Dreaded underworld don Abu Salem is keen to contest the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh early next year. Posters have already sprung up in various localities of Mubarakpur in Azamgarh district, wishing people on the twin festivals of Diwali and Eid.
Salem does not originally belong to Mubarakpur. His elder sister lives there and his brother-in-law, Mohammad Takiuddin, is spearheading the campaign. The don apparently told his family that he wants to enter the political fray to prove his “innocence”. He reportedly approached all national political parties for a ticket but received no response.
The gangster who is waiting for his verdict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, is said to have sent more than 50,000 posters to the town. The posters read: “Hum ahale Hind hai, Seene me sher ka dil rakhkhe hai, Agar saath mila apka to rukh toofan ka mod sakte hai, Vatan ki abru bachayenge, Hum ek khush-hal Bharat banayenge (I am a true Indian and have a heart of a lion, With your support, I can change the path of any hurricane, Will keep the pride of the country intact, And turn it into a developed country).”
Though the don is eager to contest the polls, his name is not even there in the electoral list. Salem has hired several lawyers to seek legal opinion in including his name in the electoral rolls.
Senior counsel Harjout Singh, arguing the case of the don in a Mumbai court, said here on Sunday that Salem sent the posters because he could not go to Mubarakpur personally to wish the people. “It is too early to say if Salem would contest the polls as it will depend on whether he is convicted by any court at that time,” he said. “People love him and the coming elections would prove his popularity,” said close relative Khurshid Iqbal.
Mubarakpur, known world over for its gorgeous Banarasi saris, has a 50 per cent Muslim electorate. They mostly belong to the weaver community.
Salem was extradited from Portugal on November 11, 2005, and has been lodged in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail. About eight cases are pending against him of which three each are in Mumbai and Delhi and one each in Hyderabad and Lucknow.
The don has been charged with supplying of arms and explosives to carry out the 1993 Mumbai blasts, which killed over 200 people.