"We kept calling the police but the phones were either switched off or busy. We finally called police control and they said go to Pakistan." said Yusuf Sheikh, a resident of the Panigate area of Vadodara speaking to NDTV. Several similar reports from residents of Vadodara point to police "participation" in the communal flare up in the city in the first week of May.
Continued reports of the Mayor of Vadodara – Sunil Solanki – and the polices role in the violence has finally prompted the Home Ministry at the Centre to announce on May 16th a probe into the role of the police in the Vadodara violence.
But the role of the police comes at the tail end of what must clearly be seen as yet another attempt by the Hindutva forces to flex their muscle in Gujarat. The setup for the violence came was the demolition of the 200-year-old Rasheeduddin Chisti dargah in Fatehpura by the Muncipal Corporation (directly under the control of Mayor Solanki) on grounds that it encroached on the road and caused
How a 200-year-old structure that predates the construction of the very road it is supposed to be creating traffic problems on could be construed as encroachment defies all logic. If the language ofencroachment is to be used at all, then it was actually the road that encroached on the site of the dargah. Further, even legally, the Places of Worship Act grants "status quo" protection to all religious structures that were in place in 1947, and thus the Mayor and his Municipal Department were in clear violation of the law. The only comprehensible logic that was operating when Solanki, the Muncipal Corporation and the police went ahead with the demolition of the dargah then must be understood within the larger logic of Hindutva rule in Gujarat, where the policy is to keep the minority community constantly under attack on various
fronts. Since the genocide of 2002, the situation in Gujarat continues to be one where the minority Muslim community faces daily threats of violence and continued economic and social boycott. The attack on the dargah and the community in its aftermath works from within such a logic of continued attack on the Muslim community.
pressure was brought on the Home Ministry that Shivraj Patil finally orderedOn the night of May 3rd, various Muslim localities of Vadodara were surrounded by mobs and the threat of large scale carnage was imminent. Left forces from across India and abroad, including the CPM, managed to bring pressure on the Home Ministry to respond before it was too late. It was only after such the deployment of RAF and CRPF in Vadodara. In the end, six people died from three days of attacks.
In the final analysis then, the Vadodara incident points to the role that the left must continue to play as long as a fascist State, such as the one currently in place in Gujarat, continues to operate. Our task is to be on high alert and block the State government's rightwing agenda, especially as we approach the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat next year.
SANGH WATCH, INDIA