Twenty-one years after the riots in Gujarat, Naroda Patiya’s wounds have turned into scar tissue, still visible, often painful and recalling a communal divide that has yet to be bridged. But life must go on and the focus must be on “community neutral” issues such as price hikes, says AAP MLA hopeful Omprakash Tiwari.
Hoping to win over the people of Naroda Patiya, the town on the outskirts of Ahmedabad associated with the 2002 riots and next month’s parliamentary elections, Tiwari said he would like religion to be disregarded and for people to come together to vote for change. “We have forgotten what happened here 20 years ago. India is a religious country and everyone has the freedom to practice the religion of their choice,” Tiwari told PTI.
“But we must first address the problems of unemployment, price increases and lack of affordable education for all,” he added when asked if the riots that followed the Godhra train burning were a problem in the constituency that has since been ruled by the BJP. voted. 1990.
A day after 57 ‘karsevaks’ returning from Ayodhya were charred on a Sabarmati Express train bus at Godhra Railway Station, violence broke out in Naroda Patiya. Ninety-seven people, including women and children from the Muslim community, were killed by mobs that also ransacked and looted their properties, set fire to their houses and gang-raped some of the women. Most of the victims were poor.
Naroda Patiya falls under the Naroda constituency and will vote on December 5.
While the BJP and Congress have yet to announce their candidates, the Aam Aadmi party has rallied former Congress leader Tiwari.
The BJP and Congress have yet to announce their candidates from the seat.
Tiwari, a two-term councilor from Naroda, had competed from the seat on the congressional ticket in the 2017 election polls, but lost by a huge margin to BJP’s Balram Thawani.
This time it will be different, the AAP candidate said of the election that will see a triangle contest with the arrival of his party in a state that has traditionally been bipolar in its politics.
The Naroda Assembly constituency has about three lakh voters, mostly Hindus and Jains with about 4,000-5,000 Muslim voters.
Naroda Patiya is still anxious, but seems ready for a change.
Such as Salim Shaikh, a witness in the massacre case in which former BJP MLA Maya Kodnani was one of the accused, who expresses his willingness to support AAP. Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years in prison by a court in this case in 2012, but was later acquitted by the Gujarat High Court.
Shaikh, his wife and children survived the violence, but their home and other properties were destroyed in a fire. His niece’s two children, one aged two years and the other only four months old, were murdered.
“The 2002 incident was so painful for us. We had faith in Congress, but it didn’t affect us, even though it stayed in power in the Center for ten years,” Shaikh told PTI when asked about the vote of the minority. community.
“Several suspects were released today, the compensation we received was also inadequate… That’s why we decided to vote for the AAP this time,” he added.
Shaikh said candidly that he does not believe that AAP will end communalism.
“Nevertheless, we will support the party in these elections because when we look at the work of the government in Delhi, we think things will change when she comes to power.” Yashin, whose home was also destroyed by a fire in the area, said many of his neighbors moved to resettlement colonies built at 87 sites in Gujarat. He is also concerned about what the future holds.
“Our colony has also been rebuilt and we live a normal life here. We have a cordial relationship with other members of the community. But we all always live in constant fear. You never know when municipal politics will be played here,” he said.
The AAP is confident that its strategy of not talking about the division of communities will succeed in attracting minority votes. But not everyone is convinced.
“They talk about education, corruption and other matters. They also talk about taking people to Ram temple on pilgrimage. But when it comes to the release of the convicts of the Bilkis Bano case, they are silent,” Sharif, another victim of the 2002 riots, said.
With the AAP playing “soft Hindutva”, the party will not gain full support from the minority community, he said.
“The minority votes would have shifted en bloc to the AAP, allowing it to gain at least 22 seats in Gujarat if the party had reached out to the Muslims, raised their voices and promoted their leaders. The AAP wants Mulsim votes but don’t want Muslim leaders,” he said.
Sharif lives in a resettlement colony developed in Ramol for the victims. He was living in Naroda Gam, about two kilometers from Naroda Patiya, when the violent mob attacked his colony, setting fire to his house along with that of his inmates and killing several people on February 28, 2002.
Gujarat will vote in two phases on December 1 and 5. The votes will be counted on December 8.
(This story was not edited by NewsMadura staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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