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Ahmedabad's Muslim ghetto voters 'denied' right to exercise franchise?

By Tanushree Gangopadhyay* 

Sections of Gujarat Muslims, with a population of 10 per cent of the State, have been allegedly denied their rights to exercise their franchise in the Juhapura area of Ahmedabad.
Local residents claimed, goons said to be attached with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, heckled many of the around 1.35 lakh Muslim voters of Maktampura, Juhapura, and compelled them not to vote on Tuesday when the voters in the entire State exercised their franchise.
The residents said, Juhapura, an area in western Ahmedabad, also saw some members of the minority community being paid to not go out and vote.
The Juhapura area of Ahmedabad falls in the Gandhinagar constituency, from where  Union Home Minister Amit Shah is fighting Lok Sabha polls.
Juhapura is a huge ghetto where an estimated five lakh Muslims live with a voter strength of 1.35 lakh voters. 
"Vahape do deense bahut goondagardi ho raha haye. Congress agents ko heran kar rahe haye do din se. Election Commission kuch nahi kar rahi haye... There is a lot of hooliganism particularly in the slum area. Besides there are police installations every 500 metres. The people are terrified", said Kausherali Saiyed of the Hamari Awaz organisation. However, he added,  he voted in MK School.
Noor Jehan Dewan, an activist, voted early in the morning. "We encouraged people to exercise their legitimate rights. However,  people were terrified to do so", she alleged. 
Mujahid Nafees of the Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), boiling with anger at the minorities being harassed and not allowed to vote, said, "What is happening is anti-democratic and against the Indian Constitution."
Congress candidate Sonal Patel, who  moved around the area, admitted, she could not help the voters. "However, they started voting after 3 pm. They could manage 50 percent voting."
Muslim voters complained, local politicians and candidates, including Sonali Patel, did not complain to the Election Commission, else they would have never have had such a bad show.
*Veteran Ahmedabad-based journalist 



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