Remember the gaam

Relations began to sour between historically united groups in a neighbourhood of Ahmedabad after 'outsiders' arrived.

I first came upon Vatva as part of an enthusiastic team of volunteers for the Aman Ekta Manch – an umbrella-NGO initiative setup in the wake of the Gujarat carnage of 2002 to oversee relief and rehabilitation work in the affected areas. Spread on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, Vatva is an industrial wasteland that was once a village.

We arrived in Vatva after it had been ravaged by the violence that had consumed much of Gujarat after the unfortunate and controversial 'Godhra incident' of 27 February 2002. The colonies, buildings, shops and streets wore the telltale marks of communal frenzy: burnt remains of beauty parlours, ruins that were once mosques, rubble that was once residences.

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Himal Southasian