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Gujarat: Divided communities

Latest update : 2008-08-23

Located in the west of India, the state of Gujarat is at the border with Pakistan. In this region where relations between Hindus and Muslims have always been tense, the two communities are now separated by a wall.

Located in the west of India on the border with Pakistan, the State of Gujarat has been caught in ongoing tensions between Muslims and Hindus.

Gujarat hit the headlines last month after 49 people died in a series of explosions in the capital Ahmedabad. A Muslim militant group, ‘the Indian Mujahedeen,’ claimed responsibility for the attacks, which are still being investigated.

But Muslims now live in fear of reprisals and many are still haunted by the memories of the dramatic incidents that happened six years before.

On the 27th of February 2002, a train transporting Hindu pilgrims was set on fire in the town of Godhra. Fifty eight died.

In a act of revenge, the Hindus targeted the Muslim community and massacred between 1000 and 2 000 of them.

Seven years later, Muslims still suffer discrimination. A number of them have had to flee their homes and villages without any form of compensation.

Hindu nationalists, who have been in power since 1995, keep society under close surveillance. They accuse young Muslims of wanting to wreck chaos in India on behalf of Pakistan.

In Ahmedabad, once Gandhi’s adopted home, the two communities live side by side but separated by a six-metre-high wall. Four hundred thousands Muslims live east of the wall and as many Hindus on the western side.

But isolation is driving a growing number of Hindus and Muslims towards radicalism, demonstrated by the development of the Deobandi movement, which preaches a radical version of Islam.
 

Date created : 2008-08-15