Seeking the Muslim vote

On 9 February 2012, a day before second phase elections in Uttar Pradesh, Union Law Minister and a senior Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh (UP) Salman Khurshid made a claim in Muslim-majority Azamgarh that shocked his fellow Congressmen in Delhi. He said national party president Sonia Gandhi had wept when he showed her photographs of the victims of Batla House encounter. In September 2008, Batla House encounter took place in the neighbourhood of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia where two alleged terrorists from Azamgarh were killed. One of them was a student of Jamia. Repeated requests by civil society groups, university teachers as well as senior Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh and Khurshid for an investigation was turned down by Congress party’s own Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. The party simply refused to take a clear position even as its own government calls it a genuine encounter.

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‘Arranged marriages are only good for parents’

IN 1989, Kashmir changed for ever. Militancy assumed an ugly face in the Valley, altering the lives of Kashmiris and putting a stop to Muzaffar Ali’s ambitious project — Zooni. Ali, then 43, had already made a name for himself through Umrao Jaan and was working on a film about Habba Khatoon, a poetess who lived in 16th century Kashmir and rose to become a queen. Unnerved, he returned to Delhi. Waiting to restart filming Zooni, he began a small project to make films on improving the habitat. At his new office in the Sarai Kale Khan area in south Delhi worked a 20-year-old architecture graduate from Gujarat’s Institute of Environmental Design — Meera Saluja.

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‘My dad lied to his friends that I was marrying a Parsi’

IN1989, Lal Krishna Advani embarked on his infamous rath yatra to mobilise the kar sevaks. As his procession travelled through north India, communal violence spread, leaving hundreds dead and a country, long known for its secular values, divided on communal lines.

This is when Kajal Sikka, 21, a Punjabi Khatri girl studying economics at Jesus and Mary College, and Aijaz Ilmi, 28, a Muslim boy from Uttar Pradesh who had just come to Delhi after completing his medical studies in Bengaluru, fell in love.

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