The Gujarat Situation
Today we are gathered here as anguished witnesses to the continuing violence in Gujarat. We are gathered here to express a sense of deep national shame. We are gathered here to restate our resolve to not let this pass.
The mass killings in Gujarat represent the biggest attack launched by communal forces on the principles of civil society, the very basis of a democracy. The carnage in Gujarat has been sought to be presented by the state and its apologists as an ‘inevitable reaction’ to the attack on passengers of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra. We know that there has been no ambiguity in the outright condemnation of this heinous attack by the entire nation. Yet the state and the Hindutva forces continue to use the perverse logic of ‘retaliation’ to justify the subsequent destruction of human lives.
The violence in Gujarat, far from being spontaneous, was clearly facilitated by state complicity all through. Ministers of the state government and other political representatives were perpetrators of mob violence; the police professed inability to bring the situation under control; there was an unexplained delay in bringing in the army; and the chief minister presided over the mass murders.
The post-Godhra violence in Gujarat is not a riot therefore, but the culmination of a long-term strategy for implementing the Hindutva agenda. This includes economic debilitation, social ghettoization and cultural disintegration of the minorities. These are systematic and relentless efforts to convert what was historically a region marked by a composite culture, the land of Gandhi, into a laboratory of a ‘Hindu rashtra’.
There was terrifying precision in the infrastructure utilized to conduct the
killings, arson and looting. Listings, statistics, state records and documents were used to identify members and business establishments of the Muslim community. The mobs were well equipped with arms and weapons, transport and communication facilities. The nature and scale of the violence in Gujarat amounts to a targeted extermination of an entire community: through slaughter, rape, burnings. We still do not know the number of those who died.
The violence continues even as about a hundred thousand people in Gujarat have been left homeless. They are now lodged in makeshift tents in relief camps which are desperately ill-equipped. These are managed mostly by voluntary organisations. There is no support from the state government for rehabilitating the helpless people who have fled for safety. In addition, large sections of Muslims are confined to their homes in sub-clusters, unable to conduct day-to-day life.
While there has been widespread revulsion and anger at the events in Gujarat, a matching relief operation is still missing.
We must join hands and coordinate with groups and organisations for immediate relief measures in Gujarat.
We must be involved in longer-term recuperation of the civil society that has been so brutally ruptured.
We must build up the political pressure to expose the criminal culpability of the ruling party in both the state and the centre.
We demand the dismissal of Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat.
We demand the banning of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal.