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Published On:01 March 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

SPECIAL REPORT: Post Gujarat Riots, Gulf created between Hindus and Muslims yet to be bridged

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani


On February 27, 2002, Gujarat changed for the worse. The S6 coach of the Sabarmati Express caught fire at Godhra, killing 59 people, mostly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya. The communal riots that followed affected at least 16 of the state's 25 districts and claimed over 2,000 lives, mostly Muslims. Many were rendered homeless.


The commissions that probed the Godhra incident have arrived at different conclusions. While the U.C. Banerjee Commission, appointed by the Centre, said the fire in the S6 coach was accidental, the state-appointed Justice (retd) G.T. Nanavati and Justice (retd) Akshay Mehta Commission, in its part I report, said the carnage was pre-planned.


The violence created a gulf between Hindus and Muslims that, even a decade later, is yet to be bridged. Compensations can hardly undo the damage. Even today, families fear to return to their original villages. Widows continue to struggle to earn their livelihood. Rape victims are still counselled for trauma. The families of the convicted cry foul. Businesses struggle to survive.


Thanks to increasing communal polarisation, for Muslims, who have realised the importance of education, admission of their wards to reputed Gujarati-medium schools run by Hindus is almost impossible with the result that Abdul and Ameena are forced to study in unaffordable English institutes managed by Jews and Christians, nevermind if their families are now neck-deep in debt.


In communally sensitive areas in Ahmedabad, the madrasas, which were the first target of rioters, now report poor attendance as the fear of a possible attack still haunts the parents who have witnessed barbarity during the 2002 genocide.


Youths of the minority community prefer to run their own small business like mobile and automobile repairing. But even if the successful among them coin money, buying a house in a posh locality is not easy for them.


If panic-stricken riot survivors living in squalid relief camps or ill-equipped colonies built by NGOs refuse to go back to their rural homes, those in villages are gradually moving to cites for a safe haven fearing another round of bloodshed ahead of the December assembly polls.

Hundreds of frustrated Muslims have already sold their properties for a song and left Gujarat for good.


After all, the Narendra Modi regime has failed to take concrete steps to console, rehabilitate and assure Muslims of government support.


Modi himself lost a golden opportunity to win their hearts when he recently organised four-month-long, so-called sadbhavna (goodwill) for communal harmony.


Riot cases are progressing at a snail’s pace in courts, a judicial commission set up 10 years ago to probe the riots is yet to submit its final report, and the outcome of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team’s report on Zakia Jafri’s complaint in the Gulberg massacre case is anybody’s guess.


Though Zakia is ready to continue her fight for another decade to see that Modi gets his just deserts, Gujarat surely is a classic case of ‘justice delayed is justice denied.


What Muslims feel


• Muslims to a large extent want to forget the 2002 and march ahead although they are still not in a mood to forgive.


• Several studies and books that have been written by ample number of national and international authors and common people, students of research etc reveal that Muslims do not have any vengeance in them even after ten years of being hated and isolated.


Because now they are realising that for this even their community and their so-called religious elements are also responsible and that it is the refuge in the name of faith that they have been exploited to. This awakening is not very bold and apparent but slowly surging among educated Muslims at least.


• Hardly any attempt has been consistently and seriously made to bring the two communities together. In fact Muslim donors and doers took it as an opportunity to drag Muslims to the mosques rather than teaching them or allowing them to take a pause and understand what was going wrong and where.


As a result, a common feeling among Muslims which has been reinforced and imposed on them prevails that what happened ten years back and till date is the result of ‘bandagi me kami rah gayi’ (shortcomings in prayers).


Consequently, rampant Muslim ghettos (Juhapura in the New Ahmedabad West is considered to be the biggest Muslim Ghetto of Asia) have come up at various pockets of Ahmedabad and in several parts of Gujarat. Interestingly, individually when you go and ask Muslim families as a unit to whether they are happy and feel safe about it they vehemently deny.


They want to be part of the mainstream but no efforts almost nil have been done from the community which lacks leadership in all sense here in Gujarat. Muslims have division in the name of castes, sub-castes …functions rituals, condemnation of each other has only and sharply multipled in Muslim areas and population.


As a result smart operators like Modi are busy appeasing marginalised Muslims to some extent which is slowly on the rise and mainstream Muslims have gone from bad to worse in terms of their overall standard and thinking of living.


Justice


• Faith in judiciary has sometimes dwindled among Muslims and justice seekers but it has only strengthened with the recent observations that court made in several cases.


• Not that no one has been booked, lots of hardcore but ‘used’ sort of dalits, SCs, STs, and VHP peop including some ministers and leaders have been booked.


• Maximum number of serving police officers, leaders from BJP has found themselves in jail in Gujarat during this span of time.


• NGOs have only grown harnessing on issues which can’t be solved in courts alone, although some of them did marvelous job and fought with vigour and character.


Reactions of Prominent Activists


Dr. J. S. Bandukwala, renowed social activist, Baroda: The last ten years have been difficult for the Muslims of Gujarat. Muslims have been almost completely cut off from the political- administrative machinery in Gujarat. Further the absence of justice has been so blatant that even moderate people like me have lost faith in the justice system within Gujarat. Narendra Modi has done everything possible to see that the VHP / BD killers are not touched.The only case in which we found justice in Gujarat has been Sardarpura, where about 30 Patels have been sentenced to life for the killing of about 33 Muslims. Note that on the Sabarmati train case 11 Muslims were sentenced to death, while over 20 are in for life .


In all other cases the accused are mostly out on bail, and the cases drags on. This includes the most notorious kiler Babu Bajrangi who was granted bail by the high court judge Mehta. Incidentally it is the same Mehta whop now sits on the Nanavati Mehta panel on the riots. Can we have any faith in such a panel ?


But for the Godhra cases 60 accused spent over nine years in jail, before being acquited . Who is responsible for putting these 60 peole behind bars for so long, and ruining their lives, when the system itself has finally acquitted them ?


Muslim leadership is solidly behind Teesta Setalvad and Dr. Mukul Sinha. May Allah reward both these noble souls and their associates.


Discrimination against Muslims runs very deep, in government jobs, education, housing etc. But by the Grace of Allah Muslims have reacted most positively, by turning their attention towards quality education and business. We are much better off today, but the credit goes to the community and above all to the Mercy of Allah. Modi and the BJP has no role whatsoever in this process.


Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ, Director of Prashant: Plenty has happened during these past years. Victim-survivors all over the state and those who accompany them, continue in their pursuit for justice. It has been a long-haul. There have been some landmark judgements, pronouncements, and even convictions, which definitely point to the right direction; but on the whole, the wheels of justice grind very slowly.


All these years, there has not been the slightest hint or trace of remorse from those who control the lives and destinies of people. Realisation and repentance are the first steps towards normalisation and for enduring peace. To the contrary: minorities in the State are still treated like second-class citizens and a good section of them are confined to ghettos without even basic amenities.


Above all, meticulous and manipulative efforts are made on all fronts, to subvert the cause of justice and prevent the whole truth from emerging.


It is hoped that at least on this tenth anniversary, we will awake to a reality based on the vision handed down to us by the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi (a son-of-the-soil) that is the twin doctrine of ‘satyagraha’ and ‘ahimsa’.


Hanif Lakdawala, Social Activist: The drive for education is succesfull despite the state's apathy to providing schools in Muslim ghettos like Ahmedabad's Jhuapura. There are only 3 government run schools and it's the 24 charitable schools that fuel modern education. "The government is doing precious little for the community, it has taken upon itself the responsibility. It has raised its own resources. In a way, it has thrown back a challenge at the communal forces, saying you cannot destroy us," he says.


Gaurang Jani, Sociologst: The state government must be blamed for the plight of riot survivors. The government has taken no steps to bring Hindus and Muslims closer, he said. “Even on a non-government level, not much has been done anywhere in the state to encourage the two communities to trust each other. Lectures, seminars, and discussions by the intelligentsia are needed to ensure that such traumatic incidents do not take place,” Jani said, adding that, for most part, Hindus continue to see the 2002 riots as their ‘victory’


Yunus Chitalwala, a vivid writer and commentator of Saurashtra: Gujarat has made much industrial progress in the last 10 years because it alredy was a aprogressive state and the ground work for the advancement was laid during the rule of previous chief ministers including Keshu Bhai Patel.The moot point is how far the Muslims have benefitted? It seems some Muslims have done well but there is a large number who live in ghetto like segregetted areas of cities and towns and subsist on menial jobs.So the Muslims have not been equal partners in the run upto the so called"Vibrant Gujarat". Communally Gujarat has not seen a major riot. But fear persists and Muslims have become security conscious.


Supreme Court is quite active and Muslims repose their faith in the higher judiciary. But inordinate delays amount to the denial of justice .Victimised people cling even to the straws and never give up hope.


There is no Muslim leadership worth the name. there are individuals like Dr. Bandkwala who bring the plight of the victims to the fore. But they are few and far between.I am yet to hear the name of a Muslim NGO. who has done ccredible work to support the victims.It is unfortunate the Muslims go about like sleepwalkers.


Modi government should be made aware that it cnnot go about flouting Gujarat's development and at the same time carry the chip of a massacare on its back.Gujarat's 2002 killings of its Muslim citizens got widespread coverage in the international media.Either Mr. Modi should start a process of reconciliation by helping the victims get justice and compensation or indulge in selfdelusion that nothing went wrong in Gujarat and that way prolong a dilemma of his own making..


Ahmedabad looks normal as it exhausted its fury in 2002. There may not be a repeat of events of 10 years back.But do Muslims get employment and school entries without being discrimited? I dont know about employment which is in any case abysmally low in both private and government sectors,but there is no perceptible discrimination in school admission.
Muslim stooges have done great harm to their cause.


Faruk Abdul Gaffar Bawani, Social Activist from Rajkot: The Genocide of 2002 Gujarat is completing its 10 years on 27th february.2012. Issue of justice to the thousands of victims is not tackled fully. Livehood, education, Housing rights are some of pending tasks. Security and dignity are still a far cry. The state government under the leadership of Hindu Haday samarat alis Narendra modi is neither taking responsibility nor taking the care of marginalised Muslims.


Important Stats


Godhra train burning


Number of deaths 59; number of accused 94; convicted 31; acquitted 63


Gujarat riots


Number of deaths: More than 2,000, including killings at Best Bakery, Sardarpura, Gulberg Society, Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam


More than 4,500 houses destroyed, 18,500 damaged


Loss of property of Muslims pegged at approximately 0600 crore and that of Hindus at approximately 040 crore (based on former IPS officer R.B. Sreekumar's affidavit before the Justice Nanavati inquiry commission)


Special Investigation Team headed by former CBI director R.K. Raghavan re-investigating 10 major cases, including the Godhra carnage


Not a single FIR against Chief Minister Narendra Modi


Best Bakery killings: number of deaths 14; convicted 9; acquitted 8


Sardarpura killings: number of deaths 33; number of accused 73; convicted 31; acquitted 42


Gulberg Society killings: number of deaths 69; number of accused 67; number of accused out on bail 57; case has reached final stage in the trial court


Naroda Patiya massacre: number of deaths 95; number of accused 60; number of accused out on bail 49; case is in the trial court


Naroda Gam killings: number of deaths 11; number of accused 83; majority out on bail, case in trial court


[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on March 01, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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