How did Gujaratis plundered India
India is building a wall for the US president
Walls were built to greet Donlad Trump. Not because the US president likes to set them up himself, for example on the border with Mexico. But because Ahmedabad, the stronghold of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wants to make itself particularly beautiful for the state visit. Kilometers of walls were erected to hide the slums along Trump's route into the city. 45 families were relocated. The regional newspaper on Gujarati publishes regular reports on developments in Ahmedabad under the heading “Namaste Trump”. It is about 14,158,423 liters of water that will be channeled into the river to make it less smelly. Or the number of people expected at the parade.
Originally it was supposed to be 50,000. After Trump said that a crowd of ten million people would be expecting him, they followed up. Around 150,000 have now been loaded. Most of them are to be brought in buses from the surrounding Gujarat region. The food packages for this amount are already packed, they contain chocolate, spicy pickled vegetables and local food such as the crispy fried flatbreads Farsi Puri or the peanut brittle chikki and honey as well as betel leaves. However, the Indian government announced that Trump would not be served Gujarati food. Although the meeting is mostly about food. The talks between the heads of government will mainly revolve around the trade in agricultural goods.
The fact that Modi invited the president here is also due to the fact that Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat is seen as a model of Indian development policy. Modi was Prime Minister here until 2014, when he was elected Indian Prime Minister - mainly because of his work in this region. The security forces are on the alert. Because Trump is traveling to a divided region on Monday.
It's evening, Zain is standing in the glaring sunlight on one of the disused factory sites in the old town and gazing at the evening crowd of protesters who have gathered here as always. A police officer from the local secret service wants to know from the 35-year-old activist whether there will be protests against Trump these days. Zain is under special observation because he is often critical of all forms of religious exclusion and violence in public. But he would rather not have his real name published. When the policeman asks him, Zain waves it away. More important actions are planned.
Several squares in the city are currently blocked because people like Zain are protesting against the new citizenship law. Resistance is stirring all over the country. In the future, it should be easier for all non-Muslims to obtain Indian citizenship than for Muslims. As in the USA, refugees and immigrants are divided into good and bad based on their religion. This is how many Muslim Indians feel, but also many members of other religions.
In the state of Assam on the border with Bangladesh, a national register of citizens was decided, which is soon to apply throughout India. Anyone who does not have the appropriate documents to register there is at risk of becoming stateless. Now many people whose ancestors have lived in India for generations would have to have their Indian citizenship officially certified for the first time. But they could fail because they are Muslims. It is estimated that around two million people are affected, especially in the poorest part of the population. Deportation centers are already being built. What makes this development even more explosive: India has a long history of violence against the weakest of the population.
The multi-religious metropolis Ahmedabad is divided. Almost exactly along the Sabarmati River, which flows through the city. On one side of the river, a majority supports Modi's crackdown policy. On the other hand, in the older part of the city, there are people who have suffered particularly badly from this policy. Ahmedabad doesn't really need any more walls to be divided. A bloody massacre took place here in 2002, several thousand people were murdered and raped; Houses looted and set on fire. At that time the Hindu nationalist party BJP ruled Gujarat - its leader: Narendra Modi. To this day, the party is unable to demonstrate that it was not involved in the acts of violence at that time.
Since the outbreak of violence, Muslims have lived in the old city of Ahmedabad or in Juhapura, a ghetto so far outside that Trump will certainly not see it. In the new part of the city, on the other hand, it is almost impossible for a Muslim family to find accommodation or to participate in everyday life. Strict Hindus who follow a vegetarian diet prohibit restaurants from serving meat. There are shopping centers with a large green dot at the entrance indicating that only vegetarian food is allowed here.
Ahmedabad was one of the global centers of textile production until the 1980s, after which all factories went bankrupt until only four were left. Part of this production ends up in German stores such as Kaufland, Aldi, Tchibo. The workers of yore still live on the former factories. Here the resentment about the citizenship law is particularly great. There are protests again and again.
The Ajit Mills company closed in 1987. Today it is a residential community in which the government has housed those people who had to make way for a park with an entrance fee on the river. A few shops offer work, but most of the men are day laborers. While they are in the other parts of the city, the women start protesting after lunch. Sit-in strike, dharna, as Mohandas Gandhi practiced it here 100 years ago. They sing, tell stories, organize lectures. The police can't do much about it because it's private property. Sometimes, however, some are arrested.
Rishab has just come from the police station, where he spent a few hours in a cell before paying bail. He was informed in the morning that he would be arrested so that he could do his day-to-day business beforehand, he says. He agreed with the officers on a date for the arrest. But Trump's visit will harden the fronts and make such local agreements more difficult. Zain would also prefer not to be quoted by his real name. The reprisals also make it difficult to draw global audiences' attention to the protests during bilateral negotiations.
It is unlikely that Trump will denounce these legislative changes. Both the Indian and the US side cannot be interested in raising this issue. After all, nothing should interfere with the conclusion of the trade agreement. Zain says Ahmedabad has its own Trump with Modi. Pointing out hatred in one's own country is more urgent than protesting against the American president.
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