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Riots in Gujarat belie BJP’s claims

Ahmedabad: Riots rocked Borsad town in Anand district of Gujarat on September 17 when Hindus and Muslims clashed with each other. Curfew was imposed to bring the situation under control.

One Muslim, Shiraz Vohra (35), was killed in police firing during the clashes. The conflict erupted as a Muslim scooter driver is said to have accidentally hit a Hindu boy on September 16.

The ordinary accident, which did not involve any injury, would not have so much as raised an eyebrow in another time or place. However, it triggered a riot as stone-throwing mobs converged on the spot from two adjoining localities — one with a Hindu majority, the other with a sizable Muslim population.

The incident dents state government’s claims of normalcy following a massive anti-Muslim pogrom that lasted more than two months. The carnage which was seen by victims and independent observers as having been state-sponsored, left Muslims and Hindus alienated from each other. Underlying tension leads to clashes from time to time in various parts of Gujarat ever since. 

Borsad, which had witnessed sustained anti-Muslim violence during the March-April pogrom, had been quiet till the small accident of September 16. Police complicity in the pogrom had destroyed Muslims’ trust in their impartiality. Vohra’s death in police firing confirms the worst fears of Muslims about police partiality in civil strife.

The tension aggravated Tuesday, September 17 morning when a Hindu was stabbed while offering prayers in a temple.

Aftershocks of the humongous anti-Muslim carnage of March-April are still felt every now and then. A woman was hurt when a crude bomb went off on September 15, in Jamalpur area of state capital Ahmedabad. The bomb was hidden in a garbage dump.

Twelve similar bombs were recovered from garbage dumps in other areas of Ahmedabad.

Police claimed mobs were hurling stones at them during the group clashes, which caused injury to six policemen. To disperse rioters they burst tear gas shells, followed by firing, which killed Vohra. Muslims see the usual anti-Muslim police bias in the death of Vohra in police firing.

The eruption of violence and simmering tension in Borsad vindicates the Election Commission of India’s stand that Gujarat is yet to recover from anti-Muslim hysteria.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s ongoing anti-Muslim hate campaign all over the state helps keep the kettle on the boil. With so much of hate speech saturating the air, it is not surprising that the state erupts into religious violence at the slightest pretext.

Ż MG Correspondent

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