Vil­lage that has Gand­hiji’s name, but no govt help

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Gu­lam Jee­lani gu­lam.jee­lani@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Haji Isa Khan was 14 when Gandhi vis­ited an en­camp­ment in a fort at Mewat on De­cem­ber 19, 1947. Those were tur­bu­lent days just af­ter Par­ti­tion. Khan was among thou­sands of Meo Mus­lims from Al­war and Bharat­pur who were on their way to Pak­istan when they stopped at Ghasera in Haryana, around 45 km from present-day Gur­gaon.

“He [Gandhi] was ac­com­pa­nied by two women. He started his speech by ad­dress­ing Meos as the back­bone of In­dia...,” The place where Ma­hatma Gandhi ad­dressed Meos in 1947 is to­day a school, the only in Ghasera vil­lage. Khan, now 83, re­calls. It was a defin­ing mo­ment when thou­sands from the com­mu­nity heeded Gandhi’s ad­vice and stayed back. His­to­ri­ans say, an es­ti­mated 70,000 Meo Mus­lims set­tled in the area. The place came to be known as Gandhi Gram Ghasera. But 69 years later, lo­cals say they are still await­ing gov­ern­ment help to turn around their “mis­er­able lives”. “Ex­cept for Gand­hiji’s name, we have been given noth­ing… There are no jobs for our chil­dren and no job av­enues for us,” said Noor Mohd, one of the 25,000-odd res­i­dents.

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