AHMEDABAD: After communal riots broke out in Gujarat in 2002, many Good Samaritans and NGOs worked around the clock to rehabilitate displaced families and orphaned children.
A city-based businessman, Lalabhai Shyamwala, however, had something else in mind. He decided to be the father figure for Muslim girls whose families had been displaced and rendered bankrupt by the riots. Shyamwala assumed the responsibility of organizing the weddings of such girls in Vadodara.”Marriages of many Muslim girls had been fixed before the riots but the families were finding it difficult to organize the weddings as they were broke,” Shyamwala said.”Some of the families approached me for help.”
Shyamwala and some friends resolved to help. “We organized the first mass wedding of Muslim girls under the banner of Muslim Social Group in 2003,”he said.”Most of these girls,who were staying in riot rehabilitation camps, have eased in to settled lives.” Shyamwala is the president of the group.
The group decided to continue helping poor and needy girls in getting married. Shyamwala has played father to over 100 Muslim brides over 13 years.While Shyamwala, who is in the ‘faraskhana’ business, provides tents and other facilities, secretary of the group Saiyad Amin arranges for donors. The group provides vessels, beds, and cupboards to the brides.