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In Ahmedabad, don't mention the R-word

March 1, 2007
The riots as such were not bad, only the excessive violence should have been avoided," is the argument even some womenfolk put forward in Ahmedabad.

As a result, unchecked ghettoisation has taken place. It has even gained a name in Gujarat's socio-economic landscape: 'peaceful existence' -- the majority and minority communities living separately within the city of Ahmedabad.

Among the majority community, the caste divide is as acute as the communal divide in society.

Ahmedabad's Chandkheda area has some 200 colonies where Dalits live in a cluster. The Patels of Saurashtra are shifting to Bapunangar. The Patels from Kheda district increasingly prefer Maninagar.

"It is better to avoid any talk of riots," believes Ashok Shrimali, a social worker. "Why are you throwing a stone in serene waters?

"We are aware," he continues, "that our image -- that Gujaratis are a wise and pragmatic lot with a great knack for doing business -- is now tarnished. We are now branded as communal people outside Gujarat."

Many Gujaratis argue the harsh criticism of Gujaratis in the media and the Congress' brand of 'secular politics, using the event of Godhra' at the national level have actually helped Modi garner support for his personality cult.

Juhapura, an area of Ahmedabad where only Muslims live, is thriving because the population has increased here manifold since the riots.

"Our Muslim friends these days argue that they should vote for the BJP, so that they remain in power and don't divide society for grabbing power," says Shrimali. "Besides political power, what else does Modi want? Nothing."

In the last five years, Modi has tapped effectively into the unspoken fears among Hindus, emerging as the strongest provincial leader in Gujarat.

Image: Namaaz in Ahmedabad

Also see:
Someshwar Pandya still wants to tell the truth

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