Saturday, January 21, 2012

Signal Falia funds its own gutter lines!

Stark neglect of Muslim ghettos belies chief minister Narendra Modi's claims of development for all in Godhra

Jumana Shah l Godhra

Those living in Godhra's Signal Falia have many tales of woes to tell. They live amid open gutters, which too they claim have been made with their own money, not the nagarpalika's. The area gets inundated during the monsoon, leading to serious health concerns.
The residents claim they do not get even a drop of fresh drinking water, even though they pay water tax regularly to Godhra Nagarpalika. They promptly show copies of tax bills and allege that when they approach the nagarpalika with the bills and seek facilities, they are told that their names do not exist in official records.
Ashraf Chanda, an electrician who works in the area, says the BJP's claims that their workers are reaching out to Muslims are pure hogwash. "They are working with people who were always inclined to the party; no one has come to Signal Falia to invite us to the Sadbhavana Fast. Three buses bearing Modi's posters were reluctantly parked at Signal Falia in the morning, and some people joined of their own volition. But there has been no interaction," he said.
To say that retired driver of Western Railway, Hussain Saif, is frustrated would be an understatement. "Our children have grown up amid this filth. Forget Sadbhavana and development; all we ask for is our basic human rights for clean water and gutter," he said.
Several others sitting at a tea stall on the crossroads of Signal Falia join Chanda in asserting this, but they do not want to be identified. Indeed, several people with long beards and donning white skullcaps could be seen at the Sadbhavana venue, but the flow was not as overwhelming as in Ahmedabad. At another adjoining Muslim ghetto, the scene was similar. Ismail Mainda claimed the difference between the streets of Signal Falia and other parts of Godhra was too obvious to be missed.
"Even sweepers and postmen are not allowed to come here. Our roads are not swept and no solid waste is collected from here. We have waited for 20 years. How long now before we get drinking water and gutter?" he says.
Mainda's face is rather expressionless when he says other discriminations like unemployment continue to haunt their educated youth. "There is nothing wrong with our boys, but they do not get jobs. The BJP has not come to include us in Sadbhavana Fast because they know they cannot walk these filthy streets. They cannot face us. However, they would come unabashed seeking votes before polls," he adds.
Ishaq Gheetelee, a rickshaw driver and resident of Mainda Plot, says their area has become notorious without any reason. "There was never any communal hatred in Godhra before 2002. Incidents of untoward crime were never recorded from here, but after 2002, the BJP created such polarisation in the town that people started fearing us. Our businesses have also been affected. There is no hatred, but the discrimination by the establishment definitely continues. There is no inclusion from the BJP; all projections are superficial," he says.


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