India E News, Friday, December 15, 2006
Minorities, especially Gujarati Muslims, were forced into ghettoes and marginalised in a planned way by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, says a new book.
'Scarred: Experiments With Violence In Gujarat', a book by journalist Dionne Bunsha who covered the Gujarat riots four years ago, has explored the various modes adopted by the state government and rightwing organisations to target minorities.
In a discussion based on the book here Thursday evening, victims of Gujarat's sectarian strife, which killed at least 2,000 people in 2002, spoke about their loss and inability to return home.
'A large number of Muslims still haven't been able to go back to their homes from refugee camps. They are forced to live on the fringes of various towns in ghettoes without any civic amenities,' Bunsha said.
'I have just come back from Gujarat and there is no improvement in the condition of Muslim refugees. The state is using all measures to repress them. It is a fascist rule,' she added.
Rohit Prajapati, a peace activist from Vadodra, said: 'Unfortunately, all political parties in Gujarat now speak in Modi's voice. He seems to be implementing a long-term policy of marginalising Muslims and other minorities.'
'By changing the BJP rule and replacing it with any other political party is not going to help as this is a short-term measure. What we need is long-term planning to combat communalism in Gujarat,' he said.
A participant in the discussion, Sheikh Naushad Rasool, said: 'I belong to Pavagad village. Four years ago when the riots started in Gujarat, I was first moved to a police station with my family, then to a refugee camp.
'I want to go back to my village, but the village panchayat is not ready to allow me to return as I am a Muslim.'