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Zulaikha - a victim of party harassment

By K Hamza, Calicut

N.K.Zulaikha, a school teacher who hails from a respectable family at Peramara in Kozhikode (Calicut) district of Malabar, has been a victim of harassment by local Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leadership, for raising her voice against corruption in the administration of local bodies. She is an elected member of the Grama Panchayat in Irikkoor village. It was in 1995 that Zulaikha was elected in the Grama Panchayat elections in Irikkoor where she had settled 16 years ago and joined Rehmanya Orphanage ALP School as a teacher. Muslim women are rare in local bodies, mainly due to the malfeasance of male chauvinism. But as an act of election gimmick, some political parties give tickets to Muslim women candidates to garner Muslim women's votes in elections. Zulaikha won the election with the support of the IUML. Voters perceive a certain honesty of purpose among women candidates. Party leaders would project them as models of modesty and representatives of Muslim community for the welfare and emancipation of women. After the party's sweeping victory, elected women candidates, who became members of local bodies, would be relegated to the back seats as mute spectators of the administrative proceedings. 

Zulaikha got proper mandate from the people of her ward when she contested the elections. But much to her bafflement, the president of the Grama Panchayat, KP Abdul Azeez and vice-president AP Abdul Latheef have been rejecting her demands for development and welfare activities for the locality she represents. Further, she was not happy with the ways they were running the local panchayat administration. She was not ‘cooperating’ with the leader of the ruling Party, IUML, in the discrimination and corruption involved in allotting funds for development work. 

She questioned their pilfering of public money allotted to People's Plan Fund for the development of Irikkoor Grama Panchayat. She has been vehemently opposed by the ruling party because of her taking cognizance of corruption and criminality by the panchayat members. 

Zulaikha's father was a former IUML activist. But her husband, Abdul Kader, is an activist of the Indian National League (INL), the rival faction of IUML. This is the main reason for the polarization between Zulaikha and the ruling party. In a recent press meeting, Zulaikha revealed the extent of murkiness in the functioning of the panchayat and corruption under the Peoples’ Plan Fund. She disclosed the enormity of the rampant corruption. The ruling party heaped all sorts of abuses upon her and launched a scathing attack on her moral life. The party first tried to silence her by using foul language and began kicking her out of the panchayat board meetings. Zulaikha sent complaints to the chief minister, chief election commissioner and the state leader of IUML.

Zulaikha is now facing threats to her life from the party. What perplexes most is the aversion of the state leadership to take a more objective look at the facts revealed by Zulaikha who is ready to face any eventuality. But she has decided not to contest any future election . She is content and will continue as a school teacher with a palpable sense of relief.

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