Fear hung over large parts of Ahmedabad as the city’s minority community huddled indoors on Saturday after news of the serial blasts spread. For them, it was a flashback to the post-Godhra communal riots of 2002.
In Juhapura, Shah Alam and Naroda, silence and deserted roads replaced the usual bustle. People in the Naroda Gam area — where one of the worst massacres of 2002 had taken place — left the village last night, while residents of Shah Alam kept a night-long vigil. Some panicky survivors of the 2002 carnage even called up NGO activists seeking their advice on what to do.
“Though people were calm, there was palpable tension visible in them,” said community leader Sharif Khan Pathan, one of the prominent organisers of the Shah Alam relief camp after the 2002 massacre.
In Juhapura on the south-eastern periphery, which got its first bank branch only three months back, people kept asking “what will happen now?” said Dr Shakeel Ahmed of
the Islamic Relief Committee. “Thankfully, nothing happened this time as nobody made any provocative speeches.”
On the Juhapura-Sarkhej belt, where one of the 17 blasts took place, fear is omnipresent and few want to talk what happened Saturday evening.
“Whoever has done this unholy and inhuman act should never ever be forgiven. The severest of the punishments should be meted out to the guilty,” said Maulana M.A. Sheikh, a senior teacher at the Jameah Darul Quran Madrassa, which is a couple of yards from the blast site.
Only last Saturday, the madrassa had organised a workshop on “steps to be taken to build bridges between the Hindus and the Muslims”. “We had even gone to the Swaminarayan temple where we got a very warm welcome and a very good response. Now see what has happened,” said Sheikh.
Fatima Bibi, a woman in her thirties and residing in the Dhal area near to the blast site, is worried about losing her daily wages. “I go to the city area to make rakhis with a Hindu organization. But today I had to take a day off as my husband and children felt scared.”
Gaffar Sira, another resident of the area, said: “If it is the handiwork of the so-called Indian Mujahideen, then I think the blast in Sarkhej-Juhapura must have been planned to show to the outside world that even Muslim areas have not been excluded.”