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The Historical Setting Gomtipur History Essay

Gomtipur is considered to be the most sensitive area of A’bad. Dalits and Muslims are the major constitutive living there. This can clearly show hatred towards Muslims and Dalits. The so called ‘affluent’ people of A’bad call this area to be the most unsafe. It is also refers to be the billet of criminals. To describe my personal experience, one of my friends, who is pursuing his MBA from one of the most reputed institute of Gujarat, has asked me not to go to Gomtipur during night time.

Gomtipur has a long history. Once upon a time, it was facilitating labor power to more than 70 textile mills and now it is considered to be the billet of criminals. This shows social status of Dalits and Muslims in society.

Social-eco composition: Gomtipur is a slum in Ahmedabad with population of Dalits and Muslims majorly. The very reason behind settling this Basti is due to migrant labors from nearby villages. To elaborate this further, during early phase of Industrialization of Gujarat, lots of textile mills were established. There was a need of labor. Lot of people from nearby villages migrated to A’bad in search of jobs. They were precisely Dalits and Muslims. And so this resulted into Dalit Chawl and Muslim Chawl. But in contrary to this, their housing pattern does not show that they lived in harmony. Housing pattern in Gomtipur, they live in in discrete form. You can see this in the map given.

“There were around 70 cotton mills. These mills were providing employments to rural migrants which were precisely Dalits and Muslims. They were earning around 120 rupee a day which was very high during that time. This resulted into Dalit bastis and Muslims bastis. Now as they were working together in the mills; their bastis were also located very closely. – Mrs. Preeti Parmar, Navsarjan

Dalit community has a hierarchy in social and economic terms. Untouchability has been practiced within the Dalit community. Only the weaver community which is known as Vankar in Gujarat has occupied the higher status among Dalits. In Gomtipur, major part of it is weaver community. Though in present days’ situation, their occupation pattern has changed tremendously. They are no longer weaver community though they claim themselves to be Vankar. They are working as rickshaw driver, factory workers and other manual works. Some of them have made into government jobs also.

Muslims in Gomtipur are majorly converted Muslims.

Social relation:

“There was harmony, brotherhood amongst them. Participating in each other’s festivals, inviting for marriage ceremonies were very common.” - Mrs. Preeti Parmar, Navsarjan

The statement above clearly defines the very relationship between Dalits and Muslims now and then. It was claimed to be harmonic and peaceful relationship between both the communities.

History of communal tension in the area:

Social map

2002 riot in Gomtipur: A description

Dalits were instigated by various agents like RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, BJP leader, etc. Hatred against Muslims was instilled into their minds.

“When I was in Gomtipur, you must have heard of Devendra Solanki who was killed and whose body was cut into 28 pieces. He was a surveyor. He belonged to a Dalit community. He was killed by Muslims because the very fact that his all body parts were found dumped in Muslim basti. I will tell you what exactly happens in all these riots- there groups/crowd come together and take away 2-3 people with them forcefully. It was said that these groups were not local people but they were being brought from other states of India. In other words there were criminals hired for the same and these criminals have played very major role. Gomtipur, Shahpur, Khanpur, Narol, Naroda-Patiya and Vatwa; these were the areas which were most affected. Lots of people were killed, women were raped, and people were burnt alive. These all people were Muslims. No doubt, dalits were also killed in it. My cousin brother was killed in this riot of 2002. My cousin was working and whole family was depended on him. He was not linked with any parties. But, the next day, in newspaper, he was portrayed to be a BJP Karyakarta. BJP’s Karyakarta Vasantlal Mafatlal Parmar was brutally killed by Muslims.”

Politics of Hindutva in Gomtipur

Hindutva politics has played very significant role in luring Dalits into their fold. The very reasons behind trapping into Hindutva are electoral politics and unity among Hindus and ‘others’. According to Ghanshyam Shah:

“The BJP solidly supports the economic status quo in favor of the propertied, inclusive of class divisions and hierarchized distribution of economic production.” Moreover, it also strains to create a Hindu Rashtra. It is an attempt to reinforce dominance of the majority Hindu community. And that is why unity among Hindus and ‘others’ and to win elections, the BJP has been trying to appease backward castes with various strategies.” – (Ghanshyam Shah: 1994) [1] 

Methods

Hindutva’s agents have used various methods to substantiate their unclean intents. Leaders of Gomtipur have tried their best to maintain peace and harmony, but they could not win over their own masses. Spreading rumors, blaming Muslims for the problems of lower caste, etc. were used as methods by agents to needle Dalits against Muslims. Muslims have been portrayed as traitors. There have been closer of textile mills which resulted into massive unemployment among Dalit community. Taking advantage of this situation, Hindutva try to interfuse with Dalits and blamed Muslim to be the reason of Dalit’s unemployment. To speared rumors, pamphlets were distributed to instigate Dalits.

This process of instigating, we can follow through this interview:

“There are two corporators Gomtipur, one Dalit and other one Muslim. Hiralal Parmar (Dalit) and Iqbal Shaikh (Muslim), both were friends and both had very stronghold over their community. They had announced that no one will fight. Both belonged to the Congress party. But Jitubhai, a BJP Karyakarta, was trying to lobbying in this basti. Instigating people was his main objective through various meetings. Once, he told, during one meeting, that ‘these Muslims will not leave our Mothers and Sisters. Before they act and do something wrong to our family. We should act upon it and should show them our (Hindu’s) real power. If we do not kill them, we are not safe. We already do have employment, now we won’t have even houses. Where will we live…?” There is a Mariyam Bibi Masjid in Gomtipur. Jitubhai said, “We will demolished this Masjid and will build a new Ayodhya. Because, these ‘Muslims’ have killed ‘our brother Kar-Sevaks’ in the train when they were returning from Ayodhya” this was only one case, there are hundreds of examples like these. Their main target was youths.”

Agents

The process of co-opting Dalits is a long term process. It takes years of years to install something in human brain. These agents have been trying to lure Dalits since more than a decade. The reasons vary from different point of time but objectives have remained the same. It can be through Dharma Gurus, RSS Karyakarta, or other means. These agents have played very significant role in it.

Baba

Sangh Parivar: Sangh Parivar has various sects like VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad), RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), Bajrang Dal. Some of these are militant. And they have also been criticized by various scholars on their ideological framework which is considered to be a fanatical and fundamentalist.

“They gave Dalits Trishuls, swords, rocket launchers, and kerosene with glass-bottles on their own cost. I will tell you, whenever these riots happen, it affects a lot Dalits psychological and physically. Even today, Dalits could not separate themselves from this idea of ‘Hindutva’. From the very beginning, they are critiquing Congress by saying that if Congress comes to the power Muslims will rule India. Our mothers and sisters won’t be safe then after. These Dalit politicians who call themselves so called supporter of Dalits, they have never spoke about Ambedkar. They too have always favoured Hindutva ideology. Dalits have really been used like anything. You will not believe it but it killing was made a business. If you burn a house of Muslim, you will get 2000 rupee. If you break legs/hands of Muslim, you will get 5000 rupee. If you kill a Muslim, you will get 10,000 rupee. This was facilitated by politicians, RSS leaders and other agents. Moreover, liquor was also distributed free of cost in Gomtipur.”

Media

Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana was strategically instilled into people’s mind before Babri Masjid incident.

Newspaper, TV Channels, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Pamphlets

Unemployment and Textile Mills: A major factor

Dalits started leaving their villages keeping lots of hopes and dreams in their hearts. They migrated towards towns and cities in search of better opportunities which they will be getting in textile mills in the first half of twentieth century. Employment plays very significant role in people’s social and economic status. Cities and towns of Gujarat, especially Ahmedabad where industrialization had begun its process to change the skyline, started getting filled up with large number of labor force. Herds of dalits, especially Vankars, migrated to A’bad, a textile industry hub of Gujarat. They were aiming at liberation from economic and social discrimination. There were workers from various caste groups but dalits constituted the large form of the labor force. Vankars are considered to be traditionally weavers and mills presented them to use their skills at much higher rates. Mills had started giving them hopes to unleash themselves from extreme wretchedness, both social and economic. But their hopes and dreams were soon going to shatter. Breman points out this decline of mills:

“In the first half of the twentieth century, dozens of factory stack reached skywards as beacons to the labour that toiled below them. But no smoke has billowed from them for many years, and the sirens that used to call the workers from the surrounding communities to their machines, divided into three shifts around the clock, have been silenced one by one.” (2001: 2)

Textile mill workers were considered to be one of the best paid workers in India during early 1980s. [2] The best part of it was it provided opportunities to Dalits. This profession was a matter of reverence to Dalits; but the closure of mills attacked the very livelihood of Dalits which will be supported by interviews that are followed. Unlike casual workers in informal sectors, textile mills were being offered regular employment with other benefits like

Influence on Dalit

Reaction of Muslims

Conclusion – Co-existence and conflict

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