Monday, 27 February 2012

Gujarat Genocide: Ten years after riots wounds remain, justice eludes victims, Narendra Modi still at the helm

Ten years ago Indian state, Gujarat, witnessed a modern era holocaust. The birthplace of Gandhi turned into the land Godse*.

Independent India's worst riot(s) that was termed as state-sponsored pogrom and even genocide had made the world sit up and notice how the land where the apostle of non-violence was born, turned into the land of killers.

The horrific killings had disgusted even BJP leaders. It was India's plunge into dark ages. Gujaratis, the business community, were not known for intolerance. One recall the period with words like mass murders, rapes and killing of infants or images of hate-spilling eyes that now characterize the era. 

Godhra train burning was an incident that was used to target entire Muslim population in Gujarat. Hate had swept Gujarat. Much water has flown down the Sabarmati since then and it is common now to say that Gujarat has moved on. But is it true?

The BJP was at the helm in Gujarat then. Narendra Modi was the chief Minister. Ten years later there is not a slight difference in status quo. There is no regret or remorse. The successful PR exercise has to an extent positioned the Gujarat CM as 'vikas purush'.

Riot victims remain on the fringe of the society. Justice eludes them. Muslims live as second class citizens. Whenever one talks of Gujarat's post-Godhra massacre, the BJP and RSS sympathisers try to draw parallel with 1984 riots.

The difference is that Congress apologised for the riots. Narendra Modi hasn't said a word about it. He doesn't accept a mere skullcap from a Muslim Sufi who met him recently. There is no gesture to show that the state government cares for victims.

In 2002, children were burnt alive, women raped and entire residential townships wiped off. Incidents like the one when a pregnant woman's stomach was torn up and the foetus was thrown in fire, brought shame for the country.

So much that the word Gujarat itself became synonymous with Injustice. No amount of progress can change the perception unless the justice is done. SIT inquiry is on. Its report on Narendra Modi's role is being awaited.

Whether it holds him responsible or not, there is need to make amends in Gujarat and there is no doubt in this regard. Gujaratis should also introspect. A financially strong state can not be vibrant and progressive unless there is humanitarian concern and inclusiveness.

*Godse. Nathuram Godse was a Hindu fanatic who had shot Mahatma Gandhi dead in 1948.

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