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Gujarat Riots - 2
The 'seculars' refuse to see these graphics but go on and on about 'genocide' !
I havent seen this story in other newspapers but this story is on front page on both Guj Samachar and Sandesh (print editions)

xlation follows..

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Attack on Shrijis procession leads to communal disturbance in Vadodra-Ankleshwara

Stone throwing incidents at the time of Ganpati visarjan led to communal tension in Vadodra and Ankleshwara. Members from 'minority' community resorted to stone throwing and private firing on Shriji's procession when it passed Mughalwada and Sheelwadi localities. Members of the 'minority' community threw crude bombs at the police. Police had to respond with 5 rounds of firing. 2 persons were injured as a result of the firing. While 15 persons total were injured which included 2 policemen.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I am not xlating the rest. I will just provide the highlights..

- started with incidents of stone throwing on the procession.
- followed by acid bulb throwing incidents.
- 1 PSI and 2 jawans got injured. total 5.
- kabirashram, soyfalia, hanuman falia all were affected following this incident.
- 6-8 handcarts were burnt by the mob.
- several ganpati idols were yet to be immersed when this broke out. They had to be postponed to a later time.
- Trouble started in Vadi locality on Vadodra (communally sensitive place). Several people were part of the ganpati procession. The mood was festive with lots of abil-gulal in the air but when the procession passed the Vaad-Moghal restaurant about 200-250 pigs attacked the procession with stones, soda water bottles, acid bulbs and crude bombs. Pr ocession got scattered as a result of this . Police resorted to lathicharge to no avail. This gradually led to members from the 2 communities throwing stones at each other.

Guj Samachar has mention about Ram-Sita's murtis getting insulted but I dont have that paper with me to give a full xlation.

There is no mention of this on any websites.Lets see if this shows up tomorrow.
<b>Rioters booked for conspiracy</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->VADODARA: The city police added provisions of the Explosives Act and criminal conspiracy to Saturday evening's communal rioting case that occurred during the passage of Ganesh immersion processions near Mughal Restaurant The move is significant, as the police had earlier stated that the riots were pre-planned.

The investigations also revealed that a photocopied letter, using foul language against Lord Ganpati and organisers of a pandal, was circulated on the immersion day. Copies of the letter were given to select persons by those who claimed to have received the threat letter......
Sources said that the role of a politician and another person was also being looked into.......
The FIR mentions Mohammed Chokhawala, a resident of Moti Vhorwad. Chokhawala is believed to be a bookie who accepted bets on the riots.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Politician name is missing ????????
Mudy, source, pls?

Narayanan on Guj..


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->How do we prevent the kind of incidents you just now said. Whether it is Gujarat or... Small incidents take on a much bigger shape. The ability of the system to manage this. I refuse to believe that 1984 or 2002... They are not deliberate pogroms. Works out in different ways. <b>There is no control at that time, there is a lot of anger.</b> Situations of this kind.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
This little booklet came out in Kolkata some time back. It's originally in Bengali. In Kol it gained quite a currency. See if you like it.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Gujarat Incident
(An Inevitable Explosion of Contemporary Reality)
Ratnakar Goswami

In recent Indian history, the Gujarat incident made a most shocking yet intriguing chapter. I would rather not view it in the context of a Hindu-Muslim riot. That way, there would be many questions left unanswered or the answers we do receive would, most likely, be over simplified. So what really did happen and is still going on in Gujarat?
The Gujarat incident commenced in February 2002. Immediately it became apparent that the whole matter was extremely complex, with which the raw emotions of the Hindu society of Gujarat and the whole Western India were intricately involved. My questions were – why and how are the Hindu’s of Gujarat marshalling their mind, body and spirit into an unified whole and fighting against the Muslims  practically on the lines of a Leninist revolutionary struggle? How did the Hindus achieve this unity? Especially, why and through what miracle of confidence did the, so called, low caste Hindus, the forest dwellers (vanavasis), the tribals (janajatis) and the women, join this violent struggle in their thousands?
Not that the Indian media didn’t try to seek an explanation for these phenomena but the answers they provided either lacked conviction or were farfetched or downright oversimplified. Here are some instances.
In the beginning some English newspapers and some TV news channels tried their level best to prove that the greater part of the Hindu society was against this struggle. Within a few weeks the reporters of the above media woke up to the fact that the activities of the people were directly proving the shallowness of their understanding of the situation. Resultantly they chose to keep mum on the matter of Hindu unity for the time being. But when this very question rose like a whirlwind across the nation they took a different line. They propagated – Yes, a kind of Hindu unity has been achieved. And why should it not be? The Sangh Parivar has been brainwashing the Hindus, especially the backward classes, in every nook and cranny of the state for the one and a half decades. Therefore the current upsurge of hardline Hindutva is nothing but the natural upshot of that evil enterprise.
Their logic cannot be totally ignored. Brainwashing of the common masses is a part and parcel of every political or social mobilisation in every country. But can brainwashing be done in every situation? The late Shri Atulya Ghosh was one of the most politically astute Congressmen in Bengal. By the middle of the 1960’s the Congress Party had started its retreat from the rural regions of Bengal. One day in 1966 Shri Ghosh went to Nanur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal on some personal business. Some of the leaders of the Birbhum Zilla Congress came to meet him there. He smiled and asked one of them, ‘hey, you people are practically getting wiped out of the villages. What’s the matter?’ The man had answered him ‘what can we do Sir? Those damn leftists are brainwashing the poor in the villages.’ Atulya babu had smiled and answered ‘then you must have created such a situation in the villages that the leftists are getting a chance to brainwash the poor.’
Atulyababu’s reason was very simple. Brainwashing cannot be done in every instance. For that, a real life situation conducive to such enterprise is imperative. Whenever and wherever such a situation arises brainwashing can proceed at lightning speed. I subscribe to this very simple reasoning of Late Atulyababu with great respect.

So now the question was what really happened in Gujarat that the Sangh Parivar was presented with a real life opportunity to inspire and imbue the entire Gujarati Hindu society by their ideology? In what context did this situation evolve? And why did both the State and Central Government turn a blind eye to this evolving situation?
Many fundamental queries like these had been bugging me since February 2002. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to find the answers in Kolkata. I couldn’t.
At this juncture opportunity struck. In the first week of September a Gujarati friend of mine said, ‘come with me to Gujarat. Maybe you’ll get your answers there’. I took the offer and accompanied my friend to Gujarat for two weeks. In those two weeks I visited seven districts of that state. I also talked extensively with many people, both Hindu and Muslim, representing the different strata of society. There were quite a few erudite Gujaratis with whom I had extensively and intimately discussed the Gujarat incident.
At the end of this fortnightly journey of discovery I came to the conclusion that the passage of time and events are just too complex. In this flow of events even God cannot grant ‘good sense’ to everybody every time. This flow continuously overlaps the past upon the present and the present into the past creating a perpetual paradox. Today Gujarat is in tumult not because the Gujaratis want to establish a Hindu Rashtra in their State. Gujarat wants honour. And that very honour had been planned to be destroyed in a very slow and cunning manner. The Gujaratis are trying to fight through and vanquish that conspiracy. This is not a political matter. It is concerned with establishing the Honour and Pride of Gujarat upon a unanimous standing. This reflection may be considered as the ‘prologue’ of my article. Now I will get to my analysis of the Gujarat incident.
At first it is better to discuss the evolution the Gujarati psyche and social conscience has undergone. The scale of this evolution in post independence India would shock many an old Gujarati whose thought processes are still moored in the past. According to one Sociology Professor of Gujarat University, the foundation of this paradigm shift had been laid in the 1920’s. But the transformation in a larger sense became perceptible from the middle of the 1980’s.
Enterprise and Religion – a combination of these two has created the Gujarati psyche. Except Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, the other states of India are not very well acquainted with this psychology. According to the above Professor, a changing pattern of enterprise also precipitated a change in the religious thinking in the state from the 1920’s itself. This is quite natural. When a trader becomes an industrialist, he is no longer satisfied by just writing ‘Shubh Labh’ or ‘Ganeshayah Namah’ on his wall or by wearing a ‘tilak’ on his forehead. Just as satisfaction evaded the 16th century Germen Catholic Industrialists. An industrialist seeks a radical ideology, a radical world view. The reason can be easily imagined. He has to survive through cut throat competition. The challenge of turning an unfavourable situation into his favour, creating opportunities where none exists, is the basis of his existence. He has to be radical. That was why the German Catholics spawned the Protestant movement. The Protestant faith of Martin Luther was very much within the fold of Christianity. But in thought and action it was radically different from stodgy Catholicism.
1920 to 1985, within these sixty five years the environment of Gujarat has changed radically. Bania Hindutva which is prone to compromise has been eschewed by the Gujaratis, against that they have moved forward to embrace Kshatriya Hindutva - which is radical and uncompromising.
The father of Bania Hindutva was Gandhi. Till 1950 the situation in Gujarat was favourable towards the above version of Hindutva, as the Gujaratis were still largely traders. Sheikh Bania and Hindu Bania proceeded along the straight and narrow path of trading, sometimes through cooperation, sometimes through competition. Though cooperation rather than competition was the cornerstone of trade relations in the then Gujarat. Nevertheless, conflicts arose even in that situation but whenever it happened, Gandhi, in his accustomed manner, would preach tolerance, compromise and eschewal. The Hindus treaded the above path of compromise and tried to maintain a modicum of social stability.
In a changed scenario, especially in the present context, this Gandhi espoused Bania Hindutva is fading fast. In its place the Gujaratis have adopted the radical way of Kshatriya Hindutva, which is rooted in the thoughts and ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. For two days in a year they pay their respect to Gandhi and totally discard him for the rest 363 days.
This time, I also rarely came across Rabindranath Tagore in Gujarat. Not too long ago the poet used to occupy the place of a resplendent star in the minds of the educated Gujarati middle class. Now I could hardly detect him. There are still traces of Shri Aurobindo here and there. ‘He is too complex and esoteric but Hindu to the core. That’s why he will remain’, I was told by the Principal of Vadodara Collage.
However the one whose existence is all pervading in Contemporary Gujarat is Swami Vivekananda. The Gujarati mind has been shaken and agitated by this Sannyasi. Not only the affluent or the middle classes but even the, so called, backward classes, have brought him down to the streets as one of their own. One vanavasi, Munnalal, told me, “Beant Swamijine bola, sab Mussalman ko maar dalo” (Beant Swamiji had said, kill all Muslims). I was really intrigued as I couldn’t make out who this ‘Beant Swamiji’ was. Seeing my bewilderment Munnalal brought out a very carefully preserved picture of Swami Vivekananda from his room. He said to me, “dekho. Ek Bangali veer. Bharat ka Janak.” (See. A brave Bengali. The father of India.)
The people of Gandhi’s own State have started to think Swami Vivekananda as the Father of the Nation! I would not go into a deeper analysis of this matter. Everybody creates his own interpretation of reality according to his own viewpoint or understanding. Munnalal has interpreted Swamiji as an anti Muslim Hindu monk, as he himself is anti Muslim. Mr. Ravi Dasgupta of ‘The Statesman’ has construed Swami Vivekananda as the ‘Father of Neo Vedanta’. This is because Ravibabu is a diehard secularist. This sort of thing would go on for the time being.
For good reason a question may arise – okay we’ll accept that industrial enterprise is the mainstay of Gujarati entrepreneurs – but do the common people of Gujarat accept enterprise as the mainstay of their lives? My answer is yes. A Bengali friend from Bhavnagar, who used to be a bank manager by profession, explained this to me with an example. One middle aged mendicant used to save, whatever little he could, everyday. When his savings reached ten thousand rupees he quit begging and opened a little teashop in the outskirts of his town. Today, twenty years later, he has four shops, two houses and three cars in that town. That mendicant entrepreneur is no longer alive. His grandson is a University graduate and an active leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. In other words enterprise and entrepreneurial growth is the mantra of Gujarati life.
How did the enterprising Gujaratis develop such a vehement animosity towards the Muslims? I had asked this question at various levels of Gujarati society. In most cases the answers were confused and foggy, cloaked in an emotional garb. I really couldn’t reach any decision from those.
On this very matter a certain Professor at IIM Ahmedabad has been working for the past ten years. An eminent lawyer from Vadodara is also researching this matter for some time. I met both of them and discussed at length upon their ideas regarding the estrangement of two communities. Working upon this discussion, I had visited different regions of Gujarat and had tried to verify their interpretations of this issue. Whatever I found out I’ll try to convey here as succinctly as possible. (One thing really surprised me. Both of my IIM and lawyer friends have requested to keep their names secret. Both are afraid that publishing the truth about the real Hindu – Muslim situation might have lethal consequences. In the past two decades many researchers have been ruthlessly eliminated by the Muslim mafia. I was under the impression that such dangers exist only in West Bengal.)
(1) After 1947, at least 40% of the Muslim Bania community of Gujarat migrated to the Sind province of Pakistan. But remarkably, even though they migrated to Pakistan they didn’t wind up their businesses in Gujarat or even sell them to anyone. They run these businesses through a line of agents. Now who are these agents? Only about 20% of them are Gujarati Muslims, who, for various reasons, could not migrate to Pakistan. The rest 80% are Pakistani Muslims who illegally travel between the two countries on a regular basis. These Muslims are mostly residents of Hyderabad in Sind or the Bahawalpur Province of Pakistan. By character they are rabidly fundamentalist and virulently anti Hindu. From 1947 to 1980, in these thirty three years the situation this network of agents has created throughout Gujarat is, in a word, frightening. It is they who have spawned the Muslim Mafia in Gujarat. This network has brought in rabidly pro Pakistan Muslims, especially from parts of Bihar and U.P, and settled them in Gujarat; cleverly utilizing these elements for various illegal and nefarious activities. The main objective of these agents (the Professor of IIM has termed them as ‘surrogate traders’) was (and still is) to acquire the land and businesses of the Hindu Banias in any manner possible. Towards this end the tactics of intimidation, forcible occupation, benami purchases and other illegal and devious means were liberally employed. The Mafia largesse also flew unstintingly to different levels of politics and bureaucracy to buy either their support or indifference towards this diabolical programme.
(2) In 1973, by exploiting the world wide oil crisis the Arab Sheikhs of the Middle East suddenly found themselves in control of an unimaginable reserve of wealth. This juncture also provided a golden opportunity for the surrogate Muslim Banias of Gujarat. Exploiting their sinister network and the formidable influence it enjoyed with the Indian political and bureaucratic classes, they now offered their services to the Sheikhs of Middle East. For a long time these Sheiks had coveted the control of the rich and prosperous Hindu trade of Gujarat. Now they had the opportunity to put their greedy paws upon it. From 1973 to 1980 this sinister combine carried out their nefarious designs in Gujarat with impunity. For some strange and unknown reason both the State and Central Governments had turned a Nelson’s eye at these activities going on under their very noses.
(3) After 1975 this network of surrogate Muslim Banias gathered a new strength and vitality. Assistance, this time, flowed from a new source – Pakistan. After the humiliating defeat of 1971 the ruling powers of Pakistan were fervently seeking a new way of destabilising India. Prime Minister Bhutto expounded this new tactic, but the credit for formalising and implementing this programme goes to the Late General Zia ul Haque. Gen. Zia’s viewpoint was unique – “For Pakistan India can never be a winnable proposition. We should never try that. What then should be our mission to stall India with its strength and superior power?..... Don’t get frustrated my friends. True, India is not a winnable proposition but certainly it is a buyable product. Let’s buy it….”.
Since 1975 to this day Pakistan has employed this strategy of purchase to deadly effect. In this strategy not only the Muslims but thousands of Hindus, employed in different professions, are also equally involved. Zia got it right. The Indians are too fond of cash, even to their own detriment. And to properly exploit this tragic flaw it is imperative that the majority Hindus, in thousands, be recruited in this scheme. This remarkable strategic ‘invasion’ (which is still going on) infused a new strength and power to the network of surrogate banias.
(4) The extremist activities of these surrogate banias upset the stability of Hindu trade and commerce in Gujarat and a great portion of Hindu trade went into the hands of the Muslims. The Hindu big business, however, didn’t feel the heat of this drive. These cunning surrogates knew extremely well that once the Hindu big businesses are troubled Ahmedabad and New Delhi would strike back viciously. Those who felt the heat were mainly the small and middling traders. And in Gujarat these traders comprised the majority of the class. Let me offer some examples.
Kanhaiya Modi had a small automobile workshop on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. One Bania Sheikh offered to buy him out in 1965. The initial offer was for 50,000 rupees. Later, in stages, the offer increased up to 1, 20,000 rupees. Kanhaiyabhai couldn’t resist any longer and sold the workshop to the Sheik for Rs.1, 20,000. The Sheikh paid him 50000 rupees for the first instalment and 25000 rupees for the second, two years later. After the second instalment the Sheikh stopped payment altogether. As the deal was made in the old fashion – through trust – it did not stand in court. Kanhaiyabhai was forced to become a hawker after losing his business. Kevalram, his son, is now a ruthless commander of the Bajrang Dal.
Bhikhubhai had a nicely running shop in Vadodara. In 1965 the shop was valued at around 200,000 rupees. For an irresistible offer of 350,000 rupees Bhikhubhai sold his shop to a Muslim Bania named Omar Sheikh. Although Bhikhubhai extracted full payment for his shop he was unable to open a new one. The sons of Bhikhubhai could not accept this downfall of their family. Today all of them are extreme supporters of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
In the town of Godhra Chimanbhai had some land adjacent to his house. A Muslim Bania friend requested Chimanbhai to rent him that land for a few months. Trusting his friend and eager to earn a little bit of money Chimanbhai acquiesced. Thereafter the rent fell in arrears for seven months and his Muslim friend forcibly occupied the land. Moreover, within a couple of years, Chimanbhai was forced to sell his house and move away. The eldest daughter of Chimanbhai is a powerful BJP leader today.
In Porbander, the birthplace of Gandhi, the Muslim Banias took over scores of Hindu property, practically for pittance. Even in the very near past there were many localities in Porbander where the Hindus were prohibited to enter. In Porbander the Muslim mafia did pretty much as they pleased under the very nose of the Government. The Hindu Banias either had to tolerate their depredations or had to sell off everything and move out. From 1947 to 1980, throughout this long period of time, the surrogate Banias have ruthlessly and cunningly occupied the land and properties of the Hindu Banias. Needless to say, the methods of their acquisition were totally illegal. There were times when they even received, directly and indirectly, the assistance of the government. Surprisingly, the big business of Gujarat turned a blind eye to this forcible occupation. It is even more surprising when I think that the owners of these big businesses are all Hindus.
These surrogate Muslim Banias occupied the lands of the lower classes (Dalits, Adivasis, etc.) with even more ruthlessness. Even the farmers fell prey to their depredations. Let me quote some instances.
In West Gujarat there lived one Vanavasi named Kansiram. He owned about ten bighas of land. One Muslim trader plied him with alcohol till he was blind drunk and then murdered him. He then forcibly occupied his land and also his wife and children. After a year or so he carried off Kansiram’s young widow to Bahawalpur, where he performed the ‘Nikah’ with her. The children were left in Gujarat where they survived by doing odd jobs on the trader’s land. The eldest of them is called Bhunilal. When Bhunilal became fifteen that Muslim Bania took him to Bahawalpur and there he tried to forcibly convert Bhunilal to Islam. Bhunilal’s own mother was also involved in this attempt. Bhunilal managed to escape to India with the assistance of a liberal Maulana and took shelter with the RSS. Bhunilal is now a commander of the Bajrang Dal. On him there are charges of ruthlessly massacring ten Muslims.
The story of Ramu, resident of Bhuj, is even more heart rending. His ‘dear friend’ Daud Ali had loaned him one thousand rupees. In the next ten years Ramu couldn’t repay that loan with its component of 2% interest per day! So Daud took ‘possession’ of Ramu’s land, dwelling and also his wife. In this matter Daud was assisted by the Hindu headman of the said village. Ramu was driven out to the streets with his children. Daud transferred Ramu’s wife to Dubai. There she converted to Islam, married Daud and started a small business. In time she also bore Daud three children. That woman, who’s Muslim name was Huba Begum, returned to her village with her children towards the end of the eighties. After her return she offered the children from her first husband to embrace Islam. By then Ramu had died. The children declined their mother’s offer. For this ‘offence’ they were severely tortured and had to flee their village and migrate to Ahmedabad. In the Gujarat riots Ramu’s sons murdered their mother and her Muslim husband Daud with horrifying cruelty.
In this connection let me relate the story of an Adivasi lady. She shall remain unnamed upon her own request. She related her story to me in flawless English. This lady was married to a day labourer and they had seven sons. The family spent their days in grinding poverty. In 1965 she took the job of a baby sitter in the house of a Muslim Bania. That Gentleman sent her to Jeddah in 1969 to work in the family of his married daughter. In Jeddah this daughter’s husband tried to force her to embrace Islam. He also offered the inducement that if she embraced Islam he would divorce (talaq) his wife and marry her. With great dexterity she evaded this offer and fled to Philadelphia as the baby sitter of an American couple. She accomplished her escape with the assistance of a kind and sympathetic Christian couple in Jeddah. That was in 1971. In the US she realised that her lack of education has landed her in this quagmire, and resolved to educate herself. She finished her Graduation in 1980, her Post Graduation in 1983 and her PhD in 1990. Currently she is working as a Professor in an American University. She has been visiting India twice a year, every year, from 1985 till 2001, only with a single purpose – to seek out her husband and children. In this purpose she is yet to be successful but she has not relinquished hope. It’s her unwavering belief that God will unite her with her husband and children, one day. In the US, she is a very famous organiser for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. She thinks, “Islam is a curse upon our Hindu Society”.
Gujarat has witnessed thousands upon thousands of such incidents like those above. The surrogate Muslim Banias had nearly destabilised the State. The State machinery and the big businesses had full knowledge of what was going on but had willingly maintained their silence. Thousands of small and middling traders, the non trading middle classes of the towns and villages, Dalits and Adivasis, had to silently suffer their onslaught; because they lacked unity. This lack of unity and organisation relegated them to the roles of helpless victims before this well funded and well orchestrated onslaught of the surrogates. The Gujarati media never exposed the real happenings before the public. And the political parties thought better of it than to open their mouths.
(5) At this hour of despair a new wave crashed into Gujarat. By 1985 a new power was rising in the state. And the harbinger of this wave was the non resident Gujaratis. A major portion of this non resident community had to leave their native shores under the pressure of the surrogate banias. Leaving Gujarat they migrated to different parts of the world, wherever opportunities presented themselves. In these foreign lands they had fully utilised the world wide momentum of free trade. Employing their intellect and formidable spirit of enterprise, these people of small and medium trading background, had, in the past two decades, created a base of huge and solid wealth. That too in dollars. From the 1980’s this new dollar wealth began to flow back to Gujarat. Hindu Bania power, till then whimpering in indignity, slowly stood up on its own feet backed by this infusion and, gathering a new courage, began to fight back the advances of the surrogates. However, although it played a significant part, this infusion of non resident dollars was not the only force that started to turn back the tide in Gujarat. Apart from dollar wealth a new patriotic confidence also began to flow into Gujarat which began to inject a new hope into the despondent Hindu community. This confidence spewed forth from the fount of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the RSS. ‘Proudly say I am a Hindu’, ‘India is the land of Hindus’, ‘The new century shall be a Hindu Century’, ‘Hindus shall no longer silently suffer Muslim assaults, now they will strike back’; words like these became the catch phrases of this new confidence.
This wave of Hindu Nationalism began to spread in Gujarat from 1985. The Sangh Parivar eagerly availed of this opportunity, they had to. Otherwise the prevailing situation would have spawned another Hindu outfit. The surrogate Muslim Banias have tried tooth and nail to resist this new tide and in this effort they have been consistently backed by Pakistan and the Sheikhs of Middle East. As a part of this effort they have also tried to institute a greater political arrangement throughout Gujarat. This can be easily proved from many different instances of the Gujarat Incident. Within this ‘political arrangement’ many Hindus, working in different fields and in different levels of government, as well as people of Pakistan’s Strategy Management and ISI, are involved.
From 1947 to 1985, throughout these thirty eight years, the Muslim trade cartel has carried on a relentless assault against the small and medium Hindu traders. This has inevitably led to the ‘socialisation’ of the anger of the majority Hindu community. In Gujarat the ground realities began to change from 1985 onwards. The influx of the non resident Gujaratis and their money laid the ground for the establishment of Hindu Nationalism in Gujarat. Subsequently the socialisation of the Gujarati Hindu wrath acted as a catalyst for the ultimate socialisation of Hindu Nationalism in that State.
The so called secular parties could not figure out this complex socio – political process. The crisis in Gujarat was not generated by religious fundamentalism. Its root lies deep inside the public life of Gujarat where religion and enterprise combine inextricably to create a complex whole.

After interacting with many different persons associated with various branches of the Sangh Parivar I have come to the conclusion that none of them are intent on establishing a theocratic state. What they aim for is a nation state where everybody is free to pursue their own faith but should be subject to and must obey a uniform legal code. They want every Indian, whether Hindu or Muslim, to be inspired with patriotism. They should unequivocally express their love for their motherland and discharge the duties expected of them as citizens with full responsibility. The goal of the Sangh Parivar is to establish throughout India a vibrant civil society suffused with youthful energy. In contemporary Gujarat all the efforts towards these goals have been virulently opposed by the Muslims. That is the reason why the majority Hindus have organised such a resistance movement against them. That, in a nutshell, is the Gujarat Incident.

Now I’ll commence the ‘Epilogue’ of my article. What does the Gujarat Incident indicate for the rest of India? Today it is crystal clear that the ‘Gujarat Incident’ has created a tremendous upheaval in the Hindu society throughout India. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of this upheaval. But rather try to derive some apparent and simple lessons that any political, social or cultural analysis of this incident inevitably throws up.
(a) The days of blind secularism has come to an end. The ‘Gujarat Incident’ has sounded the death knell of the blatantly partisan politics that started in post independence India targeting the Muslim vote bank.
(b) Indian Nationalism, which is basically an extrapolation of Hindu Nationalism, has decisively defeated in Gujarat the non patriotic secular politics. According to the Sangh Parivar this secular politics is the greatest hindrance towards establishing India as a truly powerful and sovereign state. The true driving force shall again be infused into the nation engendering a new and vibrant social, cultural and political energy. Only this new power and energy can truly implement the vision that President Kalam has put forth before us. The Sangh Parivar thinks there is no place for narrowness in this ideology. This new wave of Hindu Nationalism is bound to spread throughout India. The demands of the cold war were allowed to reduce India to a soft and effete state. A state that could never decisively pursue any policy that was suited for safeguarding or furthering its own interests. The cold war, however, is over. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Babri Masjid fell in 1992. Would the Hindus have gone ahead with the demolition if the Soviet Union were still extant? I think not. Anyway the new world order of politics and economics desires to see India in a more powerful and decisive role, an emergent superpower. The opposition to this destiny is still there, but they are no longer that cohesive. Under the circumstances it is quite natural that the spirit of true nationalism will submerge the whole of India in its irresistible flow. It may be, that divergent political ideologies will try to survive by affecting a compromise with the nationalistic mainstream. This is amply reflected in the ‘soft Hindutva’ of the Congress or the attempts at ‘Indianisation’ by the Marxists.
© The Gujarat Incident has also evaluated the hostility between the Hindus and Muslims. What has transpired is that the animus between the two communities is not a natural corollary of the social, economic or political interaction or competition between them. In today’s India it is a strategic issue. Behind the Muslims are Pakistan and the sinister powers of West Asia whose aim is the disintegration and subsequent occupation of Hindu India. They seek to establish an Islamic State in India by totally destroying the indigenous culture and civilisation. As long as they maintain this aggressive and destructive policy the animosity between the Hindus and Muslims in India shall remain. Resultantly, whenever a riot takes place, evaluating that riot in the context of social or political issues would be a mistake. The Hindu – Muslim relation in present day India is a strategic issue, the Muslims should understand that along with the whole nation.

Same situation or game plan exist in other border states around BD and Pakistan.
While the above article is interesting and goes into history of things etc, I think it still ignores the magnitude of the Godhra incident.

I firmly believe that the Godhra barbeque was just plain too much for the Gujju hindus. Without any history, wthout money, without Sangh, without anything else, if an incident like that happens again where 58 women and children are roasted alive by a mob of 2000 pigs, I have no doubt in mind that Gujju hindus will retaliate with an even bigger force.

It will NOT matter if the entire army of India is put into Gujarat. It will NOT matter if the govt is of falana party or dhiknaa party. It will NOT matter if the Sangh exists or not. Gujju muslims would do well to understand this plain and simple fact rather then go play ball with secularists and other assorted scumbags.
You are quite right. I think the tinder was ready, Godhra was the match.
It is not just the militant Hinduism which got manifested in Gujarat, but a mini Hindu renaissance is going on.

Gujarati Saints and Hindu Sampradayas are leading the Hindu religious movements in India and the world.

Swaminarayan movement and their political and economic clout need no introduction.

Check any of the religious television channels such as Sanskar, Bhakti, & others..most of the leading religious preachers come from Gujarat.

A position which was held by Bengal until 50-60 years back.

Gujarat Hindus also faces apart from militant challenge from Muslims; philosophical challenge forrm Jainism particulary Jain Gurus. Though they never present themselves separate from broader Hindu society.

Gujarat was always tolerant having sheltered Parsis and it also consists of probably largest group of Gujarati speaking moderate Bohra muslims.
Mass grave found in Gujarat<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Relatives of victims of the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat on Tuesday claimed to have exhumed skeletal remains from a mass grave in Panchamahal district of those believed to have been killed in the post-Godhra riots.
While police could not not give details of the incident, <span style='color:red'>Teesta Setalvad, an activist who runs an NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace, said the bodies might be of those who were killed during the post-Godhra riots in Pandharwada village</span>. The grave is located near Panam river in Lunavada village
When contacted, Gujarat DGP AK Bhargava said he did not not have any information about the digging of the grave which he was trying to ascertain.

Superintendent of Panchamahal District Police, JK Bhatt, said he was sending a team of officials and could say something only after he heard from his team.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

misleading heading by HT. HT is still working with old agenda. Sonia had given free hand to Teesta it seems.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Eight bodies found in Gujarat </b>
RK Misra / Gandhinagar
The remains of eight people, believed to be riot victims, were found in the Panchmahal district of the Gujarat on Tuesday.

While Teesta Setalvad who runs an NGO that has been taking up cases of riot victims went on record saying that these remains may be of those killed in Pandarwada, official sources denied this.

<b>According to Vadodara IGP Rakesh Asthana, there is no truth in the claim and these were bodies which had been duly disposed off after the process of law had been carried out following post-mortem examination and filing of cases.</b>

Setalvad, however, said that she will knock the doors of the High Court on Wednesday seeking a reinvestigation of the case under the charge of the CBI

Looks like she is just trying to divert attention from WHAT?
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Looks like she is just trying to divert attention from WHAT?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Mudyji, isko Hindi mein khete hain, gaddhe murde ukhadna!
Aajtak is reporting that the bodies were all post-mortemed and given a proper burial. Authorities are going to do DNA analysis to confirm that these were indeed bodies that were accounted for.

Teesta is digging graves.
<b>Gujarat Govt to submit report on mass grave</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Senior CBI officials had spoken to the Director General of Gujarat Police in the morning who had informed them that the place where the skeletons had been recovered was actually 100km from the place where Bilkis Bano rape-cum-murder had taken place.

Till date Congress govt never asked Assam and Bihar mass grave info. They are very swift in Gujarat.
Here is an article from Frontline which says that in Gujurat, thanks to the post Godhra reprisals, muslims are scared of resorting to Jihadism and actively turn-in any potential terrorists
Hence thanks to post Godhra riots, Gujurat is the safest from ISI

Whereas in secular ruled places like Hyderabad and Kolkata, ISI is active openly


A state of fear


JEHADI elements have wrought havoc in Gujarat, but on a relatively small scale. After the riots, Chief Minister Narendra Modi's election propaganda centred on the Godhra incident and the fear that Gujarat could be besieged by terrorists. The police warned of a "terrorist backlash" similar to the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, saying that militant groups from outside were trying to recruit Gujarati youth. But intelligence officials admit that the recruitment drive was not successful. The Muslim community was too scared.

The Akshardham temple attack on September 24, 2002, was the biggest ever jehadi action in the State. According to the police, it was carried out by two fidayeens from Kashmir. Local Muslims helped with preparations. However, the evidence in the case is not strong. It is based on the testimony of one of the Kashmiri conspirators, Chand Khan, who gave differing statements to the police. He told the Jammu and Kashmir Police that he did not know anyone in Ahmedabad. But, in his confession to the Gujarat Police, he mentioned the five local people arrested in Ahmedabad.

When Haren Pandya, Modi's main rival, was killed on March 26, 2003, Pandya's father accused Modi of involvement in the incident and said it was a "political assassination". Soon after, the police started raiding Muslim areas in Ahmedabad's walled city in search of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agents and illegally detained several youth and even a few old people. Finally, five persons were arrested in Ahmedabad and eight Hyderabadi youth were arrested in Andhra Pradesh. However, the alleged mastermind, Maulana Sufiyan Patangia, who used to run the Waliullah seminary in Ahmedabad's old city, is absconding. The motive behind the murder is still not established.

The Muslim community's reaction has been to withdraw. After the violence, ghettoisation has sharpened divisions. Many refugees were scared to return to their homes, and shifted to Muslim areas such as Juhapura on the outskirts of the city. Even though they were the targets of attack, a disproportionate number of Muslims were detained. Many were charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and are still in jail. The fear of police repression has made the youth retreat into silence.

"After the riots, any Muslim is seen as a terrorist by the police and judiciary. Why weren't the riot-accused booked under POTA? Why are they still free?" asks Haashim Quereshi, a lawyer defending several POTA accused. "People are scared to speak out against injustices and even warn me if I give an interview on television. The community is so scared that at times, people have refrained from taking Moharram processions out into the city. This happened for two years after the Babri Masjid demolition and also after the post-Godhra violence."

The feeling of being "second-class citizens" and not enjoying the same rights as others has made some within the community huddle together, seeking safety in numbers. "They [Hindus] look at us differently. I was not given admission to high-school even though I had good marks. They saw my surname and decided not to take me. Others with lower marks got in," says Arif Quereshi (25), who owns a steel mill and is part of the orthodox Jamaat Ahl-E-Hadis. "Even in college, they wouldn't take us in sports teams. We complained but nothing happened. After all, we are at their mercy. They are the ones who make all the decisions."

After the communal violence, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad declared a boycott of Muslims, which has marginalised the community further. In several villages, people stopped patronising Muslim shops. In cities, Muslims were not admitted to schools or given employment. Most are self-employed. "To escape discrimination, my friend changed his name to `Gandhi' and then his business started flourishing," said Haashim Quereshi.

Fear has also driven many Muslims to become part of this repressive system. "Many Muslims have become police informers, so that they are protected from harassment," says Quereshi. In Godhra, the Muslim community has surrendered. After the burning of the Sabarmati Express, there were many false arrests. Five municipal councillors supporting the Congress are still in jail, accused of being terrorists. . For years, Muslim areas have been without municipal services and electricity. In the recent municipal elections, 18 Muslim councillors decided to support the BJP in exchange for peace and facilities that they had been denied.

Another trend is the slow but steady growth of orthodox groups such as the Tablighi Jamaat and the Jamaat Ahl-E-Hadis. While around 75 per cent of Ahmedabad's Muslims are Barelvi, around 20 per cent are with the Tablighi Jamaat and a very small percentage is with the Jamaat Ahl-E-Hadis. The more conservative groups have grown in Kutch, where they undertook earthquake rehabilitation work.

"The Tablighi Jamaat has grown mainly because it is very organised and works hard to mobilise people," says Dr. Hanif Lakdawala, an activist from a non-governmental organisation. "More people are attracted to it because the minority is feeling cornered and wants to identify itself with a group. The more they are pushed, the more they want to assert their identity." Even within these sects, there is friction. Followers of the Jamaat Ahl-E-Hadis are not allowed to worship in Barelvi masjids (mosques) because of their method of doing namaaz (prayer).

"Our idea of jehad has nothing to do with violence. Jehad is the struggle within oneself to become a better person. Our religion does not preach harm to anyone. Those who harm others in the name of religion cannot be called true Muslims," says Ayub Tanwar, a scrap dealer and a follower of the Jamaat Ahl-E-Hadis. "There is no extremism in Ahmedabad. Most of us are traders. We just work all day and go home to sleep. We don't get involved in anything else."

"Injustice is increasing all over the world, that's why you see more violence. This is all political. It has nothing to do with religion," said Imam Shabbir Bihari, the Imam of the Jama Masjid. "Why aren't the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam], naxalites, Bajrang Dal men or extremists in the North-East called terrorists? Why are only Muslims labelled terrorists? It is only being done to spread communal venom."

Though Muslims appear crippled with fear now, it is possible that this communal venom could provoke violence. All it needs is a handful of misled youth. The government and Hindutvadi forces are doing their bit to push that tiny bunch of young men to the brink. The real surprise is that despite such repression and marginalisation, it has not happened yet.
Hanif Lakdawala is the head of Sanchetna, an NGO-based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, working primarily with Muslims and Dalits. In this interview he talks to Yoginder Sikand about Muslims and inter-communal relations in Gujarat today.

Q: Three years after the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, how do you see inter-communal relations in the state?
A: Communal tensions and mistrust remain widespread in Gujarat today, and I fear, any minor incident can be easily blown out of proportion by Hindutva forces at any time in order to unleash deadly pogroms once again. Hardly any efforts are being made to improve inter-communal relations. If at all that happens it generally takes the form of seminars for communal harmony, which are, frankly, not going to change things drastically in society at large.

Q: Given that, what efforts do you think are necessary in order to promote inter-community dialogue?
A: Speaking about Muslims in particular, what we desperately need is a shift in our discourse, moving our focus simply from cultural or religious rights to social and economic rights. We need to stop thinking about religion and identity alone and focus also on issues such as education, unemployment, poverty, women’s rights and communalism. And once Muslims start doing that they can build relations with other groups who share similar social and economic problems as they do, such as Dalits, Adivasis, poorer sections of the Hindus and so on. In this way, we can work towards a form of inter-community dialogue that is far more meaningful and related organically to people’s day-to-day lives.

I think one area that needs particular attention is Dalit-Muslim relations. This is because Dalits and Muslims share several similar problems—social, economic and identity-related. Also, Dalits and Muslims generally live together in the same localities, especially in cities. In the pogroms of 2002, Dalits were used by the Hindutva forces at several places to attack and kill Muslims. Some Dalits seek upward social mobility through the vehicle of Hinduisation that Hinduvta groups provide, thinking that thereby they can shed their caste identity and be merged into the larger Hindu fold. This desire to be identified with the ‘upper’ castes is used by Hindutva groups for their own purposes. So, for instance, aspiring Dalit ‘leaders’ are given petty posts in local units of the Bajrang Dal and this gives them a sense of importance. But, of course, Dalits won’t be given top positions in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, because these, being the main decision-making bodies of the Hindutva forces, are almost entirely controlled by the ‘upper’ castes. Being co-opted by Hindutva forces in this way, some Dalits can easily be used by them to attack Muslims, especially since they are given free license to loot, without fear of being caught by the police, who often abet them.

This said, however, let me also say that today many Dalits openly admit that they were used by the Hindutva forces because now they feel that they continue to be as oppressed as they were before. Some of them are now openly saying that they need to build bridges with Muslims, to join hands with similar sections of the Muslims for a common struggle focussing on common issues.

Q: Do you see any changes taking place in the attitude of Muslim or Islamic organisations and groups in Gujarat today?
A: Yes, this is happening, although perhaps not on the scale that it should. A major landmark in this regard was the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992, which caused many Muslims to realise that their traditional leadership had led them to a horrendous pass by playing into the hands of Hindutva fascist forces. They felt that they had no one to help them out. The state had failed them and they perceived the Hindus to be hostile. This led to a sort of rethinking in Muslim circles about the need for a reorientation of community priorities, giving more stress to education, economic empowerment and inter-community dialogue, in place of needless confrontation that the self-appointed leaders of the community had a vested interest in promoting, like their Hindu counterparts.

One fallout of 2002 in Gujarat was a growing realisation, even among such conservative groups like the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic revivalist movement, that Muslims need to talk to or dialogue with secular groups, NGOs, and particularly with secular Hindus. There is this understanding that we cannot go it alone, and that we really need to work along with others who share a common commitment to peace and justice. But as far as dialogue with Hindutva fascist groups is concerned, I don’t think it would serve any purpose as the Hindutva forces actually don’t want it. They want to continue with their demonisation of Muslims and Christians because that is the only way they have to mobilise public support. So, while dialogue with these forces is out of the question, we should think of means to reach out to the silent majority of the Hindus, many of whom are not inherently or necessarily anti-Muslim as such.

Alongside this, because of the sheer scale of the devastation that Muslims suffered in 2002 there is also now this understanding among Islamic religious groups that they also need to have a social agenda. Empty religious rhetoric and speeches won’t serve any purpose unless accompanied by social action and involvement. So now even groups like the Tablighi Jamaat and Jamaat-i Islami are engaged in some sort of social work. They also played a major role in rehabilitation efforts in the immediate wake of the pogroms.

I think there is considerable change happening among the Gujarati Muslims, particularly the youth today. On the one hand, in reaction to Hindutva aggression there is a definite rise in Islamic ‘orthodoxy’, as is evident in the growing numbers of Muslim women donning burkhas and men sporting beards and the growing influence of ulema groups. On the other hand and at the same time, there is also a parallel process of modernisation underway. For many Muslim youth the core issues are unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, strained inter-communal relations, and the feeling of being haunted and branded because one has a Muslim name. Young Muslims are also stressing the need for social reforms, including in matters such as gender relations. Even some ulema are talking about the need for girls’ education, not only for its own sake but also to empower the community as a whole.

In the last few years, especially since 1992, when the Babri Masjid was destroyed and Gujarat witnessed considerable violence, Muslims have been giving particular attention to education. In fact, today Muslims in Gujarat have a higher overall literacy rate than Hindus, although their relative representation at the higher levels of education is much less. There are a number of new Muslim schools coming up today in Gujarat today. I see this with mixed feelings. On the one hand, setting up modern schools is, of course, a good thing. It shows that Muslims are awakening to the importance of education. But, on the other hand, often because Muslims often are denied admission in Hindu-managed schools, they are setting up their own schools which may not be of very high standard and which are culturally exclusive. There is, in addition, the fact that some groups who claim to speak for all Muslims or for Islam also don’t want Muslim children to study with others. Now, the problem is that this might further increase cultural ghettoisation and that students will grow up without ever having had the chance to make friends with people of their age from other communities.

In such community-specific schools, Hindu as well as Muslim, there is also the danger that this would further entrench communal stereotypes and all sorts of obscurantism and feelings of insularity. For instance, some people associated with the Tablighi Jamaat are now setting up Muslim schools in different parts of Gujarat. No Hindus are going to send their children there. These schools are Urdu-medium, because there is this erroneous notion that is so-deeply rooted that Urdu is somehow more ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islamic’ than Gujarati. Gujarati Hindus think of themselves as simply Gujaratis and see Gujarati Muslims, who are almost all Gujarati-speaking, simply as ‘Musalman’. And the same holds true for many Gujarati Muslims, especially in the last few years as a response to Hindutva aggression. So, now, with these new Urdu-medium schools this cultural polarisation will, unfortunately, widen, but more than that Muslim students in these schools will find it difficult to get jobs because they won’t know how to read and write Gujarati properly, not even simple things like signs on buses. Further, these schools are not expected to promote liberal attitudes and may even further reinforce obscurantism. In many of these schools hijab will be forced even on little girls. So, that is why I think it is important that Muslims send their children to Gujarati schools. However, as I said, many Hindu-owned schools now simply refuse to take Muslim students, such is the level of anti-Muslim prejudice in Gujarat today.

Q: So, what sort of work is your organisation Sanchetna involved in as far as inter-communal relations in Gujarat are concerned?
A: In the wake of the state-sponsored genocidal attacks on Muslims in 2002 Sanchetna joined hands with groups such as Ahmedabad Ekta, Movement for Secular Democracy, Citizens’ Initiative, Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties and Peoples’ Union for Human Rights to provide relief to Muslims, but also to Dalits, in areas affected by the violence and also to highlight, through the media, the bloody murders of thousands of Muslims by Hindutva forces in league with the state machinery and the police.

We are now trying, in our own small way, to bring Muslims on a secular platform and to struggle against fascism in Gujarat by working along with other secular
and progressive groups. Most Muslims simply don’t know where to go when their human rights are violated by the state or Hindutva forces. The maulvis may talk a lot, but can they help them when it comes to fighting cases in courts or speaking to the media? We are trying to convince Muslims that they must realise that their future is intertwined with that of the other communities with whom they live. The same, of course, holds true for other communities as well. I think Muslims, and other communities, too, cannot keep thinking only of their concerns alone. This is something that we keep stressing in our meetings and programmes. Muslims need to link up with groups and movements that talk of general welfare, or that are struggling for secular issues and causes that affect everyone, particularly the poor, be it the struggle against deforestation or globalisation or oppression of women or Hindu and Muslim communalism that feed on each other. Muslim groups that talk of secularism, social justice and human rights need to do so out of genuine conviction in these as general principles, not simply out of need or survival or as a pragmatic strategy. Take for instance, the Jamaat-i Islami, that now talks of defending secularism and democracy in India, where Muslims are a marginalised minority, but condemns these very principles in places where Muslims are a majority, such as Pakistan. This sort of hypocrisy and double-standards cannot be defended.

Through various programmes we are trying to promote local- level community activists who would focus on secular, day-to-day bread-and-butter issues, rather than simply on religious or identity-related matters. So, we have several activities and programmes where young people from poor families, Muslims, Dalits and Hindus, jointly participate. These include coaching and computer classes in some localities, mostly slums, in Ahmedabad that are inhabited primarily by Muslims and Dalits. We also organise cultural events, cricket matches and leadership development camps involving young people from different religious communities. In this way, these youngsters can interact with each other and work together for common causes and social issues transcending caste and community differences. Through these and other efforts we are trying to get Muslims to think in terms of their secular concerns, and, in the process, getting them to work with secular and progressive groups among other communities.

Q: Besides inter-community dialogue, what role do you feel intra-community dialogue, dialogue within the Muslim community, has to play in the struggle against communalism?
A: Muslim groups generally think that the only sort of communalism that has to be fought is Hindu communalism, but this is wrong since Muslim communalism is also a threat. In fact, it is more of a threat to Muslims themselves than to others. We should stop this habit that we have of blaming others alone for our plight and do some serious introspection and admit that we, too, have had our share of responsibility for the communal problem. Hindu and Muslim communalism, as I said, feed on each other, so both need to be combated. Hence, intra-Muslim dialogue on the issue of Muslim communalism is very necessary.
There is an urgent need for internal reforms and democratisation within the Muslim community, be it on the issue of leadership, women or the poor. We need progressive interpretations of the Quran on issues such as women or inter-community and inter-faith relations. This is not an easy task, given the immense influence of the ‘orthodox’ ulema. Gujarat is now a major centre for various ‘orthodox’ Islamic groups whose position on women’s issues, including their rights, education and employment act as a major barrier to their emancipation and progress. So, we need to work with progressive elements among the ‘ulema to come up with alternate and more relevant understandings of Islam. Of particular importance is the need for a progressive interpretation and codification of Muslim Personal Law.

I also think that we Muslims need to come to some sort of consensus about the way we understand our religion and its public manifestation. Excessive stress on our religious identity is something that should be avoided. It hampers our relations with others, which ultimately hampers our own growth. Related to this is the question of education. I think we have enough and more madrasas in Gujarat and that we should now focus more on modern education. Muslims have all along been treated as vote-banks of different political parties, who have appeased some elements who claim to be Muslim ‘leaders’ but have done nothing for the Muslim masses. So, we also need to promote dialogue within the community on the issue of leadership. Simply because a person has a long beard or speaks chaste Urdu does not mean that he is automatically qualified to become a Muslim ‘leader’. Also, we need to debate what exactly the role of a proper Muslim leadership ought to be. Is it simply to raise identity-related or religion-related issues or issues that concern only Muslims, as many of our self-appointed leaders have been doing? Shouldn’t our ‘leaders’, political and religious, also raise secular concerns, as well as issues that effect the general populace and not just Muslims alone? Not only is that what is ethically and morally right, but it would also help build closer relations between Muslims and others.
A Jesuit priest, Fr. Cedric Prakash is the official spokesperson of the Christian community in Gujarat and the Secretary for Social Communications of the Western Region Catholic Bishops Council. He is a noted human rights activist and is the head of Prashant, a social action-research institution in Ahmedabad. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand he talks about the challenges facing Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, Christians and other marginalised communities in Gujarat today.

Q: Given that Hindutva forces are strongly entrenched in Gujarat, how do you look at the situation in the state today?

A: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are well-oiled think-tanks and have a sophisticated, well-organised machinery reaching down to the village level. We would make a big mistake if we think they are simply a bunch of Bajrang Dal lumpens, hired foot-soldiers and
contract-killers who can, therefore, be easily stopped. In the context of the anti-Muslim genocide in Gujarat in 2002 it was widely believed that many Tribals were involved in the attacks on Muslims. The fact is, as I have been told by some Tribals, that some Tribal youth were involved, and they were provided alcohol and were egged on by Hindutva leaders to attack and kill Muslims. These Tribal youth may not have been ideologically motivated, and in attacking Muslims they may have been goaded primarily by the desire to loot. But the bigger issue is ideological. Hindutva forces are now so deeply entrenched in Gujarat that Hindutva has become part of the basic common-sense and worldview of many Gujarati Hindus, so much so that even now many of them express no remorse for the mass killings in the state that took a toll of thousands of lives. I have spoken to several of my Hindu friends here in Gujarat, many of who have studied in our Christian schools. They are not all necessarily pro-BJP, but, almost all of them believe that the Muslims who were massacred in the genocide deserved their fate. Such is the total insensitivity among large numbers of people in Gujarat even today. The demonisation of Muslims and Christians continues unabated, even among these so-called ‘well-educated’ people, and Muslims continue to live in fear and insecurity. The victims of the genocide of 2002 have still not got justice and the perpetrators of the crimes are roaming scot-free.

The violence of 2002 was not a spontaneous reaction. Rather, as the head of the VHP in Gujarat, K. K. Shastri, declared, Hindutva activists were prepared for it. The burning of the train in Godhra was just a trigger, but planning for the anti-Muslim pogrom had begun months before that. Any other incident could have triggered it off, such as a Muslim boy eloping with a Hindu girl. The way Muslim houses and shops were selectively targeted and destroyed clearly indicates that it was all carefully planned well in advance, much before the Godhra incident, with a census of Muslims and Muslim-owned properties having been undertaken all over the state. And now the same Hindutva-vadis have been going around Gujarat in the past few months doing a similar survey of Christian institutions, using the state machinery to intimidate Christian institutions working in the rural areas among Dalits and Tribals. Some time ago, they even came to our institution, Prashant, to ask us what arms we possess! Some of these instructions come directly from the government and some from local RSS shakhas, with the heads of the shakhas asking the police to obtain this sort of information.

Intimidation of marginalised communities continues in Gujarat in different ways today. In Gujarat we now have a draconian law, ironically called the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act of 2003, according to which if a person wants to change his or her religion he or she needs to seek the permission, and not just inform, the District Collector, who may decide to give or refuse permission for this. If a Dalit, Tribal, woman or minor converts without getting this permission he or she can be imprisoned upto four years and also liable to a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees. Conversion to Hinduism will probably not be seen by many of those who are charged with implementing this law as coming under its purview, because for them this is not conversion but, rather, as the Hindutva-vadis call it, ‘home-coming’ (ghar vapasi). Likewise, in the case of Tribals converting to Hinduism. The Tribals have their own religion but are now, by law, wrongly identified as ‘Hindus’, thus automatically absorbing them into the Hindu fold. The irony is that even today, more than two and a half years of the passing of this Act, the rules that are required to govern the implementation of this law are not in place. This law is being used to terrorise Dalits and Tribals who wish to escape from the shackles of caste oppression by converting to other faiths. This law can be used by officials to intimidate oppressed communities like Tribals and Dalits who have historically resorted to religious conversion as a means of social protest and in search of emancipation from ‘upper’ caste oppression. Thus, for instance, some time ago ago, the then Collector of Baroda, a Brahmin who is said to be sympathetic to the VHP, threatened some Dalits who wanted to convert to Buddhism that if they went ahead he would imprison them under this law. This law is obviously unconstitutional and goes against the freedom of religion that the Indian Constitution guarantees for all Indian citizens. It’s like having a law preventing people from shifting from one political party to another. At this juncture, I need to add that anything ‘forced’ or wrought through inducements’ is wrong. There are many other laws to deal with this in our country and anything forced has nothing to do with true conversion, which is essentially about the faith experience of an individual. Above all, if I preach about Jesus or if someone wants to preach about Ram or Allah no one has the right to prohibit this.

Q: Several Catholic institutions working in the Tribal areas of Gujarat have been attacked by Hindutva forces in recent years. Is the situation changing now?
A: Such attacks have not stopped completely. Hindutva forces are now very active in the Tribal areas, desperately trying to woo and Hinduise the Tribals. They are trying to destroy their identity, telling them that they are not Advisasis, not the original inhabitants of this land, but, rather, that they are merely Vanvasis or ‘jungle-dwellers’, at the same time as the jungles have almost all been cut down by non-Tribal contractors, many of whom are Hindutva supporters. And now when Catholic institutions are trying to educate and empower the Tribals, the Hindutva forces, facing a major challenge to their hegemony and seeing that, increasingly, the Tribals are unwilling to silently accept ‘upper’ caste hegemony and subjugation, began attacking our institutions, launching a vilification campaign against us. In the last three decades or so since Catholics began working in the Dangs, a Tribal area in Gujarat, we have set up several schools and legal aid centres working for the empowerment of the Tribals. Some Dangis have converted to Christianity, although the figures provided by Hindutva sources are
exaggerated. I feel the Hindutva-vadis would care less if the whole of the Dangs converted to Christianity if they were allowed to go on with their exploitation of the Tribals. The issue, however, is that our educating the Tribals poses a major threat to the Hindutva forces and the groups whose interests they represent. The Tribals are now fighting for their rights and their identity, insisting that they are non-Hindus, the original inhabitants of this land, who have been kept subjugated for centuries by the ‘upper’ castes.
Naturally, the Hindutva forces, defenders of the interests of the ruling castes/classes cannot tolerate this.

Q: So, you believe that the Tribals are not Hindus?
A: Exactly. Historically, and even today, Tribal religious traditions have been totally distinct from the Brahminical tradition. The Tribals were forced to flee to the forests by the invading Aryans centuries ago, and have preserved their religious traditions and customs, although, in recent years, Hindu groups have been attempting to Hinduise them and absorb them into the Hindu fold, at the bottom of the caste hierarchy, the same as they are doing with the Dalits. Hindutva-vadis say that Tribals have no right to become Christians, but then how can they advocate that Tribals must become Hindus, when the fact of the matter is that Tribals are not Hindus? Today, the VHP and other such groups are very active in the Tribal areas of Gujarat to Hinduise the Tribals, so that they do not convert to other religions and so that they can be used as ‘low’ caste cheap labour and as foot-soldiers to attack and kill Muslims, as recently happened in 2002. They send out teams of babas and sadhus who tour Tribal villages, hold religious gatherings and tell the Tribals about Hindu gods and goddesses, trying to convince the Tribals that they are Hindus. They are also cunningly seeking to destroy the Tribal religion so that the Tribals come to accept Brahminical supremacy. For this they are creating and propagating all manner of falsehoods, lies and myths about the Tribals and their religion. They claim, contrary to historical facts, that the Tribals were driven to penury by medieval Muslim rulers, and that they were actually brave Hindus Kshatriyas, who were punished by the Muslim rulers for their defence of Hinduism by being driven into the forests. They are also manufacturing new deities for the Tribals. Recently, they established a large temple just in front of a Catholic school in Subir dedicated to Sabri, a Bhil woman who is referred to in the Ramayana as having fed Ram a fruit. The Tribals have never worshipped Sabri, and most have not even heard of her, but now they are being asked to do so. Similarly, near Harsol a massive skeleton of an animal was recently discovered and local VHP-vadis are going around telling the Tribals that it is the skeleton of Ravana. In February 2006 the VHP is planning to hold a massive Kumbh Mela in this area dedicated to Sabri. They expect, according to their own propaganda, 50,000 sadhus and more than 5 lakh other Hindus to assemble there for three days. They have a one-point agenda: to stop Christianity in the Dangs and other parts of India. The BJP government of Gujarat is making tremendous efforts to make this mela a grand success.

Q: Is there no sort of resistance on the part of the Tribals themselves to their enforced Hinduisation?
A: In many places the Tribals are just too weak or frightened to protest. For some Tribals, this sort of Hindusation appears to offer a means for upward social mobility, enabling them to claim a higher social status. VHP and other related groups, including the ruling BJP, offer them monetary incentives to attract them, like some evangelical Christian organisations also do. Overall, there is a definite lack of leadership in civil society to protest. But some educated Tribal youth are speaking out now. Instead of ‘Jai Ram’, they use the slogan ‘Jai Adivasi’, seeking to take pride in their own pre-Aryan past. To counter the sinister politics of Hindutva and to empower themselves to struggle for their rights, the Tribals need to develop a counter-culture, rooted in their own traditions. This needs to take the form of a mass movement, which is absent today. And that holds true for the Dalits in Gujarat as well.

Q: Do you see any possibility or worth in dialoguing with Hindutva groups in Gujarat to improve inter-community relations?
A: For any serious dialogue there has to be a level playing field, and the partners to the dialogue have to be sincere about it, which the Sangh Parivar is clearly not. Their whole agenda and worldview is based on hatred for and exclusion of non-Hindus, so how can you expect them to be sincere about dialogue? To think of dialoguing with them is to accept them as the spokesmen of the Hindus, which they obviously are not. So quite obviously, dialogue with these fringe and fanatic groups, however aggressive they may be, is certainly out of the question.

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