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Haven for Ahmedabad Muslims
By Tarique Omum

Before March 1, 2002, Juhapura was simply a Muslim majority pocket of Ahmedabad with a population of 1.5 lakh. This area under Vijalpur police station remained peaceful and unharmed during communal violence in Ahmedabad. People settling in this erstwhile working class area are businessmen, professionals and government officials. One sees youthful volunteers building the impregnable fortress with no obvious sign of fear.

Juhapura remained peaceful during the pogrom. People maintained communal harmony and there was no bitterness in the air. Now, after the violence seems to be under control, Muslims have developed a tendency to huddle together. 

Necessity is the mother of invention, goes the proverb, Muslims of Gujarat have realised that it would be a folly to rely on government officials to help them. Hence the appeal for the idea of making Juhapura a predominantly Muslim town with sound infrastructure and management. An advisory committee, which started functioning recently includes judges, IPS officers, executives, businessmen, lawyers and bureaucrats, has unanimously decided to realise the vision of a haven for Muslims. 

Riots have ruined not only the poor, but even the well-to-do Muslims. A number of well-heeled Muslims have finally decided to settle in Juhapura. Some of them are: A I Saeed (OSD to KPS Gill), FS Khan, (a government official), Muslim employees of anti-corruption bureau, AM Diveja (former High Court judge), Iqbal Java (eminent High Court lawyer), RK Mushir (employee of the ministry of communication), Shamshuddin Pirzadah (former civil judge), M Tamanshodah (former director of the ministry of health) and RK Qadri (former police commissioner). Those who have already settled here are followed by their kith and kin and acquaintances.

As the construction work is in progress, a string of hospitals, schools, mosques and community centres are planned. Eighty eight residential complexes are about to be completed. Seven massive buildings for English-medium schools, three general hospitals, three hotels and 35 mosques are also under construction. Muezzins’ calls to prayers have already started charging the atmosphere with spirituality.

The Juhapura Welfare Society, presently faced with all manner of hurdles is quite optimistic, and feels that mutual understanding, selflessness and spirit of cooperation will ultimately make a success of the project. A team of 80 doctors, 12 engineers and 81 retired government officers has inspired a new confidence in them. 

Says Mr Sharma, additional police commissioner, Juhapura has been spared only because it is represented in Gujarat Legislative Assembly by a BJP candidate, Mr Ummat Shah. RK Naeem, former secretary of the Gujarat ministry of health is of the opinion that total isolation and segregation from the plural society of India is in no way a wise decision. As a matter of fact, Muslims under constant threat of genocide and arson, are not completely safe anywhere. 

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