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Genocide in India
A Planned Program
by Meena Menon Bookmark and Share
 

It all began in Godhra - or so the right-wing saffron combine (Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)and Bajrang Dal) and its government in Gujarat maintain.

On February 27, the coach of a train carrying 'kar sevaks' (religious workers) was set on fire by a mob, killing 58 of them. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, calling this a "terrorist attack", dubbed the carnage that ensued from the next day as a justified "reaction". It left more than 700 killed, with the numbers still mounting, and tens of thousands homeless.

However, investigation reveals that what happened did not have its genesis in Godhra -- it lay in the long-term plan to cleanse Gujarat state of its 8.73 per cent Muslim population. As part of its game plan, the VHP had even issued pamphlets calling for the economic boycott of Muslims. And no one was spared - not even judges, police officers, Members of Parliament, pregnant women, infants, children, young men, greying older men and women, teenaged girls, mothers.

These events are memorable for the intensity of the violence, the brutality and meticulous manner of destruction. Muslims were attacked in cities and villages across the state, their property burnt or looted and their houses and business establishments reduced to ashes. Entire Muslim localities have been reduced to rubble, mosques all over the state have been burnt, Korans reduced to ashes and temples have started sprouting in impromptu places where there were shops or mosques.

All this while law enforcing agencies watched and took part actively along with politicians, peoples' representatives and professionals from all walks of life in utterly destroying the foundation of civil society.

Everywhere in capital Ahmedabad and in smaller towns and villages, refugees of this carnage now live in camps, schools or people's houses. The numbers could be about 35,000 or more in Ahmedabad alone. In rural areas like Sardarpura in Mehsana district, the victims have shifted to other villages which are more friendly. Though they have been given clothes, food and shelter, toilet facilities are non-existent and bathing a forgotten luxury.

Only a small Citizen's Initiative (a loose grouping of concerned individuals and non-government organisations) is distributing relief supplies. This Initiative has also started building toilets apart from providing desperately needed psychiatric counselling services. But there is a lot more that needs to be done. The task is not easy; at least in Mumbai, during the post-Babri Masjid demolition riots in 1992-93, there was a massive outpouring of relief from all sections of society, which is absent in Gujarat. The contrast is more marked as there was such an outpouring of  relief after last year's earthquake in the state.

For the survivors of the genocide at Naroda near Ahmedabad, justice and sanity are now alien. "Why don't you export Muslims to another country?" asked Iqbal Malik, an auto rickshaw driver from Naroda, where the carnage claimed over 20 lives.

Shah Alam mosque, a historic symbol of religious unity, is now a refuge for over 6,000 people. Community leaders are providing food, and even clothes and people live under large tents. "Only Allah is our protector. We have no one else now," said greying Zubeidabibi Ahmed Mia, who escaped with her life.

Tales of horror abound. Said Salimbhai from Naroda, "We saw young women being raped and killed, pregnant women speared to death with their unborn children. People came with petrol cans, they exploded cooking gas cylinders in our houses. The police watched and when we pleaded for help, they told us to run away or we would be shot."

Rehmanbhai Shakhubhai, admitted in the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital said he lost three children in the attack and only his daughter, who was to get married on March 18, survived. "The Bajrang Dal came shouting 'Jai Sri Ram'. They burnt everything. Only my wife and daughter are alive," he said. Afsana, his daughter, sits on the bed, her head shaved, her hands burnt and her torso covered in bandages. "They set fire to my brothers after dousing them with petrol. I tried to save them but the mob surrounded me and I had to run away. Who will marry me now," she asked?

"I saw Jaideep Patel with a revolver, inciting crowds," said Mansuri Yusuf, an employee of the Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services. "He said 'finish all the Muslims'. There were two Ahmedabad municipal corporators with him and a local criminal." Dr Patel, the Gujarat state VHP President has since denied this allegation.

"Even 10 days after the carnage, there was no help from the government. It is the Muslim community which has given us clothes food and shelter," said Yusuf.

Similarly, at the municipal school at Dariyakhan Gummat, survivors of another carnage say that only the Muslim community is helping the 5,000 people in the camp.

In Mora village, all 106 homes belonging to members of the Bohra community have been destroyed. "A mob looted my father's cycle shop and burnt my husband's tailoring shop. I managed to break the window of my house and run out. My family of 14 stayed in a small bathroom for three days. We had no food or water. I used to hit my children and tell them to stay quiet. I refuse to go back there -- we will be killed. What will we do now?" wept Farida Abbasi Boliwalla, whose family has incurred a loss of Rs 900,000 (1US$=Rs 48).

Another woman, preferring anonymity said that in the Godhra GIDC area, all factories of Muslims were burnt and looted in the presence of the police. There are several Bohra settlements in all parts of Panchmahals district where Godhra is located and the entire losses could amount to Rs 200 million, she said.

"The VHP also threatened the convoys which were escorting Muslims and tried to attack them. They threw stones and chased the trucks. They tried to burn my grandchildren but we managed to rescue them. They kept saying "Yahan se Muslim hatao" (Drive out all Muslims)," said 35-year-old Miriam Yakub Sayed.

The long-term plan to decimate the Muslim population is now becoming clear. A resident of Dekwa village of Halol taluka, a store owner, said three months ago meetings were held near Pawagadh, under the guise of social upliftment by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. "Even at mohallas (street corners), secret meetings were held to tell people that the Muslims were their enemies," he said.

The Bajrang Dal has been paying people and giving them trishuls (tridents) to kill Muslims, adds the resident. "They tell Muslims that they will pay them Rs 5,000 not to offer namaz (prayers). Voters' lists have been used to identify and kill our people," he added.

Thirty km from Godhra, Sofia (name changed) had gone to celebrate Bakri Id at her mother's house in Randhikpur village. Their homes were burnt and a large group fled the village. They travelled from village to village and on the way to Panivela, the group, which had eight women including Sofia, were assaulted by upper caste people from her village who then gang raped her and other girls and left them on the road. She could name the perpetrators - they include a doctor, a lawyer and a local sarpanch (elected village head). She sat on the road for a day and a night before the police found her.

"When I recovered I was the only one alive, there was no one else. My mother was killed as well," she said. The 22-year-old can barely articulate her experience and she is in desperate need of counselling and help to recover from her trauma.

Sundarpur village in Mehsana district, has 700 homes of Muslims in a population of 3,500. The mob came on the evening of February 28 and started burning houses. "By the time the police came, everything was burnt. Their plan was very clear," said residents.

While the death toll is still mounting, there are three major questions which need to be addressed from a long-term point of view -- security, sanity and justice.

Most people don't want to return to their homes - who will guarantee their safety? There is a terrible sense of loss, that no justice will ever be done and the perpetrators of these events will go scot-free.

Moreover, the rural areas are being totally neglected and there are no interventions. People don't have any money and are dependent on relief only from the Muslim community. Understandably, there is a tremendous sense of isolation.

Women, especially those who have seen the violence and have been sexually assaulted, are bereft of any specialised interventions. Some women have lost their entire families. Older women and men too have been assaulted and in some cases, have no one left. Many children have been attacked and their future seems forever tainted by these incidents. This is a major area where some intervention is necessary. Reaching out to the people is important as also providing some cash allowance.

The government's lack of interest and justification of this violence is compounding the situation. The important thing now is to reach out and let those affected know that all of us care deeply about what has happened and help them to fight for justice as well.  

' It all began in Godhra - or so the right-wing saffron combine (Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)and Bajrang Dal) and its government in Gujarat maintain.

On February 27, the coach of a train carrying 'kar sevaks' (religious workers) was set on fire by a mob, killing 58 of them. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, calling this a "terrorist attack", dubbed the carnage that ensued from the next day as a justified "reaction". It left more than 700 killed, with the numbers still mounting, and tens of thousands homeless.

However, investigation reveals that what happened did not have its genesis in Godhra -- it lay in the long-term plan to cleanse Gujarat state of its 8.73 per cent Muslim population. As part of its game plan, the VHP had even issued pamphlets calling for the economic boycott of Muslims. And no one was spared - not even judges, police officers, Members of Parliament, pregnant women, infants, children, young men, greying older men and women, teenaged girls, mothers.

These events are memorable for the intensity of the violence, the brutality and meticulous manner of destruction. Muslims were attacked in cities and villages across the state, their property burnt or looted and their houses and business establishments reduced to ashes. Entire Muslim localities have been reduced to rubble, mosques all over the state have been burnt, Korans reduced to ashes and temples have started sprouting in impromptu places where there were shops or mosques.

All this while law enforcing agencies watched and took part actively along with politicians, peoples' representatives and professionals from all walks of life in utterly destroying the foundation of civil society.

Everywhere in capital Ahmedabad and in smaller towns and villages, refugees of this carnage now live in camps, schools or people's houses. The numbers could be about 35,000 or more in Ahmedabad alone. In rural areas like Sardarpura in Mehsana district, the victims have shifted to other villages which are more friendly. Though they have been given clothes, food and shelter, toilet facilities are non-existent and bathing a forgotten luxury.

Only a small Citizen's Initiative (a loose grouping of concerned individuals and non-government organisations) is distributing relief supplies. This Initiative has also started building toilets apart from providing desperately needed psychiatric counselling services. But there is a lot more that needs to be done. The task is not easy; at least in Mumbai, during the post-Babri Masjid demolition riots in 1992-93, there was a massive outpouring of relief from all sections of society, which is absent in Gujarat. The contrast is more marked as there was such an outpouring of
relief after last year's earthquake in the state.

For the survivors of the genocide at Naroda near Ahmedabad, justice and sanity are now alien. "Why don't you export Muslims to another country?" asked Iqbal Malik, an auto rickshaw driver from Naroda, where the carnage claimed over 20 lives.

Shah Alam mosque, a historic symbol of religious unity, is now a refuge for over 6,000 people. Community leaders are providing food, and even clothes and people live under large tents. "Only Allah is our protector. We have no one else now," said greying Zubeidabibi Ahmed Mia, who escaped with her life.

Tales of horror abound. Said Salimbhai from Naroda, "We saw young women being raped and killed, pregnant women speared to death with their unborn children. People came with petrol cans, they exploded cooking gas cylinders in our houses. The police watched and when we pleaded for help, they told us to run away or we would be shot."

Rehmanbhai Shakhubhai, admitted in the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital said he lost three children in the attack and only his daughter, who was to get married on March 18, survived. "The Bajrang Dal came shouting 'Jai Sri Ram'. They burnt everything. Only my wife and daughter are alive," he said. Afsana, his daughter, sits on the bed, her head shaved, her hands burnt and her torso covered in bandages. "They set fire to my brothers after dousing them with petrol. I tried to save them but the mob surrounded me and I had to run away. Who will marry me now," she asked?

"I saw Jaideep Patel with a revolver, inciting crowds," said Mansuri Yusuf, an employee of the Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services. "He said 'finish all the Muslims'. There were two Ahmedabad municipal corporators with him and a local criminal." Dr Patel, the Gujarat state VHP President has since denied this allegation.

"Even 10 days after the carnage, there was no help from the government. It is the Muslim community which has given us clothes food and shelter," said Yusuf.

Similarly, at the municipal school at Dariyakhan Gummat, survivors of another carnage say that only the Muslim community is helping the 5,000 people in the camp.

In Mora village, all 106 homes belonging to members of the Bohra community have been destroyed. "A mob looted my father's cycle shop and burnt my husband's tailoring shop. I managed to break the window of my house and run out. My family of 14 stayed in a small bathroom for three days. We had no food or water. I used to hit my children and tell them to stay quiet. I refuse to go back there -- we will be killed. What will we do now?" wept Farida Abbasi Boliwalla, whose family has incurred a loss of Rs 900,000 (1US$=Rs 48).

Another woman, preferring anonymity said that in the Godhra GIDC area, all factories of Muslims were burnt and looted in the presence of the police. There are several Bohra settlements in all parts of Panchmahals district where Godhra is located and the entire losses could amount to Rs 200 million, she said.

"The VHP also threatened the convoys which were escorting Muslims and tried to attack them. They threw stones and chased the trucks. They tried to burn my grandchildren but we managed to rescue them. They kept saying "Yahan se Muslim hatao" (Drive out all Muslims)," said 35-year-old Miriam Yakub Sayed.

The long-term plan to decimate the Muslim population is now becoming clear. A resident of Dekwa village of Halol taluka, a store owner, said three months ago meetings were held near Pawagadh, under the guise of social upliftment by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. "Even at mohallas (street corners), secret meetings were held to tell people that the Muslims were their enemies," he said.

The Bajrang Dal has been paying people and giving them trishuls (tridents) to kill Muslims, adds the resident. "They tell Muslims that they will pay them Rs 5,000 not to offer namaz (prayers). Voters' lists have been used to identify and kill our people," he added.

Thirty km from Godhra, Sofia (name changed) had gone to celebrate Bakri Id at her mother's house in Randhikpur village. Their homes were burnt and a large group fled the village. They travelled from village to village and on the way to Panivela, the group, which had eight women including Sofia, were assaulted by upper caste people from her village who then gang raped her and other girls and left them on the road. She could name the perpetrators - they include a doctor, a lawyer and a local sarpanch (elected village head). She sat on the road for a day and a night before the police found her.

"When I recovered I was the only one alive, there was no one else. My mother was killed as well," she said. The 22-year-old can barely articulate her experience and she is in desperate need of counselling and help to recover from her trauma.

Sundarpur village in Mehsana district, has 700 homes of Muslims in a population of 3,500. The mob came on the evening of February 28 and started burning houses. "By the time the police came, everything was burnt. Their plan was very clear," said residents.

While the death toll is still mounting, there are three major questions which need to be addressed from a long-term point of view -- security, sanity and justice.

Most people don't want to return to their homes - who will guarantee their safety? There is a terrible sense of loss, that no justice will ever be done and the perpetrators of these events will go scot-free.

Moreover, the rural areas are being totally neglected and there are no interventions. People don't have any money and are dependent on relief only from the Muslim community. Understandably, there is a tremendous sense of isolation.

Women, especially those who have seen the violence and have been sexually assaulted, are bereft of any specialised interventions. Some women have lost their entire families. Older women and men too have been assaulted and in some cases, have no one left. Many children have been attacked and their future seems forever tainted by these incidents. This is a major area where some intervention is necessary. Reaching out to the people is important as also providing some cash allowance.

The government's lack of interest and justification of this violence is compounding the situation. The important thing now is to reach out and let those affected know that all of us care deeply about what has happened and help them to fight for justice as well.


2-Mar-2002
More by :  Meena Menon
 
Views: 2710
 
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