PUCL Bulletin, May 2002

26 March 2002

Engineered holocaust

By Prof. D.N.Pathak, PUCL Gujarat, Gandhi Peace Foundation
Himavan, Paladi, Ahmedabad

Gujarat has witnessed many riots and communal carnages in the past fifty years. But the post-Godhra bloodbath is perhaps the most gruesome, horrendous and devastating in its aims, objectives and modus operandi, leaving an ominous message to the nation as a whole. It was an engineered holocaust, a wanton breach of our secular fabric and outright violation of human rights enshrined in our constitution.

The message was loud and clear: it was "Hindutva" with all its militancy, out to eliminate a community. It was not confined to urban centres, but spread to district towns and villages where minority Muslim community was butchered with savage exactitude; their homes and properties totally turned into ashes. Today, there are not less than 80,000 "refugees" spread all over the state (56,000 in Ahmedabad city alone) mortally afraid to return to their charred homes.

The widespread violence that engulfed the whole of Gujarat was officially explained as a "spontaneous outburst" or a "backlash" to the event at Godhra railway station.

This is belied by the following facts:

  • The perpetrators of massive killings were well organized, well-equipped with arms and incendiary materials including petrol, kerosene, solvent, LPG cylinders, cranes, tankers and even a deadly new chemical liquid. This could not have happened overnight. The systematic targeting of Muslims, their homes, shops, schools, masjids and durgahs within matter of hours could hardly be called a spontaneous outrage, that even now (March 26), continues in several districts and in this city itself.

  • These militants or hooligans shouted the same slogans and seemed to have previous training of house-breaking, wielding of weapons like swords and trishuls, along with deadly tools of arson and loot. They were accompanied by trucks full of this destructive material at many places of arson.

  • The crowds of hundreds, and thousands at certain spots, moved in different parts of Gujarat, according to well laid down design and plan, concentrating on the Muslim areas and eliminating them and their religious shrines, without any let or hindrance.

  • There was absolutely no rule of law and there was a planned "breakdown" of administration. Neither the chief minister nor any of his colleagues stirred out either to control the criminal assailants or utter a word of sympathy for those who suffered grievous injuries or outright death. On the contrary, according to a report in The Indian Express of March 24, two ministers remained present for few hours at police control rooms to oversee the operations. According to some victims at Paladi area, the revenue minister who is a former state home minister, Haren Pandya, was found directing the crowds and patting the police officials telling them to go soft on "our boys."

  • The police showed complete indifference and often turned away or even encouraged and supplied fuel from their vehicles to spread arson in certain area like Khokhra-Mehmdavad. In fact, the Police Commissioner, P.C. Pande, observed that "the police as human beings were bound to be affected and influenced by the prevailing atmosphere." He also admitted that several police officers were transferred a few days ago. Was it in anticipation of such a carnage? The latest information is that there has taken place another wave of mass transfer of "disloyal" police officers and even a top bureaucrat has expressed his indignation at such transfers.

  • Equally ignominious has been the utter failure of Intelligence that should have anticipated the incidence at Godhra. Neither the railway nor the city police were vigilant enough to control the situation.

  • Police commissioner was not in favour of bringing the dead and charred bodies of kar sevaks from Godhra to Ahmedabad but he was over-ruled. Reports indicate that this was the beginning of the entire holocaust, as witnessed at a hospital (Sola Road) where the mob started to destroy passing trucks whose drivers had Muslim identity, right in front of Gujarat High Court having enough police security.

  • The complicity of the state was further proved in not calling the army with immediate effect and even after it was called, it was kept on "alert" but not "deployed."

In conclusion, political programme behind such systematic killings and massive holocaust was to prepare the minds of people for this so called principle of majoritarian rule of Hindus by marginalizing the Muslims and permanently placing them as second class citizens. Actually, such a policy is ultra vires of the Indian constitution, a slur on the principle of secularism and an affront to the fundamental rights guaranteed to all the citizens of India.

The VHP and BD are fascist organizations, following the fascist type of militancy, thought control, espousing the cause of one party, one culture and one nation. Their religious extremism leads them to pursue the politics of hatred, striking terror in the minds of minorities and secular Hindus. Their attack on Orissa assembly is similar to the attack on our Parliament by Islamic jehadis on December 13, 2001.

Are we imitating the ways Pakistan has been functioning? We blame cross-border terrorism but are we not generating terrorism through religious extremism within our nation and thereby inviting divisions and disaster?

Home | Index