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Man at heart of Malegaon riots set to become town mayor

Man at heart of Malegaon riots set to become town mayor

Author: Express News Service
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 16, 2002
URL: http://www.indian-express.com/full_story.php?content_id=2773

Malegaon, the powerloom town of Maharashtra, may soon get Janata Dal (Secular)'s Nihal Ahmed as its first mayor. He is accused of fanning communal violence in the town last year.

After elections, JD(S) has retained its hold on the newly established Malegaon Municipal Corporation (MMC).

The party bagged 35 of 72 seats; the Congress and the NCP suffered big setbacks. As state JD(S) president, Ahmed is tipped to take over as the town's first citizen at MMC's helm. Ahmed is a former MLA.

Ahmed, however, is notorious for organising a rally last year when slogans supporting Osama bin Laden were raised. This triggered riots that killed 13 people.

Ahmed, 76, has never been too far from controversies. In the MMC polls, he backed notorious gangster Aziz Lallu, in jail for murder, attempted murder, extortion and riots.

Lallu fought the polls on a JD(S) ticket and Ahmed supported him by saying he was never convicted in any case. Lallu defeated Asif Shaikh, son of sitting Congress MLA Shaikh Rashid.

Ahmed started in politics as a councillor in 1954 and worked his way up to Malegaon Municipal Council president and then an MLA in 1967.

His career touched a high when he was made a minister in the Sharad Pawar government in 1978. He was re-elected Malegaon MLA four times through the 1980s and 1990s.

Ahmed has always proclaimed his secular credentials. Since Babri Masjid's demolition in 1992, he sports a black ribbon on his shirt sleeve. In his hometown of Malegaon, however, last October's communal riots appear to have deepened the social divide.

Though the JD(U) has fallen short of the 37-member majority, it is unlikely Ahmed would face any opposition from the other parties.

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