Interview with Dr Aziz Ahmad, a well-known homeopath with an active practice in Gorakhpur and, a politician with Congress
At 70, Dr Aziz Ahmad, a well-known homeopath and politician now with Congress, still has a busy practice in Abu Bazaar, in old Gorakhpur. During working hours, the lane in which he has a clinic becomes jam-packed with patients and their vehicles. People speak of naming the lane after him.
Dr Ahmad takes a dim view of Yogi Adityanath. His wife Talat Aziz was allegedly shot at by Yogi Adityanath and his men when she was addressing a public meeting in 1999. Her bodyguard was killed in the attack. The couple have changed political colours off and on. Dr Ahmad had started with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), fighting the assembly election from Nautanwa constituency but losing to Amarmani Tripathi. He joined the Congress because he couldn’t countenance BSP supremo Mayawati’s tying up briefly with the BJP in the mid-1990s. His wife, who like him is now with the Congress, was with the Samajwadi Party when she was shot at.
What was your reaction when you heard that Yogi Adityanath has become the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh?
You want me to speak the truth? We were actually laughing at the media, saying that it announces every other BJP MP as the next CM of Uttar Pradesh! But when the news was confirmed, I had nothing much to say or do except wait for achchhe din for Gorakhpur and burey din for me. He is a very cunning person and a communal politician. I now pray for the state.
Why burey din for you?
Me and my wife are fighting a case against Yogi. He attempted to murder my wife and ended up killing our guard.
What happened between you and Yogi?
A dispute had broken out over land on the edge of a pond in Pachkuiya village, on the outskirts of Gorakhpur. The Muslims there said it was part of their graveyard; the Hindus said they had been using it for ceremonial baths. Someone felled a peepal tree there, and the Hindus were offended. Yogi Adityanath and his supporters came to the village with guns and rifles, and he made a provocative speech. Shouting slogans, they marched to the pond.
They began to damage graves to the north of the graveyard and planted peepal trees on the side of the pond. While the police managed to arrest some of the locals, Adityanath and his supporters escaped. The police chased them. The cars stopped at Dharampur, where my wife, who was with the Samajwadi Party then, was addressing a protest rally that some local Muslims were attending. On Adityanath’s instructions, his supporters opened fire and escaped. A bullet hit constable Satyaprakash Yadav, my wife’s bodyguard, who died. An FIR was registered against Adityanath and others for attempt to murder, rioting with deadly weapons, defiling a place of worship, promoting enmity between groups, and criminal intimidation.
What is the progress in the case?
The case was transferred to the crime branch-CID, a special wing of the police. Two years later, it submitted an inconclusive report, saying it could not establish who had fired the shots. The court asked my wife, who is the complainant, if she wants the matter to be closed. She refused. It’s still being heard in a local court; Yogiji hardly attends the meetings.
Do you think you’ll ever win the case?
Baney hain ahl-e-hawas muddai bhi, munsif bhi. Kisey wakil karen hum, aur kis sey munsifi chahen? (When the accused and the judge are both greedy, where can one get justice?) But that doesn’t mean I should quit.
People have placed hope in Yogi Adityanath.
I really feel he has mellowed down after moving to Lucknow. He had to do this, otherwise people would come to know that he won only because of the gap he has created between Hindus and Muslims in Gorakhpur. There was a WhatsApp joke that the BJP has made the most unruly boy the class monitor in order to reform him! It’s somewhat like that! (Laughs.)
What do you have to say about the Hindu Yuva Vahini?
It was formed only to harass Muslims. Now they are in the control of the BJP. Good for them!
Do you really think Muslims are in fear because Yogi Adityanath is the chief minister?
What fear! We very well know what he can do. We are ready for the worst.
What about the Muslims who live and work near the Gorakhnath temple?
Well, they would always want to maintain good relations with Yogiji because they don’t have an option. It’s not just Muslims, everyone is in fear and awe of him. Look at the doctors who treat patients at his temple hospital. He just orders private doctors of the city, saying, “Doctor sahab, tomorrow spare two hours for our hospital”, and they are forced to turn up. It’s the same with his school, and other institutions. He is rich, and owns millions. But Gorakhpur remains messy. And speaking of those doctors, they tell the poor patients at the temple hospital that they much come to their own clinics and pathology labs for diagnosis and further treatment. Is this what you call social help?
What do you have to say about ‘Sau din vikas key’, or ‘100 days of development’?
I cannot see any vikas. Its all in his papers, which he will show to the world. The cases of Japanese encephalitis are rising over the decades and nothing has changed. I only hope things will change.
(The interview appears in the July 16-31, 2017 issue of Governance Now)