JUHAPURA: Muslim settlement works to change dubious stereotype


http://www.newkerala.com/news-daily/news/features.php?action=fullnews&id=1964



By Habib Shaikh, Ahmedabad, Dec 5 : Activists, retired

bureaucrats and police officials are joining hands to

give the largest Muslim settlement in Gujarat here an

image makeover by organising get-togethers and

festival celebrations.



Juhapura in this Gujarat city has for long been

subject to prejudice by sections of the Hindu

community - a direct result the increasing communal

polarisation following last year's riots that killed

at least 1,000 people, mostly in this city.



Some consider Juhapura to be a breeding ground for

anti-socials and the locality has unwittingly earned

notoriety.



But not any more, NGOs and secular activists have

vowed.



"Those who paint a jaundiced picture of Juhapura

should be made aware of the reality here," said Action

Aid chief Harsh Mander.



Mander, a former bureaucrat resigned his government

service in the wake of the communal violence to be

associated with the NGO.



"We want to change the public image of Juhapura. We

plan to actively seek cooperation from non-Muslim

individuals and organisations to change the dubious

stereotype," Islami Relief Committee legal cell

advisor Shakeel Ahmed told IANS.



Towards this aim, the committee organised an 'Eid

Milan' get-together earlier this week and invited

journalists, activists and academics. 



The idea is to get people from other parts of the city

to visit the locality and rid their biases.



Father Moses of St. Xavier's Social Service Society

congratulated the organisers for choosing Juhapura for

the Eid celebrations in the first step towards

revamping its image.



Amongst those who attended the meeting were members of

various NGOs like Janpath, Sanchetna, Ahmedabad

Women's Action Group and Lokhit Seva Trust.



Many who attended the meeting came with their

families, some of whom were venturing into Juhapura

for the first time.



Like Harnish Pandya, who led his son down the

serpentine by-lanes of the locality.



"My son was amazed. He might have heard stories about

the so-called anti-national activities going on around

here. Making a trip here can change your mind if you

have any prejudices," said Pandya.



Earlier known as a Muslim "ghetto", Juhapura is now

home to many affluent Muslim families who have moved

to the area for security and safety in this communally

surcharged city. 



Several retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS)

and Indian Police Service (IPS) officials have moved

apart from professors, journalists, lawyers and other

professionals.



"We are in the process of forming a committee with

representation from professionals residing in the

locality. The proposed committee will organise events

aimed at changing the image of Juhapura," Ahmed said. 




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