Godhra: Unease prevails in the town of Godhra in Gujarat as a pro-Hindutva outfit has convinced garba organisers not to allow Muslims into garba venues in the wake of the love jihad controversy. Muslims, too, have decided to stay away from garba venues to avoid confrontation.
"Those who don't endorse our religious beliefs and in fact oppose them, why are they insisting on coming to Navratri venues," questions Jaimin Shah, member, Hindu Asmita Hit Rakshak Samiti, Godhra.
Those combative words from the Hindu Asmita Hit Rakshak Samiti have set the tone for Navratri celebrations in Godhra. Preparations are on in full swing at the two garba venues. But in Godhra's Muslim dominated Polan Bazaar area, there is a sense of gloom.
"I go to Hindu shops and stitch garba dresses. It's not good to create a rift between communities," says Muzaffar, a Godhra resident. Another Godhra resident Taslim Isak Kadwa adds, "It's wrong. There is harmony here for so many years. For the past 30 years, we have been welcoming the Ganpati procession and Shobha Yatra."
Ironically, the dandiyas used in garbas are made only by the Muslims in Godhra. There are about 300 units in Godhra making dandiyas and all of them are owned by Muslims.
"When they have no problem using dandiyas made by us, then why not allow us? When we make these with so much dedication, why should we not be allowed to see garba," asks another resident Shoaib Charkha.
With a population of over 2 lakh, of which half are Muslims, Godhra has a checkered communal past. But local leaders like Ramzani Jujara have helped create an atmosphere of harmony over the past decade.
Ramzani says the latest move will undo all their good work. "The decision by the Samiti is not proper. There is a need to unite people. Muslims have decided to stay away from garba venues this year," Ramzani says.
Hindu Asmita Hit Rakshak Samiti volunteers say they cannot take any chances during Navratri. "The love jihad subject is being discussed. Godhra has 50 per cent Muslims and 50 per cent Hindus. We do not want it to happen here. And so we're saying don't let Muslims enter venues," adds Jaimin Shah.