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Man who lost wife in 2013 Bengal poll violence campaigns for peace

As ruling Trinamool Congress workers clash with opponents from CPI(M), BJP and Congress ahead of the panchayat polls, 46-year-old Asaduddin Sadique distributes leaflets calling for peace in Murshidabad.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2018 16:34 IST
Sreyasi Pal
Sreyasi Pal
Hindustan Times, Berhampore
West Bengal,Bengal,Bengal Poll Violence
AsaduddinSadique and his children, Sultan Abid and Sabiha Shabnam, distribute pamphlets to persuade people to stay away from violence during elections.(HT PHOTO)

Polls are round the corner in West Bengal and 46-year-old Asaduddin Sadique is busy campaigning. But it’s not for any party or himself, rather, against the very culture of poll violence that has come to define politics in the state.

As ruling Trinamool Congress workers clash with opponents from CPI(M), BJP and Congress ahead of the panchayat polls, the father of three visits villages in Beldanga in Murshidabad district every day, distributing leaflets he printed himself, urging people to eschew strong arm tactics, bombs and arms.

Sometimes, he has his elder daughter, Sabiha Sabnam, a class 9 student, to accompany him, other times, his youngest son, Sultan Abid, a class 2 student, joins them.

“I am campaigning for polls without violence. If you hear reports of violence in any area, don’t go to the booths, for a life is more valuable that a vote,” Sadique persuades as news spreads of widespread violence during nomination filing.

A photograph shows Asaduddin Sadique with his late wife, Nurjahan Bibi, and two daughters.

Five years ago, during the panchayat elections, Sadique lost his wife Nurjahan Bibi (30). She was standing in queue at the polling station in Dighirpara Primary School when a bomb came flying and exploded near her.

She died in the blast but saved her son Sultan Abid. Showing a picture of a crying Sultan in his dead mother’s lap, Sadique recalls the July 22, 2013 incident, his eyes moist.

It happened in front of his eyes. “My wife was killed by CPI(M)-backed goons. We happen to be supporters of the Congress,” he said, explaining that despite filing a complaint, trial is yet to start.

“I sought justice of the murder of my wife from the election commission, state government, police administration, human rights commission and the political parties, but the murderers are roaming free,” he said.

Block development officer of Beldanga I, Subhrangshu Mondal has promised support.

“We have heard about his wife’s case. I have asked him to give me copies of all the related documents so that we can have a look and take it forward,” said Mondal.

But more than retribution, Sadique wants to highlight the misery that poll violence has brought upon his family.

“I have taken up the campaign to create awareness against poll violence,” he said.

Sadique now carries 25 banners and more than 3,000 leaflets, printed at a cost of more than Rs 5,000. A picture of his wife’s body and another of his son on her lap adorn the posters he and his children distribute.

Asaduddin Sadique with his children at home in Beldanga in Murshidabad district. (HT PHOTO)

The 46-year-old also has not voted in the elections since his wife’s death — Lok Sabha (2014) or assembly (2016). But he stressed he is not telling people not to cast their votes. “I am only telling them to stay safe during election. Not to indulge in any violence.”

As for him voting, he says, “If I find polls have become peaceful, I shall vote.”

“The untimely death of my wife has ruined my family. I don’t get enough time to spend with my children,” he rued, describing how his younger daughter Rupaiya Mahajabin stays with her maternal uncle while the elder one, Sabiha does most of the cooking at home.

“I help her after I return home. My son Abid is deprived of the love of his mother,” he said.

Sahiba also finds the going difficult. “I was in class 4 when my mother was killed. I haven’t even got the benefits of the girl welfare project in the state,” she rues, showing her fingers which burn from grinding chillies.

Will the parties or workers heed to Sadique? Will people stay away from voting where there are chances of violence? Only time will tell, but Sadique will continue his campaign for peace during elections, with his mother-less children in tow.

First Published: Apr 20, 2018 16:13 IST