Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared Akash Saxena – considered the person behind the first information reports (FIRs) against Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, his son Abdullah Azam Khan and wife – as the candidate from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur, Abdullah Azam Khan is out on bail after spending 23 months in jail. He is likely to contest the election from Suar constituency of Rampur district.
Abdullah fought from the same seat in 2017, but his victory was declared null and void by the Allahabad high court over use of forged documents. Although his name has not yet been officially announced by the party, Abdullah is likely to contest from Suar, one of the five seats in the district for which he has started campaigning. Rampur is the stronghold of Samajwadi Party for more than 40 years.
“When I got out on bail, the authorities forced me not to talk to the media and not to meet ex-SP MLAs. The definition of freedom has changed now,” said Abdullah, while sipping a hot glass of water after his speech in the party office.
Azam Khan, along with his wife and son, surrendered in front of the court in a case of forged documents. Abdullah was granted bail in September, but got out recently. Khan is still in jail. “I came out of the jail so late because of my father. People are not safe on jail premises. There were nights when I felt that we won’t be able to see next morning. We were hopeful that we would come out of jail together. I stayed inside for his health and safety.”
Abdullah said the condition of UP jails is not good. “Snakes are commonly spotted in barracks. He also alleged that his father was denied treatment for nine days despite being Covid positive. I would not even want my enemies to go through the same,” he said.
As many as 104 court cases are registered against Azam Khan, according to Saxena. Apart from land encroachment, Khan and his family are also facing allegations of goat, buffalo & books thefts.
Abdullah added, “According to the case, I would have been 12 or 13 when I encroached upon the land. As far as forgery of birth certificate document is considered, I am the same age as mentioned in the records. Why would I forge the documents? Our relations with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav are such that I would have gotten a ticket in 2022 easily, why would I forge documents to become an MLA in 2017? There was a mistake and we rectified it long ago.”
There were reports that Abdullah was upset with Yadav over denial of tickets to 12 minority candidates suggested by him to which he said that there is no such issue between them.
When asked if both his father and he would the fight upcoming polls, Abdullah said they will do whatever the SP decides. “There must be some reason that my father is winning the seat for 40 years,” he added.
Meanwhile, Saxena is confident of his win. He said CM Yogi Adityanath is constantly in touch with him to know the mood on ground.
“I started this alone, but now thousands of people are against Azam Khan in this fight. This goes back to year 2012. Our patience was tested when Jauhar University plots were encroached upon and many people lost their shelters,” said the BJP candidate, adding, “Even Akhilesh Yadav was unhappy with him. Khan functioned as per his wish. Despite complaints, nothing was done as their government was in power. After the government changed, the facts were verified.”
On his campaign trail, Saxena carries a folder of what he calls “proofs of forgery by Azam Khan”.
Responding to the allegations of ill treatment in jail, he said, “The day Azam Khan tested positive, the government had sent an ambulance outside the jail, but Khan denied it. The ambulance kept waiting. On the ninth day, he agreed to move to a hospital, where he stayed for three months, but the BJP did not raise the issue.”