“The BJP is an open enemy of the Muslims, and the Congress is a hidden enemy. I’d rather vote for the open enemy, so I can go to them for protection.”
Muslims in India’s Gujarat state who bore the burnt of religious riots in 2002 say they have been abandoned by the political parties, writes Soutik Biswas
The acrid smell of burning oil singes your nose and eyes as you walk into Bombay Hotel, a sprawling ghetto of Muslim-owned homes on the eastern flank of Ahmedabad, the main city in western Gujarat state.
A pall of black factory smoke hangs over this untidy patchwork of squat, ugly houses. Residents pay 150 rupees ($3) a month to a private contractor who supplies yellow-coloured drinking water through dirty garden pipes. Sewage flows out into the street.
Bombay Hotel, which takes it name after a local roadside eatery, is one of the places where many Muslims displaced by the 2002 Gujarat riots moved to. Over the past seven years, it has transformed from a remote industrial colony to become a busy refugee settlement.
The anti-Muslim riots, sparked off by the death of Hindu pilgrims in the firebombing of a train, led to the death of 1,392 people in five districts, according to official records. NGOs say the toll is closer to 2,000.