‘His confinement is strangling of justice’

On Thursday, jailed Samajwadi Party MLA Azam Khan got support from an unexpected quarter: BSP chief Mayawati, who said his continued confinement amounted to “strangling of justice” by the BJP government in the state. Her remarks come amidst talk of growing differences between Azam Khan and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

While Mayawati and Khan, as leaders of parties that have been bitter rivals for the most part, have had their share of run-ins in the past, ahead of the 2019 polls, when the BSP and SP decided to contest together, the two leaders had praised each other in public.

Mayawati had addressed a rally in favour of Khan in Rampur in 2019 and predicted a “historic win” for him. Azam returned the favour, telling supporters at another meeting that he would “make the Rampur collector clean Mayawati’s shoes”. However, this mutual admiration lasted only as long as the alliance lasted – for about five months.

On Thursday, while coming out in Khan’s support, Mayawati made no mention of the SP, merely referring to him as a “senior MLA”.

“The matter of continuous, hateful and terrorising action by the UP Government on its opponents and keeping senior MLA Mohammad Azam Khan in jail for about two and half years is being talked about much… If this is not strangling of justice, then what is?” she said in one of a series of tweets.

Hitting out at the BJP, Mayawati said, “In Uttar Pradesh and other BJP-ruled states, just like the Congress, the poor, Dalits, tribals and Muslims are being harassed and being made victims of atrocities and fear. It is very sad.”

Khan has had a string of visitors in Sitapur jail – where he has been lodged over the past two years over various charges, including corruption – amid indications that he is upset with Akhilesh Yadav for not speaking up for him.

Recently, Azam’s media in-charge Fasahat Ali Khan accused the SP president of staying silent on issues concerning the Muslim community and alleged that he did not make efforts to get Azam out of jail, or visit him.

On Wednesday, after meeting SP workers at the Azamgarh district jail, Yadav, who is yet to call on Khan in jail, said justice would be done and hoped he would soon come out of jail.

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