Clash in Bhopal: Economic gap, ‘outsider’ factor widened chasm

  • Ranjan, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: Dec 15, 2014 00:08 IST

Cultural assimilation between Shias and Sunnis living in Aman Colony in Karond area hardly looked possible since the former shifted to this new address given a traditional rivalry. But this was not all. What further widened the chasm between the two sides were economic prosperity of Shias mostly called as ‘people from Irani Dera’ and their alleged rowdyism in the area.

Aman Colony saw a major attack on Shias by a mob of Sunnis armed with firearms and sharp-edged weapons on Thursday in broad daylight.

Several Shias already lived in the locality for about six to seven years. But, trouble started when a good number of Shias shifted to this new address to live with the members of their sect about a year back.

Four air-conditioning machines in a house, costly tiles fitted in it, a treadmill machine lying in verandah and an SUV were the talk of the locality as soon as a particular house came up. Though houses with AC machines and costly tiles are a few in number, Shias had in their houses every item a man could think of for a comfortable living.

In contrast, most of the Sunnis are labourers and have to do labour job almost daily to make ends meet. Sunnis considered these ‘people from Irani Dera’ as outsiders. In the Sunnis’ eyes, the Shias or ‘these people from Irani Dera’ earned money by organising gambling and indulging in chain snatching, sale of drugs and encroachment upon vacant houses.

“Just have a look at their houses. Can people with no particular jobs or source of good income construct such houses and afford big cars (SUVs) and costly household items?” said Mohd Aziz.

Shias’ leader Gulam Ali, however, denied that there was involvement of Shias in wrongdoings. “We earn by putting in hard labour. Some of us sell goggles and watches on the roadsides. Some are involved in other businesses while there are others who deal in real estate. These are baseless charges that we indulge in crimes to make money,” he added.

Academician Prof Zameeruddin feels religious intolerance is one of the main reasons behind such conflicts.

Activist Abdul Jabbar said economic disparity may be just one of the reasons, but there were several unlawful activities in the area which were overlooked by local police and the same resulted in the incident.

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