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Four funerals and one tense town

July 7, 2006
Huge potholes, dusty roads, fetid garbage dumps and narrow lanes greet you as you approach Bhiwandi, 60 km from Mumbai. Then comes a 2 km long traffic snarl.

Even to a Mumbaikar accustomed to unending queues of vehicles, it seems that Bhiwandi residents deserve an award for braving this kind of traffic every day.

Most of Bhiwandi's 1 million people are Muslim. Most of them are labourers in this textile town. Most of them live on less than Rs 3,000 per month.

When it rained for five days non-stop Bhiwandi was flooded -- as was much of the financial capital of India -- and in the cheek by jowl chawls and huts that most of Bhiwandi lives in, the filth, the muck and the dirty water made life seem even more of a hell-hole.

Some local maulvis decided to call for azaan at 3 pm on July 5, to pray to the almighty to stop the rains and save them.

Reportage: Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Bhiwandi; Photographs: Arun Patil

Image: A police patrol outside a mosque in Bhiwandi

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