The Dawoodi Bohra Muslims of Gujarat are among the most prosperous, educated and progressive Muslims in the country. Based mainly in Surat, Dahod and Rajkot, many of them run thriving businesses. While Surat and Rajkot remained untouched by the 2002 riots, Dahod was badly affected, and the Bohras here suffered heavily, many of their shops and factories being reduced to ashes.
This was one community which went out to vote in large numbers in 2002. If the community leaders are to be believed, they voted largely for Narendra Modi. Why? Iqbal Kharodawala, former councillor and vice president of the Dahod wheat market, said: “The Congress makes a hue and cry about Muslims, but on the ground, it does nothing for the community. We know what Narendra Modi is, and can deal with him. After all, there has been peace after the riots of 2002.”
Many of those ruined by the riots have rebuilt their lives from scratch. The community has a custom called karjan hasna, by which interest-free loans are given by those who can afford it to worthwhile causes. Many have used such loans and their inbuilt business enterprise to get back on their feet. They neither expect nor want any help from the state — all they hope for is there will be no recurrence of February-March 2002. This much they believe Modi will ensure for them.
But a little probing reveals contrary attitudes too. Even as elders are rooting for the BJP, software engineer Kaid Joharj Sadabar suddenly burst out, “The BJP may think what it likes — but the outcome of this poll will come as a shock for the party.”