Hometown Muslims recall Hindutva icon Kalyan Singh with fondness
(Sourced from PTI)
Kalyan Singh might have been a Hindutva icon, under whose watch the Babri Masjid was demolished, but some Muslims in and around his native village in the Aligarh district remember the veteran BJP leader for some of his other qualities. The two-time Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister died in Lucknow on Saturday evening following a prolonged illness.
He is to be cremated at Rajghat in Narora near Aligarh on Monday with full state honor. "Babu Ji enjoyed deep love and respect from Muslims too here," said Haider Ali Asad, referring to Singh as Babu Ji as what the veteran leader was known.
Asad, who belongs to a prominent family of Pindrawal near neighboring Atrauli, also recalled an incident involving Singh's prompt help and assurance to Muslims near his village during the simmering communal tension in 1991 over the Ayodhya dispute. "Babu Ji had just become the Chief Minister and was on a visit to his village," said Asad, a former AMU Students Union leader.
"As he was entering Madhuli village, he noticed some fear-stricken Muslim families migrating from the village," said Asad. "He immediately called those families and assured them of complete safety and security in their village, urging them not to leave their village," said Asad, also a long-time associate of Singh and a key activist of his short-lived political outfit formed in 2000.
"Singh also called the local police officials and warned them that they would be personally held accountable if any harm was done to the Muslim families," he added. "He cautioned the families not to move out of their village till the tension ended," he said.
"It was not an isolated incident," Asad said. "There are several Muslim families who stay in the neighborhood of Singh's bungalow in the Civil Lines area in Aligarh," Asad said. "Babu Ji always made it a point to have cordial relations with all these families," he added. Similar sentiments were expressed by Javed Sayed, a prominent Aligarh-based businessman, and grandson of Nawab of Charri.
"In 1991, a prime property belonging to our family in Bulandshahr was being illegally confiscated by some local officials. When I and my father met Babu Ji over the issue, he immediately ordered a probe and assured us that no injustice would be done," said Sayed. "I can never forget how promptly the justice was meted out to us," he said.