The Gujarat story of development is incomplete without Ahmedabad, which is often perceived as a city of contrasts, between the urban areas and the resettlement colonies for victims of the 2002 riots across the Sabaramati that have been neglected to a large extent.
Vibrant Ahmedabad has two stories: one of rapid development – well-paved roads and a rapid transport system that has earned the envy of other cities and the other that reeks of administrative apathy.
Shabbir Shah, who resides in one of the resettlement colonies, escaped the Ahmedabad suburb of Naroda Patiya after the 2002 riots. He will be casting his vote for the first time this year. His home is in Citizen Nagar. This is a place which has almost fallen off Modi’s development agenda – with no schools, hospitals or infrastructure visible.
However he is not keen to settle anywhere else.
“We are comfortable where we live now, we don’t think of the other Ahmedabad,” he said.
Unlike Shabbir, Gaurang – a young middle class professional, wasn’t caught in the vortex of violence.
But he’s not in denial of the wounds that both the communities have inflicted on each other.
“Young people live in their own small circle, so the Hindu middle class people will have 99 per cent friends belonging to their own caste, class and religion. The Muslim young people will have their own people,” Gaurang said.
“For example, if I talk to a average middle class young person, and if I ask what do you think about what happened in 2002, he will be like, ‘ohh it was because they wanted it, we wanted to teach them a lesson, because our community is harassed by the other community for so many years, so that was our time to have a bat in our hand, and we have put lot of our sixers.’ And I am giving you those words that they use, and that is when we realise who’s affected,” he said.
The wounds of 2002 are still fresh in the minds of people in Ahmedabad – a fact reiterated by many people throughout the Gujarat elections and is something that may well carry beyond the poll fever.