Lucknow: ‘Achchhe din’ the word coined by Modi during his election campaigns, that has garnered him huge vote bank.
Speaking to Nissar Ahmad a resident of Aligarh when asked his opinion on Modi’s promised ‘Achehhe din’ he responded saying:
“Itni nafrat ho gayee hai Musalmanon ke liye. Ab to zinda rahna hi hamare liye achchhe din se kam nahin hai (There is so much hatred towards Muslims. To remain alive is nothing short of good days for us now).”
“Safety and security matter over all other issues for Muslims in this election,” says the 60-year-old carpenter residing in Uttar Pradesh’s town which is just 130km from the national capital Delhi.
Fear for their lives has engulfed the Muslim residents in this BJP ruled state where the Muslim community feels no longer save and worry over inhuman killings at the hands of Hindutva group organization.
The 60-year old Ahmed dears that CM Yogi and the local sitting BJP MP, Satish Kumar Gautam, are responsible for polarizing the people in the region.
“The BJP is out to create a Muzaffarnagar out of Aligarh,” he said referring to the location of the 2013 riots in which dozens were killed and thousands were driven out of their homes.
“In the past four years, the party and Bajrang Dal activists had tried several times to ignite religious passions. Aligarh is sitting on a tinder box,” he said.
Not sure about how the poll results will be unfolded, others like Ahmed look despondent with questions in their eyes.
“Why are they demonizing Muslims? Why are Muslims feeling so vulnerable? Why don’t our names and concerns ever come on Narendra Modi’s radio address Mann ki Baat?” asks another resident Islam Khan and Ahmed’s friend.
“Does he listen to how we feel being called anti-national and terrorist?”
Demonetization implemented by Modi has hit poor people like Ahmed really hard who work day and night to make the ends meet for earning bread and butter for their families.
“We are somehow making ends meet but the threat of a communal riot is always there, considering the politics of hate propagated by the ruling party,” said Md Sharif, echoing the fear voiced by his friend Ahmed.
We have also asked our children to change their appearance to look “less Muslim that is to avoid wearing the skullcaps said Sharif adding they also advise the children to ignore people who try to pick a fight with them.
Last year, the same sitting MP Gautam had instigated riots like situation by triggering a controversy in the AMU varsity after he demanded the removal of Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s portrait from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and described the institution as a “mini-Pakistan” and activists from the Bajrang Dal clashed with varsity students creating an almost riot-like situation.
Deepak Pandey a supervisor at a hotel believes Modi needs more time to make things right and that people must re-elect him to power.
But Pandey’s friend Rahul Singh spewed venom against Muslim community. “India is a country of Hindus and the cow is the mother of life in our religion,” and that “Muslims must learn to change their habits like what to eat.”
Explaining the situation of Muslims in the region, Prof. Mohammad Sajjad, said this community remained in this state over the past five years.
“India’s Muslims are living in fear,” said Sajjad, who teaches history at AMU. “The BJP and the RSS want subjugated, muted and impoverished Muslims.”
Aslam Pervez another Muslim resident is of the opinion that Congress should have agreed to the mahagathbandhan.
“But India,” Pervez said, “has survived and thrived as a multi-religious, multicultural nation because of a shared faith in secular principles enshrined in the country’s Constitution.”