the AAP, and the AIMIM cutting votes will help the BJP win.

AIMIM contests from 16 seats, including Mustafabad

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is contesting from 16 seats, including Mustafabad. The Asaduddin Owaisi-led party had contested the civic body polls on nine wards in 2017 but drew a blank.

Also read: 'There was development during Congress rule, BUT': Gambhir praises opposition

Campaigning for his party's candidates in northeast Delhi earlier, Owaisi targeted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, alleging he defamed Muslims in the entire country and was the "Narendra Modi of 2013."

On Sunday, he alleged that Kejriwal disappeared at the time of riots in the national capital and spoke against those who protested against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Shaheen Bagh. 

"I find that places where Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis live remain undeveloped and dirty. These places have open drains and mountains of garbage, but there are no proper arrangements for clean drinking water, children's education and hospitals... The AAP seeks votes against the BJP in such areas. At other places, they ask people to vote on the basis of development," Owaisi had said.

"The AIMIM's candidate is a good person. People will support her. The BJP is just trying to muddy the waters. It has no voter base in the ward," Yasin said.
A supporter at the CPI(M)'s poll booth said: "People will vote against the BJP's communal agenda and the double-face politics of the AAP." The CPI(M) helped the riot-affected people financially and legally, while the major parties remained absent, he said.

Shiv Vihar voters in Karawal Nagar-East ward not happy with AAP 

A few metres ahead at Shiv Vihar Tiraha, Ravi Kumar is busy cleaning the cars in his garage which was burnt to a crisp during the riots. Shiv Vihar is part of the Karawal Nagar-East ward.

Kumar, 37, said people generally do not remember the contribution of councillors. They vote on the basis of work done by MLAs and MPs. "In our ward in particular, people are upset with the AAP MLA Yunus. He did not even show his face after the violence. (Former Congress MLA from Mustafabad) Hasan Ahmed and (his successor) Jagdish Pradhan (of the BJP) had done a lot of work in the area," he said.

Interrupting, Bilal Shah, 28, said it will be a fight between the BJP and the Congress. Mohsin Sahab Nizamuddin, the caretaker of the Auliya Masjid in Shiv Vihar which was fire bombed during the riots, said the riots were a conspiracy to displace Muslims but the plotters failed to achieve their goals.

"No one cares for Dalits and Muslims. The road (opposite the masjid) is riddled with holes. The intense stench from the open drains is unbearable. Nothing has been done in the last seven years of the AAP government or the 15 years of the BJP rule in the MCD. The Congress used to listen to the problems of people at least," he said.

Muezzin Mohd Parvez Alam said the AAP government did not help at all, repeated requests for the reconstruction of the road were junked, and the lieutenant governor is impeding the works. The BJP hopes to retain the neighbouring Dayalpur ward where Hindus are in majority.

The incumbent councillor, Puneet Sharma, is pitted against the AAP's Kamal Gaur and the Congress' Tara Singh. "Hindu vote got divided during the assembly polls and the AAP reaped the benefits. It is not going to happen this time. People remember what Haji Yunus and Tahir Hussain did in February 2020," Sharma said. 

Notably, at least 53 people died in the riots- a majority of them Muslim - which were sparked ostensibly over the picketing of Seelampur Metro Station by the anti-NRC-CAA protesters.

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