Five years after a communal frenzy tore through Gujarat, thousands of Muslims who were uprooted from their lives and livelihoods continue to languish in wretched colonies and have all but become an invisible population, social activists said on Friday.
These 5000 Muslim families who live in colonies on the edges of cities urgently require a policy on 'the internally displaced persons (IDP)', people who have been uprooted from their roots because of violence, members of the Centre for Social Justice and Anhad said.
"The Uprooted: Caught between Existence and Denial", a report on the internally displaced in Gujarat, was compiled after three field surveys conducted all over Gujarat. The latest update completed in January this year found that about 23000 people continue to live in 69 colonies.
"There is a policy for planned displacement of people like it happens for people displaced when special economic zones are created. But there is no policy for people displaced because of violence or the fear of violence," said Farah Naqvi who was part of the team that conducted the field survey.
Gagan Sethi, another team member, said that once a group of people become invisible, or falls off the state's radar, it is near impossible to get them back in focus. "The people in these colonies do not have jobs, do not get to eat a square meal, live in shanties made with less than Rs 30,000," he said.
"A convention on IDP held in Ahmedabad on February 1 attracted nearly 4000 people. They spoke of the pathetic conditions they live in and the prejudices they have to face," said activist Shabnam Hashmi.
The activists said that enough promises have been made in the last five years and now it was time to keep those promises. "See Parzania. It maybe the story of one family. Multiply it with 20000. That's the reality," they echoed.