From a terror suspect this Unani doctor has become a star campaigner for a party in Lohardaga where by-elections will be held on December 14.
On Wednesday evening, residents of Hannat village were out on streets to see Intezar Ali who was recently granted bail by a court due to lack of evidence against him.
Ali has been sharing his experience in the jail with members of the minority community in the constituency for the past 12 days of his campaigning.
“I always voted for Congress, but they refused to support me when I was arrested,” he told villagers, urging them to vote for the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik which took up his case in the assembly and exerted pressure for a speedy trial.
Ali was arrested on August 20 with a huge cache of explosives from the Ranchi-bound Bardhman-Hatia passenger train at Kita railway station. He was put in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Central Jail for 55 days.
The court of Ranchi principal judicial commissioner AV Singh granted bail to Ali on October 15 on the condition that he would furnish two sureties of `10,000 each and would cooperate with the probe.
His rallies appear to have won the trust of the Muslim community which has a sizeable population in Lohardaga.
“This man is a living example of how Muslims are being suppressed and humiliated in this country. Innocent men are being tagged as terrorists just because of their religion,” said Farooq Ansari, a 33-year-old businessman from Kisko block.
“We have given chances to Congress as well as BJP, but this time we will all support Intezar Bhai,” said Modassir Ansari, a 30-year-old farmer from Kuru block.
“We need somebody to fight for our rights,” he said.
Though Ali has become a leader in Muslim-dominated areas, he denies plans of joining mainstream politics.
“I am campaigning for JVM because they helped me. Every Muslim should know my pain — what all I had to go through,” he said.
Lohardaga assembly seat was won by the NDA in 2014. BJP ally AJSU-party legislator Kamal Kishore Bhagat was on June 22 this year sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment by a Ranchi court in a 1993 attempt-to-murder and extortion case. His conviction left the Lohardaga seat vacant.
JVM-P’s general secretary Pradeep Yadav agrees that Ali might play an instrumental role for the party.
“He (Ali) has voluntarily come to Lohardaga to share his experience with the residents here and tell them how our party helped him. He is not a member of our party,” Yadav said.