Gujarat on fire again
Asghar Ali Engineer
Milli Gazette Online
has witnessed riots in last three to four days on scale reminiscent of
Gujarat carnage in 2002. The rioting started on the question of demolition
of 200-year-old dargah of
Chishti Rashduddin in the name of demolition of unauthorised structures.
The dargah was demolished on 1st
May and rioting began immediately thereafter. The Muslims had offered as a
compromise that 2.5 feet space from dargah
(mausoleum) be taken and the rest not be touched. The Municipal
commissioner of Baroda, it seems had almost agreed but went back later on
under pressure from BJP leaders.
Baroda Municipal Corporation is under control of BJP. BJP leaders were in
no mood to spare dargah. For
them it was a ‘mini-Babri Masjid’ and wanted to demolish it at any
cost. The Municipal Corporation had demolished some roadside small
temples, which were unauthorised and it was argued that when we have
demolished these temples why
should we not demolish a dargah.
comparison was totally unfair. The dargah
cannot be construed as unauthorised as it existed for last 200 years and
it was registered in city survey in 1912. In fact it is Baroda city, which
has expanded around the dargah
and hence dargah cannot be
construed as ‘unauthorised’ in any sense of the word. Moreover, the
temples demolished were small roadside structures, which spring up
overnight in cities.
it seems the BJP was determined to demolish this ‘mini-Babri Masjid’
for its own ideological reasons. However, all efforts by Muslims went in
vain and riots broke out. So far 6 lives have been lost. The police, as
expected in the Modiland played quite a partial role and two Muslims were
killed in police firing and two Hindus were killed in stabbing. Muslims in
affected areas said that they made desperate calls to the police for help
when the VHP-Bajrang Dal mobs were surging on roads and threatening to
turn Baroda into Gujarat of 2002.
Muslims said that the policemen told them on phone to go to Pakistan for
seeking help. Also, a BJP leader said in ND T.V. channel discussion that
why these Muslims don’t migrate from India as Qur’an also sanctions hijrat
(migration). This is chocking to say the least. Such brazen statements
would not be tolerated in any other country and would not go unpunished.
in U.K. a white citizen passed some racist remarks against Muslims outside
a mosque and the court him awarded six months in jail. According to The
Muslim News of 28 April 2006 “A man who shouted racist insults at
Muslim worshippers outside Carliste’s Brook Street mosque was jailed on
April 5, for six months. The Crown Court heard that Bryan Cork, 49,
shouted ‘Carliste’s white’, ‘proud to be British’ and ‘Go back
to where you came from’ as worshippers arrived for a Ramadan prayer on
November 30, 2005.” Cork pleaded guilty to a charge of racially
aggravated harassment. Cork was drunk at the time.
Paul Batty QC observed while sentencing Cork to six months in Jail,
“Racism in this city simply will not be tolerated in any form. It will
not be tolerated anywhere in this country if at all possible. The aspect
of racism which is clearly demonstrated here outweighs any personal
mitigation which you have.”
such punishment ever be accorded in this country only on shouting that go
back to where you have come from? In our country BJP and other communal
leaders keep on shouting every day ‘Muslims go to Pakistan or Qabrastan’
and no one bothers. Here a BJP leader says on T.V. channel that why
Muslims don’t migrate as Qur’an requires them to migrate and this is
considered quite normal utterance. Even much worse statements are made
which are highly provocative and no action is taken at all. A pluralist
society can remain peaceful only when law is enforced rigorously. Here in
our country the police itself is guilty of making such statements as they
told Muslims in Baroda also “to go to Pakistan for help.”
marauding mobs of Bajrang Dal and VHP burnt alive a Muslim youth in Baroda
on the night of 3rd May and were roaming freely threatening
Muslims to turn Baroda into Gujarat of 2002. The Muslims described that
night as the night of terror. The life of the youth could be saved but
police did not turn up on time despite desperate calls made by Muslims.
The Muslim leaders then called Delhi and appraised authorities of
situation in Baroda.
Role in Baroda.
must be said that Central Government took stern view of what was happening
in Baroda especially after the CPI leader Shri Bardhan met Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh and apprised him of what was happening in Baroda. A Cabinet
meeting was convened to discuss this matter and Mr. Antulay, Minister of
Minority Affairs suggested that it should not be treated as law and order
problem which becomes state subject but a problem of national unity and
Centre should intervene.
was accepted by the Cabinet and Home Minister Shri Shivraj Patil was
requested by the Prime Minister to monitor Baroda situation on hourly
basis and apprise him of developments. Mr.Shivraj Patil contacted Chief
Minister Narendra Modi and asked him to control the situation. The message
went loud and clear and Narendra Modi, a shrewd politician got the message
that it is not 2002 with the NDA Government at the Centre but 2006 with
UPA Government at the Centre.
rushed to Baroda and made a statement that law is equal for all and that
communal violence will not be tolerated and stern punishment given to all
those who break the law. The Centre insisted on deployment of army though
Modi wanted simply a flag march by army. But Shivraj Patil said army must
be given control and Modi had to agree. Rapid Action Force was also
In BJP At Work?
is being said that RSS and VHP led by Pravin Togadia have turned against
Modi as he kept mum on Advani’s Jinnah statement in Karachi and did not
condemn it. Also Keshubhai faction wants to dislodge Modi Government and
most of the BJP and VHP leaders provoking violence in Baroda belonged to
Keshubhai faction in order to embarrass Narendra Modi. This appears to be
Centre’s role is praiseworthy and if Centre can intervene to maintain
unity of the nation rather than treating it only as a law and order
situation and then leaving it to the state to handle, riots can easily be
controlled in future. This augurs well for the integrity of the nation.
One must also realise that since left forces are supporting the UPA
Government their pressure on Prime Minister also played a healthy role.
CPM leader Prakash Karat also had warned the UPA Government to take
immediate action to stop communal violence in Baroda.
also makes it urgent to enact the communal violence bill at the earliest
with amendments suggested by various organisations working for communal
harmony in the country. The prime consideration should be national unity
and not merely law and order situation. Communal violence is very
different from other forms of violence and should be treated as such and
leave the matter to the state. The Constitution also places responsibility
for maintaining unity of the country on the Union Government.
carnage in 2002 could not be controlled and more than 2000 people were
killed mainly because the Union Government was led by NDA of which the BJP
was a major force controlling Home Ministry and it connived with the Modi
government in fomenting communal violence with open state support.
Communal violence is going to increase in this country if the Central
Government does not take firm view as it did in the case of Baroda riots.
again danger is if communal forces come to power in the Centre also the
problem again can be aggravated. Thus a fool-proof system has to be
evolved to control communal violence. If the present UPA Government can do
it, it will be a great service to the country and minorities will feel
more secure. It is all the more possible as the communists are supporting
Congress does not have glorious record to be proud of. In last 40 years of
its rule major communal riots took place in various states and in states
ruled by the Congress itself like Maharashtra, Gujarat, U.P. and Bihar and
it did nothing save lip service to control communal violence. If the
Congress had been sincere country would not have witnessed so many major
communal riots in which more than 38,000 people have been killed so far.
year 2006 had not witnessed communal riots of major proportions in first
three months and it was hoped that this year might be comparatively
peaceful. But that was not to be. Aligarh and now Baroda has smudged the
record already and still there are 7 months to go. The communal forces may
have been defeated at the hustings but no one should be under the illusion
that they are lying low. Their activities are in full bloom and will
continue to be so unless Government comes down heavily to stop them which
no one hopes to happen. [10-05-06].