//Juhapura's Muslims face marginalisation

Juhapura's Muslims face marginalisation

Friday, March 3, 2006 (Ahmedabad): In Juhapura in Ahmedabad, the minorities feel increasingly marginalised. In this area, there is no bank, no ATM, no bus route, thus cutting off an entire section of people from the mainstream society.

Lack of facilities — When Wajid Malik, a shopkeeper, wants to withdraw money from an ATM, he has to ride a long distance to access it. There are no ATMs in Juhapura nor a single bank in this Muslim suburb of Ahmedabad, which is home to nearly five lakh people. Forty per cent of them migrated here after the post-Godhra violence of 2002. "We have to go very far for our bank related work. We waste time and petrol because the closest ATM is five kilometres away and is always crowded. I have been living here for the last 27 years and no one has ever opened a bank in Juhapura," said Malik.

Communal divide — In a city where the communal divide runs deep, Hindus regard Juhapura with suspicion and the administration appears to share their misgivings. Before the riots, there was a state transport bus stand here. But the route was discontinued by the authorities because some passengers said they felt unsafe travelling through a Muslim dominated area. These misplaced fears, says Shafee Manniar, one of Ahmedabad’s most prominent businessmen and a resident of Juhapura, feed the area’s underdevelopment. "I feel that Juhapura’s name was maligned during the riots and because of it, we have no benefits. The area is so big that it should be a municipality, but today there is no bank, you don’t get credit cards or a car loan if you stay here. It’s unfair," said Manniar.
Growing isolation — Bank representatives refused to speak on camera, but explain their lack of presence because:

  • Of lack of safety for ATMs and deposits.
  • Problem of recovery in case of non-repayment of loans.
  • In Ahmedabad, the complaint that Muslims don’t want to be part of the Indian mainstream is common, but this situation only shows that the state is doing little to end the growing marginalisation.
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