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Losing Ground in Gujarat, Fundamentalists Silently Spread Communal Fear

Tarique Anwar |
Banner in Hindu Majority Area Paldi of Ahmedabad, Warns Against Turning it into Juhapura, a Muslim ghetto.
Communal Poster

While ‘RAM’ was derived from the names of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Ramniklal Rupani, BJP President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ‘HAJ’ stood for Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani.

Despite all the rhetoric of development emanating from top BJP leaders in the run up to the Gujarat election, at the ground level a silent and insidious Hindu fundamentalist campaign has been unleashed by anonymous agencies to polarise voters on communal lines. An example of this was visible in Paldi, a Hindu majority area located in Southwestern Ahmedabad. A banner called upon voters to prevent the area from turning into another Juhapura – a Muslim dominated neighbourhood in New West Zone of the city.

On a saffrom background, the banner said ‘Bachawo, Bachawo (Save, Save), followed by this dire call: “Paldi Ne Juhapura Thatu Atkavo” (Prevent Paldi from turning into Juhapura).” It was spotted at Paldi Mahalakshmi circle. The banner did not have any symbol of a political party nor did it carry the name of who was issuing this scary call.After being on display for some hours, it was removed by unknown people after some local residents objected to it.

“The fact that locals objected to it shows that voters are increasingly aware that the ruling party, which is facing strong discontent, may take recourse to communal polarisation,” a resident of the area told Newsclick on the condition of anonymity.


Situated seven kilometres away from the city centre of Ahmedabad, the economic capital of Gujarat, Juhapura is perhaps the largest Muslim ghetto in India formed as a result of the communal riots that took place in the state in 2002. Deprived of basic infrastructure and public services, Juhapura is a symbol of alienation of the minority community. Before 2002, the economically disadvantaged area was simply a Muslim neighbourhood with a population of around 50,000 people. Now, it is home to an estimated five lakh people.

Paladi, which is adjacent to Juhapura, is an affluent locality in Ahmedabad. Corporate offices and city centres of many national and multinational companies such as Gujarat Gas, Wagh Bakri Tea Group, Claris, Religare, Royal Bank of Scotland and ICICI Bankare located here. It comes under Ellisbridge Assembly constituency.

This comes after the ‘RAM’ vs ‘HAJ’ poster circulated on social media by a local unit of RSS in Amraiwadi Nagar in Ahmedabad, as reported earlier by Newsclick. The poster titled ‘Pasangi Tamari’ (Your Choice) asking the electorate to choose between ‘RAM’ and ‘HAJ’.


Gujarat is going to polls in two phases on December 9 and 14 to elect a new house comprsing 182 members.

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