FIR brands Ahmedabad's Muslim area as Pakistan
The ‘bordered road’ that divides Muslim ghetto from Hindu dominated area.
AHMEDABAD: In a communally polarized city of Ahmedabad, references to Hindu ghettos as ‘India’ or ‘Hindustan’, Muslim ghettos as ‘Pakistan’ and roads which divide these as ‘border’ is common-place.

The largest Muslim ghetto at Juhapura is commonly referred to as ‘Mini Pakistan’ that shares a ‘Wagah border‘ — the arterial road that divides it from Hindu dominated Vejalpur.

However, this street lingo is now being legitimized in official records. An FIR filed by Rakhial police against four involved in a brawl mentions two accused — Bablu Azizbhai and Faizan Azizbhai — as residents of ‘Vatva, Pakistan’! Much like Thane’s Nallasopara, where some of the 500-odd Muslim families have reportedly been getting electricity bills that list their address as ‘Chota‘ or ‘Little Pakistan‘.

The reference is to a housing enclave where 2,500 Muslim families have been rehabilitated from slums on the Sabarmati river-bed for development of a riverfront. The other block houses 1,500 families from both communities. The 4,000-unit colony was constructed five years back by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and allotted along communal lines on owners’ request.

Rakhial police inspector Barkat Ali Chavda said, “The writer wrote Pakistan as the address in FIR because it was dictated to us by the city control room. This is quite normal here. Those who live there also identify themselves as residents of Pakistan”.

In AMC records, the mixed block is called ‘Sadbhavna Nagar’ while the entirely Muslim block is called ‘Vasant Gajendra Gadkar Nagar after a local icon of communal harmony. In the middle of ‘Hindustan’ and ‘Pakistan’, a police post named ‘Sadbhavna chowky’ was set up two years back after an incident of stone-peltin.

“We are used to this, even auto-rickshaw drivers ask whether we want to go to ‘Hindustan’ or ‘Pakistan'”, says local resident Samir Sheikh.

“Complainants many a times dictate information in such lose manner. Here, complainant must have recorded his statement in this manner; he may have played some mischief. However, cops should have cross-checked before making it part of the FIR. After all, during investigation, such anomalies are removed. Beyond this, I cannot comment much on this because I have not seen the FIR,” said secretary (home), G S Malik.

Times View

The fact that an FIR in Ahmedabad refers to a predominantly Muslim locality as being situated in Pakistan ought not to be taken lightly. It would be mistake to view it merely as an error by a lowly policeman. If the police, which is supposed to uphold the law, gets imbued with such a communal mindset and if such a development is treated casually, it can only lead to further alienation of the Muslims, the consequences of which would be disastrous. Exemplary action must be taken to show that the state does not condone such a communal mindset.