AIMIM to launch in Bengal soon, state chief flays Mamata

by IANS |

Kolkata, Dec 8 (IANS) Accusing the police of arresting and threatening his party workers at the directive of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the state in-charge of the AIMIM says he would move court against the intimidatory tactics, even as the party was going ahead with its preparations for a mega rally in Kolkata in January.

"Across the state, police officers are abusing our leaders, threatening them not to take up political programmes. This has happened after the Chief Minister indicated to the police to ensure that we don't hold meetings and processions," All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen leader Zameerul Hasan told IANS.

Hasan alleged that the party's Malda district in-charge Matiur Rahaman was arrested on "flimsy ground" for a social media post in which he criticised Banerjee government's policies.

According to police, Rahaman has been booked for cyber crime and defamation.

The AIMIM, which has plans to contest all elections henceforth in the state, is yet to officially launch its Bengal unit.

"We plan to launch the party in January by holding a mega rally in Kolkata's Brigade Parade Ground, where our national president Asaduddin Owaisi will be the main speaker," said Hasan.

The party has already sought permission from the Army -- the custodian of the ground -- the police and fire brigade. "We hope to get permission soon."

The AIMIM has been silently working in the state for months, holding meetings in the districts, which recorded good attendance, he said.

"Except in Purulia and Darjeeling, we have organisation in all other 21 districts. In most blocks of the state, we have 10,000-15,000 members," said Hasan.

Analysts feel AIMIM's entry could queer the pitch for Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress by cutting into its Muslim vote bank at a time when Bengal's ruling party is hoping to get the minority community, constituting 27.01 per cent of the state's population as per the 2011 census, to vote en bloc for it by campaigning big against the BJP's plans to undertake the National Register for Citizens (NRC) exercise in the state.

However, Hasan did not agree that his party was solely depending on the support of the Muslims, who form a majority in three (Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur) of the state's 23 districts.

He asked the Trinamool to spell out the percentage of Muslims in the state government jobs, and claimed in every sphere of life, the Muslims were now lagging behind in the state.

Alleging discrimination against the Muslims, Hasan said: "Since the Trinamool came to power in 2011, 90 people facing life term have been released. None among them is a Muslim."

He also termed as "untrue" the perception that the Mamata Banerjee government was giving allowances to imams and muazzins.

"The monthly allowances are being given from the Waqf fund. This is not government money. As a result, the Waqf fund has now shrunk to Rs 200 crore from Rs 400 crore," said Hasan.

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