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Godhra in ferment even before Independence
By Alok Dwivedi

Neither the district administration, political parties nor social organizations of Godhra, which were already burning with the frenzy of communal fire even before Independence, ever set up peace committees or made proper arrangements for the education and training of the youth of the criminal ‘Ghamchi’ tribe who have always been the cause of riots and fights. Wherever there was communal tension in Godhra, both Hindu and Muslim extremists always tried to add fuel to the fire. In every riot in Godhra, riotous elements had always an upper hand over district administration. At the same time, the district authorities never learnt any lesson from dozens of communal riots that took place there from time to time.

Before Independence the communal riots that erupted in 1927-28 consequent upon the murder of PM Shah, a social worker near a hospital could be brought under control only after six months. History is witness to the fact that at that time also some extremists had incited local people to ignite the fire of riots. In 1946 during the period of interim government the extremists had attacked the Parsee inspector, Solapuri and in order to protect the inspector, a local citizen had to fire which led to the eruption of communal riots in the city and which continued for two months. Immediately after independence some extremists had murderously attacked the then DM Pimputkar. The culprit in this case was an MLA of the interim government, Haji, who also had flown a kite with the writing ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and thereafter had fled to Pakistan.

On the morning of 24 March 1948, a Hindu shepherd was stabbed to death after which activists of extremist organizations burnt down about 2000 houses in Godhra and neighbouring areas. At that time almost two-thirds of Godhra was reduced to ashes. At that time the former Prime Minster, the late Morarji Desai was the SDM there.

In 1949 a teacher of Iqbal High School in Godhra had set fire to the national flag on 15th August and another teacher, Niranjan Shah had shouted ‘Vande Mataram’ in the same function for which he was dismissed. This led to communal riots which continued for several months. Similarly, Godhra was in the lime light during fifties, sixties and seventies also because of minor communal riots. In 1980 skirmishes between two groups resulted in fierce communal riots which continued for about a year. Among other cases of violence, five persons, including two children were burnt alive. Police booked Ameena Bibi and her companions for this. In Godhra, curfew was in force, continuously for one year which is a record for the whole of Gujarat.

In 1990 Godhra again came into the lime light when four teachers were murdered in a group after which the fire of riots started raging in the whole of Gujarat. In 1992 again violence started after exchange of hot words between two groups. Hundreds of families were ruined and houses set on fire. Curfew remained in force for three months.

The district administration always proved to be a paralyzed organ in controlling the communal riots that took place in the city so far.

The above cases were not of Hindus or Muslims but of a handful of mischief makers and anti-social elements who took the whole state for a hostage as and whenever they liked. (Rashtriya Sahara, 16 March 2002)

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