Mumbai, May 1 (IANS) A former police officer, who once arrested absconding underworld don Chhota Shakil, Tuesday launched a new political party-Awami Vikas Party (AVP) to "strengthen" Muslim and Dalit unity. The launching coincided with the 52nd Maharashtra Day and May Day.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Shamsher Khan Pathan, who retired Monday after nearly four decades of policing, launched the AVP along with the convenor Salim Alware, at a well-attended function by Dalits and Muslims.
"We shall strive to unite the Muslims and Dalits and help them fight for their rights. Often, these two critical sections are suppressed by vested interests, but that will not happen any more," AVP President Pathan declared amidst a thunderous applause from the gathering.
In his inaugural speech, Pathan lamented that since 1947 when the country achieved Independence, these two sections of Indian society have been merely "used as a vote bank" by all political parties.
"However, they comprise more than 40 percent of the total population, so when they unite, it's a clear majority since any party of combination winning around 30-35 percent votes can rule this country. It is time for us to aim for the big, organise, plan and go ahead - the rest will follow," Pathan said.
However, he added that all other communities were welcome to join the new party and contribute to improving the condition of the oppressed classes and all round progress of the nation.
A charismatic and disciplined police officer, Pathan has to his credit the arrest of absconding mafia don Chhota Shakeel once, a few decades ago, besides solving several major sensational crimes in the city.
Well-known Dalit leader Baban Kamble, who is the AVP vice-president said that since Dalits and Muslims are not united, they have been continuously exploited and harassed over the decades.
"Whenever there are any major criminal or terror activities, Muslim youths are targeted indiscriminately and thrown behind bars without giving them a proper hearing or a fair trial," Kamble alleged.
Similar is the plight of the Dalits who continue to be oppressed, harassed and targeted even when they take out peaceful and democratic agitations for their rights, Kamble pointed out.
"However, if these two major forces unite, they will not only become king-makers, but also kings...Now, that time has come for us to unite," he declared.
Both the leaders emphasised that their motto would be "80 percent service, 20 percent politics" and also said they would plan to set up AVP branches all over India and contest elections on their declared agenda.
"We are open to seeking or giving support to any party, provided they agree to our agenda for improving the Muslims and Dalits who are a significant force in the electorate," Pathan said.
Renowned academician Mubarak Kapdi explained how, despite recommendations of several commissions and panels, Muslim and Dalit youth continue to be deprived of their right to education, availing education loans and encounter other social-economic problems.
Over 5,000 Muslims and Dalits, men and women gathered to witness the birth of the AVP this afternoon at the iconic Shanmukhananda Hall in Sion here.
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