Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Impact of 2002 Gujarat riots: Sharp rise in revivalistic tendencies in Muslim resettlement colonies

By Rajiv Shah
A new research work by a Gujarat Vidyapeeth scholar, Dr Damini Shah, has said that, thanks to ghettoisation of Muslims following the 2002 Gujarat riots, there has been shocking rise in religious obscurantism in the Muslim colonies, most of which were set up by Islamic non-government organizations in order to provide security to the riot victims.
Perhaps the first book of its kind in Gujarati language, “Muslim Ghettoisation: Ek Karun Dastan” (Muslim Ghettoisation: A Tragedy), released at a formal function in Ahmedabad, has particularly noted that all the dozen resettlement colonies surveyed have “imposing mosques and madrasas attached to them, with all the necessary facilities”, in sharp contrast to the poor housing facilities in which the resettled Muslims live in sub-human conditions.
Giving example of the type of "revivalism" that is prevailing in these resettlement colonies, Dr Shah quotes maulvis of the mosques as saying that “the Muslims had to suffer in the 2002 riots they failed to properly pray to the Allah.”
Comments Dr Shah, “Following insecurity and fear because of the riots, there was sharp rise in religious identity and a simultaneous rise in the grip of religious leaders on the resettlement colonies, with the community quietly and unwittingly supporting them.”
As a result of this, Dr Shah feels, the situation that has developed is such that, “while swearing by the name of religious freedom, these Muslims are unable to dissociate themselves from their communal framework.” Dr Shah’s book is based on a PhD thesis which she completed under the guidance of Dr Anandiben Patel, head, social work department of the Gujarat Vidyapeeth.
Based on spot interviews in 12 Muslim resettlement colonies of Ahmedabad, Sabarkantha and Anand districts set up after the Gujarat riots, Dr Shah says that ghettoisation has led to “sharp rise in religious polarization” with 92 per cent Muslims, who used to meet Hindus earlier, have no contact with them any more”.
“Before the riots, the Muslims used to take part in religious festivals of the Hindu neighbours. However, after they were forced to leave their own houses and began living in the new colonies, inter-community interaction, which was there for generations, has disappeared”, Dr Shah told the audience at the book launching ceremony.
Pointing out that most of the resettlement colonies have been set up away from the main roads and the villages or towns where they used to live previously, Dr Shah says, “All the resettled Muslims interviewed said their living conditions were much better than what it is in the new resettlement colonies.” In the new colonies, there are “no gutter lines, no internal roads”, while in 75 per cent cases there are “no water connections.”
“If earlier, the state transport bus stand was less than two kilometers from their house, now the minimum distance to get a state transport bus is two kilometers”, says Dr Shah, suggesting, the situation is the same with regard to post office and banking facilities. As for housing, she adds, they have “no right to sell the houses in which they live.”
Blaming the government for failing to reach up to the resettlement colonies, Dr Shah says, a major reason why the riot victims are refusing to return to their houses in villages or towns is continued sense of insecurity.
“About 40 per cent of the Muslims said, they find their previous Hindu neighbours’ attitude totally changed”, she adds, and the result is, “in 85 per cent of the cases they have not made any attempt to return to their home.”

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