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Thousands of human torches amid encircling darkness in Gujarat
By Syed Shahabuddin

The Muslims in Gujarat have been living in a state of siege but no one could have imagined the fate, which befell them since the last week of February. Thousands of human torches have spelled ‘darkness at noon’ for Gujarat.

In broad daylight, innocent men, women and children were burnt like logs of wood, in the land of Gandhi, in their land of the birth, with the world as the witness, only because they profess Islam or because they bear a Muslim name or look like Muslims. This is but regression to the jungle, not to pre-history because the pre-historic man was not so brutal to his own kind.

In a world where we speak of Constitutions and legal systems, of justice, equality and fraternity, of the world shrinking into a global village of mankind forming one family, where we propagate non-violence and compassion, where we commit ourselves to respect for human rights, it is indeed a matter of shame for all of us.

But coming back to the persecuted community, which, in the words of eminent scholar Mushirul Hasan, is "trapped in a world that is clearly not their own. Strangers in the land they have inhabited for centuries, nobody responds to their cries or comes to rescue them from the rampaging mobs, lonely, isolated and vulnerable".

This is not the first massacre in Gujarat; it happened in 1969 and again in 1985. But there is a difference. Never before did a State Chief Minister repeatedly justify the massacres as a ‘natural reaction’ in this case, to the Godhra tragedy. Never before did a State Government give a free hand to the saffron brigade to organize killings, arson and looting on such a massive scale for 48 hours. Never before did the administration itself defend the role of the police force as spectators because they also have ‘emotions’. Never before did the Central Government take so long to deploy the army. Never before did the State Government make it as difficult as it could to the Army to do its duty.

Chief Minister Modi could well have anticipated the reaction to the Godhra killings and taken effective preemptive and preventive measures. He did not. He says he gave shoot-at-sight order to the police force. But one would like to know how many rioters fell to its bullets. His motive is clear. That some Muslims should have the audacity to attack the holy warriors of Hindutva in the first (and now the only) State of Hindu Rashtra, presided over by a leading light of the Sangh Parivar, cannot go unpunished and the entire community has to pay for it. This is nothing but criminal negligence. No, it is worse than that. It is a crime against the nation; a crime against humanity. Modi has no right to be the Chief Minister. He must be dismissed; he should be prosecuted and the State should be placed under President’s rule.

Anti-Muslim Massacres of Gujarat are, in a sense, the repeat of the anti-Sikh massacres of Delhi. Both were motivated to punish a community for the sins of a few misguided members. Both were willed and then justified by the political masters of the day, who gave a free hand to the marauding mobs; in both members of the ruling party were leading and guiding the killers and arsonists. Neither were riots in the sense of confrontation between the two communities. In Delhi, there were no records of Sikh mobs attacking the Hindus or their localities. In Gujarat, there are no cases of Muslim mobs attacking Hindu localities, they were both one-sided pogroms with the collusion of the State. Both were thus patently cases of State Terrorism and not of inter-communal violence. 

And yet, the Prime Minister has no tears to shed. He is only apprehensive of the country’s image abroad being tarnished. He does not see the moral point; he does not press the ethical issue; he does not perceive the nefarious role of his ideological brother, the Chief Minister; he has not a word of sympathy for the victims. Perhaps, like other bigwigs of the RSS, he sees the Muslim Indians, all of them, as anti-national, Pakistan’s fifth columnists, actual or potential collaborators of the ISI and, therefore, entirely unworthy of human sympathy. He makes formal appeals for peace and communal harmony but refrains from using the power, the people of India have given him, to stop the devil dance and to curb the killers.

Unfortunately, our country has seen so much violence, that as a people we have become insensitive to human suffering; our psyche has been benumbed. Through education and media we have created the ‘other’, the historic adversary, to hate, to deprive, to humiliate, to balance the supposed ‘account of the centuries’. That is why sub-consciously the Hindu mind accepts such ‘punishments’ to the Muslims as the natural order of things with its deep sense of continuity of time and life, so that successive generations form a continuum. This explains why even the sadhus, sants and shakaracharyas of the Hindu Samaj hardly ever taken notice of man assaulting man while they show so much compassion towards animals and even insects! Continued

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