MUMBAI: The Dawoodi Bohra community has engaged a lot of Sunni Muslim politicians and leaders to impress upon local people that this project is being supported by all sections of Bhindi Bazar. But there is a voice of dissent and it is being ignored.
It seems that there is still lack of communication, lack of transparency and lack of open discussion about the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) cluster development plan for Bhindi Bazaar. There were apprehensions about it in some sections and some media reports are infusing such apprehensions.
BHINDI BAZAR OR BOHRI BAZAR?
Most sensitive Sunnis are pointing out that during the publicity campaign of cluster redevelopment, it was being said in the media that Bhindi Bazaar is a Dawoodi Bohra majority area. Sunni leaders point out that the report of Indian Express, published on 01-01-2013 clearly says that Bhindi Bazar is a Bohra majority area.
Such reports are also appearing in a few other media out-lets, which describe that Bhindi Bazar is a Bohra majority area. A section of Sunni leaders are expressing apprehension over such reports, as they claim that Bhindi Bazaar has been a traditional Sunni majority area.
They are therefore questioning the intentions of SBUT which is spearheading the huge estimated Rs 4000cr project in the heart of the city.
“Will Bhindi Bazar become Bohri Bazar after such cluster redevelopments?” They ask.
Therefore it is high time Dawoodi Bohra community takes steps to alleviate such apprehensions, some responsible Sunni leaders said. It is also felt that instead of engaging services of Sunni politicians who are branded as agents and brokers, the Dawoodi Bohra community must engage people to people contact in the Sunni community if it wants to gain public confidence, a Sunni leader said.
What Some Sunnis Feel?
It is not a fact that all Sunnis are opposing the cluster redevelopment and all Bohras are supporting it .There are many Sunnis who are supporting the cluster redevelopment plan and there are some Bohras , who are opposing it .
There are some extremists among the Sunni community who are opposing the redevelopment project on sectarian grounds as this project has been started by the Dawoodi Bohra community.
They feel this redevelopment will benefit the Dawoodi Bohras the most. They also feel that Sunnis, after this redevelopment may lose religious, sectarian as well as political upper hand in the area. It is said that there are some Sunni Ulemas and Sunni Mosques in the area which is being redeveloped where the traditional leadership of the entire community had been within their control.
These Sunni Ulemas also controlled Muslim community’s leadership in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Thus they enjoyed clout among politicians and government. But it is said that the redevelopment program also exhibited political powers of Dawoodi Bohra community with the Government and Politicians.
It has been observed in Muslim circles that the State Chief Minister himself arrived at Bhindi Bazaar to meet the Bohra community leaders and to see details about the redevelopment project. It showed clout of Dawoodi Bohra community’s leadership commanded over political leaders of the state.
But the same Chief Minister has hardly any time to meet Sunni Ulemas and leaders of the same area even when they visit Mantralaya or the Chief Minister’s residence to discuss important issues concerning Muslim community.
Thus it may be this fear of growing political power and increasing clout of Bohra leadership due to the cluster redevelopment project, growing much faster than Sunni Ulemas which is being exhibited by cluster redevelopment project at various stage.
“Are Sunni Ulemas losing their ground against Bohra religious leadership in political power? “
It is an issue of concern for some Sunni Ulemas who have been traditional rivals of Bohra priests in this area. Thus they are much concerned and feel that this redevelopment must not turn Bhindi Bazaar into Bohri Bazaar .
TRANSPARANCY: The Only Public Confidence Building Exercise
Development in any area must bring benefits to all residents equally and it must not result in losses to any particular section be it monetarily, socially, politically, culturally, religiously, demographically or in any other kind.
This must also be the guidelines for cluster redevelopment policy of Bhindi Bazar and other adjoining areas. To achieve this, transparency is the only way of confidence building measure and this must be under taken in letter and spirit, as advised by some responsible citizens of Bhindi Bazaar.