December 28, 2019 10:17:28 am
Hundreds of shops at multiple market places in Modasa town of Aravalli district, including the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) wholesale market, were closed on Friday as the area observed a shutdown in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The bandh, called by the Aravalli Muslim Coordination Committee, was observed in select pockets of Modasa, even as Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel arrived in the town to inaugurate a newly built circuit house.
The area wore a deserted look since Friday morning as shops were shut in market complexes from Hajira to College Road in Modasa town. The otherwise busy ‘Makhdoom’ intersection of Modasa was also near empty.
Modasa, which has a population of just over 67,000, as per the 2011 census survey, has over 50% Muslim population, and it saw such a protest against the CAA and NRC for the first time since the controversy broke out.
“This is our way of holding a symbolic protest against the draconian CAA, NRC and now NPR. We have realised that it is a prolonged fight and we have a long way to go. When the protests against CAA had begun across India, the residents of Modasa decided to wait and watch. The escalation of violence in Ahmedabad during the protests weakened our spirits but then we realised that by doing a non-violent protest, we can ensure that the spirit of our community doesn’t weaken further. We were told by the police that no permission will be given for a rally or a protest, so we decided to shut down our businesses for a day as a symbolic protest,” said Suleiman Khan, convener, Aravalli Muslim Coordination Committee.
The biggest effect of the bandh was seen at the APMC market complex, which is the single biggest agricultural market in Aravalli and Sabarkantha, as it observed complete shutdown with over a 1,000 shops remaining closed on Friday.
“I have a shop of wholesale rice products and I have shut it down today to show solidarity with the protest call. Almost half of the shops at APMC belong to Hindus but they have kept it closed today since all the labourers working at the complex are Muslims and they are on strike,” said Hanif Uka, a resident of Modasa.
Manoj Suthar, a wholesaler at APMC, told The Indian Express that he had to hire labourers from outside the market complex today because of the strike call. “On December 24, a rally call was given in Modasa by the BJP in support of the CAA and NRC and we had shut down our shops for two hours in solidarity. Today, we are one among the few shops in APMC that have stayed open and I had to hire laborers from outside,” said Manoj.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Mayur Patil, Superintendent of Police, Aravalli, said, “Some shopkeepers decided on their own to keep their shops closed on Friday but no protest or rally was held. We have not even received any application for such and the atmosphere is completely normal in Modasa,” said Patil.
Dipsinh Rathod, BJP MP for Sabarkantha, who attended the inauguration ceremony of the new circuit house with deputy CM Nitin Patel, said, “It was a symbolic, voluntary bandh call given by a few Muslim groups that had support of local Congress in which shopkeepers decided not to do business for a day. It had no impact in Modasa whatsoever.”
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