Azamgarh: Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Narendra Modi aide Amit Shah calling Azamgarh a haven of terrorists has rubbed the minority electorate in the Lok Sabha constituency the wrong way.
Shah's remarks have created a deep resentment amongst the minorities in Azamgarh. The Ulema Council, which came into being in 2008 after some youngsters in the region were rounded up for the Delhi bombings, is making sure that no Muslim vote goes wasted.
"Amit Shah has made these comments with a specific purpose. It's an insult for people of Azamgarh that a criminal like him is being allowed to go scot-free," said Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, Chairman, Ulema Council.
Similarly, at the Shibli Academy, an internationally acclaimed academic institution, there is fear and restlessness about what the future entails. "Identity of Azamgarh isn't what's being suggested by Amit Shah. But its comments which are made by him or Azam Khan which spoil the environment," says Mahmud Navi, senior fellow, Shibli Academy.
It is not just the minority community that is enraged at Shah's remarks. Durgawati Singh says, "this is the real introduction of Azamgarh. Politicians just come and spoil our faith for their own vested interests."
For Haaji Iltefad, who happens to be the relative of Dawood Ibrahim, is a resident of Bisrah village in Azamagrh and for him too the issues remain the same."It was wrong for Azam Khan to speak the way he did about soldiers as it was wrong for Amit Shah," he said.
Shah had raked up a controversy when he said recently that the number of terrorists from Azamgarh was high as the state government was advocating their release in many cases connected to them.
Shah was campaigning for BJP's Azamgarh candidate, Ramakant Yadav who is taking on SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, when he said, "Azamgarh is the base of terrorists as there is no fear of the government, which is advocating their release. The accused in Gujarat bomb blasts are from Azamgarh."