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Bengal unites to combat communalism 
By Md Shahid Rafique

Kolkata: Gujarat is no exception to communal conflict but the incidents which occurred in the last two months have been markedly different from the earlier flare-ups. For obvious reasons the revenge attacks on Muslims were not only a manifestation of ‘state-sponsored’ violence but also a well calculated vent of pent-up feelings of the majority community. After the Godhra carnage, organized massacre of Muslims claimed the lives of over 1000 innocent people. Stating this several meets were organized in West Bengal to protest and condemn the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Gujarat.

During an all-community meet on "combating communalism", organized by the West Bengal Minority Commission, Lt.General AM Sethna (retd), a member of the National Minority Commission, who has toured Gujarat over the last two months said ,"I have spoken to thousands of people and officers and ministers of the Modi govt. The genocide in Gujarat is comparable only with the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946.And I should know because during those days I was in Kolkata as a captain of the British Indian Army". He termed the situation in Gujarat a ‘national security emergency’ and said " Modi and his men had two aims : to break the economic backbone of anyone who in Modi’s jargon was ‘they’ and not ‘us’ and to destroy families by targeting the women and children like never before." 

State minorities affair minister Md Salim said, "We have to know how communalism as an ideology is built up, if we have to fight it .Like football players who appear each year in different jerseys, communal forces wear different masks to hoodwink people." In another meet MP and actress Shabana Azmi and her husband Javed Akhter highlighted the plight of Muslim community in Gujarat .She referred to call it a communal disharmony . "It is a genocide" she said and her husband Javed Akhter agreed. She said, "In Goa the Prime Minister talked in a manner that does not auger well for the country." According to Akhter "It was a speech of a RSS kar sevak." The actress and MP thanked the press for not "mincing words" and for going "all out to reveal the situation." Showing some horrific photographs of Gujarat killings, she said, "When both communities attack each other, one calls it communal riot.

The Gujarat incidents amount to a genocide- against the Muslim community. Shaban Azmi talked about "shocking number of rapes in Gujarat as a form of subjugation" she further said "this is a state-sponsored carnage". According to her " Godhra incident can never be made an excuse for all that is happening now". The couple introduced Teesta Setalavad, editor of Communalism Combat, who said "even if Godhra hadn’t occurred, the Gujarat carnage would have still taken place." She added, "we've concrete evidence that the recent incidents were being built up for quite a while .We need to position Godhra in the context of the climate that has been prevailing in Gujarat for some time now". She agreed with the couples' demand of President’s rule in Gujarat and a CBI inquiry into the post­Godhra "genocide". Samapradayikta Birodhi Gujarat Sanhati Samiti organized a meeting at the Muslim Institute in the city where Sitangshu Chakraborty, researcher with the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights( APDR) narrated his experience at the meeting .He went to Gujarat from West Bengal and observed that not a single Muslim survivor of the Gujarat carnage was blaming ‘the Hindus’ for the violence. Instead, the victims accused ‘the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and the police’. He said, "even if the Godhra incident had not occurred there was clear indication that the carnage was coming. 

Right from detailed listing of minority population which started a year ago to the LPG crisis in Ahmedabad preceding the attacks in which cooking gas cylinders were used to blast houses, the preparations were meticulous." According to him the Gujarat riot was state sponsored in which police was giving fire cover to the murderers, arsonists and rapists. 

This was neatly followed up by building metalled roads on the demolished neighbourhoods. Chakraborty spoke of a boy named Javed, who entreated him, "It does not happen in Bengal, please take me there." Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacarjee and former CM Jyoti Basu in their messages called upon all secular minded people to unite in one voice against Modi govt. and communal forces. In various parts of West Bengal students from schools and colleges took out peace rallies and collected money, medicines, clothes and other material for the victims.

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