On Gujarat Coasts, Muslim Fishermen Feel Alienated, Suicidal and Out of Business (The Wire)

Two years after Gujarat government began 'targeted' demolition of settlements, Muslim fishermen say there are not being able to recover still and that they fear losing their livelihood.

Since October 2022, Gujarat government’s demolition drive has primarily targeted Muslim fishermen, allege locals. Photo: Tarushi Aswani.

By Tarushi Aswani

Kutch (Gujarat): Jakhau is a busy, blue and simmering fair-weather port on the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat’s Kutch district. The waves that touch the port are home to neatly stacked boats with Indian flags. As albatrosses circle the sky above the port, sailors sometimes cast nets into the sea, and sometimes sit with folded hands facing the setting sun.

At the port, Abdul Shah Peerzada is getting ready to sit under a tenement he calls his ‘office’. Dressed in white, Peerzada is the president of the Jakhau Bandar Fishermen and Boat Association (JBFBA).

“Since our setups were demolished by the local administration, we have not been able to recover,” says Peerzada, referring to the Gujarat government’s demolition drives.

In different villages near the coast of Gujarat, majorly occupied by Muslim fishermen settlements had been demolished, with their houses and boats destroyed and their families displaced from a coast they called their home.

In May 2022, hundreds from a Muslim fishing community in Gosabara, a village in Gujarat’s Porbandar district, approached the state’s high court seeking permission to collectively kill themselves – as they were not allowed to undertake their traditional occupation on account of their religion.

This story was originally published in thewire.in. Read the full story here.

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