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Red crosses on Muslim homes: After the scare, Ahmedabad police call it crude, not mischief

Paldi is part of Ellisbridge assembly constituency, a BJP bastion. Haren Pandya, who was shot dead in 2003, used to represent Ellisbridge.

Written by Satish Jha , PREETI DAS | Ahmedabad | Updated: November 15, 2017 7:34 am
gujarat assembly elections 2017, gujarat polls, Congress, BJP, rahul gandhi, Naredra Modi, election campaign gujarat, The white spot on the wall is where a red cross had been marked. (Express photo: Javed Raja)

A DAY after red cross marks had appeared on the walls of some residential societies in Ahmedabad, alarming Muslim residents, the city police said these were not a work of mischief but a “crude” job by an agency that had been tasked with identifying houses for a garbage collection project. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation said that the agency, which it had engaged for identifying the houses, was not supposed to have painted those marks and should only have put stickers on the houses identified.

The crosses had been painted on walls in Paldi, a mixed neighbourhood of Muslims, Jains and Hindus. Marked outside the homes of Muslims and Hindus, these were whited out Tuesday.

Alarmed Muslim residents of Delight Flats, Paldi, had written to the Election Commission as well as the Ahmedabad police commissioner Monday. “Such marking has left many in the Muslim community in shock and fear as it is done by some unknown element, and shows clear purpose of identifying Muslim areas,” they said.

Police released a report Tuesday following a spot visit by officials. The report said lower-ranked officials of the agency had marked the houses in a “crude manner” to identify them for garbage collection.

“I gave a report to the police commissioner after a detailed probe,” joint commissioner of police (Sector 1) K L N Rao told The Indian Express. “Prima facie I didn’t find any mischief by anyone. The houses were marked by low-ranked officials of an agency involved in door-to-door garbage collection. There is a marking system to identify the houses but these officials marked the cross in a crude manner.”

Deputy municipal commissioner (west) Arjav Shah said: “We called a meeting today and sent a showcause notice to the agency involved in the entire confusion. They are not supposed to put cross marks on houses. They have to put numbers and stickers.”

For the election authorities, collector Avantika Singh said, “The situation came to my notice yesterday and today I have asked for a report. We are looking into it. I know it was done as part of the garbage collection process of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.”

Shah, the deputy municipal commissioner said the agency has been taking door-to-door collections for six months all over the city. “We started putting stickers and a geo-fencing exercise six months ago. The idea is to mark houses from where drivers have to collect garbage,” said Shah. “A supervisor decided to put a cross and we have asked for an explanation. We are holding a series of meetings on this. We understand it is a mistake but there is no communal reason behind it.”

Shah said the agency will give a written explanation Wednesday.

The joint commissioner of police said the crosses had “created misunderstanding” among locals.

What had added to the scare was a poster that had reportedly been spotted at the Mahalaxmi crossroads in the area. Pictures of the poster purportedly put up were circulating on WhatsApp over the weekend; the images read, “Save Paldi from becoming Juhapura”. Juhapura is a neighbourhood which Ahmedabad’s highest concentration of Muslims.

“There is no reason to panic. We are probing the poster too,” said inspector V S Rabari of Ellisbridge police station, whose jurisdiction includes the area where the crosses came up.

About the crosses, city police commissioner A K Singh said, “The matter has been clarified by the AMC and the issue resolved and explained to residents of the locality to their full satisfaction.”

Delight Flats had been targeted during the 2002 riots. There are 16 flats, five of which belong today to the family of Zafar Sareshwala, a BJP leader and businessman who is currently chancellor of Moulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad.

His younger brother, Uves Sareshwala, is one of the complainants. “Marking Muslim houses has a history in this country. Since elections are round the corner, we all panicked,” Uves said. “Only after we apprised the authorities were we informed that the marking was done by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.”

Paldi is part of Ellisbridge assembly constituency, a BJP bastion. Haren Pandya, who was shot dead in 2003, used to represent Ellisbridge.

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    (0)(0)
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    1. R
      Rajeev Joshi
      Nov 15, 2017 at 4:14 pm
      these goons from RSS are spoiling the peace.
      (9)(4)
      Reply
      1. A
        ajay
        Nov 15, 2017 at 2:17 pm
        Very difficult time to be objective
        (8)(0)
        Reply
        1. A
          Alakananda
          Nov 15, 2017 at 2:03 pm
          This clearly indicates that the citizens have lost their trust on the govt. The lynch mobs have taken over the streets. A very dangerous situation when panic can set in just because f some crude markings. God save this country.
          (11)(2)
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          1. F
            Fascist Christian Hitler
            Nov 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm
            Red Cross signifies Jesus Christ Blood. Outside a deep-seated hatred of women, the reasoning behind Republican and right-wing Christians comes from the Bible. The Bible, being filled with sesx and violence, plenty of rape, and some good old-fashioned incest, is an excellent source of mysogenistic writing and does tend to explain how the brains of guys like Akin work. Or don't work as the case may be. That old collection of stories is also where they learn about science and reproductive biology.
            (4)(8)
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          2. A
            Aadarsh
            Nov 15, 2017 at 1:26 pm
            Any article by this BJP SIT chaprasi Satish Jha is very well paid planted story to show how this serious issue is nothing but a small incident. Such agenta of BJP/RSS work in Indian Express as "reporters". The Press Body should question the integrity of auch reports and EC should also issue a notice on such one sided, biased, paid reporting by this chaprasi of BJP.
            (16)(5)
            Reply
            1. F
              Fascist Christian Hitler
              Nov 15, 2017 at 3:40 pm
              Outside a deep-seated hatred of women, non-white and non christians, the reasoning behind Republican and right-wing Christians comes from the Bible. The Bible, being filled with sesx and violence, plenty of rape, and some good old-fashioned incest, is an excellent source of mysogenistic writing and does tend to explain how the brains of guys like Akin work. Or don't work as the case may be. That old collection of stories is also where they learn about science and reproductive biology.
              (2)(5)
              Reply
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