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Revisiting Juhapura

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Juhapura emerged as a “border” city in Ahmedabad in the wake of the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002. In one estimate, before 2002, Juhapura was predominantly a Muslim neighbourhood with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. In 2015, it had an estimated population of 5,00,000.

According to Darshini Mahadevia (“A City with Many Borders,” Indian Cities in Transition: Beyond Ghettoisation in Ahmedabad, Annapurna Shaw (ed), 2007), the shifting of Muslim middle class to Muslim-dominated areas was completed in Ahmedabad between the 1989 riots and 2002 carnage. A reverse migration of the Hindu middle class also took place from Juhapura. Mahadevia’s field experience informs us that Muslim households displaced from violence-affected areas in Ahmedabad during the carnage of 2002, as well as those displaced from the rural areas of Ahmedabad and surrounding districts, moved into Muslim-dominated settlements, resulting in the birth of “border” cities in Ahmedabad, the largest one being Juhapura. To quote Mahadevia: “Borders have been drawn around the Muslim cities. The Borders are physical; high walls with gates that can be closed during the violence. The Borders are also mental and these borders are insurmountable at the moment.” Mahadevia also observed that state transport buses stopped passing through Juhapura after 2002.

Around the time of assembly elections in Gujarat in 2012, a journalist, Vandita Mishra, visited Juhapura. She observed that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had abandoned Juhapura after the Hindus moved out of the area in 2002. Abandonment by the ruling party led to abandonment by the state. Mishra observed:

There is no proper drainage or street lighting in Juhapura. Across the “border,” they say, from where the Hindu locality of Vejalpur begins, are the sodium lights, the wide road, the overbridge and water supply. Though the highway runs by Juhapura, the state corporation bus skirts the colony and residents must go all the way to Sarkhej or Vasna to take the bus. (“Juhapura in 3D,” Indian Express, 15 December 2012)

Before becoming a part of the Vejalpur constituency in 2012, Juhapura was in the Sarkhej constituency that was represented by Amit Shah. This administrative restructuring did not bring about any positive change in the life of poor Muslims settled in Juhapura. When another journalist, Ritu Sharma, visited Juhapura on the eve of the 2017 assembly elections in Gujarat, the residents complained about the lack of educational facilities, transportation, water supply and sewerage. The communal paradigm of “development” was also found to be operative:

The Bus Rapid Transit System route terminates on the edge of Juhapura. The overhead Ahmedabad–Gandhinagar Metro is being built around it. Hardly 400m away is a Hindu-dominated area, Vasna, which has one of the largest, busiest bus termini and is connected to the Metro. (Indian Express, 20 November 2017)

The Gujarat model of development is well advertised in India. Juhapura is a testament to what meaning this model holds to the Muslim community of the state.

Arup Kumar Sen

KOLKATA

Updated On : 23rd Mar, 2018

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