Will hamper the ‘peace-loving nature here,’ say residents, block rehab of 300 displaced families

vadodaraPolice officers at the Kapurai homes where families from Suleiman Chawl are supposed to move in. Express photo by Bhupendra RanaResidents of Kapurai — a neighbourhood in Vadodara where about 300 displaced families, mostly Muslims, are supposed to be relocated following the demolition of their homes in Suleiman Chawl — have written to the Vadodara Municipal Corporation protesting against the move. The letter states that allowing Muslims to move into the locality will “hamper the peace-loving nature here” as their “daily activity involves assaulting and abusing”.

Kapurai is located about a kilometre from Hanuman Tekri, where the Best Bakery outlet run by a Muslim family was set ablaze during the 2002 Gujarat riots, resulting in 14 deaths.

As many as 318 clustered homes in Suleiman Chawl were on Tuesday demolished as part of the VMC’s ‘Slum Free Vadodara’ drive. On Monday, the civic body had conducted a draw of lots to choose homes for 218 families, who would be relocated under the Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) housing scheme. The documents of the rest of the families are being verified.

Upset at their homes being demolished, some residents had on Tuesday set on fire a police chowki, a city bus and 10 two-wheelers. The arson lasted for a couple of hours until police used force to disperse the crowd. On Wednesday, residents of Kapurai met VMC standing committee chairperson Dr Jigesha Sheth to hand over a memorandum opposing the relocation.

The memorandum, signed by “residents of Dabhoi road and Soma Talav” states that “the Best Bakery incident that occurred in the past is known world over. It has caused a lot of pain to residents of Dabhoi Road, some of whom continue to suffer that pain”.

The letter, addressed to VMC commissioner H S Patel and Mayor Bharat Dangar, goes on to state: “The VMC has demolished the illegal Suleiman Chawl that had become a headache for 40 years. It is a matter of joy for the eastern part of the city. However, we oppose the VMC’s decision to relocate the Muslim families of Suleiman Chawl to alternate accommodation under the BSUP housing scheme on Dabhoi Road (Kapurai), which has developed as a luxurious area in the last seven years. Allotting homes to Muslim families from Suleiman Chawl in this area will hamper the peace-loving nature here.”

The memorandum states that it is a “known fact” that people whose “daily activity involves assaulting and abusing do not change their anti-social mindset”. It says that relocating the families would lead to “riots, assaults, criminal incidents, hampering the social order in the area”.


“Fourteen years ago, when talks were held for demolishing Suleiman Chawl, the residents were to be rehabilitated in areas of Tandalja and Ekta Nagar (both Muslim-dominated areas), so it is surprising that they have been allotted homes under the BSUP scheme at Kapurai, which is still incomplete. We are worried about the future and we demand that the allotment of homes to Muslim families in Kapurai be cancelled and they be moved to areas inhabited by their own community.” Sheth, who was handed the letter Wednesday, said there had been a “mistake” while planning the relocation. “It is a sensitive situation. We can either resolve it through dialogue or by taking tough decisions.

The truth is that there has been a mistake many years ago while planning this relocation. Knowing well that there could be opposition of communities dominating a particular locality, the VMC should have planned housing schemes in certain areas for each community,” Sheth said. “Residents of the societies around the BSUP schemes met me today and expressed their concern. I am waiting for the Mayor to return to the city so we can come up with a solution. The biggest challenge is to change the mindset of people,” she said. Amid protests from locals, police were posted at Kapurai to prevent any untoward incident as Muslim families tried to move into their new homes on Tuesday evening.

Unable to shift into their new homes owing to the hostility, the families held another protest at Suleiman Chawl on Wednesday. A Muslim resident of Suleiman Chawl said they were ready to shift into their homes in Kapurai, but not with the ongoing opposition. The father of two, who did not wish to be identified, said, “We are all poor and have our livelihood in this area. The women work as domestic helps, mostly in Hindu homes here. I do not understand the opposition.”

The civic body had encountered a similar situation last year when residents of Sayajipura JNNURM protested against letting 481 families displaced from their Kalyannagar homes move into the locality. Eventually, a decision was taken to build new homes for the families at Kalyannagar itself. – See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/vadodara-locality-to-civic-body-dont-let-muslims-here-kapurai-2829764/#sthash.Q8PvfACv.dpuf