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Posted Online on Thursday, 18 May 2006 06:35 IST

Muslim Islamic NewsGujarat on fire again

By Asghar Ali Engineer

The Milli Gazette Online

Baroda 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.


The 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.


The 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.


But 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.


Many 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.


Recently 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.


Judge 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.”


Can 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.”


The 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.


Centre’s Role in Baroda.

It 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.


This 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.


He 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 reinforced.


Dissension In BJP At Work?

It 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 plausible.


The 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.


This 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.


Gujarat 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.


But 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 this government.


The 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.


The 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].



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