Gujarat Muslims the ‘Living Dead’

April 30, 2009

“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.

The riots also left some 140,000 people homeless. They were put up in camps and given 2,500 rupees by the government – the majority of the displaced were in Ahmedabad city.

Thirty-six-year-old Meraz Ahmad Jalaluddin Ansari is one of them. He was lucky that he did not lose any relatives in the riots. He and his family fled their home in the Chamanpura area after Hindu neighbours warned them that the rioters were closing in. But he did lose his home and livelihood.

He had hired a dozen workers and owned 15 sewing machines. He would make, he says, 15,000 to 20,000 rupees a month from embroidery work.

After fleeing the riots and panic-selling his house to a local Hindu neighbour for 275,000 rupees, Mr Ansari moved into Bombay Hotel.
His living standards are shambolic, the markets where he can sell his wares are now 10-12km away, and his children are soon going to lose their neighbourhood municipal school. It will be scrapped to make way for a bus lane.

Mr Ansari has picked up the pieces again, built a new home and managed to buy about five sewing machines to start work. He can no longer afford to employ people. The government, he says, gave him compensation of 300 rupees for the damage to his house in Chamanpura.

“Once I was fairly well to do. Now I work a lot more and just manage,” he says. “Life can’t come to a halt. But sometimes I feel we are the living dead.”

The riots do not find any echo in the general elections in Gujarat.

Seven years after the incident, both the ruling BJP and Congress party remain silent on the shoddy rehabilitation of the victims or the delay in bringing the culprits to justice.

“We cannot vote for the BJP and the Congress almost has a fixed deposit on our votes. So it’s a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea,” says Mr Ansari.

There is little talk of the impending polls at Bombay Hotel. When you raise the subject, the residents turn their faces away in disgust.

“Before the 2002 riots, there were just a few houses here. Now there are 15,000 houses and 80,000 people. Muslims have moved in from all over. They feel relatively safe here,” says Shabit Ali Ansari, 32, who owns a sweets shop.

“But no party does anything for Muslims. The authorities do nothing for people here unless we raise a storm,” he says.

Barber shops, groceries, sweets shops and even a photo studio that have sprung up in the grubby lanes do brisk business. But residents work on pitifully low wages.

Riot victims like Noor Banu, 45, and her husband, Ashik Ali Badar Ali, 50, who moved here after their house was attacked in the Saraspur area, are struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Ali used to drive an auto rickshaw and bring home up to 150 rupees a day. Now he earns barely 1,800 rupees a month working as a security guard.

Their three daughters chip in making lacquered bangles to help pay back a loan of 70,000 rupees the family borrowed for the two-room hovel in which they live.

Next door, Asiyana Ahmed Sheikh, 12, makes kites. And Zarin Aslambhai Ghanchi gets less than one US cent for cutting and stitching together a campaign banner for a political party.

“Even the political parties exploit us when giving us jobs. This is the state of affairs here,” says Zarin.

Ashik Ali Badar Ali says he is going to vote for the Hindu nationalist BJP, which was blamed for inaction during the rioting.

“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 comprise barely 10% of the population in Gujarat.

“Despite the riots and the headlines, the political parties here feel that they can ignore them, because they don’t comprise a decisive vote bank,” says analyst Achyut Yagnik.



  1. where are you nikkil

    • hey u crap abdul gaffar…..
      1.the guy who wrote this story is a hindu….
      2.the ppl who painfully researched the facts r hindu….
      3.the NGO guys r definitely most of them hindu…
      4.relief work r done by ordinary ppl (80% of them r hindu)
      5. wat the fuck did u do???????????
      so shut up ur filthy mouth and tidy ur own home

      • [5. wat the fuck did u do???????????]

        About what?

      • @ Bhaskar

        Your name means “Sun”… You should be spreading light my friend, not darkness with such abusive language… I think it would be useful if you can find some links to some impartial information sources and share those on this forum, so that people have more credibility in what you are trying to say… Losing your temper and using bad language like this will only show you in poor “light”…

      • That is how you see most of the Indians start biting the dust and throwing shit on their heads whenever their dirty and ugly face is mirrored onto them. Rather than objectively and logically responding, they prefer to fall to disgraces and start abusing. Well, that is their nature – no one can change them. That type of narrow-mindedness, mean thinking, treacherous actions, oppressive nature, and opportunistic and stabbing approach have been the cause for them being ruled by outsiders for most of their history. Same rouge behavior forced of Muslims of subcontinent to think for a separate country in the first place and then demand for and succeed in getting that country in 1947. The current Indian state has proved itself, in the last 60 years, to be a cancerous entity internally for its own citizens and externally for the people of neighboring countries. India has never historically been existed as a single country of its own. The current Indian state is, in fact, an artificial country – a monster created by the cunning British – where 80% people are forced to live as Indians, the power of gun, against their own will. It will be a great favor for the humanity to liberate these badly humiliated low cast Hindus from jaws of bloody Hindu oppression. We should not allow ourselves be mislead by the falsehood of deceptive noises of India Shining or the largest democracy.

  2. @ Abdul

    Please be assured that most Indians denounce the Gujarat massacre and its prepetrators… You may also like to know that the journalists, lawyers and NGOs working on this case include many Hindus… So it is not true that Hindus in India do not care for their Muslim brothers and sisters…

    I think we have some terrible people with deplorable ideas about religion in both our countries, and we as civilized educated people should be able to recognize them and make others aware as well…

    By the way, isn’t it true that people who suffer the most in such riots and religious strife are always the poorer sections of the society… I am yet to see anything in media about how well the rich Muslims are doing in India… All you see is the plight of poor muslims but trust me it is the same for the poor hindus…

    To conclude, let me assure you that I am not trying to defend the atrocities committed on Muslims in India or elsewhere in the world… We all need to identify the perpetrators of such crimes and bring them to justice… In the meantime, we need to keep a cool head and not let our own feelings and emotions cloud our clear thinking and judgment…

    • Well said… Peace !

  3. Pakistani hindus – The leaving dead


    • @ nikhil

      And you say Pakistanis interfere in India’s matters??

      • @ IM

        What do u mean?

        Hows the title ‘Pakistani hindus The leaving dead’
        nice response to ‘Gujarat Muslims the ‘Living Dead’’ isnt it?

  4. P.S: If India is so good in accepting Pakistani Hindus why was Ramchand (Dalit) a 7 year old boy severely tortured by Indians when he accidently crossed the border along with his father?

    • Tortured by Indian police!

  5. @ IM

    Indian police is no different from the Pakistan police… Equally corrupt and incompetent… They would torture anyone (Indian, Pakistani or anyone else) who can not pay their way out…

  6. @ Peace Lover

    i appreciate ur work


    u r boring:(

    • @ nikhil

      your ignorant. Atleast Peace Lover has the gutts to start with a new thinking and approach correctly point out faults…

  7. Pakistani hindu to journalist –

    ‘Our forefathers thought that staying back in Pakistan was a good idea. Now, we are thinking about our children and want them to grow up here in India.’

    indian muslim to pakistan – ‘mind ur own buisness’

    its true! i have sources

    • Please your journalist have a record of making up stuff, I read one article regarding the blasphemy law in Pakistan and an Indian journalist wrote that a Pakistani Christian is getting hanged in Pakistan because he said some wrong stuff regarding Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) but he said it only after a Muslim said wrong stuff regarding Virgin Mary (Hazrat Maryum) I wouldn’t write what he said. But before making up this story the Indian journalist who was a hindu should have researched regarding Islam because we muslims believe in Virgin Mary and no muslim would ever say degrading stuff regarding her!

      Sources even I have, check this out a Pakistani Hindu warning India if an attack is carried out on Pakistan


      An Indian Muslim woman called on a Pakistani show ‘Good Morning Pakistan’ when Shoaib Malik was the guest and said something like this “Whenever there is a match between India and Pakistan our whole COMMUNITY supports Pakistan. We like Pakistan a lot but we cannot say it openly as you know why. Now a days we know there are issues in Pakistan and we keep praying for Pakistan. We like Pakistani cricketers a lot.”

      Indian newspapers keep writing about Pakistani hindus and Indian newspapers regarding Indian muslims. Honestly nobody is really gonna mind there own business!

  8. FAO Bhaskar you missed out number 6,7, and lots more.
    6 That they were all murdered Hindu’s
    7 burned alive by Hindu’s.
    8 gang raped by Hindu’s
    and lots more

    Further more your comments towards me do not represent anyone but you, a very extremely sick person you are please seek help before it too late, you need it, and go and get a life

    FAO nikhil where did you go, you had Bhaskar responding for you.
    But you have an impertinence to propose a site for us but you were not able to make a comment on this issue.
    You were simply asked by me to make a statement on the above matter as you consume ample of time on this site. I think you too need to get a life. Good luck

    FAO Peace Lover after reading your comment I feel we are both on the same wave length. I am sure you will agree to this that ‘delay in justice is a denial of justice’.

    • i posted a comment – Pakistani hindus The leaving dead

      my point is pakistanis have no right to make fun of india when their own minority acommodation record is terrible.

      • Try staying on the subject nikhil if you cannot do this,take my earlier advice and get a life

      • stay on the subject? when did i ever stray from it?

  9. and where are you Bhaskar or are you too busy counting numbers.

  10. Why is that minorities in Pakistan is decreasing and decreasing…. where as in India minorities are increasing???

  11. Thanks for this article

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