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Give us our new houses but keep us apart,Hindus,Muslims tell Ahmedabad civic body

It was a random draw of lots for houses to resettle some 8,000 families,but in deeply polarised Gujarat,this computer-generated allotment has had Hindus and Muslims writing to authorities...

Written by Tanvir A Siddiqui | Ahmedabad | Published: February 19, 2010 1:45 am

It was a random draw of lots for houses to resettle some 8,000 families,but in deeply polarised Gujarat,this computer-generated allotment has had Hindus and Muslims writing to authorities,each community saying they don’t wish to live in an area dominated by the other and,therefore,“communally unsafe”.

Hindus and Muslims are calling for reallotment of houses in areas where they say they will be secure.

But the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC),which went in for a random draw to relocate evacuees of the Sabarmati River Front project under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM),doesn’t want to get involved — the AMC says Hindu and Muslim allottees may exchange the allotted homes among themselves if they feel insecure.

These specially-built houses were allotted in the southern suburbs of Vivekanand Mills,Isanpur,Narol Gam and Maninagar,constituency of Chief Minister Narendra Modi,to Hindu and Muslim families displaced from the riverside of Khanpur,Jamalpur and Raikhad areas because of the Sabarmati River Front project.

The new locations are among the areas which witnessed violence during the 2002 riots. The computer allotted all houses without looking up religions,mixing Hindus and Muslims.

The Muslim evacuees say they want to move to the Muslim-dominated Vatva area while the Hindus want to move to Hindu-held Vadaj. Both sides have approached the AMC top brass,seeking fresh allotment. Petitions have also been sent to the Chief Minister,seeking his intervention.

Rafiq Pathan,who is with the Vatva-based Muslim outfit Qutub Nav-Yuva Committee and is one of the petitioners,said that after the draw of lots,many people approached AMC officials to get locations changed but they were told to accept whatever had been allotted.

“If this goes on,we will have to seek court intervention because the allotment pattern does not guarantee any safety in case of communal trouble,” Pathan said.

Captain Dilip Mahajan,AMC Deputy Municipal Commissioner,said the computer draw was done on court directions and once the process is completed,“a report will be submitted to the court”. He said it was not possible to meet the demand completely.

“Hindu families are demanding resettlement in Vadaj area but that cannot be done because there are no such schemes in that area. As for Muslims,we have allotted two full blocks (of 16 houses each) along with other blocks meant for Hindus in Isanpur area,” Mahajan said.

A letter sent by Pathan,on behalf of the Muslim allottees,to the Chief Minister,and among others,Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel and Municipal Commissioner I P Gautam stated: “Muslim evacuees have been allotted houses in government accommodation of Maninagar and Isanpur,which are majority dominated areas. It is very likely that adverse consequences will follow if Muslim evacuees are settled there because in that case their life and property will stand exposed to danger in case of any man-made crisis. Hindu brethren also share similar sentiments about such allotments in their case.”

“This is an extremely sensitive matter. Keeping in mind the adverse circumstances and bitter experiences of the past,it will be only appropriate if Muslim evacuees are settled in locality like Vatva instead of Isanpur and Maningar. It is our humble request to resettle Muslim evacuees in Vatva,” the letter stated.

Hindu evacuees,who did not wish to be named,said they have already communicated their view and demand to the AMC.

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