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
"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
"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
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
"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
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.