For young Zia-ur-Rehman, fighting the upcoming Delhi municipal polls from a jail in Ahmedabad is not just a battle to win a coveted post but a war to regain the honour of his family, which has been practically ostracised by their peers in fear.
Twenty-six-year-old Zia is accused of being an Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative and is lodged in Sabarmati Jail since September 2008 after he was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Delhi serial blasts. The election results, whatever they may be, will have its ripples in this ward as it would be an indication of what people think about the Batla House encounter, in which a Delhi Police Inspector and two alleged IM terrorists were killed.
Winning, his family and supporters claim, is not important for him in this battle. Getting people to react about the Batla House encounter is more important. “At first, we were not ready to fight the elections but later, we realised that the fight for justice for a son is harder than fighting the elections,” says Zia’s 63-year-old father Abdul Rehman.
Zia is contesting from Zakir Nagar and his family members will start campaigning from Sunday. Mobilising students from Jamia Millia Islamia will be one of the steps in the process as Zia was in his third year of BA in the university when he was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Delhi blasts of 2008 that killed 26 people. In his affidavit, Zia has 35 cases pending against him — cases that are yet to go on trial.
Abdul says that after the arrest of his son, relatives and acquaintances had started avoiding the family out of fear.
“The brand of a terrorist made them stay away. Till the Batla House encounter, we were just a normal middle class family,” he says.
Zia’s biggest opponent is sitting Congress councillor Shoeb Danish.
Mobilising the entire movement is Amanatullah Khan, a politician of the Lok Janshakti Party, who is helping him in collecting funds and supporters. They have ordered 200 T-shirts that will read “Zulm ke khilaf jung, Zia-ur-Rehman ke sang (For fight against injustice, support Zia)”. The group will campaign from door-to-door wearing those T-shirts.