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The Experiment

By Mukul Dube

02 October, 2013
Mainstream Weekly

One of the first things that came to mind when I read and heard about the recent violence in Muzaffarnagar was the many parallels with Gujarat in 2002. As I heard and read more, it became increasingly difficult to deny that history was repeating itself.

I was visited by a no longer young woman whom I had taught thirty-five years ago. From the distance of central Canada she too had seen that the events of Muzaffarnagar were much like those of Gujarat 2002.

I showed her the announcement of a meeting arranged for the next day by the Aman Ekta Manch, which spoke of “emerging trends” of communalism. She asked immediately if we were not in fact dealing with an established pattern rather than with something that was only now coming into being.

It would be foolish to speak of an “uncanny similarity”: because all the evidence we have, tells us that the same kind of careful, systematic planning and preparation went into the recent violence. As in Gujarat in 2002, the tinder had been made ready and all that was needed to unleash an inferno was a small spark.

With both instances of targeted, one-sided brutality, it is uncertain whether chance provided the necessary sparks or whether the sparks too were struck as part of the larger plan. What is certain is that there is much evidence of preparation for Gujarat 2002 and that daily new things are being learnt about the violence in Muzaffarnagar. Perhaps, in time, the second too will become known as a pogrom.

My student reminded me of words I had written a decade ago: “Shri Ashok Singhal became the first international functionary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to say in so many words that Gujarat had been a successful experiment for his tribe, one which would be replicated across the country” (“Replicating the Experiment”, Milli Gazette, 16 January 2003).

She then said, with a rare ability to get to the heart of the matter, that in recent days the Chief Engineer of Gujarat 2002 had been elevated to the top of the BJP by the doting paterfamilias of the RSS, and that his right hand man in Gujarat in 2002, Amit Shah, had some months ago been made the BJP's top man in Uttar Pradesh. Certainly Shri Shah is not there to run a dhokla stall: he is there to put to work valuable experience gained in 2002.

As Narendra Modi has been picked up from the local stage and placed on the national stage, so is the violence of Gujarat 2002 on the way to becoming a national phenomenon: with Muzaffarnagar being the first successful export. I do not particularly care if someone throws “conspiracy theory” at me. We have here too many damn coincidences to swallow.

Mukul Dube is a writer, photographer and editor who lives in Delhi. He can be reached at [email protected]

[This article will appear in Mainstream Weekly]


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