The Shiv Sena has given a Haryana Assembly election ticket to Naveen Dalal, one of the two people accused of attacking former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union leader Umar Khalid last year, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. Dalal was fielded from Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar district for the polls slated for October 21.

Dalal, a 29-year-old self-proclaimed “gau rakshak [cow protector]” claimed he joined the Shiv Sena six months ago as his ideology and the party’s beliefs with regard to “nationalism and cow protection” were similar. “Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress governments don’t have anything to do with farmers, martyrs, cows or the poor,” PTI quoted Dalal as saying. “They are just interested in politics.”

The party president for Haryana South, Vikram Yadav, confirmed Dalal’s candidacy, and claimed he was fighting for matters such as cow protection and “speaking up against those who raise anti-national slogans”.

On August 13, 2018, Dalal and another accused identified as Darwesh Shahpur were allegedly involved in a failed attempt to shoot Khalid outside Constitution Club in New Delhi. According to witnesses, two shots were fired but Khalid escaped unhurt.

Dalal and Shahpur fled the scene but were arrested after they uploaded a video saying the attack was an “Independence Day gift” for the country. The Shiv Sena candidate is out on bail at present. The case is pending in a sessions court.

Dalal refused to talk about his alleged involvement in the attack, and said it was not “only about Umar Khalid”. The Shiv Sena candidate said he would speak about the matter one day. The party defended Dalal’s actions, saying it was his way of “showing patriotism”.

Vikram Yadav said Dalal did not have personal grievances against Khalid and was upset with those who had purportedly chanted anti-India slogans at the university. The Shiv Sena leader added that Dalal was bothered about inaction in the case.

The Shiv Sena candidate’s campaign posters, which contain the prefix “gau rakhshak” before his name, talked of “change”.

Three criminal cases, including the Umar Khalid case, are pending against Dalal, according to his election affidavit. A case of rioting was filed in Bahadurgarh while Delhi’s Parliament Street police station filed an FIR after Dalal barged into the BJP’s headquarters with the decapitated head of a cow. Both the cases were filed in 2014.

The Shiv Sena candidate, who grew up in Mandothi village in Jhajjar, said he was passionate about wrestling. He also tried to enlist in the Indian Army but failed in the written examination. He will face the BJP’s incumbent MLA Naresh Kaushik, Congress’s Rajinder Singh Joon, Indian National Lok Dal’s Nafe Singh Rathee and 17 other contestants.

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