The Okhla legislator has increasingly found himself at odds with his party’s positions on matters of Muslim concern.
Glancing at a CCTV screen while tidying her room, Shafia notices that her husband, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan, has left his office in the basement of their house in a narrow lane near the bustling Batla House Chowk in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar. Until only a few minutes earlier, the Okhla MLA had been attending to the grievances of his constituents as part of a two-hour daily morning schedule. A party worker informs Shafia her husband has left for Madanpur Khadar, where municipal workers have arrived to demolish allegedly illegal buildings.
A few hours later, Amanatullah would be arrested and booked for protesting against the “anti-encroachment drive” in Madanpur Khadar. Three days earlier, he had been named in another FIR for allegedly stopping similar demolitions in nearby Shaheen Bagh. Amanatullah, who was declared a “bad character” by the Delhi police two months ago, sees these “anti-encroachment drives” as communal politics by the BJP which runs the city’s municipal corporations.
His party had spoken in one voice against the demolition drives, but not without communal remarks initially by a few leaders, who blamed the violence in Jahangirpuri, preceding the bulldozer action in the area, on the Rohingya and Bangladeshis. Amanatullah, meanwhile, called the planned demolition in the area a “bid to disrupt peace” during Ramzan – his protests in keeping with an outspoken opposition to the BJP’s rhetoric in a party which increasingly appears eager to flaunt its “Hinduness”.
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