Inflation and insecurity: Jamia Nagar voters battle double whammy

November 15th, 2008 - 11:25 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) There are the everyday concerns of spiralling prices, but a bustling corner of the Indian capital is also battling communal profiling and its grim consequences.Parties seeking votes in south Delhi’s Muslim-majority Jamia Nagar, stereotyped as a ghetto, will have to address not just inflation but also insecurity.

Catapulted into notoriety after a shootout on Sep 19 killed two terror suspects and a police officer, Jamia Nagar has been dealt a double whammy of worries that candidates will have to reckon with as the Nov 29 assembly elections draw closer.

Balancing household budgets with rising prices of essential commodities, seeking a better quality of life and good education like everybody else, residents of Jamia Nagar are also looking for a more secure life for themselves and their children in a city where they find themselves isolated.

“We face problems getting our kids into good schools, which charge high fees. This becomes quite difficult for middle-class people to manage in times of spiralling prices. We will vote for the party which can address these issues and also assure us of holding an impartial inquiry into the shootout,” said Shabana Parveen, 28, a homemaker and a graduate in sociology.

Cynicism runs deep in the locality - a virtual stone’s throw from the posh Friends Colony - where load sheddings are commonplace, roads non-existent and where the ubiquitous pizza on call is a luxury denied to them because chains simply refuse to deliver.

“I will not vote. I have lost faith in most of the political parties. There is no development in terms of roads and water facilities in most of the areas in Jamia Nagar. To worsen matters, I feel Muslims have become a scapegoat for the government and our security apparatus,” said Afshan Khan who works in a multinational company.

“Whenever there are incidents of terror, our youngsters are randomly picked up and paraded in front of TV cameras as terrorists and the members of the community are branded as fanatics,” he said. “We are normal people; my colleagues ask me why Muslims are like that? This hurts.”

Price rise is a big issue here, but some put security concerns ahead.

“Although soaring prices of basic commodities are a matter of worry, the way our two boys were killed by the police has put a big question mark on the security of our youngsters,” said Mehvish Malik, 43, a homemaker.

Questions about her son’s future haunt her.

“Our boys are working hard to make a good career; suddenly, some of them are killed and others branded as terrorists. My son is 13 and he is studying in a convent school. I fear for him and wonder what future lies for him in such circumstances,” she said.

As far as children are concerned, there can be no compromise.

“I want development and security, both social and economic, for my kids. These are the primary things that I consider for voting,” said Ajmal Meer, 39, who works as a travel agent.

“My consideration for voting in this election will the be development of the area. I would like to vote for the party which can raise the voice of the people of this region and a party which can ensure that the community is not targeted in the name of terrorism,” is how Adnan Farooqi, 28, an application consultant with IBM, put it.

As parties gear up for the election ahead, votes in this area, which forms part of the Okhla constituency that has an electorate of 208,754, will depend on answers to the questions. The uncertainty of their lives must end. And votes will go to whichever party promises that.

(Khalid Akhter can be contacted at khalid.a@ians.in )

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