US Imperialism

Peak Oil


WSF In India







Gujarat Pogrom






Join Mailing List

Submit Articles

Contact Us


Survivor's Of Godhra Give VHP
The Cold Shoulder

Times News Network
22 October, 2003

A year-and-a-half ago, the Mahadev temple at Ramol Janata Nagar used to resound with bhajans the evenings. This was the place where the VHP and Bajrang Dal held meetings and persuaded many residents to join them in their yatra to Ayodhya.

Of the 38 residents who went to Ayodhya in February 2002, only 28 returned. Ten were killed in the S-6 compartment of Sabarmati Express which was torched at Godhra on February 27, plunging the locality into grief. “A lot has changed since,” says Prakash Chodagar, a rickshaw driver who lost his wife in the Godhra train carnage.

“Not a single VHP or Bajrang Dal activist has set foot here since the tragedy. They have nothing more gain from here.” Prakash has also registered a drop business as the school rickshaw that he drives now ferries only Hindu children. “The Muslim and Christian children would not come in my rickshaw,” he says.

“The VHP and Bajrang Dal are deluding the people with promises of the Ram temple. They will never construct it and it will remain an issue, kept alive to create votes. This yatra killed so many and achieved little.

It’s all politics,” he says. Incidentally, the four persons who moved a petition in the Supreme Court this week, seeking to ‘expose’ the VHP’s role in the Ayodhya agitation and to move the Godhra court case outside Gujarat, also belong to this locality. A feeling of bitterness about the Ayodhya cause, as espoused by the VHP, pervades the entire neighbourhood which derives its name from the God in whose name the whole agitation has been built up.

Prakash’s neighbour, Shrutika Mhatre, 14, has nothing much to say. “No one from my family would with the VHP ever again. My mother died in the train carnage. She used go to the temple and was promised paid trip to Ayodhya. I don’t want say anything more on the subject,” says Shrutika, who now has a stepmother. “Never trust the VHP,” says Ankur Pandya. Four members from his family had joined the VHP Ayodhya campaign in 2002. “They all came back.

My mother was injured and has recovered. But the horrifying images still haunt her. The Godhra carnage, the riots... they all have vitiated the atmosphere. It has created disharmony and rift,” he says. His mother Renuka agrees. “I went with them (the VHP) because they promised me a paid pilgrimage. When the train was attacked, they just disappeared. The riots created more problems. Many of our family members were harassed by the police and we had to take refuge at relative’s home.”

Asked whether she still wants a Ram temple at Ayodhya, she snaps back, “All this temple business is nonsense. When I went to Ayodhya I did not find single local person there wanting temple, so why should we all sitting here in Gujarat create all this ruckus?” Vibha Shah, another resident, says her 18-year-old brother Rukesh went with the VHP to Ayodhya, and barely survived the tragedy.

“But now our family would never want to be associated with VHP activities,” she says. Pandya introduced to this correspondent her neighbour Noori Mansuri and says she has the best relations with her. “Why should there be such mindless violence,” she asks.