//Cops host Hindu, Muslim marriages

Cops host Hindu, Muslim marriages

Ahmedabad: A police station in the city’s Dariapur neighbourbood that was witness to communal violence about four years ago, hosted a wedding ceremony for 20 poor Hindu and Muslim couples yesterday.

In a gesture to promote interaction between the local people and police, Dariapur police inspector Vakhatsinh Vanaar had made a proposal to the local peace committee to arrange for a mass wedding function in the premises of the police station. Vanar said: "This is for the first time that a police station has hosted mass marriages, that too for people belonging to both the communities.

"This is an attempt to promote communal harmony in this riot-prone area and also our sincere effort to bring the citizens closer to police." Dariapur, a locality with high Muslim population, was one of the flashpoints when the city witnessed communal violence in 2002. The sectarian strife had claimed at least 1,000 lives across the state. As local leaders agreed to the proposal, the police station was turned into a wedding hall for a day. Police officials and local leaders apart from State Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel attended the function. Two separate areas were readied for the unique occasion — a massive marquee where 10 Muslim couples tied the knot according to the Islamic traditions, while 10 sacrificial fire enclosures were prepared to conduct the traditional ceremony for ten Hindu couples.

At the end of the ceremonies, the couples were blessed not only by their parents, but also by community leaders, local politicians and police officers. "Our family members were not ready for my marriage with the woman of my choice, but the peace committee members approached them on my request and they agreed for our marriage," said Ghanshyam Goswami, a bridegroom sitting under a canopy embellished with a series of tricolours. "Now we have got married here at this police station. We are delighted to have got married here," he said. Local leaders, who helped police in organising the event, appreciated the gesture. "Thanks to the mass marriage event, so many people from either community have gathered here. Otherwise, there was little contact between the people from the two communities since the communal violence," local councillor Hasan Lala said.

He said police redeemed the anti-minority image from the days of communal violence. Khatija Sheikh, a local resident, added: "We could never have thought of entering the police station earlier. But when police have extended a hand of friendship, people would definitely respond in a positive manner."

Nasiruddin Sheikh, one of the 20 members of the peace committee, said: "We had lots of problems regarding the image of our locality. Dariapur is infamous for its communal strife. This event will help in improving our image along with that of police." Sheikh also got his nephew Adil Nawaz married in the function.
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January2006&file=World_News2006013131428.xml