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Two worlds meet, but warily

india Updated: Jan 07, 2007 17:38 IST

Sachin Golwalkar lives on the fringes of an invisible island of poverty in a booming ocean of concrete, a faultline that divides the two faces of suburban India.

That is where he was packing his belongings this week, a short walk from the jaded white mansion where young bodies were found and the anger of the poor raged.

The 30-year-old from Mumbai, and his wife Renu — parents of three-year-old Siddharth — had watched horrified from the balcony of their home as the bodies began turning out.

They, like the others, had empathised as the fury of grieving parents boiled over. In fact, over the past week, several such families from across Noida have staged protests and filed at least ten applications under the RTI Act to speed up investigation.

The incidence has brought together the two disjointed halves of society that live an uneasy, need-based co-existence. But the nigling fear of a rich versus poor face-off has remained.

"People here think that the voice of the poor is not being heard. This is taking the shape of class conflict," said Golwalkar. "And politicians are stoking it." Which is why Golwalkar has moved his valuable belongings to a friend's house and is ready to leave at short notice.

His apprehension might not be entirely misplaced. With a handful reaping the fruit of India's economic boom, the urban islands of discontent called slums are growing larger and angrier.

The last time Golwalkar had witnessed a riot was in 1993, when communal clashes ripped through Mumbai. "But I did not have a family then," he said. "And it hadn't happen at my doorstep."

Email Neelesh Misra: neelesh


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