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Monday, July 01, 2013

Can Indians, Muslims forget Gujarat riots, get over the 2002 communal carnage?

BJP President Rajnath Singh recently made an appeal to Indian Muslims, asking them to forget [or ignore] the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

I have a few things to say on this issue. You can read the ten points below. But first: it's not an issue for Indian Muslims alone.

Innumerable non-Muslims are fighting to get justice for the victims. The question of forgetting and forgiving is really strange.

We all know that Time is a great healer. Many among Muslims also may wish to forget and forgive at some point of time. Others may not.

Naturally, those who suffered [either Hindus or Muslims] can't forget easily. The criminal cases are in courts. However, for electoral gains, it is expected that Muslims must shed their anger against BJP.

If you remember, in the decade of 90s, sections of Muslims were getting fed up of Congress and were seeing BJP as an alternative just when 2002 riots took place. They voted en bloc against BJP in next Lok Sabha elections.

People ask about the difference between Gujarat riots and all other riots or massacres in the past. I haven't forgotten the role of administration in Maharashtra when Sudhakar Rao Naik was the Chief Minister and Mumbai saw the worst communal conflagration in 1992-93 under Congress rule.

I haven't forgotten Moradabad riots of 1983 or the 1969 Ahmedabad riots about which we heard from early age. Neilly, Hashimpura-Maliana, Jamshedpur and Surat are all recalled still by victims or those who witnessed them.

Muslims don't have any pathological hate for BJP. Elsewhere, in other states, they have voted for BJP candidates. In MP and Chhattisgarh, Muslim majority areas have seen voting for the BJP candidates, in different elections.

Who would want to be eternally facing the might of the state in any region! It's quite easy to say that we forgot, then join them and make them happy in order to enjoy 'fruits of development'. After all, how many idealists or fighters are there in our society?

Don't we all make compromises in our lives all the time. But still, people are not forgetting, not ready to just say that "we have moved on". The wounds are too deep, too painful. Why? Gujarat 2002 changed everything. Not other riots but 2002. You know why?

It was the first televised riot unlike Neilly or Hashimpura. In those incidents, it took months for people elsewhere to realise extent of the killings. Here, the hate was seen, felt and state's absence was visible. Raj Dharma was not followed. It was clear, deliberate.


1. Even if everything that happened during riots is forgotten and it is accepted that it was an aberration or sudden failure of administration in anticipating and containing the outburst of anger, did we see any effort to reach out to victims after the riots?

We hear a lot of need for reconciliation. But for years, even after 2002, we saw just plain hatred. No sorrow, all Shaurya. We remember Chief Minister's statement about Muslim women, four years after the riots. The entire election campaign after riots rode over 'Ham Panch-Hamare Pachchees' slogan.

2. There have been major riots in India in the past. But the politicians, at least, appeared solemn, saddened and sympathetic. They visited the riot-affected areas or at least did the lip service. What else we expect from our politicians? Not much, at least, a few kind words. Here there was none. The administration didn't come to the succour of the victims.

3. Today we get lectured about inclusive development and are told how State government in Gujarat is concerned about the progress and protection of all its citizens. But where was the concern after riots? Do you remember any BJP leader visiting the relief camps? Who provided or offered any help whatsoever to survivors!

4. Perhaps, a lot might have been forgotten had Narendra Modi just placed his hand on the head of an orphan of the Ahmedabad riots. Had he just embraced a child, shown a little affection or concern and wiped his tear, perhaps, we could have believed a lot about administrative failure and BJP's intent.

5. Of all the mosques and religious structures that were demolished, there was also the tomb of the legendary Urdu poet Wali [Wali Gujarati] also known as Wali Dakani--the Urdu poet who loved Gujarat and sang paeans of it. Was there even a word about restoring or reconstructing the mazaar?

6. People have grievances against their leaders and governments. They may or may not act on our demands but at least they should listen.

Here, there was nothing. Just cold silence. No empathy, no healing touch was visible for the next 7-8 years.

Isn't the anti-Sikh rmassacre in Delhi still an issue, more than a quarter century later? Aren't the politicians named by victims finding it tough even today?

7. Now that pan-Indian acceptability is needed and the BJP wants to form a government at the centre and needs allies in other states, Muslims are asked to forget 2002. It's not a Muslim-only issue. Muslims even didn't know how to fight this battle to secure justice.

It is the large number of Hindus who are putting their lives to discomfort, fighting this battle and most of them will continue to do so. Are they ready to forgive? I have already written about this great untold story of secular India, on this blog. It is this reason that India remains India.

8. If there is injustice you should accept it or take measures to correct that. Even today, we don't hear any remorse for what happened over a decade ago. Congress said Sorry for Sikh riots, BJP can't do the same. By the way, there is no reason to ask someone to say it, if they don't really mean it.

9. Frankly, I don't think the issue is as simple as it is made out. Its not Muslim Vs BJP or Muslim Vs Modi. Its about Justice Vs Injustice, Hate Vs Harmony and Atrocities Vs Penance.

People who urge riot victims to forget, conveniently ignore that they recall 1526 AD and 1000 AD, at the drop of hat. If not they, their followers do it regularly. Even today, running businesses or earning livelihood is not easy for Muslims in the state.There are a host of other issues on the ground. Please try to do something and then ask to move on.

10. Ours is a democracy. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has a strong constituency, a large number of supporters, and he may lead the party to a massive win. He has definitely managed to create an image for himself. I don't discount the possibility, even if remote, of him even becoming Prime Minister.

No one can stop that if the electorate in this country would really want him at the helm. There is no need to talk about forgetting or forgiving, but the BJP leaders haven't come out to be large-hearted. Also, they haven't shown the ability to be inclusive which is required from great leadership that really intends to move on or wish the citizen to do so.


Danesh said...

Very well articulated, nice and succinct.

Almas Kiran Shamim said...

Thank you for this article and a special thanks for the links in your post... they too are very touching reads...

Anonymous said...

read about real teesta seetalvad.she is one of the pseudo secularist.


Anonymous said...

I disagree with you on this topic.all riots are unwanted & are equally damaging to the society.there have been riots which had a much greater scale than godhra.does anyone even know the name of cms when big riots happened in indian history from 1947?.people only know godhra because it was during bjp regime.indian media is also pro congress so always media is anti bjp.lakhs of hindus were killed & thrown away from kashmir.did congress ever issue an apology?did u see any coverage of hindu refugees from pakistan in indian media?did any media house condemned akbaruddin owaisi?news channels dedicated hours to inflammatory speech of varun gandhi.if u compare both speeches owaisi's speech was 1000 times more inflammatory.

editor said...

@Thanks Danesh bhai, Shukria Almas sahiba

@Anonymous: Akbar Owaisi made a really bad and condemnable speech. It was widely condemned by Muslims as well as media. He was booked and the trial is on.

urdudaaN said...

@anonymous, whenever a colleague points out "your zip is open", I don't zip it up, instead I try to recall when was the last time he left it open. Even if I haven't seen him leaving it open, I'm quite sure he must have done it some time. I WIN!!

alim chagla said...

can bjp president assure the muslim community that they will forget ayodhya, rebuild all mosques and dargahs destroyed, and provide equal opportunities for muslims where education , government jobs etc are concerned, first they should implement their good intentions in the few states that they have majority in then ask for support at an all india level...most of all can they assure justice?
alim chagla

Anonymous said...

One question: Could Muslims forget 2002 as another riot if Modi was defeated in elections and was a nobody now?

Your reasons 1-9 (which mostly suggest lack of some abstract aspects such as pretence, sophisticated gestures, photo-ups and politically correct noises) would remain unchanged, but perhaps the riot would be forgotten like the earlier riots. So I guess, the focus should have been on the only remaining reason.

To me the essential differences between 2002 and the earlier/later riots were: 1) 2002 occurred under a BJP (pro-majority) government, so perceptions about motive etc. and administrative involvement were amplified. 2) The CM was from a non-elite background, made no sophisticated gestures but politically incorrect noises, gained notoriety in media but continued to win elections, 3) The riots were widely reported with live visuals (similar visuals were not shown in say the recent Assam riots).

In terms of tangible factors such as destruction levels, administrative breakdown/collusion, involvement of some politicians, post riot justice delivery, rehabilitation etc., I guess 2000 was no worse than some other riots in the country.

Free and Footloose said...

Mr Editor,

You are absolutely right. There is no question of forgetting. In fact, it is a crime to forget and move on. Hindus must nurse and preserve the bleeding wounds inflicted by Islamic marauders centuries ago by breaking temples, erecting mosques in their places, butchering Hindu men and abducting Hindu women. No Muslim, to date, has ever expressed remorse for these acts, neither has the Muslim community ever offered to rebuild the temples such as Kashi, Mathura and the rest, demolished by their Hindu-hating co-religionists.

Do I make sense? I am only applying your logic in the reverse direction.

Anonymous said...

Why no soul-stirring pictures from recent Assam riots where published by media? Were these victims less humane compared to Gujarat riot victims? The reason is very simple; Assam was under "secular" congress rule. If it were happen in a "communal" BJP/NDA ruled state, media would have reported aggressively.

Looks like minorities prefer scam-filled "secular" Congress than any other better alternative like BJP.

urdudaaN said...

"Looks like minorities prefer scam-filled "secular" Congress than any other better alternative like BJP."
That's correct, and reason is - A communal (read morally+materially corrupt) is far worse for a minority than a corrupt (just materially).

Unknown said...

Dear Indian Muslim, you have written a well articulated composition on why the 2002 riots cannot be forgotten and here is where I think you have erred.

I do not want to begin with the 'facts & figures' of how Modi handled the riots better than most riots that happened in India.

You call yourself an Indian muslim, why not just an Indian (not as if it makes you any less dear to god). You are especially liable because you find problem with Modi calling himself a Hindu and a nationalist.

You have expressed your concerns about the muslim poet's tomb, where as you do not have as much pain for the women and children burnt in the train.

Keep the rhetoric on modi, BJP, communalism & secularism aside and think about this - Who were those men, and who were the mullas who told these men that burning women and children would make them dearer to god. If someone can be brainwashed to this extend, let us all first take pledge and act to destroy such thoughts.

You have forgotten the essence and the lesson of the riots - The riots were a reaction to an event, it was the train burning event itself which germinated from the venomous hate for those that do not share your beliefs. If you have to weed out this communal hate, lets start at the bottom. Skimming from the top, will not stem the rot from the bottom.

You speak about the muslims that died in the riots, what about the non-muslims. Agreed they are kafirs, but should they not at least make a mention in your well thought and prepared essay.

And, where is the account of the muslim mobs that went around on rampage during Gujarat riots.

I want to say more, ask more... but I dont want to re-open old wounds.. I wish we could all simply forget, alas it is not so easy. Lets hope and work towards not repeating a Gujarat or a Godhra..... (Oops... it did happen in UP... )

editor said...

Brother unknown.

Action-Reaction theory? So for every murder, there is no need for police and courts? The victim's kin should murder the killer's family and parents?

Is that your logic? Secondly, your presume that it was a planned Muslim conspiracy to kill innocent Hindus? Whatever.

I don't consider Hindus as 'kafir'. I think you picked up this from a propaganda site. If Narendra Modi is a Hindutvawadi, I have no problem with that either.

It is his right. In fact, if Indians want him to win, he will win. That's the beauty of our democracy in which we all believe and are proud of.

Wish you had mentioned your name also. Thanks anyway.

Unknown said...

@Editor, Thank you for your reply.

You have failed to address most of the points I raised, but let me clarify a few things from your reply....

The culture of our land believes in non violence and I abhor and condemn all kinds of violence from all parties. But your article only seemed to condemn one side of the violence.

My speak on the Gujarat riots were not a justification of the riots, rather an attempt to correct your perception that it was pre-meditated. While you blamed modi and his governance (while it was his government that quickly controlled the situation, without the help of neighbouring congressi states or the government), you did not mention about the reason for the riot.

The riots were not pre-planned, it was the purging of the pilgrims that was.

The Godhra train burning was indeed pre-meditated... else you would not have a mob of many hundreds surrounding a train, at the specific time it was scheduled to arrive, carrying inflammables, purposefully locking the doors from the outside, setting the bogey alight, and watching it burn before quietly escaping - please tell me you seriously do not think this is mere coincidence.

Brother, you did not consider me a kafir and I never implied that. But there are groups within the muslim community that would consider me a kafir and if the events in pakistan, egypt, indonesia, syria, and even kashmir are to be believed, these groups will not stop at asserting this belief when they find themselves in a position of strength.

As for my name, just call me brother... we belong to the same family don't we :)