PUCL Bulletin, Oct. 2000

Gujarat's tribal belt awaits another communal carnage

Appeal for action


After the Gujarat Bandh enforced by the VHP and Sangh Parivar to condemn the killings of Amarnath pilgrims in Kashmir, many parts of Gujarat witnessed communal violence and gruesome attack on minorities during the past week. There were several violent attacks against minorities in Surat, as well as the tribal areas of Sabarkantha like Khedbrahma, Lambadiya, Modasa, etc. Burning of minority places of worship, looting of their shops and establishments has been routine news. While the tension still continues in some of these parts of the tribal belt, the Sangh Parivar's most violent outfit Bajrang Dal is out to escalate communal violence in Meghraj (a small taluka town of Sabarkantha).

Bajrang Dal has announced a Hindutva convention on Monday (Aug. 14, 3 p.m. afternoon) in Meghraj at Pahadiya Hanuman temple. According to a news report published in the Ahmedabad based daily "Gujarat Today" (Aug. 10), Bajrang Dal plans to mobilise over thirty thousand (30,000) tribals and it's supporters from Gujarat for this convention. At the local level there is reasonable fear that this convention will whip communal tension and boost attack on minorities in Meghraj.

Muslim shopkeepers and traders, an economically well-off stratum in this tribal town, have already started moving out all valuables, assets, commodities etc. from their shops and establishments to supposedly "safer places". The existing class contradictions between Muslim merchants and tribals are likely to be successfully converted into communal hatred against the community by the Sangh Parivar, eyeing upon the forthcoming municipal and Panchayat (local self government) elections in the state.

We are sure that the Government and the police will be mute spectators to this event of mobilising tribals to launch a bloody progrom against the minorities, as is borne out from past experiences in the Dangs, Ahmedabad and elsewhere.

Hoping that sufficient international public pressure on the Indian and Gujarat government might yield some positive results, we appeal to all progressive secular and democratic forces to condemn this Hindutva convention and pressurise the government to take preventive action or ban the convention (of Monday) and save the tribal Meghraj town from burning in communal flames.

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