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Gujarat: wages of three decades of hate-mongering
By MH Lakdawala
|Gujarat would keep gnawing at our conscience for a long time. The time has come to analyse what has gone wrong. Why did we not see the writings on the wall? Why were we all lulled into silence and inaction, hoping some how the spectre that is haunting India will go away? That spectre is one of rising fascism, taking the garb of religious revival or Hindutva. A look at history will bring out clearly how this Hindutva brigade closely resembles the Red Shirts and Nazi brigades. The Gujarat carnage is not the outcome of days, weeks or months planning. It's the out come of the sustained implementation of the RSS agenda since last three decades.
The first hint of the rise of Hindutva brigade in Gujarat goes back to 1965.The RSS exploited the events like the 1965 war with Pakistan, shooting down of Chief Minister Balwantrai Mehta's plane and Shambhu Maharaj's anti-cow slaughter movement to raise nationalist and anti-Pakistan rhetoric in Gujarat.
Six months before the 1969 riots, the bloodiest riots after 1947,communal tempo was built up in Gujarat.The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh arranged a camp in Ahmedabad where they formed a Dharma Raksha Samiti; through it the VHP got its agenda.Thus the seeds of VHP’s hate Muslim Agenda were sown in 1969 itself.
As Ayodhya Movement was used to raise the passion and inflame the anti-Muslim sentiments before the current Gujarat carnage, same way just before the 1969 riots in Gujarat, [Jan Sangh leaders] Balraj Madhok and AB Vajpayee spearheaded the hate-Muslim campaign. Madhok was provocative while Vajpayee spoke about the 1965 Indo-Pak war. He spoke about Indian nationalism against Pakistan. He raised the people's sentiments against Pakistan by talking about rashtra bhakti (national faith) just before the 1969 riots.
The Government of India instituted the Reddy Commission to look into the 1969 riots. The commission said the riots were planned. It said there is a possibility of the RSS and Jan Sangh's involvement.
The BJP had built up their support in recent years. In the 1973-74 Navnirman Andolan [started by Jayaprakash Narayan] Jan Sanghis took part and penetrated society further. When the Babubhai Patel Cabinet in the state inducted three Jan Sanghis, they started influencing the government.
In 1985, the anti-reservation agitation was hijacked by the Sangh parivar and converted into communal anti-Muslim agitation. That is a well-known fact. In 1990 Advani’s rath yatra intensified the communal influence on Gujarati minds. The Congress never seriously applied its mind to combat the spread of communalism. As a result, for the last 5, 7 years, the RSS has been institutionalized in Gujarat. It is a de facto part of the government. Saffron rule has been institutionalized in Gujarat. VHP and Bajrang Dal activists have a right to enter police stations and dictate. They are considered the boss.
Way back in 1989-90, when Gujarat was still under Congress rule, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had proudly circulated a map with saffron-green demarcators that declared its intention: to purge the upper middle class areas of the miyas(Muslims); if they dared buy property out of their own ghettos, they were to be brutally pushed back. Cleverly utilising the heightened temperature of a city when communal violence broke, in July 1989, the general manager of Indian Oil Corporation, one Mr. Khan, was thrown down from his flat to meet a gory death in the posh Navrangpura locality.
Systematic measures are part of a well-laid out game-plan to repeatedly break the law, vitiate the social climate through pernicious propaganda through leaflets and pamphlets each of which violates basic Indian criminal law. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has cancelled most non-Hindu holidays. It was forced to restore the Good Friday holiday last year after an outcry from the Christian community. Muslim children studying in several schools in Ahmedabad city, (The Vishwabharati, Naujeevan, Karmasheela, JP High, B.R. Somani and Prakash High schools are some examples) have to routinely give examinations on the day of Ramzan, Id or Id al-Adha Muslim teachers, too, are compelled to remain present for invigilation! At the Hindu-managed V.R. Somani and Bhakta Vallabh schools, where 95 per cent of students are Muslima but teachers are Hindus, the teachers have adopted a unique technique of getting at their students: they just do not teach.
The communal riots of July 21-22, 1999 are also a study in systematic provocation by members of the sangh parivar. In the FIRs lodged at Gomtipur police station - FIR number 167/99, under sections 143, 147, 120-B, 395 IPC - names of BJP and VHP workers are mentioned. Similarly, in the case of FIR number 160/99 at the Dariapur police station, investigations by the local police have revealed the active involvement of VHP and BJP workers. The state government instituted an inquiry into these riots but the parameters for the inquiry were not properly drawn up.
The flashpoint took place in the midst of the Kargil conflict, with the Muslim minority in Ahmedabad being humiliated and targeted as bodies of the jawans who lost their lives at Kargil were brought in.
The BJP's Yuva Morcha painted slogans at a prominent crossing in the communally sensitive Vejalpur area of Ahmedabad: Ab to nagara baj chuka hai sarhad pe shaitan ka; Nakshe per se naam mita do papi Pakistan ka (Now the devil has blown the trumpet on border; Stamp out the name of sinner Pakistan from the map). Another slogan seen by this writer on the walls was: Khun se tilak karo, goliyon se aarti; Pukarti hai yeh zameen, pukarti ma bharti (Smear forehead with blood counter the influence of the evil with bullets, This is the call of the land, call of the Mother Land).
Ostensibly gruesome and gory tales dot the landscape in Gujarat under saffron raj as the sangh parivar seeks to realise its Hindu rashtra dream. It is a tale of blatant defiance of the law after which social, legal and political parameters have got re-drawn.
The BJP, flanked by the RSS, VHP and BD combine in Gujarat had laid their grounds well. Both Modi, and his predecessor, Keshubhai Patel had systematically implanted, through insidious hate propaganda and school textbooks, the mindset to justify such a pogrom. They had their men in key jobs to prevent any hindrance to their plan. They used threat and intimidation to numb conscience-keepers. And they trained their cadres well. They bestialised the 'art of killing'.
Gujarat is the biggest laboratory of its kind - a state that is a test case for the BJP-RSS brand of social engineering. It's the only state where the BJP rules with the benefit of an absolute majority. This means little interference from Opposition parties or pesky allies. The BJP, thus, has no need for 'hidden' agendas - it can openly employ the Hindutva one.
For the RSS, Gujarat is a unique model where the glimpses of a larger Hindu dream can now be seen.
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