July 26, 2015
UTTAR PRADESH: Ekta Colony Hosts Iftar

Subhashini Ali

IFTAR parties hosted by political parties have become important statements of political importance and ability to attract a large number of prominent Muslims and clerics and, above all, members of the political class.  They have now assumed a new role, that of displaying political alliances and alignments.  All this is accompanied with an ostentatious display of wealth and lavish hospitality quite far removed from what Iftar means to most of those observing the Ramzan fast.  For them it is an occasion to share special moments with family members and friends and also to help those who are less fortunate.

At a time when political leaders in the state capitals and the national capital were vying with one another to host the best attended Iftar parties and when political gossip centered around the issue of who attended whose party and, equally important, who did not, a very different kind of an Iftar was organised by the district committee of the CPI(M), Muzaffarnagar.

Muzaffarnagar and the neighbouring districts of Western UP witnessed the most vicious attacks on poor, landless Muslim families in 2013 by mobs incited deliberately by the Sangh Parivar in a well-planned attempt to create a deep communal divide in rural areas to pay dividends in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. 

A CPI(M) delegation was the first to visit the riot-torn areas and relief measures were undertaken by the Party district committee.  The entire Party contributed material and money and the Kerala Party collected 55 lakhs for the riot victims.  After initial distribution of medicines, blankets, sewing machines, tents etc, it was decided to build homes for some of the displaced families.

The Party had been concentrating its efforts in the camp at Jaula village where there were some local comrades including Yameen, a lawyer, who was in the thick of relief work from the very first day.  The district party helped 62 families to purchase land in the village at very reasonable rates and provided materials to them to build their own houses.  Entire families, including young children, worked long hours and soon a colony of 62 houses came up. 

The inauguration of Ekta Colony was a wonderful occasion.

This year, it was decided to host an Iftar on July 15 for all the families in the colony.  The district committee made all the arrangements and S Ramachandran Pillai and Subhashini Ali, CPI(M) Polit Bureau members attended the function from the Party Centre along with district leaders, Sahdev Singh (district secretary.) and Shyamveer Rathi.  The people in the colony welcomed all the comrades and one of the long flat roofs of one group of houses was used to host the Iftar. 

Comrades insisted that the women also participate and, after a little hesitation, they trooped up and sat down in two rows next to the men.  This was the first time in their lives that they were sharing an Iftar with their male family members and neighbours.  The first time that they ate with them instead of after serving them.  They were really quite happy and excited and they enjoyed the generous spread immensely!

There is still much to be done in the colony.  The state government has not contributed anything towards its improvement.  There is still no electricity or piped water and no brick lanes but the Party is consistently approaching the administration.  As a result a water tank has been installed but it has not yet been connected!

The women, however, kept repeating, in between various complaints, how they were very happy to be living in homes that they had built themselves in which they had included courtyards for their buffaloes, cows and ponies and they were extremely proud of the fact that every single home had a toilet and bath.

It was a happy and memorable occasion in spite of the suffering and deprivation that had forced these families to take refuge in Jaula in the first place.  Many of the families have come to know about the Party for the first time in their lives.  The men have started participating in some Party programmes.  Perhaps in the days to come the relationship between the Party and Ekta Colony residents will become a strong and fruitful one.