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Home > Election > Report

For Muslims of Naroda, safety is the only issue

Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Ahmedabad | December 05, 2002 20:16 IST

Mohammad Millatbhai (70), a resident of Naroda Patia locality in Naroda assembly constituency, says he does not want to live. He moves around with a stick; his white uncombed hair will make you feel that there is no one to care for him; his misty eyes will give you the impression that something is not right in his life and that is why he wants to die. But he has one ambition: to defeat Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party by voting for the Congress.

"They have ruined this country and my city forever," he says, adding, "I have never seen such bloody riots in my life. I have lost everything because of Narendra Modi and the BJP."

Recalling the post-Godhra riots, he says, "Nearly 20,000 Hindus came to our locality at Narodia Patia and butchered as many people as they could. They killed my son, daughter-in-law and burned down my one-year-old grandson in front of my eyes. They attacked me with a stick and I fell unconscious. Allah only knows why they left me alive."

There is no election fever in Naroda Patia. No candidate wants to meet these people and no one is interested in their well-being. But the Muslims, who number around 8,000, want to defeat the BJP candidate, Mayaben Kothani, in spite of the fact that Congress nominee Kannabhai Kotiya has not come and asked for votes.

In retaliation to the killing of 59 people, mostly karsevaks, in Godhra on October 27, Hindus killed nearly 130 Muslims and demolished 551 houses in Naroda Patia. Post-Godhra, this is the largest massacre in a single locality.

Ask him if it would make any difference if Modi goes out of power, Millatbhai says, "If the Congress comes to power I am sure nothing wrong would happen to us. But if the BJP returns to power, there would be more riots and more Muslims would be killed in the state."

"We came to our homes a month ago and we have not even settled properly. But we all know that if the Congress does not come to power, we would be thrown out of this place," says Abdul Hamid, a tailor in Naroda Patia.

Ask him what the Congress has done in the past 50 years, he says, "They have done no great work, but they didn't butcher us like Modi did."

Interestingly, Chief Election Commissioner J M Lyngdoh is a hit with the residents of Naroda Patia.

"Lyngdoh is not a politician, but he has done much better work than any of these politicians in Gujarat. Had the elections been held three months ago, no one from our locality would have been able to vote," says Akbar Inamdar.

Nazir Kumar Pathan, a teacher, says, "When I saw my students participating in the riots, I could not believe it. I saw Hindu mobs killing 27 children. The incident has really disturbed me very much. I don't even know whether I will go to vote."

Regarding the mood of the residents, he says, "People are still terrified. I think if they vote it would be to defeat Modi."

The residents also complain that they got very little compensation from the government after the riots.

"It will take you two days to just note down how many people have not got compensation," says Razak Pathan, a social worker and a local leader. "I used to own three shops worth Rs 9 lakh. They were looted and demolished, and in return the government gave me only Rs 90,000."

Regarding the issues in the election, he says, "Safety, safety and only safety is the issue. The other problem we were facing was that we didn't have any Muslim graveyard in this locality. We had approached the BJP government to help us build a graveyard on a vacant plot nearby. But we never knew that they would make a graveyard in our locality only," Pathan adds.


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