Rumour mill following a horrible incident of a 14 year old girl raped by someone from Bihar in Sabarkatha district have created a tsunami. Not only thousands appeared to have left for their home states in Bihar and UP, others elsewhere in Gujarat and even Maharashtra feel threatened. Very sadly Alpesh Thakor, Congress MLA from Radhanpur and the leader of the Thakor community started this saga. When the rape tragedy happened, you can see his statement in Gujarati on tv screen, not only warning migrant workers, but even threatening physical violence. All because of the scene and action of one man. Alpesh appeared to be making contradictory statements in the last 3 days. On Saturday he went public retracting what was said by him on 28th September, emphasising that he was completely shocked and angry about the rape and he did address a large crowd of his community but did not advocate violence. On Tuesday he had changed his stance saying only a small number of people may have left that district and all others incidently are result of social media chaos and rumours. Gujarat government in all 8 of the 30 odd districts have arrested over 400 people and charged with some serious offences.
Congress party has called on the Gujarat government to arrest Alpesh Thakor and charge him. It is surprising other Congress leaders in UP and Mumbai are claiming that Thakor is innocent of any provocation.
Gujarat government is in a quandary. Thakor Community is a larger segment in what is called Other Backward Castes. They have substantial vote bank, able to influence the final result in dozens of constituencies of Gujarat assembly. Gujarat government and the rapid industrial development of Gujarat can not afford this turmoil at the moment. Vibrant Gujarat 2019 is just a few months now. Delegation from Gujarat government supported by business and commerce industry have travelled to many countries in Europe, North America, Japan, Africa, inviting foreign investments. Very largely they appear to have succeeded as well.
Gujarat which is otherwise well known as a peaceful state with good labour relation is besmirched then invariably investors will be cautious. In last 15 years Vibrant Gujarat initiative has changed the face of Gujarat. The automobile and many other industries have reached Gujarat in huge numbers. Over 10mn workers are employed in various industries in almost all parts of Gujarat. 70 percent of them come from UP, Bihar, Kerala, Rajasthan and several other parts of India. Ahmedabad city alone with a population of some 6 million, have half a million people of Kerala, as permanent residents. In all major cities, towns and even small villages, one can find non Gujarati workers in agriculture, retail, wholesale construction, catering, industry as well as in so many important managerial roles.
This is a matter of both principle and practice. Indians irrespective of caste, religion or provincial background is entitled to live anywhere in India, except in Jammu and Kashmir. In practical terms the industrial growth of India in general, and Gujarat in particular has benefitted from migrant workers.
Reservation policy - the real culprit
The outdated policy of reservation based on caste in education, government jobs and political power is a real pain for India. Thakors, Patels, Jats, Marathas and others are demanding reservations. Politicians who thrive on their vote banks, have no qualms about the damage to the fabric of the society or unity of India. Various well researched report said that in the 70 years, some members of SC and ST have benefitted by the policy of reservation and become rich and powerful. They have persisted on the caste divide rather than voluntaring to give space to others. BJP like other parties, it appears, is unable to take the bull by the horn and provide some solution.
Prakash Ambedkar the scion of Baba Saheb have publicly asked to dissolve reservation, especially in central and state legislation. His lone voice is ignored. To create public opinion, to create a national debate appears to be impossible, because every political party thinks it can gain something extra by fuelling the fire of caste-divide. They could not care less for national integrity. While we are going to press, looks like the worst is over, both Gujarat government and local leaders are taking necessary steps to give solace and confidence to the 7mn migrants who have made Gujarat their home.
Some of our readers are children of those who were expelled by the mad man Idi Amin in 1972 from Uganda. Most settled here have done well, thanks to the British environment and people. Uganda has suffered enormously. Yoweri Musevini had to come to UK and go to Gujarat to apologise for the deaths and destabilisation caused by his predecessor and today resurgent Uganda have benefitted enormously with the contribution of returning Asians and new immigrants.
Gujarat of all states in India remembers this well. Sooner the fire is extinguished the better it is for all. India is for all Indians, in Gujarat and elsewhere.