Six years after the post-Godhra riots, Gujarat’s Muslims appear to have overcome their fears and resumed their preference for the holy number ‘786’ in vehicular number plates.
Local RTO sources told Hindustan Times that the auction for the numerical sequence has resumed after it had almost stopped since early 2002.
Muslims all over India are ready to pay extra to get the ‘holy’ number for number plates, phone numbers and even in the property they buy. Most states sell this number in auctions to the highest bidder.
After the 2002 riots, the Hindustan Times reported in 2003, Gujarat’s Muslims had not been bidding for ‘786’ at the RTO auctions whenever a new series of vehicle numbers was released. They shunned the number for fear of being identified in non-Muslim areas of the communally-surcharged city.
Now Muslims have again begun demanding ‘786’ as the preferred number for their new vehicles. In a recent auction held last month, one Parvez Sheikh paid Rs 4,186 to display ‘786’ in the number plate of this new two-wheeler, according to RTO records.
Staff at the RTO remember the scare about this number after the riots. One Muslim employee of the RTO, who himself had ‘786’ as his scooter’s number, had suffixed it with a ‘0’ to make it ‘7860’ so that his religious identity remained camouflaged in non-Muslim areas.
Mohammad Shafi Madhni, President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Gujarat), told Hindustan Times that over a period of time people had shunned fear and gained confidence. “Darna kya hai, Allah hi bachaega (Why be afraid, the Almighty will save us), is the popular sentiment,” says Madhni.