When a 60 plus-year-old man Kisanbhai (name changed on request) shouted that Muslims should be beggars, not hotel owners, he meant it very sincerely. Not taking into consideration that his son who lives in the United State of America works for a Muslim-owned company, he furiously shouted anti-Muslim slogans.
“This is my country. America is not my country. If Muslims want to live in my country, they will have to say Jai Shri Ram. Whenever we ask them to”, he said.
Kisan Bhai was one of the 100 odd people that protested at Anand in Gujarat today. Their ire: Hotel Blueivy. The Hindus feel that the hotel has no place in “their area”. Two of the three hotel owners are Muslims.The group which had doctors, lawyers and students sang Ram Bhajans, Ram Dhoons and sprinkled Ganga Jal (holy water of Ganges) to purify the area. “The Hotel has to go”, Binaben Patel said. “This is a Hindu area. This hotel is owned by Muslim. It is a blot on our Hindu culture to have this hotel here”.
Now comes the catch, Hotel Blue Ivy which has a banquet hotel, restaurants, hotel rooms, coffee shops does not serve any non-vegetarian food. Not even omelettes or any egg preparation. “So what”, another woman screams. This hotel is owned by Muslims. It is a sin for us to see them also.
Another catch: The Hotel owners: One Gujarati Patel and two Gujarati Muslims all dress alike. They have no beard or skull caps. So how do they know that these are Muslims. “We can feel it. This entire area was very good. The vibes are different since this Muslim-owned hotel has come up”, another housewife chips in.
Anand is home to AMUL, the world’s largest milk cooperative. It is also a cosmopolitan town. Every other home in Anand has an NRI (Non-Resident Indian) connection. But since the last few years, polarisation and nondiversity has taken over this beautiful town. Kurien, the father of India’s White Revolution lived here. The NDDB, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) a statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament of India, that falls under the jurisdiction of the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying is headquartered here. The renowned Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) where students from across the world come to study is located here.
But no Hotel Blue Ivy located in Vivekanand Vadi road cannot be located there because it has Muslim owners with a majority stake.
Hasan Ali, one of the hotel owners was reluctant to talk to Vibes of India fearing an onslaught on him. He told us that he is terribly depressed. “There is nothing illegal about this hotel, its plans, its location, its construction. I have invested over Rs 10 crores(roughly $ 1.3 million USD).
Hasanali, belongs to Chelia Muslim community. Cheliyas are a small Muslim community based largely in Gujarat and Maharashtra. They run roughly 2000 restaurants across Gujarat, Maharashtra and parts of Andhra Pradesh.
Most Chelias run restaurants that have nonreligious names. Like Bharat, Navjivan, Sarvoday, Jaihind. Post-2002 riots in Gujarat, restaurants run by Chelias with names like Tulsi, Aangan, Kabir, Kalpana were also attacked. In one Cheila Muslim restaurant that was attacked, two waiters were burnt alive. Both were Hindus.
However, it is after a long period that now people in Anand are objecting to Muslim ownership of Blue Ivy Hotel. “No matter what I say, I will be targeted. I feel depressed and anxious all the time. We have invested crores in the project and now the residents are not allowing us to function properly. Respecting the sentiments of the residents, we are not even serving non-veg food, but it seems that’s not enough. Our project is legal, there is no black money involved but no one considers that side of the hotel. Let’s see what Allah has in store for us, we leave everything on him. Because there is no one else helping us,” Hasan Ali told Vibes of India.
Cardiologist Shailesh Shah runs an 18-bed private hospital in Anand. He lives adjacent to the hotel. He actively took part in the protest on Tuesday to shut down the hotel. He said, “All we did is sing Ram dhun on the road, sprinkled ganga jal in the area for shudhikaran (purify) of the place and gave speeches on Hindus and their legacy. I’m not against Muslim community but Muslim owners building a banquet, hotel and restaurant in an area with three Hindu temples — Siddhivinayak, Ambaa maa and Saibaba — is wrong on all grounds. We wanted to stop the owners from inaugurating the hotel and therefore we went on the roads.”
Of course, the cardiologist was not alone. In perhaps not-so-unprecedented scenes that define ‘New India’, several seemingly educated, self-employed, working-class professionals and housewives gathered outside Blue Ivy Hotel in Anand, Gujarat and sang Ram dhun, sprinkled ganga jal and shouted slogans demanding the ‘removal’ of the hotel from the area.
The owners of Blue Ivy Hospitality Private Limited, which is located on 80 Feet Road in Vivekanand Wadi, Anand, were subjected to slogans such as “desh ke Gaddaron ko… joote maro salo ko (beat the traitors with shoes)” – a milder version of a slogan made popular by some Bharatiya Janata Party leaders during election campaigns. They also threatened the owners. “If you want to stay in this country, you will have to say Jai Sri Ram,” the mob warned. Ïs desh me agar rehna hai, Jai Shree Ram bolna padega to Anand mein agar rehna hai, Jai Shree Ram hi bolna padega.
The hotel was originally owned by Anand-based builder Krishna Patel, but he made the ‘cardinal mistake’ of bringing in two Muslim men as his partners – Hasanali Sunsara and Mustakali Sulemanbhai Sunsara.
Hitesh Patel, one of the investors in the hotel and Krishna’s father told VOI, “This is a commercial property. I invested in the project and my partner Hasan runs it. I am too occupied to run the hotel and Hasan is much much better skilled than me. However, residents of the area are harassing me also for having Muslim partners and calling me a traitor. The residents tell me that they will let me run the hotel if I remove and Hasan and Mustak. But both of them are such lovely human beings and we make a great business team. It is a joke to say that Gujaratis do not eat non-vegetarian food but still keep local sentiments as a priority, we don’t even serve non-vegetarian food but still, people think it is disrespectful to have Muslim business partners. I’m at a loss of words.”
When Vibes of India contacted Ramesh Patel, who was part of the protesting mob, he described himself as a ‘proud Hindu’ and said that it was criminal for Muslims to own and run the hotel in a Hindu area.“There is a prominent Sai Baba temple that I visit every day. I hate to see this Muslim-owned hotel’s board on my way to the temple.” When pointed out that Sai Baba himself was a Muslim, he brushed it aside as a ‘complete lie’.
Ajit Rajian, Superintendent of Police of Anand told Vibes of India that the matter is subjudice and pending with Gujarat High Court and hence he would not comment. “We have however ensured that law and order is maintained at the venue”, he said,
One of the residents said, “Krishna Patel is a big builder in Anand and would have got any partners. Why has he chosen these anti-national Muslims? Krishna Patel should be ashamed. I have been opposing since 2019 when Krishnabhai made the land deal and got these Muslims. He has such a beautiful name: Krishna but why has he lost his head and got these two pro Pakistani Muslims as partners. When asked whether he knew that these Muslims partners were pro-Pakistanis, he casually but confidently said, “all Muslims are”. After two years of construction, the hotel is up and functioning but the management is scared to do a proper inauguration as the residents have threatened to “take their fight to the next level”.
Gujarat Congress President Amit Chavda who hails from this district says, The idea of imposing religion on people kills the constitutional rights of Indian citizens. This is the end of individual freedom. This protest is engineered by Saffron leaning people.
Social entrepreneur and activist Bhavna Ramrakhiani said, “During 2002 riots, we saw intelligent people silent and now we see them actively participating in anti-Muslim propaganda. This is how far Gujarat has become Vibrant. This is the only difference. A true Hindu would never believe in violence. Ironically, the biggest beef exporters in the nation are Hindus. Today, there is this constant sense of fear where even if a Hindu wants to stand up for a Muslim, he can’t. Such incidents are illogical but they take place with the sanction of the State, warna itni himmat kise hoti?”