At a time when western diplomats and investors are making a beeline to seek favours from Gujarat chief minister Narindra Modi, atleast 10 Gujarati Muslim traders have alleged having been forced to close down businesses over past one month. The latest complaint was been filed on Thursday by hotelier Mustafa Patel, who claims to haveshut down his Jyoti Hotel on Viramgam highway, 90 minute drive from Ahmedabad, after receiving threats.
According to Patel, local politicians forced him to close down his business on February 9.
His petition says that despite court orders police has refused to provide him protection.
Confirming that the Commission has received complaints related to preventing people to operate their businesses, chairman Wajahat Habibullah said he has sought reports form Gujarat government.
Earlier the Commission had received complaints from nine traders of Chhota Udepur, alleging their businesses have been ruined. The complaint says, that sarpanch of village Baroj, Jayanti Rathwa engineered a riot in the area to take away the luxury transport business from his competitor Irfan Abdul Ghani. The region witnessed communal clashes on February 12 following a minor altercation between Adivasis and Muslims.
“On February 12, many minority industries were attacked, set to fire. SP, DIG went there, FIRs were lodged but till today no one has been arrested,” adds the complaint.
According to a report earlier released by an NGO Anhad, the miscreants in the area, burnt down plastic godown. Despite being named in the FIR, theyhave not been arrested owing to their allegiance to a local don with strongpolitical backing, the report alleged. When the trader from minority community had attempted to restart his business, the godown was set to fire once again on March 8. Three days after fields belonging to Muslims caught fire and a person responsible was caught red handed.
“He had come with 3-4 people. His initial statement indicated that someone had asked him to do this but the local police told him to record on video that he dropped a beedi by mistake and it caught fire,” said the complaint filed before the NCM. The traders say,
Muslims and Advisasi have lived together in the area for centuries and smell a conspiracy to create bad blood by forcing minority community out of business in the region.
Those who have been forced to close down their business are Kasim Ahmed (scrap dealer), Ahmed Airf (minerals), Farooq Bhai (power production unit), Yakub Mohammad (mineral production), Saifudin Ali (power production), Ahmed Khoka (power), Shabir Bhai (mineral production), Majid Khan (power) and Harun Abdul Malajher (mines).
Reacting strongly to the complaints to the NCM, Gujarat government spokesperson and state finance minister Nitin Patel refuted all the claims. “There are thousands of minority traders and merchants prospering in Gujarat. Hundreds are doing their business in the walled city areas of Ahmedabad.
No such incidents have happened in the state, where traders or any other person has been forced to shut down their business just because they belong to minority community.
This is Gujarat and traders of all the communities and religions have flourished here without any bias of discrimination. This is an effort to malign Gujarat’s image,” said Patel.