Gujarati media reported that Abbas Bhai is now living in Sydney (Australia) after retiring from Gujarat government. It is unclear whether he or his family also suffered during the 2002 riots in Gujarat; or if his connections to Modi’s family helped. But he told a TV channel that his father and Narendra Modi’s father were good friends and after his father died he lived with the Modis for a year.
“The atmosphere was different then, everyone celebrated all the holidays together,” he recalls.
But the BJP under Modi and Amit Shah spared no effort to isolate and marginalize Muslims in Gujarat. In November last year, civic bodies in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Junagadh and Bhavnagar banned the sale of non-vegetarian food on the main streets. They apparently hurt religious sentiment.
When 17,000 street vendors threatened a riot and knocked on the doors of the High Court, the government relented. While the sellers were Muslims, the state ignored the fact that the buyers were mostly non-Muslims. Indeed, Ahmedabad alone would consume 150 tons of meat and fish and 15 lakh of eggs per day.
Gujarat has also amended the Disturbed Areas Act, originally introduced in 1986 to protect minorities living in mixed areas from being forced to sell their property at ridiculous prices and relocate. As a result, Muslims cannot buy property in disturbed areas without state permission, which even foreigners do not need.
Again in Ahmedabad alone, according to a media report in 2019, there were up to 770 localities declared “disturbed”. Ironically, Gujarat except 2002 is now considered an oasis of peace and harmony.