Muslims in Jahangirpuri call out Kejriwal’s silence on atrocities against community, regret voting for AAP
Many Muslims said AAP was perceived as a secular party committed to development, but they were disillusioned watching its leaders indulging in Hindutva politics and failing to stand by them in crises
Ever since communal violence broke out in Jahangirpuri in North-West Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has maintained a studied silence on what is being seen as another instance of assault on Muslims by those indulging in Hindutva politics.
Though he posted a tweet urging people to maintain peace and calm, he did not utter a single word to condemn the so-called anti-encroachment demolition drive carried out on Wednesday by BJP-controlled NDMC targeting the minority community in the area with the support of Delhi Police which reports to the Centre.
His silence is being seen as a clear sign of complicity by many in the area.
Notably, no AAP minister or MLA was seen on the spot during the demolition drive, with the party’s spokesmen and leaders content with giving media bytes. The party had followed a similar strategy during the Shaheen Bagh protests.
Those who voted for AAP and Kejriwal now feel betrayed and disillusioned.
A Muslim living in the C-Block of Jahangirpuri – where communal clashes broke out on Hanuman Jayanti and where the demolition drive was carried out – said that he and his friends now regret voting for Arvind Kejriwal’s party.
AAP MLA Ajesh Yadav, who was voted in from Jahangirpuri where Hindus and Muslims live together in congested lanes, is now being remembered as an “absconder”. He has reportedly gone to Bihar to help set up the party structure in that state, while Kejriwal was seen campaigning in Bangalore.
“Kejriwal has time for the campaigning but not for us…Why has he not reached out to us,” asked a young man in his mid-twenties.
Recalling times when both the communities – mostly comprising migrants from Bihar and West Bengal – lived peacefully in the area, Ajaz opined that social harmony was far better when the Congress was in power compared to the AAP.
Imran and his friends, who live in Gali number 1 in the area, said Devendra Yadav of the Congress party, who represented the seat from 2008 to 2013 and from 2013 to 2015 was very helpful and a good human being.
“Hum logon ki mati mari gayi thi ki humne AAP ko vote kiya. Kejriwal ka chehra dekhkar vote nahi karna chahiye tha (We voted for AAP because we lost our wisdom. We should not have cast our votes after seeing Kejriwal’s face),” one of them said.
Irshad, who hails from Bihar, lives on the ground floor of a three-story building where the top two floors are occupied by Hindus.
Talking to this reporter near a mandir which escaped the demolition drive yesterday, Irshad said that Hindus and Muslims may be divided by religion but were united by poverty.
“My room partner was a Hindu. He was a religious guy. We cooked together, ate together…He did not eat onion and garlic in the month of Saavan, when I used to prepare food for him. During Ramzan, he prepared iftar meal for me. Religion never became an issue for us,” he said.
Saying that most of his good friends are from the Hindu community, Irshad pointed out that some Hindus seemed to have become more religious than before after 2014 when the BJP came to power at the Centre.
When asked about Kejriwal’s attitude towards Muslims and what they thought of him now, Irshad replied, “Everyone is very well-aware of his silence when atrocities have been committed against us by ring-wing elements and have been pained by it”.
“Kejriwal did not speak up when widespread protests against CAA-NRC were held. He remained silent when Delhi riots broke out in 2020. Young people like Umar Khalid had to pay a heavy price for his silence,” emphasized Irshad.
Irshad and all his friends confessed to have voted for the AAP in the last three assembly elections in Delhi.
“Our perception has changed about the AAP. People used to mock me, calling an AAPiya…I made a donation when Kejriwal founded the party, always defending the party. But now I know better,” said Riyaz, who owns a mobile shop in the area.
“When people called Kejriwal ‘Chhota Modi,’ I used to get angry, but now I feel they are right,” he added.
Many people from the community said that AAP was initially seen as a secular political party which was committed to ensure development and providing quality education and health to the people of Delhi, but said all that had changed now.
“The cowardice shown by the party, which is in power in Delhi since 2013, has given us immense anguish,” one of them said, articulating the general feeling in the community.