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A home for long now just a death trap

A home for long now just a death trap

Author: Palak Nandi
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 10, 2002
URL: http://www.indian-express.com/full_story.php?content_id=2401

Prem Darwaza in Ahmedabad is another Panwad, though here Hindus are at the receiving end unlike the Vadodara village. The locality stands out with its burnt houses, and broken bangles, steel utensils and torn bedsheets scattered across the streets.

A half damaged wall full of charcoal scribbles summarises the Vaghri Vas locality's feelings: ''Mini Pakistan''; ''Miya Vad, Karachi''; Don't come back or you'll pay a heavy price'', and ''Hindus not allowed''.

Before the riots, around 800 people lived at Vaghri Vas, mostly Hindu Dalits. In the hate wave that followed, both communities were targetted. While the Dalits fled, some Muslims dared to stay put.

Now things have changed. Unlike earlier, the minority community now calls the shots. Jeetendra Datania, an autorickshaw driver, said: ''We were living here for almost 40 years. Though outsiders attacked their (Muslim) homes on February 28, they avenged it by driving us out on March 21. Now, not one of us dares to enter the locality.''

A daily wager's wife, Bhavnaben Naranbhai, said: ''We were more in numbers. But we dare not enter our locality now. If we try, they shoo us away saying 'Jo tha, sab khatam ho gaya. Chale jao, varna pachtaoge (Life's no longer the same. Run or you'll regret it).''

The Dalits have put up at a nearby temple for when they returned home about a week back, they found dead animals in their houses. ''The walls were full of warnings,'' said Raju, Bhavnaben's younger brother.

Life is much the same at Bhanderi-ni-Pol in Kalupur locality. As many as 518 riot-hit people from Kalupur Darwaza and Kalupur Tower now stay at the Bahuchar Mata nu Mandir. ''We have no choice. My shop was looted, our house pelted with stones and handmade petrol bombs,'' said Jaswantbhai Modi.

The locality of the temple is the ''the border'' for just across live Muslims. ''A constant flow of stones, petrol bombs and even bullets from across the border is regular,'' Nirmalaben Dave said. She lost her house in the riots. ''We avoid going close to the border.''

Though the camps here are registered, the refugees have not been allotted a building to stay in. Refugees in Kalupur sleep on the streets and those in Dariapur spend the days in a building under construction.

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