Plight of Muslims has worsened in Gujarat
A letter to Justice Shri Rajindar Sachar
by Devavrat N Pathak, President PUCL Gujarat; Gautam Thaker, General Secretary PUCL Gujarat
To, Chairman, Prime Minister's High Level Committee, Camp, Ahmedabad
Hon. Chairman, The PUCL Gujarat feels honoured to have been invited by the High Level Committee for expressing their views and opinions in respect of the prevailing condition of the minorities — Muslims. Their condition has visibly deteriorated after the carnage of 2002.
Just as USA has taken advantage of 9/11 for invading Afghanistan and Iraq, the BJP has taken full advantage of the anti Muslim feelings making use of the stereotype, distorting history, generating feeling of victimhood among the Hindus and providing divisive politics of hatred and animosity.
Earlier riots were mostly confined to urban areas; this time it spread to villages -and enveloped the tribal people, indoctrinating them to fight with Muslims.
The ruling party is following simultaneous policy of exclusion and inclusion - exclusion of Muslims and Christians and producing solidarity among the Hindus, choosing selectively when and where different formula is to be pursued.
Gujarat has some unique features leading to a unique pattern of politics.
- It is a patently middle class state with a middle class mentality of capitalism with 40% of urbanization.
- There is very little of ideological fervor. The governing business of Gujarat is business (like USA).
- What rules the mind of Gujarat is pragmatism. He is homo economicus, not homo politicus. No wonder, the people of Gujarat, the elite, at least, never asked for a separate statehood for Gujarat (1956). They cared more for their commercial connection with Mumbai than having a separate state of Gujarat.
- The new middle class is not as value oriented as the previous one with its mahajan culture. It has little sensitivity or concern for the poor. The puritanical middle class of yesteryears, - wedded to simplicity without ostentaceous life style.
Today there prevails a psychology of polarization in almost all spheres of life. Muslims are ghettoized, separated and segregated. Mixed schooling is made impossible with most of schools declaring their inability to guarantee security of Muslim students.
There is also economic boycott. A silent campaign to keep them out. Often, young Muslim boys are picked up and kept in custody for an indefinite time. As a result Muslims live in constant fear. Often called "Gandhi's Gujarat" the state presents a unique example of bitter communalism, polarization of communities with an atmosphere of hatred and insecurity, especially for the minority communities.
How have Muslims reacted? Positively by opening educational institutions providing modern education to Muslim boys and girls. Some have quickly adjusted to the new reality. At the same time, they seem to display their identity in a more vigorous way than before - beards, long shirts and a round cap.
Deep seated rift has continued to dominate the minds of people. There is a sense of distrust and fear that envelops the entire society.
Economically poor, socially backward, the Muslim community is discriminated against and denied opportunity for carrying on their normal activities.
The wounds and scars of the carnage have continued to fester. Prejudice and partiality have prevented the judicial process. There is no mercy, no regret, and no apology.
Economic and social boycott have prevented people from resuming their normal lives. Fear, insecurity and uncertainty envelop their lives. There are many cases where compensation, though sanctioned, have not been paid.
Apart from the flagrant breach of the constitution their policies lead to a flagrant violation of human rights.
In the courseof last several years the PUCL (Gujarat) have urged upon the state government to institute the state level Human Rights Commission. The National Human Rights Commission has taken a serious view of the prevailing situation in the state.
In spite of assurances and promises, the state has studiously refused to institute the state level Human Rights Commission.
It is undemocratic, against the interests of the common man, totally unconstitutional and a rejection of human rights. It amounts to a wrong and prejudicial interpretation of India’s history and its long established and cherished saga of composite culture.
Neither the chauvinist Hindutva nor Islamic jehadies are the true pictures of either the true Islam or genuine Hinduism.