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EDITORIAL: 1-15 May 2002

Unbridled anarchy

India has often been called a functioning anarchy, in fondness as much as in desperation. And that never seemed truer as it seems today. The state-sponsored terrorism in Gujarat has played havoc in not only the western state but all around the county and has given a great beating to India’s image as a secular and liberal democracy in the eyes of the world. We the Indians with a billion-plus population and the size of a small continent and a very long civilizational history, have been living in a make-believe world of our own, thumping our chests with self-induced pride of being the largest democracy of the world. And while we remained mesmerized by our own non-functional, decaying systems some maniacs who had remained on fringe all these years somehow managed to reach centre stage riding on the chariots of hate and intolerance in order to play havoc with all the systems of governance and national consensus painstakingly perfected since Independence. 

The RSS and its tribe of maniacs, a fringe group in the country till only a few years ago, managed to reach high echelons of powers on the basis of a fractured mandate thanks to the infighting of the secularist parties and the opportunism of small and regional outfits. Sustained hate campaign helped them gain power and play with the destiny of a state which used to be an example for its all-round development and industrial growth. This group with a pre-planned move has been trying to destroy the minorities, especially the Muslim community, demoralise them and cripple them economically and educationally. With RSS parcharak Modi as the helmsman they have almost successfully accomplished this mission. For years there have been reports from Gujarat about private surveys, para-military training camps, induction of rank communalists in the state and law and order machinery, spreading of communal poison through meetings, pamphlets and media and the like. Thus the stage was set for the ‘final settlement’ some of the Sanghis are now talking of and threatening almost daily to repeat it all over the country.

Many reports and fact-finding missions and even the report of the British High Commission have said that the current violence let loose in Gujarat required a preparation of at least six months. So the plot was ready waiting for an opportune moment and this was provided by the tragic Godhra train incident. Instead of arresting the culprits and punishing them according to the law of the land, the Sanghis found their opportunity. Indeed only an independent high-powered enquiry will show if the consistent rowdy and criminal behaviour of the so-called ‘karsewak’ travellers was meant to provide such an opportunity.

In any case the state government led by the utterly discredited Modi gave full freedom to the rioters of his own group not only to destroy Muslims with unmatched dirty precision, but also humiliate them with mass rape and burning victims alive. Efforts were made with rabid cruelty to even erase the identities of the dead to deprive their surviving family members of any chance to get death certificates. This ensured that the victims do not get even the paltry half compensation announced by Modi for his Muslim targets and supported by his bosses in Delhi.

Whether the new pattern of ethnic cleansing being used by the neo-Nazis in Gujarat is their own or borrowed from their brethren in Yugoslavia and Israel, they are bent on totally destroying the Muslims in Gujarat. They have completely destroyed Muslim businesses from every part of the north and central Gujarat.

Their first targets were Muslim areas which traditionally voted for th Congress Party. The hate-mongers are said to have told their cadres that this was necessary since the Congress is the only party which can threaten the saffronites politically. To ensure that the Congress may never be able to challenge them the neo-Nazis attacked Muslims who have been committed voters of the Congress.

After accomplishing this task these believers in non-violence turned their attention to cleansing those areas where they thought that Muslims were at least safe. It is not that Muslims were in peace even in those areas which are being targeted now. All out-lying Muslim localities surrounding Muslim-dominated areas were targeted in the first phase of the violence and now lie fully destroyed. 

The neo-Nazis played havoc with the very system of governance and there seems no resistance from any quarter except a few voices from police officers or bureaucrats who have been outmaneuvered by being transferred to departments where their wings have been clipped. This is evident from the highhandedness with which the state police force is behaving towards the victims and its participation or at least passivity towards the marauders. 

The violence, now entering the third month, is as much orchestrated by Sanghis as by the indoctrinated custodians of law and order who barge into Muslim houses every now and then, killing, raping, looting, in support of the Sanghi mobs. The law enforcers not only torture and harass every Muslim youth they find but also violate Muslim women and girls. This phenomenon is now common knowledge and is part of the recent escalation of violence in Ahmadabad. A new phase has been ushered in on 21 April when police killed over a dozen Muslims in unprovoked firing in Gomtipur area of Ahmadabad. Out of these six people, including two women, were shot in the forehead point blank. The pro-mob police bias was clear from day one when instead of targeting rioters, it killed 40 Muslims on 28 February. And all of them were fired at point blank and all were shot in the head. 

There is no one around to hear the anguished and hapless voices of those who have lost everything, from their close relatives, to businesses, to dwellings. With no calming balm on their wounds and no justice, a volcano is waiting to erupt in the faces of our new-found Bade and Chote Sardars.

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