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Sadbhavna adrift: Wither healing touch?

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By Rajiv Shah
It was an informal chat perhaps in his office, if I remember correctly, with a group of local scribes. Chief minister Narendra Modi had firmly established himself in saddle after taking over reins of power in October 2001. Unusually informal, Modi would then talk straight, without mincing words. Gujarat riots hadn’t yet taken place. A short discussion ensued on Hindu-Muslim relations. I ask him what he had to say of communal segregation in Ahmedabad. Wasn’t it dangerous that Hindus and Muslims had no interaction, especially after post-Babri 1993 riots? They didn’t know each other at all. Wouldn’t it breed an atmosphere of suspicion? Modi was unimpressed. “What’s so unusual about it?”, he wondered. “Don’t Catholics and Protestants live separately in Northern Ireland? They have separate life styles and values. Community living is an international phenomenon, and one should recognize it as such.”
A decade has passed, and segregation has further solidified. After the 2002 ri…