Godhra backs peace
Irrespective of who Godhra sends to the assembly, there is a clear constituency for peace in this city of the Sabarmati Express carnage.india Updated: Dec 13, 2002 01:15 IST
Irrespective of who Godhra sends to the assembly, there is a clear constituency for peace in this city of the Sabarmati Express carnage.
The choice is articulated best by a 25-strong group of Hindus that has been living for the past 70 years in the infamous Signal Falia locality, with the alleged killers of the 58 Ram sevaks as immediate neighbours.
"Nothing has ever shaken our trust in each other," said Ratan Mangar, resident of the Falia. "Our Muslim neighbours protect us from bloodthirsty mobs. Because at the end of the day we all want peace, nothing else."
Mangar's neighbour, Rahida Begum, puts the sentiment into perspective: "Riots are engineered by politicians. We are landless labourers living on daily wages. If we fight with our Hindu brothers, how will we feed our children?"
Forty-eight-year-old scrap dealer Abdul Razzak lives in Jhuharpur, right on the "border" that separates Godhra's Hindu and Muslim habitations. His father was murdered during the 1965 riots; he lost his life's savings in the 2002 riots. But he has no complaints.
"I have nothing against the rioters," said Razzak, awaiting his turn at the Jhuharpur polling booth. "I have suffered, but I am willing to forgive and forget. Inshallah, this election will end the hatred between us. It is time to start afresh."
Both Mangar and Razzak are victims of the decades of neglect that Godhra has suffered. The region is Gujarat's poorest. "There is not a single factory or industry anywhere in Godhra," said T. Kishnani, a shopkeeper. "There are no jobs and anti-social activities are breeding."