Kalyan Singh might have been a Hindutva icon, under whose watch the Babri Masjid was demolished, but some Muslims in and around his native village in Aligarh district remember the veteran BJP leader for his other qualities. The two-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister died in Lucknow on Saturday evening following a prolonged illness. He is to be cremated at Rajghat in Narora near here on Monday with full state honour.
Babuji enjoyed deep love and respect from Muslims too here, said Haider Ali Asad, referring to Singh as Babuji’ as what the veteran leader was known.
Asad, who belongs to a prominent family of Pindrawal near neighbouring Atrauli, also recalled an incident involving Singh’s prompt help and assurance to Muslims near his village during the simmering communal tension in 1991 over the Ayodhya dispute.
“Babu Ji had just become the chief minister and was on a visit to his village. As he was entering Madhuli village, he noticed some fear-stricken Muslim families migrating from the village,” said Asad, a former AMU Students Union leader.
“He immediately called those families and assured them of complete safety and security in their village, urging them not to leave their village,” said Asad, also a long-time associate of Singh and a key activist of his short-lived political outfit formed in 2000.
The then chief minister also called the local police officials immediately and warned them that they would be personally held accountable if any harm was done to the Muslim families, he added.
He also cautioned the families not to move out of their village till the tension ended, he said, adding it was not an isolated incident. “There are several Muslim families who stay in the neighbourhood of Singh’s bungalow in the Civil Lines area in Aligarh, Asad said.
“Babu Ji always made it a point to have cordial relations with all these families, he added. Similar sentiments were expressed by Javed Sayed, a prominent Aligarh-based businessman and grandson of the erstwhile Nawab of Charri.
“In 1991, a prime property belonging to our family in Bulandshshar was being illegally confiscated by some local officials. When I and my father met Babu Ji over the issue, he immediately ordered a probe and assured us that no injustice would be done,” said Sayed.
“I can never forget how promptly the justice was meted out to us,” he said.
Singh who was elected to the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly nine times since 1967, is credited with pitchforking the saffron party in the crucial state.