Lodged in Ahmedabad's Sabarmati jail and facing trial for the September 2008 serial blasts in Delhi, 26-year-old Zia-ur-Rehman contested the municipal elections to prove a point. And that he did.
Rehman contested from Jamia Nagar and lost by only by 517 votes, giving a tough competition to Congress candidate Shoeb Danish who won the election. Danish grabbed 8,194 votes and Rehman 7,677.
For Rehman’s family, his decision to contest the municipal polls was not just a battle to win a coveted post but a war to shed the "terrorist" tag and regain their honour. Since his arrest in 2008, the family had been practically ostracised by neighbours.
Rehman, a final-year BA student at Jamia Millia Islamia, was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Delhi blasts of 2008 that killed 26 people. He is accused of being an Indian Mujahideen operative and is in Sabarmati Jail since September 2008.
Locals said they voted him to change the image of the area, which took a hit after the Batla house encounter in September 2008. “We were not expecting such a great response. We don’t have any political background but we are overwhelmed by the response,” his father Abdur Rehman said. “This is not a loss but a win,” he said. “No matter what the result is, we still believe the encounter was fake and Rehman along with others were framed. Residents of Batla house have been campaigning ever since he decided to contest the election. We hope he would come out of jail,” Safiya Khan, a resident of Batla house, said.
There are 53,843 voters in the ward. The area reported nearly 55% voting, which means Rehman got the support of over 25% residents.
“We have been often tagged as terrorists and people always look towards Batla House with suspicion. A win for Rehman would have changed the image of the area,” said 24-year-old Sartaj.