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How Gujarat is divided
July 23, 2006 11:38 IST
The series of communal riots that have rocked Gujarat over the years have resulted in the gradual 'ghettoisation' of the minority communities, says a study on the subject.
Ghettoisation refers to a particular community seeking safety in numbers by moving from a mixed locality to areas dominated by the community.
According to a study conducted by social science researchers Suchitra Sheth and Nina Haeem, ghettoisation is now prevalent now in most parts of Gujarat. It is particularly marked in Ahmedabad, Godhra, Vadodara, Surat and several other communally sensitive districts.
This region, says the study, has a history of trouble between Hindus and Muslims since the time of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century.
"Many a time, the factors that have triggered communal tension between the two communities have been trivial. Sometimes, over exuberance during Holi and provocation during religious processions have triggered communal riots," said political analyst and noted author Achyut Yagnik.
In modern times, even cricket matches between India and Pakistan had the propensity to trigger such incidents, say researchers Sheth and Haeem.
The duo recently presented a paper on 'Sovereignty, Citizenship and Gender' in Gujarat at the Indian Association of Women's Studies Conference. 'Till the 1960s, riots hardly left any deep scar and the two communities would soon reunite and resume business and social interaction,' it said.
However, the 1969 riots (the first major communal riot in Gujarat after Independence) marked a turning point in Hindu-Muslim relations in Gujarat.
A process of ghettoisation set in after these riots and many Muslims moved from mixed neighbourhoods in the Walled City to minority-dominated areas in the industrial suburbs and areas on the southern periphery of Ahmedabad, the study said.
The ghettoisation gathered momentum after the communal riots of 1990. After the 2002 Godhra riots, it was practically complete. Until 2002, ghettoisation was residential in nature; after the Godhra riots, even commercial establishments shifted base from some parts of Ahmedabad.
The eastern areas of Ahmedabad comprising Jamalpur, Raikhad, Kalupur, Shahpur and Mirzapur are located in the Muslim-dominated Walled City. The Hindus have moved to the new areas on the western side of the Sabarmati river, such as Naranpura, Maninagar, Law Garden, Wadaj and Navrangpura.
One of the largest Muslim ghettos is Juhapura, where the population of Muslims is more than 200,000.
Yagnik claimed the relations between the two communities started deteriorating especially after the gradual closure of textile mills rendered thousands jobless.
"Once, Ahmedabad was known as the Manchester of the East because of the large number of textile mills. These mills were a source of livelihood for a large number of workers. The closure of the mills triggered a rivalry between the communities," Yagnik said.
However, BJP leader L K Advani's Rath Yatra from Somnath reportedly polarised the two communities on the basis of religion. The communal divide widened and segregation was not confined only to places of worship but extended to neighbourhoods, schools and workplaces, he said.