Gujarat in the Aftermath of Genocide : NCHRO Public Symposium.
High Court Junction, Ernakulam.
While 16 years have now passed since the perpetration of Gujarat genocide, many crucial questions remain unanswered or unaddressed. Understanding the history of mass violence and its political, social, and cultural aftermaths—is vital to understanding contemporary life in the state.The Gujarat genocide was exceptional in its cruelty, in its pace, and in the precise planning with which Hindutva extremists set out to destroy the Muslim minority. The massacre has devastated the families both economically and psycho-socially. The slow and reluctant reaction to the violent upheaval in Gujarat 16 years ago illustrated the need for guidelines to govern how and when the administration can act to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the country. The biggest problem is political will.
This NCHRO public symposium brings together distinguished scholars, academics and general public including:-
Moderator : Vilayodi Shivankutty, President, NCHRO Kerala State Chapter.
1) Prof. G. Haragopal, Professor, National Law School of India University.
2) Prof. P. Koya, General Secretary NCHRO.
3) Dr. Dhanya Madhav, Doctor in Ayurveda Medicine and Social Worker.
4) KK Baburaj, Works at Mahatma Gandhi University, Intellectual, Writer and Activist.
5) Reny Ayline, Secretary NCHRO.
6) PK Abdul Latheef, Popular Front of India, Kerala State Secretary.
7) AM Shanawas, Secretary, NCHRO Kerala State Chapter.
Keynote speaker Prof. G. Haragopal, National Law School of India University and a leading human rights activist and author, addressed the history of the Gujarat genocide, the events associated with its development, implementation and aftereffects. Prof. G. Haragopal said two chief concerns that remain today are deciding who should be held accountable for the atrocity and understanding how to avoid repeating such horrific events. Our problem is not
naming the crime of crimes; it is to understand it and prevent it from happening.
Some of the worst religious violence in India’s recent history took place on the 27th of February 2002 in the state of Gujarat. Hindu fanatics attacked Muslim families in several villages. Muslims were attacked and killed with a ferocity and coarseness never seen before in Gujarat. During three days of violence Muslim shops and houses were robbed and burned and livelihoods destroyed around 2000 Muslims and 250 Hindus were killed and around 200000
people displaced from their homes. Many women were raped. Boys and girls had become orphans, many in front of their own eyes. The loss in property was in thousands of crores. But the community itself was paralysed due to the migration of thousands from their own established homes. The post-traumatic stress on a vast scale and destroy community structures that support mental health. The police was partial in maintaining law and order. State
sponsored politicians and civil servants participated in the events and mobilized hatred against Muslims prior to the events. The State appears to have played a major part in the riots after Godhra in which the minority community suffered. The then chief Minister Narendra Modi, was accused of mobilizing fascist elements than governance, that is the politics of genocide, the perpetrator sangh ideology and motivation.
It is a sad reflection that none of the senior political leaders thought it fit to visit Gujarat in the first 48 hours after the Godhra incident. The ruling politicians did little to protect the lives and property of the minorities and the opposition politicians showed their main concern was the preservation of their vote banks
and not the welfare of the riot-affected. None of the political parties showed any concern at the long-term adverse effects of the Gujarat riots on India’s security and unity.
The civil services and the police have largely come out in poorer light. The Gujarat riots were true to form and the sequence of events could well have been accurately predicted. Even then, the administration showed a singular absence of perception, imagination, foresight and pragmatism. They revealed utter lack of character not only in failing to do their duty by the Constitution but accepting orders mutely from their political bosses, orders that border on illegality. There is a growing danger that this worm may spread to the all level of administration which would affect the country’s integrity.
Gujarat was the most saffron among all states in India. It is a paradox that Gujarat could have produced an angel of non-violence, Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. But it was also the fortress of the VHP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party. A state polarised along communal lines.
Today, Muslims in Gujarat have a difficult time finding jobs, and the mental stress on Muslim families and settlements is rising. Muslims live in constant fear of renewed attacks. Since 2002 the Muslims have been forced into ghettoes- so-called colonies or camps- which are often located at polluted dump sites with no access to water or sanitation. The psychological scars and memories from the attacks in 2002 are extensive. The protracted battle to bring justice to the victims is nowhere near the end, and attempts continue to be made to arrive at the truth of what happened during those terrible days.
It was widely accepted that the path to moving forward with reconciliation after gross national trauma was based on two pillars “truth” and “justice”. That stumbling block to justice was echoed in the fact “to this day not one single real master mind of Gujarat genocide has ever been found criminally responsible for the massacre.
Gujarat 2002 is still with us. Gujarat has created a vertical divide in Indian society. The shame and horror continues to haunt us. What is needed is an India that is structurally strong as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society. The hope is that there was an India beyond the reach of
Modi and his saffron supporters.