Wali Gujarati: Father of Urdu poetry

Wali Gujarati [1667-1707] is considered father of Urdu poetry. While we all know the respect Ghalib paid to Meer few of us know what Meer Taqi Meer said about Wali:

Khugar nahin kuch yun hi hum Rekhta-goi kay
Mashooq jo apna tha, bashinda-e-Dakhan tha
[It isn’t casually that I began dabbling in Urdu
I picked it from my lover, a native of the Deccan]

Sample some of his ashaar:

mujh par na karo zulm tum, aik laila-e-khoobaN
majnooN hooN, tere gham kooN biyabaaN se kahoonga

dil-e-ishaaq kyuN na huay raushan
jab khyaal-e-sanam chiragh hua

aik qibla-roo hamesha mehrab meiN bhawaaN ki
karti haiN teri palkaaN mil kar namaaz goya

asr-e-baaadah-e-jawani hai
kar gaya hooN sawal kuchh ka kuchh

ai wali uss be-wafa ki meharbani par na bhool
dil ka dushman hai, magar karta hai baateiN pyaar ki


Here is a documentary about Wali’s life:

Hamida Chopra talking about Wali:

and some ghazals of Wali:

jisse ishq ka teer kari lage by Iqbal Bano:

Tujh lab ki sifat by Abida Parveen:

Gulab aahista aahista by Mallika Pukhraj:

Wali’s dargah was destroyed during 2002 anti-Muslim violence of Gujarat and a road built over it overnight. There is a facebook page demanding rebuilding of the dargah.

Marginalizing Muslims In Gujarat

History of Muslims in Gujarat is older than the idea of Gujarat itself, then how is it that Muslims now find themselves at the edge (both figuratively and literally) of the present day Gujarati society?

In the aftermath of partition when most of north India was burning, Gujarat remained peaceful. The first major post-independence Hindu-Muslim violence took place in Ahmedabad in 1969. But if we go back in history, from 1714 to 1969 there were only two incidents of communal violence – 1941 and 1946. The violence of 1969, in which more than 1100 people were killed, was the beginning of separation of Hindus and Muslims but it was 1985 riots that sealed Muslims’ fate in the state for years to come.

Erasing Muslims: Fatema Masjid, the only mosque on Ahmadabad-Gandhinagar highway was bulldozed in Dec. 2010

Since the formation of the state in 1960, Gujarat remained a politically unstable state. Between 1960 and 1990, Gujarat had eight assemblies, nine chief ministers, and 20 ministries. Only one, Madhavsinh Solanki was able to complete his term as chief mister. This was also a time of many political mobilizations and rioting.

In 1950s Mahgujarat movement led to the formation of the state of Gujarat. 1970s saw the anti-corruption Navnirman movement led by socialists and joined by Sangh Parivar, giving Sanghis their first lessons in mass mobilization. This came in handy during 1980s anti-reservation movement when it was hijacked by Sangh activists and turned into anti-Muslim violence. Ram janmbhoomi movement of 1990s and the genocide of 2002 was the pay off for the Sangh Parivar’s work of spreading hate over three decades.

Dr. Ornit Shani of University of Haifa has studied the communal violence of 1985 in details. She marks 1985 as an important point in the marginalization of Muslims in Gujarat. She writes in her book, Communalism, Caste and Hindu Nationalism:
“In the 1985 riots, conflicts around the reservation of places in educational and government institutions for backward-caste Hindus transmogrified into communal violence even though there was no prior religious tension between Hindus and Muslims, and local Muslims had no part in the reservation dispute between forward- and backward-caste Hindus. These riots marked the beginnings of the shift from several decades of Congress dominance to the triumph of the Hindu nationalist BJP in Gujarat as well as in Indian national politics.”

The violence of 1985 came just days after Congress rode back to power with a thumping majority under the leadership of Madhavsinh Solanki. Successful social engineering of KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Ahir, and Muslim) alliance returned Congress MLAs in 149 seats with a vote share of 55.5% which still remains a record. A week after the formation of the new government, on March 18th, 1985, a Gujarat bandh was called by organizations opposed to the reservation policy. Muslims had remained aloof from the anti-reservation movement as it neither harmed nor benefitted them.

On the night of March 18th, while savarna Hindus were busy in sounding a death-knell to reservation as part of the day’s bandh, a stone hit a Muslim boy in Naginapol area of Ahmadabad. Soon, this turned into a major violence between Hindus and Muslims. Army was called in the next day and the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi paid a visit on March 23rd. Violence continued for next four months.

Amarsinh Choudhry replaced Solanki as chief minister on July 6th and soon after he agreed to the demands of the anti-reservationists. Reservation increase was rolled back and all those detained for violence released. From February to July of 1985, 220 people lost their lives. Only in Ahmadabad 662 anti-reservation and 743 communal incidents were recorded. Muslims were the main victims of the riots with 2,500 houses damaged, 1500 shops burnt, about 100 killed and hundreds severely injured.

Die was cast for Muslims, Hindus who have continued to live close to Muslims in old areas of Ahmadabad began to move out, forming a segregated city that continue to widen the gulf between Hindus and Muslims. “Physical separation between middle and upper middle classes grew to the point where young Ahmedabadis would be unlikely to encounter a Muslim. Few Indian cities have managed such a systematic separation based on caste, class and community,” writes Prof. Arvind Rajagopal.

Another image of Gujarat: grave of Wali Gujarati was razed in 2002 and road built over-night, it is yet to be restored. [Photo by Nasiruddin Haider Khan]

That physical separation was necessary for things to come in 1990s and especially the genocide of 2002. While the world watched with horror the violence unleashed in Gujarat in 2002, the man who presided the genocide was none other than Narendra Modi.

It was no accident that Narendara Modi was at the helm of affairs. Modi a life-long member of RSS was a key organizer of Gujarat BJP in 1980s and early 1990s. He was the man behind Nyay Yatra in 1987, Lok Shaki Yatra (1989), Gujarat leg of Advani’s Somnath to Ayodhya Yatra (1989), and Ekta Yatra (1991). Gujarat was among the state that sent highest number of karsevaks for demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. All these yatras and mobilization helped make Muslims as the “other” or the “enemy” in Gujarat.

Muslims, according to Sangh Parivar, have no right to exist, are not part of Gujarat, have no history worth remembering or contribution in making of Gujarat. Perhaps, this is best symbolized by the grave of Vali Gujarati which was destroyed during the violence of 2002, overnight a road built over it and a decade later the road still exists over a poet’s grave who sang high praises of Gujarat’s plural society.

Vahan sakin hain itne ahle mazhab
ke ginne mein na aawe unke mazhab
Agarche voh hai sab ibn-e adam
vale binish mein ranga rang aalam

[there live people of different religion, it is impossible to count them all
Although all are sons of Adam, they appear in all colors of the world]

The new Gujarat doesn’t believe in pluralism and it is better if a poet who sang about Gujarat and celebrated its pluralism and diversity remain buried in the ground and forgotten.

Arvind Rajagopal, Special political zone: urban planning, spatial segregation and the infrastructure of violence in Ahmedabad. South Asian History and Culture, 1947-2501, Volume 1, Issue 4, 01 October 2010, Pages 529 – 556.

Mosques Of Gujarat

Part 3 of TwoCircles.net series on Gujarat

If one has to choose one image to represent Muslims in Gujarat, it has to be the famous jali of Sidi Saeed Mosque in Ahmedabad. Look closely and you will see a banyan tree occupying the entire screen and enveloping a palm tree. In other words, Muslim presence in Gujarat is a story of an overwhelming acceptance of local culture and tradition while maintaining the Islamic core.

Muslim history in Gujarat spans more than millennia. Some of the oldest mosques of India are found in this region.

Watch Video:Mosques of Gujarat

Sanjan, a small town 150 km south of Surat is probably the site of the oldest existing masjid of Gujarat. Jami Masjid was built by the founder of short-lived Muslim dynasty [813-841 CE] of Sanjan. Fadl, the founder of the Mahan dynasty build a jama masjid where khutba was read in the name of Abbasid Caliph Mamun.


There is some confusion about the oldest mosque of Gujarat. While majority of scholars point to structures in Bhadresvar as the oldest Islamic structure, Maulana Hakim Syed Abdul Hayi author of Yaad-e-Ayyam: Mukhtasir Tareekh-e-Gujarat writes that Madrasa Maulana Ishaq in Bharuch was established in 1038 CE, and Jama Masjid of Bharuch built in 1065 CE.

Two mosques and a tomb in Bhadresvar in Kachh give us a peek into one of the earliest Muslim community of this region. A small community of Muslims built two mosques and a tomb that are one of the first examples of a uniquely Gujarati Islamic architecture. These buildings were probably made by same artisans and architects who were making temples in the region. Chhoti Masjid, Solahkhambi Masjid, and Tomb of Ibrahim were constructed in mid-1100s. These buildings borrow heavily from temple architecture theories but modified according to Islamic injunctions and practices.


Western wall of Sidi Saeed Masjid, last of the famous mosques built in Maru-Gurjara sytle.

Scholar Alka Patel in her book Building communities in Gujarat: Architecture and Society during the Twelfth through Fourteenth Centuries argues that architecture that thus developed by temple builders constructing mosques can be placed into Maru-Gujrara style of architecture.

Maru-Gurjara style was prevalent in Rajasthan and Gujarat region. By fifteenth century an architectural treatise Vrksarnava on Maru-Gurjara style included a chapter on construction of mosques or rahmana-prasada. Five hundred years of building mosques gives us some of the most beautiful examples of mosque in stone. Fortunately, most of these mosques have survived and one can easily see this flawless poetry in stones by visiting Junagadh, Cambay, Bharuch, Surat, Champaner, and Ahmadabad.



The Making Of Gujarat

Part 2 of TwoCircles.net series on Gujarat

Sultans of Gujarat ruled the region for over a period of 160 years but the marks that they left on the ground helped shape Gujarat for centuries to come. Gujarat was at its widest spread under the Sultans who governed a vast area which forms now part of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Gujarat as a state of Independent India was founded only on March 1, 1960 but its identity as a separate region with distinct language and culture was established under Gujarati sultans. Continue reading The Making Of Gujarat

Muslim History Of Gujarat


Talk about Muslims of Gujarat and pictures of genocide of 2002 come to mind. How is that Muslims, who have lived and shaped Gujarati identity for over a millennium, are now living on the fringe of Gujarati society? TwoCircles.net series on Gujarat will trace Muslim presence and contributions to Gujarat and reveal their present condition. Continue reading Muslim History Of Gujarat

Godhra Verdict: Whither Justice?

Need for a CBI Investigation

On 22rd February 2011, the session’s court gave its verdict on Godhra train burning of Sabarmati Express. It accepted the Gujarat state’s theory that the local Muslims had hatched a conspiracy to burn S-6 Coach of Sabaramati Express. At the same time of the 94 people being tried for this crime 63 were exonerated of the crime and 31 were held to be the guilty of planning to burn the Kar Sevaks. Continue reading Godhra Verdict: Whither Justice?

Gujarat Carnage: Modi and SIT

After the Special Investigation Team appointed by Supreme Court submitted its report in December 2010, a front page headline in a leading daily announced that SIT gives a clean chit to Modi. This was picked up by a large section of the media to hail Modi being the man for progress of Gujarat. The industrialist’s chorus for Modi the potential Prime minster is on from last quit some time. This news of ‘clean chit’ to Modi gladdened the hearts of communal forces. The social activists could not believe what they read. Number of Citizens inquiry Committee reports has already worked overtime to bring forward the truth of Gujarat carnage. It has been called as a state sponsored carnage by social activists for no reason. The ground work of activists, interacting with the hapless victims already had given the precise picture of what took place in Gujarat. There are scores of Citizens committee reports, and also the report of Peoples tribunal, led by the leading legal luminary who had concluded that the carnage went on the way it did due to the pro active involvement of Modi Government which gave it the horrific character.

Despite all the reports a substantial section of the popular perception looked at Modi in a favorable light. The way truth is undermined when it pertains to the minorities and weaker sections of society was clear in the case of Gujarat carnage. Though ‘social consciousness’ had some doubts that the carnage was not handled well, the major focus was shifted to Godhra carnage and the alleged role of Muslims was highlighted. This projected role of Muslims seemed to be giving justification to Hindus retaliating. Despite the Bannerjee Commissions report, saying that Godhra tragedy was not preplanned act by Muslims, in popular perceptions it could not make a dent as already the media and other propaganda machinery led by Modi had created the image of aggressive Muslims burning the train.

Now with SIT coming to investigate some aspects of the carnage there was a hope amongst victims and social activists that the truth of Gujarat, the truth of the state sponsored carnage will finally come out and the guilty will be punished and victims will get justice. With this hope in the background when the perceptions were manufactured that SIT has given a clean chit to Modi, it was a fake and bitter pill for the victims and social activists doing their best to fight for the cause of justice. With so called news of SIT giving clean chit many further lost the faith in the system, with the feeling that probably this is end of the road for justice in this country.

Fortunately that is not the case. The Tehelka scoop (5th February 2011) clearly shows that the newspaper headline was a concoction. The scoop shows that the report has squarely put the blame of carnage on Modi. All the charges against him stand vindicated in the SIT investigation report. The report practically confirms all the findings of the people’s tribunal and other Citizens committees who painstakingly investigated the Gujarat violence and called it a pogrom. The SIT report submitted to the Supreme Court tells that Modi had tried to alter the situation in the Gulbarg society by saying, by now most infamous, ‘every action has equal and opposite reaction’. SIT report confirms that Gujarat Government had deputed ministers in the police control room, a move which gave the management of violence in the political hands making it more horrific and motivated act. It was a common knowledge that few honest police officers, who had stood by the call of their duty and prevented the aggravation of violence, were transferred to insignificant postings.

With this scoop now it stands confirmed that the Gujarat Government had destroyed the records of wireless communication of the period of the violence. Modi did display a discriminatory attitude towards the victim minorities and he did not visit the riot affected areas or minority camps till quiet late during the carnage. Government appointed RSS affiliated lawyers in the sensitive riot cases. Modi did not take any steps to stop the Bandh call given by VHP and supported by BJP on 28th February, this move of VHP gave a big start to the massacre and the attitude of state to the bandh gave a signal to the rioters for doing what they did. SIT confirms that the officials tried to mislead the election commission in the wake of forth coming elections by projecting that there is peace and atmosphere is conducive for elections while the truth was that the violence was simmering in the society. Police has carried out extremely shoddy innvetigagation of Naroda Patia and Gulbarg society cases.

There are diverse reactions to the report. The social activists are demanding that this is the sufficient ground for lodging FIR against Modi. The BJP on the contrary is more worried about investigating as to how the leak took place. Interestingly while today this party is demanding probe into the scoop, BJP and no one else raised the question when the news ‘SIT gives clean chit to Modi’ was highlighted! Nobody in their best wisdom asked a question as to when the report is confidential how come this headline in the newspapers? In a classic display of double standards BJP never questioned the first ‘leak’, as that suited its political purpose. Now when the boot is in the other foot the legality of scoop etc is being raised.

Meanwhile what is happening to the victim community? They have been browbeaten in to second class citizenship, ghettoization is going up by leaps and bounds, and the process of justice to victims of violence is prominent by its absence, the efforts of human rights activists succeeding in few cases, notwithstanding.

That raises the larger issue of how the popular perceptions are modulated, how the mass consciousness is manufactured in the society. Right since the Godhra train burning a particular view of events put across by the murderers is dominating the media world. Any doubts about the major erosion of the story have been treated with contempt by large sections of media. In the case of headline ‘SIT gives a clean chit to Modi’, the same perception was boosted that it is the minorities and social activists who are the cause of trouble. The social perceptions are very crucial in making the criminals of the of the ilk of Modi to rule with iron hand to and to keep getting re-elected despite having a huge stock of skeletons in the cupboard, despite there being blood on his hands.

In this battle for the minds of society the communal elements are having the major manipulating power at present. Goebbels is being outplayed in Gujarat. This whole episode should make us do the introspection as to how to ensure that ‘truth shall prevail’ in present circumstance. Also which are these forces, politics-media alliance which can manipulate the mass thinking at will by publishing that ‘SIT has given clean chit to Modi’? If we cannot wake up to this stark fact of our society, such popular perceptions will be laying the ground for the mass murderers to keep ruling with the great appreciation form the communal forces and captains of industry and they can also manipulate the opinion of masses in their favor.

No match to Narendra Modi’s Muslim obsession

By Soroor Ahmed,

The Muslim obsession of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi continues even eight-and-a-half years after the communal riots of February-April 2002. If in the past he used expressions like Mian and not General before President Musharraf of Pakistan, during the recent election for the six civic bodies in Gujarat, which the BJP won, he targeted the Congress by alleging that it wants to install the statue of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, while he himself is eager to build the statue of Iron Man of India, Vallabh Bhai Patel. According to him it would be double the height of the Statue of Liberty in the United States––it would be 182 metres tall––and would be known as the Statue of Unity. Ironically the latter as India’s first Home Minister after independence played an important role in getting the RSS banned for some time after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Though Indian Muslims have nothing to do with Musharraf, who was the ruler of Pakistan, and Sohrabuddin, who was a gangster, expressions like Mian, which is used to address Muslims, were deliberately used to tease them and consolidate the Hindu votebank.

However, of late Modi has been trying to improve his image and during the recent election for six Municipal Corporations the BJP floated the name of Abdullah Ibrahim Saiyad, a retired IPS for the post of Mayor of Ahmedabad. But not surprisingly the said man, a former Additional Director General of Police, lost from his own seat of Sarkhej in Ahmedabad and thus Modi’s move received a big blow. This notwithstanding the fact that Narendra Modi personally supervised the election of Abdullah Ibrahim Saiyad.

This is not the first time that Narendra Modi made an attempt to woo Muslims. A year back he did put up some Muslim candidates for election of Municipal Corporation in Junagadh, which has a sizeable Muslim population. All of them lost and the Congress won.

In fact 11 out of 12 Muslim candidates of the BJP who contested in the six Corporations on October 10 election lost. The lone Muslim to win on BJP ticket was Bibben Sama, wife of Habib Sama, from Rajkot. Habib has been Rajkot BJP general secretary for the last 11 years. In contrast 34 out of 66 Muslim candidates put up by the Congress romped home. This in spite of the fact that the overall performance of the Congress was very bad. The BJP won two-thirds of the 555 corporation seats in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar. The BJP won 444 against Congress 101––34 of them Muslims. Modi did succeed in branding the Congress as a Muslim party.

As a part of exercise to win over Muslims sometime back Modi appointed Shabbir Hussain Shekhadam Khandwawala, as the first Muslim DGP of Gujarat. He has recently been given a three-month extension. Similarly when the BJP won the by-election of Kathlal a few weeks back, Modi claimed that 65 per cent Muslims voted for his party.

Modi and his party desperately need some Muslim faces for image makeover in the state. Saiyad fits the bill. Like Modi he also comes from Mehsana district and actively campaigned for the party.

Saiyad was an IG, when he almost became a victim of mob violence on February 28, 2002. A mob surrounded him looking at the name on his uniform badge. After the riots he was not given important posting during most part of Modi regime till the last year of his retirement in 2008, when he was promoted to the post of additional DGP and put in charge of police administration.

Still after the retirement he chose to join the BJP and not Congress or any other party. Now he downplays the incident which took place with him during the infamous riots day in 2002.

The Mayor seat for Ahmedabad has become a sort of prestige issue for Modi too as a year after the Gujarat communal holocaust of 2002 Congress candidate, Aneesa Mirza, managed to become the first woman Muslim Mayor of the state. To be precise she became Mayor of Ahmedabad on April 16, 2003.

The greatest irony of all is that, it is Modi’s anti-Muslim image, which is being used by the BJP’s alliance partner in Bihar, the Janata Dal (United), to woo Muslim votes. Notwithstanding past friendship and handshakes Nitish Kumar has publicly dissociated himself from the Gujarat chief minister and tried to create an impression that he does not want him to campaign in Bihar. After the Ayodhya verdict of September 30 his party started avoiding Lal Krishan Advani and party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad as well. Whether the move will click or not is an altogether a different matter.

When sometimes back Nitish did try to keep Modi away from the Bihar campaign the BJP was quick to explain its position. The party leaders argued that Modi is not coming to Bihar because he is busy in the civic poll in his own state. But now that the Corporation elections are over, yet he has not turned up for electioneering yet.

So eight and a half years later, Modi-Muslim relationship continues to bewilder the people.

Gujarat: Making Of A Fascist State

Abdul Shakeel Basha, known popularly as Shakeel to his friends, has been arrested on 17th June 2010, on various charges. The major charge is that he along with his other friends was planning to start a Maoist revolution in Gujarat. Shakeel is 13th amongst the activists who have been arrested on similar charges. Activists who have been arrested on the charge of being Naxalites are Avinash Kulkarni, Bharat Pawar, Makabhai Chowdhary, Jayaram Goswami and others who have been working in different parts of Gujarat, particularly amongst the tribal and workers for their economic rights. There has been no news of any violence in the areas where they have been working. One knows Shakeel has a long record of working for communal harmony, justice for Gujarat violence victims, and housing for street children amongst other issues. ‘Peace issues’ has been his concern during last few years.

Apart from Shakeel the work of most of these activist’s, arrested by Gujarat police, has been within the confines of Indian Constitution, struggles based on the ‘rights as citizens’, as weaker sections of society. The major violence witnessed by Gujarat has been the one of sectarian type, the one directed first against Muslim minorities and then Christian minorities. On the contrary the work of some of these activists has been to promote communal harmony, which has been a hindrance to spread of divisiveness being promoted by the likes of Swami Aseemanand of VHP, an RSS affiliate, who is currently absconding for his linkages with the perpetrators of Ajmer terror attack.

With the nation wide beginning of operation ‘green hunt’, the targeting of Naxalites/Maoists, the Gujarat police, not to be left behind, has targeted the activists working within the confines of constitutional limits. Gujarat has never been known to be the work area of Naxalites/Maoists anyway. This has been an area where the followers of RSS have been calling shots from last two decades in particular and trying to convert it into ‘ideal Hindu state’. Gujarat has also been boasted as the ideal Hindu state, particularly since the violence against minorities became intense. The anti Muslim offensive culminated in Gujarat carnage of 2002. After 2002 there was a sustained attack on Christians. This is the violence which is the marker of Gujarat.

One never heard of any Naxalite violence and there are no criminal cases against most of the activists who have been arrested. As such through the intense media propaganda, social activists have been defamed to the extent that Medha Patkar was attacked physically for her campaigns to protect the rights of tribal. Strong propaganda against ‘activists’ in general is part of the norms prevalent in Gujarat.

The sequence of the political events in Gujarat is very revealing. First the sectarianism comes up; various factors promote this communal divide. This leads to the massive anti Muslim pogrom on the pretext of Godhra train burning. Then on the plea that Christian missionaries are converting the gullible Adivasis, anti Christian violence is unleashed. This runs parallel with the aggressive conversion of Adivasis into Hinduism under the garb of ‘Ghar vapasi’. Through Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, through swamis and associates identity issues are projected in the Adivasi areas. The result of all this is the overall suspension of the concept of Human rights and demonization of social activists. As such whatever little is there in the name of social activism has been dwarfed under the shadow of communalization of social space and communal violence.

Due to these anti minority attacks, minorities have been relegated to second class citizens. The culmination of this is the formation of Muslim ghettoes in urban areas and intimidation of Christians in Adivasi areas. Along with this the concept of ‘Swarnim Gujarat’ (Golden Gujarat), a heaven for investors is advertised through media. In tandem with this the rights of workers and tribal are being suppressed to ensure that the industrialists can have their sway to make big money. As Ratan Tata put it, industrialists have to be in Gujarat. And so Anil Ambani and others of their ilk project Narendra Modi as the ideal Chief Minister, the future Prime Minister of India. The inference is emerging that anti minority pogrom has effectively been undertaken to create a ‘smooth’ atmosphere for the industrialists. After subjugating minorities and the democratic values the illusion of ‘development’ has been manufactured.

Narnedra Modi has been compared to Hitler times and over again. Through his anti Jew, anti Communist tirades Hitler created the ‘ideal’ atmosphere for the big industrialists. It seems Modi has taken Gujarat on the same path. First he has ensured the suspension of human rights through anti-minority pogroms, then demonized the social activists and now whatever little activity prevailed for democratic rights of the marginalized, is being done away with. The human rights workers, working in the Constitutional framework are being dubbed as Naxalites and are being put behind the bars. The idea is to smoothen the path for big industrialists. The arrest of workers for human rights issues is like laying the red carpet for the reckless growth of industries, trampling on the interests of the deprived sections of society. What is hidden below the red carpet is the very concept of a welfare state, a secular state, a state with the concept of human rights of all. One is also reminded of the RSS ideologue M.S. Golwalkar writing in his book ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ that Muslims, Christians and Communists are the internal threat to Hindu nation. It seems following his advice first the Muslims, then the Christians and now the social activists (communist substitutes) are being targeted as Naxalites.

The happenings in Gujarat show us the deeper designs of the political class of the country, who are executing industrialization without a human face, industrialization on the bodies of the marginalized sections. Hitler did precisely the same. In the short term it seems very rewarding but surely one knows from History that once the violation of the concepts of democracy goes too far, the results are not very pleasing. Hitler refused to learn it in his life, that’s why he had to put a bullet in his head. Germany kept toeing his line, that’s why it faced the ruin after the temporary graphs showing economic prosperity!

One reaffirms that those believing in the ‘violence as a means for social change’ have no place in the democratic system. In turn, one must learn that democracy is doomed in a state which does not let the peaceful social movements to exist!

Muslims Of Gujarat: The Real Picture

Gujarat government has made many claims about vibrant Gujarat. Recently, it has also made claims that Muslims in Gujarat are in much better condition that many other states of India. When Narendra Modi’s newspaper ad in Bihar was found to be using image of the UP Muslims, BJP spokesperson claimed that facts about minorities of Gujarat remain the same. He said his party is ready to debate the data. It is time to test the facts and see how Gujarat fares in the light of public data.

1. Muslim population of Gujarat:

According to Census 2001 figures, Gujarat has 4.59 million Muslims out of total state population of 50.67 or 9.1% of the population. Total Muslim population in India, according to the same census data is 139.2 million, therefore a total of 3.32% of Indian Muslim population live in this state. Closest state to Gujarat in terms of Muslim population and their share in total state population is Rajasthan with 4.79 million Muslims (8.5% of total).

Of the top fifty districts of India by Muslim population only one district of Gujarat finds a place. Ahmedabad with a Muslim population of 6,62,799 (2001 census) is at 45th place on this list of fifty. Surat is another city of the state with a significant Muslim population of 4,47,951.

Data computed by Sachar Committee shows that 58.5% of Muslim population is between the age of 15 to 59, 35.3% are of age group 0 to 14 years, and only 6.1% above the age of 60. Gujarat is ranked third in India in terms of proportion of population 15-59 years of age. Only Tamil Nadu and Kerala have more percent of their Muslim population in the range of 15 to 59 years of age.

Full page newspaper advertisement that claimed that "Muslims in Gujarat enjoy better education, employment opportunities, financial stability, health facilities, infrastructure.

2. What Gujarati Muslims see as their biggest concerns?

Representations made to Sachar committee reveal what issues the Muslims think are important to them. One third of issues raised by these representations (in Gujarat and all India) were related to education. Employment issues were ranked as number two for Gujarati Muslims (17% of total issues) while it was at number three for all India. For no other state, security was such an important issue as Muslims of Gujarat, they ranked it as their third most important issue (16%) while the all India level this issues was placed fifth out of the nine categories. The Report states that “for Security the issues raised included (a) Problems related to communal riots and associated ghettoisation; (b) Inappropriate attitude of government towards Muslims; (c) Sense of Discrimination; and (d) Impact of militancy and problems in border areas.” Obviously, only the first three will apply for Gujarat.

3. Gujarat’s ranking: (Where do Gujarati Muslims stand according to Sachar Committee report?)

3.1 Gender ratio (females per 1000 males): 13th (for all age group), 21st (for age group 0-6).
937 gender ratio for Muslims is much better than 920 for the whole population of Gujarat and slightly better for all India Muslim average of 936 but rank much lower than almost half the state. [Appendix Table 3.8: Census 2001]

3.2 Contraceptive Prevalence Rate: 1st.
58% of couples of reproductive age practicing some form of contraception, this is almost equal to state rate of 59%. This is the only category where Gujarati Muslims top the list. [Appendix Table 3.13: NFHS-2, 1998-99]

3.3 Literacy level: 5th(overall).
Gujarati Muslims literacy level (73.5%) is slightly better than the state average of 72.8% and much better than national average of 59.1% for all Muslims. [Appendix Table 4.1, 4.1a, 4.1b: Census 2001]

3.4 Mean years of schooling: 6th (overall), 5th (male), 7th (female).
At 4.29 mean years of schooling, it is about a year higher than national average for Muslims but lower than Gujarat average of 4.57 years. [Appendix Table 4.2: 2001 Census]

3.5 Proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled: 14th.
Gujarat is doing very poorly in this department, in fact it is worst than West Bengal for proportion of children aged 6-14 years and enrolled in schools. Only 78.9% of Gujarati Muslim children are enrolled, figures for all Gujarati children is 84.8%. If this trend continues coming years will show Gujarati Muslims further lag behind in education.[Appendix Table 4.3: NSSO 61st Round Schedule 10, 2004-2005]

3.6 Number of Madrasa students: 16th (boys), 16th (girls).
This data is based on NCERT’s 2002 All India School Survey and surprisingly only 4001 students are to be found in Gujarat madarasas. A comparable state Rajasthan has more than 9 times number of Muslims in madrasas. [Appendix Table 4.4]

3.7 Completed education: 4th (completed primary education), 6th (middle school), 7th (matric)
As Muslim students move through the education system, their share among the educated drop drastically from being fourth among all Indian states after the Primary level (74.9% have completed at least primary education) to sixth for Middle level (45.3%) to poor seventh (26.1%). These numbers are more than national average for Muslims (60.9%, 40.5%, and 23.9% respectively) but the difference gets narrower higher up the education level. [Appendix Tables 4. 6, 4.7, & 4.8]

3.8 Workers Population Ratio: 4th (all)
At 61.1% Gujarati Muslims rate is better than national average of 54.9 for all Muslims. Considering that Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana (which have smaller population of Muslims) are the only states with better ratio than Gujarat, this data is significant. [Appendix Table 5.5] Of all Gujarati Muslim workers, 53.7% are self-employed, 22.7 is trade, and 13.3% in manufacturing.

3.9 Banking: 11th (outstanding amount), 5th (number of accounts & total savings amount), 8th (individual deposit)
Given that a higher percentage of Gujarat Muslims are workers and also that majority of them are self-employed, one would expect that their savings to be higher but they seemed to have less savings than Muslims from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Could this be because they don’t have access to banks in their areas? Their population share is 9.1%, however, in bank accounts their share is only 7.6%. Individually Muslims in Gujarat save more than other Gujaratis but their saving is less than Muslims of states such as Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. [Appendix Tables 6.3, 6.7, & 6.8)

3.10 Poverty incidence: 7th (urban)
Poverty incidence is 34 for Muslims of Gujarat residing in urban areas, which is better than many states but almost double the state average of 18. [Appendix Table 8.5]

3.11 NMDFC beneficiaries: 7th (amount disbursed, number of beneficiaries)
National Minorities Finance Development Corporation (NMFDC), under the Term Loan Scheme give loans for commericially-viable project costing upto Rs. 5 lakhs. Gujarat performance under this scheme, in terms of number of beneficiaries served or amount disbursed matches their share in total Muslim population of India.

Another image of Gujarat: grave of Wali Gujarati was razed in 2002 and road built over-night, it is yet to be restored.

4. Gujarat over the years:

4.1 Proportion (per 1000 households) of households reporting land cultivated upto 1.00 hectares by major religion for major states
Survey : land cultivated (0.00 hectares) – (0.01-1.00 hectares)
NSS55: 743- 113
NSS61: 645- 117

4.2 Proportion (per 1000 persons) of persons in the labour force according to the usual principal and subsidiary statuses taken together for each major religion and major states.
Survey : rural Muslims – urban Muslims
NSS55: 374 – 329
NSS61: 482 – 307

4.3 Proportion (per 1000 persons) of persons employed according to the usual principal and subsidiary statuses taken together for each major religion and major states
Survey : rural Muslims – urban Muslims
NSS55: 356 – 324
NSS61: 476 – 325

4.4 Unemployment rates according to the usual status (principal and subsidiary statuses taken together) for each major religion and major states
Survey : : rural Muslims – urban Muslims
NSS55: 51 – 18
NSS61: 10 – 52

It is shocking that in five years between NSS55(1999-2000) and NSS61 (2004-2005) unemployment rate of urban Muslims has increased from 18 to 52. A reverse has happened with the unemployment rate of rural Muslims where it has come down to 10 from a high of 51. What explains this anomaly? Can this be because number of small farmers shows a significant decrease in the same period? Is it possible that Muslims barely eking out a living in rural Gujarat have moved to urban areas and now living as unemployed? To understand why these Muslims may have left villages we have to go back to the representations that was made to Sachar Committee and see that security is one of the highest concerns of Muslims of Gujarat.

5. Conclusion

Gujarat government has not released data to see if Muslims in the state has prospered in the “Vibrant Gujarat.” Even state government’s own ad had to resort to Sachar Committee data to make its claim. Notwithstanding that most of Sachar data is from 2001 and earlier, before Mr. Narendra Modi took office as the chief minister.

Even with Sachar data, Gujarat ranking among states is far from being impressive. Execpt for Contraceptive Prevalence Rate, Gujarat is not number one or even top three in any of the socio-economic indicator. It is true that Gujarat is not at the bottom of the ranking but its performance in these indicators for its Muslim population is below par or at best at par with what should have been considering its population size.

[Second photo by Nasiruddin Haider Khan]