Delhi serial blasts' suspect Zia-ur-Rehman giving a tough fight to the Congress candidate

On the polling day in Jamia Nagar on Sunday, one did not need to talk to many people to realise that the electorate feel quite strongly about one issue in this Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls. The fact, that the Batla House encounter and not any civic problem is the defining issue in Ward No. 205 in Zakir Nagar, has made the MCD polls in Jamia Nagar quite distinguishable from those in the other parts of Delhi.

Just hours before polling came to a close in Ward No. 205, you hear the name Zia-ur-Rehman not once but repeatedly. As it turns out, Rehman, one of the Delhi serial blasts' suspects, is enjoying widespread support from all quarters, be it social, political or cultural and is giving a tough fight to the sitting councillor and the Congress candidate from the area, Shoeb Danish.

“We voted for Rehman because we want the government and the outside world to know that the Batla House encounter was ‘fake' and he has been framed in the Delhi serial blasts of 2008,” said an elderly man, who didn't want to be identified.

Wazir Khan, a resident of the Jamia Nagar, told The Hindu that Rehman has got the popular public support, which is very important for any candidate to win an election, because of the Batla House encounter issue. And the support of several political parties and socio-cultural organisations has only boosted Rehman's prospects, he added.

“Zia-ur-Rehman has got votes from every section of the society in Ward No. 205 because the public at large here wants him to win. They have been given to understand that his win will ensure a breather and he will get a relief, probably in the form of a parole or a bail, in the Delhi serial blasts cases,” Mr. Khan said.

Rehman is the only independent candidate in the Delhi civic polls, who has got the support of as many as five political parties. The Samajwadi Party (SP), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Ulema Council, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) didn't field any candidate against Rehman.

Farhana Khatoon, a voter of Ward No. 206, queried if she can vote for Rehman, showing the extent of sympathy among the electorate of even other wards for him.

Interestingly, its not that people are not aware of the implications of Rehman's defeat. Sitting in a tea stall in Ward No. 205, Mohammad Sadiq said that turning the civic polls into a referendum on Batla House has its own problems.

“Shoeb Danish still has got a good number of votes. Do people realise what is going to happen if Rehman loses? Will that mean that the Batla House encounter was genuine?,” asked Sadiq.

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