After Yogi Adityanath came to power, 175 cases lodged against 6 Muslim politicians

A story of three families, the cases against them, and political stalwarts who became irrelevant in the 2024 elections.

WrittenBy:Sumedha Mittal
Cartoon showing a missing politician while a group of Muslims reach out for his hand.

Five years ago, Haji Yaqoob Qureshi from the Bahujan Samaj Party thought he stood a strong chance at winning the Lok Sabha polls from Meerut.

On May 25, in the 28th round of counting of votes, the former mayor of Meerut was comfortably ahead of Rajendra Agarwal, the BJP candidate. Elated, the BSP began distributing sweets. Messages began circulating on WhatsApp. But hours later, even as Qureshi had over five lakh votes in his favour, he lost by a margin of 4,729 votes to Agarwal.

Even among BJP supporters, rumour has it the election was “rigged”. A senior BJP leader in Meerut told Newslaundry that Qureshi was “defeated by not counting the votes of about five EVMs, each of which had 1,500 votes”. The Quint that election reported a “mismatch” in votes polled and counted in over 370 constituencies.

But it was the beginning of the end for Qureshi. Five years later, he’s had seven cases filed against him, spent a total of eight months in jail. 

But since 2019, at least six influential Muslim leaders, including Qureshi, have been booked in western UP under the UP Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act.

Four are from the Samajwadi Party: former two-time MP Tabassum Hasan, her son and three-time Kairana MLA Nahid Hasan, SP’s founding member Azam Khan, and his wife and former Rajya Sabha MP and MLA Tazeen Fatma. One is from the Congress: Bijnor district president Sherbaz Pathan, also a Member of the Legislative Council. They were booked under the Gangsters Act and – except for Tabassum and Nahid – their property worth crores was seized.

The Yogi push

While campaigning for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath praised his government’s action against influential Muslim leaders during his rallies in western UP. 

For instance, in a rally in Rampur and Amroha, Adityanath took a jibe at SP leader Azam Khan and said, “Earlier UP police used to be busy searching for the stolen buffalo of a political leader even as cow smugglers used to flee with cattle kept on the premises of people’s houses and there was no one to pay heed to the people’s complaints…But after 2017, the scenario has changed completely because the same cow smugglers, mafia and criminal elements are now carrying placards around their necks to save themselves from police action.”

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