Saturday, November 04, 2006

No Azaan in Gujarat villages: Muslims turned second class citizens

In Hindustan Times, the lead story 'Gujrat Muslims give up rights, buy truce', Neelesh Mishra writes about the villages where Muslims were allowed to return after riots but have to live on harsh terms. [Published on November 4, page 1]

This is a disturbing news. 'In a few months, it will be five years since Shakil Bhai last heard the call of the muezzin from the mosque by the village pond...

...the four minarets of the mosque were smashed in riots and the dargah also damaged. Dargah has since been repaired but mosque remains without a head'.

In many villages Muslims have given up 'azaan', in others they can't openly sell meat and must observe their festivals as low-key affairs. Mani Bhai Patel, a resident of the village says, 'The Muslims mind their business, we mind ours, No fighting but we don't often go towards their houses'.

So much has been written about Gujarat in the last five years. But this is a terrifying scenario. It can be wreak havoc on the psyche of any community if they have to live under such terms--not allowed azaan or the temple bells.

But nothing could be worse for our social fabric than such detachment where communities stop going towards areas inhabited by the 'other'. No use blaming Gujarat, Gujaratis and Government. The problem exists everywhere and we need to address it urgently. 

What shall all of us do to de-communalise the society ? What kind of small steps we can take in our individual capacities to reduce tension and enhance interaction between communities that to could lead to harmony ? 

[The photograph is symbolic though this is also a mosque in the same state]