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
- 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
- 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?