Gujarat Muslims the 'Living Dead'

April 27, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: BBC News

Muslims in India's Gujarat state who bore the brunt of religious riots in 2002 say they have been abandoned by the political parties. The BBC's Soutik Biswas met some riot victims ahead of the general election in the state.

The acrid smell of burning oil singes your nose and eyes as you walk into Bombay Hotel, a sprawling ghetto of Muslim-owned homes on the eastern flank of Ahmedabad, the main city in western Gujarat state.

A pall of black factory smoke hangs over this untidy patchwork of squat, ugly houses. Residents pay 150 rupees ($3) a month to a private contractor who supplies yellow-coloured drinking water through dirty garden pipes. Sewage flows out into the street.

Bombay Hotel, which takes it name after a local roadside eatery, is one of the places where many Muslims displaced by the 2002 Gujarat riots moved to. Over the past seven years, it has transformed from a remote industrial colony to become a busy refugee settlement.

The anti-Muslim riots, sparked off by the death of Hindu pilgrims in the firebombing of a train, led to the death of 1,392 people in five districts, according to official records. NGOs say the toll is closer to 2,000.


The riots also left some 140,000 people homeless. They were put up in camps and given 2,500 rupees by the government - the majority of the displaced were in Ahmedabad city.