'Muslims of Gujarat feel like second-class citizens'Sheela Bhatt in Ahmedabad
Dr Hanif Lakdawala, founder of the NGO Sanchetna, and Roshan Ghanchi, a teacher in Gujarat, speak to Sheela Bhatt on the status of Muslims in Gujarat. A special video series on the tenth anniversary of the Gujarat riots.
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Dr Hanif Lakdawala, founder of Sanchetna, lives in Ahmedabad. His non-governmental organisation works among urban slum-dwellers, minorities and women on various issues, including health.
In a free-wheeling chat with rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt, he says that ever since the 2002 riots, society in Gujarat has become divided.
"Before the riots, there were areas where Hindus and Muslims lived in communal harmony. After 2002, that has completely gone away. Now Muslims are living in their own ghettos, and Hindus are living in their societies. So there is no social or cultural interaction between the two communities. This is the saddest part," he says.
"The good thing going about them is that the rate of literacy among Muslims has gone up," he adds. "It is surprising, but literacy among Muslims is higher than the average literacy rate of Gujarat," he says.
"Still, after 2002, Muslims of Gujarat feel like second-class citizens. And over a period of time, that belief has been reinforced by the attitude of the State," he says.
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Image: Dr Hanif Lakdawala
Modi has given our community a 'voice'
Roshan Ghanchi teaches at Anjuman Islam school in Kalol, 45 km from Ahmedabad.
In a taunting tone, she says that Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi has given her community a voice. She tells the Modi government, "If you commit so much injustice, people are bound to get united and awakened."
She says, "Jeetna hai to padhai chahiye (You need education to win)."
She also thinks that neither Hindus nor Muslims were behind the riots, and people with vested interests unleashed the violence. She says, in Gujarat, 'Ram and Rahim' are friends.
"If Modi takes along all communities with him, Gujarat will see more progress," she feels. But, she is quick to add that Modi's refusal to accept a cap from a Muslim leader at a function in September last year just goes on to show that he doesn't want to respect Muslims.
She says the Gujarat riots and the torture that Muslims went through have shaken them completely. The community is now yearning for power through education.