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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Muslims voting in Champaran resent terror tag

Ashok Mishra and Sagar Suraj, Hindustan Times  Raxaul (West Champaran), May 10, 2014
First Published: 00:11 IST(10/5/2014) | Last Updated: 11:16 IST(10/5/2014)

They find themselves traumatised. Muslims voting in the West Champaran constituency on May 12 resent the ‘terrorist’ tag, which many parties try to put on all of them. And they are worried about the future of their younger generation, some of whom have been lured by money into wrong trades, even terrorist hands. Some of their youths have been falsely implicated in terror-linked cases.

The so-called terror modules named after some north Bihar districts trouble them, especially after the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal — who hails from Karnataka — from across the India-Nepal border near Raxaul.

“The more dynamic younger generation is sensitive about the terror tag. It gets them angry and frustrated and makes them easy prey for radicals. Those from rural backgrounds who face abject poverty get trapped for paltry benefits and wrong avenues to express their frustrations,” said Mumtaz Ansari at Bhelha, 8km south-west of Raxaul.

With campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections picking up in West Champaran, the predicament of senior Muslim citizens deepens as candidates of almost all political parties approach them for votes. “Some of them promise us protection from ‘communal forces’. Others offer the moon in the form of welfare measures, including boundary walls around our graveyards,” Ansari said.

But Muslims, particularly the youth, are divided over whom to consider the bigger threat — the BJP, under whose dispensation the 2002 Gujarat riots took place, or the Congress-led UPA government, which often implicates youths in terror-linked incidents.

The Muslim community here is also angry at the manner in which local lad and former Rajya Sabha MP Sabir Ali was treated by some leaders, including those of the BJP, over his alleged links with militants. “We can’t believe that Sabir has any links with militants,” said Zakir, who belongs to Sabir’s village, Dumaria.

“Sabir has never been humiliated so much after his expulsion from the BJP,” said Manoj Paswan, resident of Dumaria.  “But his opponents from the Muslim community, who perhaps felt threatened by his meteoric rise in politics, want Sabir to ‘come clean’ on his alleged terror links,” said  Muhammad Shamshad, another Dumaria resident.


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