After Genocide In Gujarat
By Asghar Ali
03 March, 2005
It was on 28 February 2002 three years
before that genocide of Muslims started in Gujarat a day after train
burning incident in Godhra on 27th February 2002, a day earlier. Every
sensible person had condemned what happened at Godhra though it was
far from clear as to who was responsible for train burning. Now the
U.C.Banerjee report indicates that it was accidental fire which started
from inside the compartment.
Modi, the Gujarat Chief Minister, a hardcore RSS man, asserted that
it was done by Muslims to massacre the Ramsevaks and justified the genocide
in Gujarat on Newton's law of action-reaction. It is now well known
that he had instructed top police officials in a meeting in Gandhinagar
on 27th evening not to interfere with what rioters do on the streets
next day. Harin Pandya, the assassinated minister of Narendra Modi Cabinet
testified this before People's inquiry Commission and also told his
father what Narendra Modi had instructed police officers on 27th February.
Harin Pandya's father testified before the Nanavati Commission.
of the Gujarat Government in supporting the genocide is hardly in doubt.
By any account it was the most horrible massacre of innocent citizens
belonging to minority community in Gujarat in the post-independence
period. The only other parallel is anti-Sikh riots of 1984. The BJP
had often boasted that no communal riots take place when it is in power.
And Gujarat saw one of the worst genocide of Muslims when it was in
power with great majority in the Gujarat Assembly.
What was worse that
even then Prime Minister Shri. A.B.Vajpayee justified the massacre saying
that had Muslims condemned Godhra incident enough, such a massacre in
Gujarat would not have taken place. Though Mr. Vajpayee had reminded
Modi of his 'Rajdharma' also (though without taking any action against
him), he is too well-known for his flip flops. Mr. L.K.Advani, the then
Home Minister, even gave clean chit to Narendra Modi that he has 'maintained'
law and order in Gujarat effectively after the Godhra incident.
Thus if the top
functionaries of the Government of India were backing Narendra Modi
why should he not have done what he did. So much for BJP's claim of
maintaining communal peace when in power. What is worse, the victims
of the worst massacre in Gujarat could not hope for any justice. Modi
even tried to wind up all relief camps, something which had never happened
before. His administration even threatened to cut off water and food
grains supply if the relief camps were not wound up. He had no mercy
for the victims of brutal violence. And all this in the land of Gandhi
who lived and died for peace and communal harmony.
All the institutions
of the state - legislative, executive, and judiciary have been communalised.
Who then could come to the rescue of the poor victims? Both bureaucracy
and police were deeply affected (with honourable exceptions). The Amnesty
international impartial keepers of the rule of law has also recently
compiled the report "India - Justice the Victim - Gujarat State
fails to Protect Women from Violence." It has been compiled in
2005 and released just a month ago. Like other reports on Gujarat genocide
it makes horrible reading. The genocide in Gujarat was not only failure
of law and order. It would be understatement to say so. It was deliberate
and planned genocide.
The Amnesty Report
under the title "Police connivance in the violence" says,
However, police not only withheld assistance" and then quotes Concerned
Citizen's Tribunal, "Worse still [than the failure to prevent violence]
is the evidence of their [the police force's] active connivance and
brutality, their indulgence in vulgar and obscene conduct against women
and children in full public view. It is as if, instead of impartial
keepers of the rule of law, they were part of the Hindutva brigade targeting
Further the Amnesty
report states, "Local inquiry reports list testimonies of police
providing diesel from their official vehicles to burn down Muslim homes.
Similarly witnesses told the Nanavati-Shah Commission that the Rapid
Action Force had supplied petrol from their official vehicles to the
mob to set ablaze houses belonging to the minority community. Another
witness told the Commission in Ahmedabad that a police inspector encouraged
the mob to attack the Muslims in her area. "The inspector directed
that petrol be taken from his vehicle and it was used by the mob to
set our society on fire.'"
*It should be noted
that the Rapid Action Force had been specially set up by the Home Ministry
at the Centre to control communal violence. It has been set up out of
CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) which generally had good reputation
in controlling communal violence. And earlier it had established good
name in several other riots by handling them efficiently. In Gujarat
under the surcharged communal atmosphere even RAF was communalised -
a matter of great shame for it. Its fair name was tainted.
The police behaviour
is not surprising if we keep in mind that many officers of Gujarat police
force are reportedly members of Hindu right wing organisations and in
their actions may have sought to further the objectives of those organisations
rather than impartially carry on their professional duties, remarks
Amnesty International report. This by itself is highly objectionable
that members of police force be members of such rightwing organisations
but in Gujarat such things are not only permissible but even desirable
and hence one finds complicity of the police in such flagrant manner.
In any other civilised society police officers will be dismissed if
they join any such force. Independence of police from all such political
outfits is an essential requirement.
The other horrifying
aspect of the Gujarat carnage was violence against and rape of women.
It was as if rape of all human values. Under the title "Violence
Against Women" the Amnesty report says that in all violence communal,
racist or ethnic violence against women is specific one. The report
says, "In one of the earlier incidents of violence in Gujarat or
other parts of the country had sexual violence against girls and women,
committed in public, been such a key feature."
The report says
that they (women) became victims of grave abuses because their identities
as both women and Muslims intersected. For right wing Hindus attacking
the Muslim minority, Muslim women became the hated symbols of the community,
which they sought to threaten, humiliate, hurt and destroy. The women,
even if not direct victims of assault and rape suffer most emotionally
and psychologically, as they have to care and nurture families torn
apart by violence and mayhem.
In Gujarat, women
were subjected to large scale sexual abuse, apart from physical violence.
The cases of Kausar Bano and Bilquis Begum are most talked about. Kausar
Bano in Naroda Patia locality of Ahmedabad worst affected by communal
frenzy, was eight month pregnant. Her abdomen was split open, the foetus
extracted and killed. Such brutalities were unheard of in the history
of communal violence in India. Bilqis Begum is another case in point
from Randhikpur village of Dahod district.
She was six months
pregnant and gang raped by the VHP hooligans and nine of her relatives
were killed before her eyes. She was taken as dead by the mobsters but
she fortunately survived to tell her story. The police officers and
doctors also became part of this abominable crime. They added and abetted.
And these were not
isolated cases. According to Amnesty report several hundred Muslim girls
and women were reportedly stripped and dragged naked before their own
families and thousands of violent Hindu attackers who taunted and insulted
them with obscene words and threatened them with rape and murder. They
were then raped, often gang- raped, beaten with sticks or trishuls and
swords, had breast cut off and wombs slashed open by swords and rods
violently pushed into their vaginas before a large number of them were
cut into pieces or burned to death.
What was worse,
due to state complicity in all this, the victims had no way to get justice
within the state of Gujarat. The Supreme Court had to intervene and
transfer the cases out of the state and these cases are now going on
in the state of Maharashtra. More than 3000 cases closed by the state
police for 'want of evidence' had to be reopened as per directive of
the Supreme Court. The Bilqis Bano case was one of them. The CBI was
asked to take over these cases. These helpless victims had otherwise
totally despaired. The lower judiciary was totally communalised and
higher judiciary in Gujarat is also partly contaminated with communal
ideologies. What was more shocking was that the state appointed prosecutors
were members of VHP. How on earth could these victims ever get any justice?
We must remember
all this not for promoting any negative feeling but so that such things
are not repeated in future in India. It would keep us reminding that
when communal and fascist forces come to power what happens to our country.
The fight against communal forces should go on through democratic methods.
They must be isolated and weakened. Intolerance and hatred can never
be part of democratic culture. Democracy thrives only when culture of
peace and tolerance prevails. There is great need in democracy for a
vibrant and healthy civil society. Such a society can be born only out
of well informed and committed citizens.