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Providing a context to communal divides…

June 6, 2012

Often, when the media reports on a story, they provide some of the facts. Now, of course, facts can come embellished with drama, adjective, hyperbole and can get fudged too. But when the facts are presented in a context, as in this blog by Kingshuk Nag in The Times of India, they acquire a greater punch. Entitled: How Gujarat bucked a national trend, the blog refers to the incrreasing isolation of Muslims from mainstream society, typified by the denial of housing to them:

A story carried in TOI’s Ahmedabad edition last week is illustrative of the present state of affairs in Gujarat. It reports a tale of peaceful demonstrations accompanied by Ram dhuns in front of a bungalow owned by a Hindu in the city of Bhavnagar in Saurashtra. The bungalow was being sold off to a Muslim and the saffron brigade laid siege till the Hindu bungalow owner acquiesced and called off the deal. The story notes how in the last few months many such deals – of Hindus trying to sell property to Muslims – have been stymied in Bhavnagar, the only city in Saurashtra to witness riots during 2002.

Yes, “ten years after madness” things remain quite the same in Gujarat. True there has been economic growth and Ahmedabad is well on the way to becoming a major automobile industry hub. There has also been a marginal improvement in social indicators but society remains polarized like it was a decade ago. In Ahmedabad, you can be a well-to-do Muslim with enough moolah, but still can’t buy property in “posh” enclaves or middle-class areas. Certain areas are demarcated for Muslims in Ahmedabad and they can only stay there. There are hardly any exceptions to the rule.

Muslims do find it difficult to get jobs or do business, they avoid mainstream schools or colleges and it is incredibly difficult for Muslims to find the accommodation they seek. Muslim friends have so many stories of being turned down from housing societies in posh areas of Mumbai, in Bangalore and Delhi. Most of this is at the individual level. Very few flat-owners actually take the fight further (Madhavi Kapoor, Principal of Aman Setu school in Pune was a heroic exception).

But when political parties orchestrate campaigns such as this, it is the collective bad that we witness. Is the media courageous enough to slam this?


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