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Published in the 16-30 Nov 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Image-hungry Modi govt. rushes to showcase Muslim shrines 

Ahmdebad: The Gujarat government tried to project a secular image by showcasing Muslim shrines in Vibrant Gujarat 2004 celebrations during Navratri. The government officials had been asked to make efforts that the fete looked like secular and promoted communal harmony.

The shrines belonging to Parsi, Sikh and Christian communities were also showcased during the fete. A separate enclosure showcased Juma Masjid of Junagadh, Mira Datar in Unava, Saraspur Na Roza, Shah Alam Roza, Sidi Sayeed Jali, Haji Pir, Pir Bhadiyad and Pirana shrines. Muslim leaders of the state were of the view that the state government was doing so to improve its image as it was responsible for the genocide of Muslims during Gujarat riots. The leaders have, however, welcomed the gesture of the government. Dr Shakeel Ahmed, secretary of the Islamic Relief Committee, said that Islam was being displayed to show communal harmony. It was like adding salt to the injury as nearly 650 shrines or tombs were razed during them riots but the government has not framed any policy to reconstruct them as yet.

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