Ahmedabad: Our series on Gujarat Yatra ends with our final stop, at Ahmedabad, which is often perceived as a city of contrasts, between the urban areas and the resettlement colonies for the riots victims across the Sabaramati that paint a picture of neglect. These are the two sides to a vibrant Ahmedabad: one with the hustle and bustle, well-paved roads and a rapid transport system that has become a role model for our cities and the other grotty, with garbage, poor sanitation, and alienation.
Shabbir Shah, who resides in one of those resettlement colonies, escaped the Ahmedabad suburb of Naroda Patiya after the 2002 riots. He will be casting his first vote this year. His home is in Citizen Nagar. The area appears to have literally fallen off the map, with no schools, medical facilities or even basic sanitation.
Shabbir, however, says he'll never leave the place. "We are comfortable where we live now, we don't think of the other Ahmedabad," he says. Unlike Shabbir, Gaurang wasn't caught in the vortex of violence. But he is only too aware of the growing chasm between the two Ahmedabads.
"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," he says. What's further worrying for both sides is that the wounds are yet to heal, the relationship still unforgiving.
Says Gaurang, "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."
"People have to change the way they think if Naroda Patiya has to be forgotten," says Shabbir.
As you set out from Citizen Nagar to Ahmedabad, you are reminded that there are two realities that continue to exist. And bridging the gap is a process that has to go on, long after Gujarat 2012.