Wednesday, 29 February 2012

10 years of Gujarat riots: Andhra Pradesh continues to receive students from Gujarat

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Hyderabad continues to attract hundreds of Muslim students from 
Gujarat every academic year even a decade after the country’s worst communal riots in the 
aftermath of the Godhra train burning episode.

The exodus has not stopped 10 years on. Many Muslim families in Gujarat believe Hyderabad 
is a safe place for their children to pursue education in a peaceful atmosphere, free of 
communal bias. Moreover, the special economic package offered by the Andhra Pradesh 
government to Muslim students coupled with four per cent reservations has been attracting 
poor Gujarati Muslims to Hyderabad and other cities in the State.

Rough estimates put the number of Gujarati Muslim students in various educational 
institutions in the State at about 2000 including 400 in professional colleges. Not only 
these students get fee reimbursement, but also scholarships from the Central and the 
State governments. These economic benefits are a dream for them back home in their native 
State.

Soon after the Gujarat riots in February 2002 about 1000 Muslim students, including those 
whose parents were killed, were rehabilitated in a few schools in Hyderabad. The Muslim 
Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation, the Hyderabad Zakat and Charitable Trust, 
the Salama School and several Muslim charitable and educational bodies took the 
initiative to provide them the best of education. Some of these students have left for 
Gujarat after secondary education, while a majority of them are pursuing higher education 
including engineering, medicine, pharmacy, and business management.

Says Abdul Sattar, 20, a student pursuing pharmacy in a local college, “I came to 
Hyderabad four years after the riots as my parents wanted me to study in peace and 
without any religious bias. I feel quite secure here and there’s no sense of communal 
fear in the city. Moreover, the standards here are quite high. Now I am local student and 
get the economic benefits offered to Muslim students by the State government”.

In contrast Mansur Parvez, 21, is a victim of the communal carnage. He was brought to the 
city by a philanthropist organization, Salama Educational Society, in 2004. He completed 
his SSC at Salama School, intermediate at New Quantum Junior School, and he is in third 
year B.Tech in an engineering college.

Recalling the worst-ever communal carnage in the history of independent India, Parwez 
says he was studying eighth standard in a government high school, in Gujarati medium in 
Ahmedabad. After the incident he couldn’t continue his education for almost two years 
till Salama Educational Society brought him to Hyderabad.


“I just want to forget those sad moments. I am quite happy with Hyderabad and its people 
are good. When I came to the city I barely spoke English and knew only Gujarati and bit 
of Hindi/Urdu. Though I had done my eighth standard in Gujarat, I joined here in the 
seventh standard in an English medium school,” he points out.


Explaining why some Gujarati Muslims still prefer Hyderabad, social worker and religious 
scholar Moulana Hafiz Shujat Hussain says the economic benefits being offered to Muslims 
in Andhra Pradesh has made all the difference. “Our students have benefited from the fee 
reimbursement and scholarship schemes. This has given such a great psychological 
advantage to poor Muslims in the State that Muslim parents in other States too want to 
benefit, and thus they do not hesitate to send their children for education here,” the 
Moulana observes.


Like many other students hit by riots, Mohammad Moin had to struggle a lot to learn 
English, Telugu and Hindi. “But thanks to our teachers we got more than 70 per cent marks 
in SSC. There were many students who came to the city along with me. Most of them have 
returned since. Some of them have completed BCom and BSc in Hyderabad”.


The students have not yet decided whether to return to their State and settle there. “We 
have been visiting our parents in Gujarat twice a year. We would love to stay back in 
Andhra Pradesh. But we miss parents, brothers and sisters,” is their common refrain.
Says Dr Ifthikharuddin of Mesco, “During 2002-03 we brought around 250 students from 
different parts of Gujarat. They were from different age groups but mostly the students 
were in fifth to seventh standard. We provided them education till matriculation and 
later on some of them went back to Gujarat and we were told that some of them stayed back 
for higher education here.”


A majority of those who stayed back have done vocational courses. Some are in engineering 
colleges. The children had education in Gujarati medium and they were bright in 
academics. It was a tough task for them to get adjusted to the routine in Hyderabad 
including food and syllabus.

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