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How to stop another Gujarat?

Karthik Navayan

[Karthik Navayan wrote this article ten years ago, in 2002, after visiting Gujarat as a relief volunteer seeking to offer aid to the victims of the 2002 carnage. The one persistent thought on his mind after the experience was: how to stop Andhra Pradesh from becoming Gujarat? How to stop any other state from becoming another Gujarat? We think that question is still very relevant-- Round Table India]

gujarat_2002_copy

'Adivasis, or indigenous people, are not Hindus; they have their own culture and customs as well as festivals and gods. Organizations like Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are working on a mission to convert them into Hinduism since decades. They are using these innocent Adivasis in murders by luring them into Hinduism. These Adivasis did not participate in any earlier incidents of communal violence; in fact, communal violence is experienced only through the RSS and VHP'

 Champak, Coordinator, 'SAARTHI' (An NGO which is working for the rehabilitation of Adivasis since last 20 years).

'In every incident of communal violence, the main victims are either Muslims or Dalits. No single Brahman or Thakur or Patel died in this communal violence. RSS goons caught one of my friends called Sanjay Parmar and issued orders to attack the Muslim community and further instructed him that they will deposit a compensation of 2 lakh Rupees at his home in case he faces death in those incidents. In a similar fashion, each Dalit used in attacks on Muslims was lured in by the promise widely publicized by the Sangh Parivar elements that "No case will be registered for attacking Muslims, moreover the looted property will belong to the looter itself"

 Yousul Mansoor, Shah Alam Camp, Aman Samuday (An NGO which is extending a helping hand to the victims). All the 800 members of this mission are either from Dalit or Muslim communities. Not a single member was from any upper caste community.

'Muslims are making preparations to kill you. If you want to save your life, you yourselves should confront the Muslims'-- fake messages like these were spread by the police themselves in and around the hamlets of Randikpur Taluk of Dahod District; in villages like Sanjali, Seethakosli, Limidi, Mikoshi, Pimi, Vasiya, Fathehpur, Sukhsar, Mothebandhibar, Linkheda, Piplod, and Baria, to instigate Adivasis against the Musims in this manner.'

– Siddiq, Teacher, Sanjeli.

"Tumhare state me jo naxal vadi hain, unko idhar bhejo! Woh toh hamari raksha karenge! ("you have Naxalites in your state (Andhra Pradesh), send them here, they will protect us!")

– Abdul Haq, a resident of Panchamahal District.

~~~~

There is no active Dalit movement or Naxalite movement in Gujarat, there are no parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party or the communist parties; there are no civil liberties organizations or democratic rights organizations. There has been no active reformist movement or democratic movement since decades in Gujarat. The void created by the absence of these organizations and movements is filled by Hindu religious fanatics and fundamentalists. Numerous Hindu organizations like the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, and some other outfits like Yogeshwar Pariwar, Gayathri Pariwar, Sadvichar Parivar, Swamy Narayana Sampraday, Hindu Mahasabha and its affiliated Bharathiya Hindu Milan Mandir, and other outfits like the Samajik Samrastha Manch, which originated in the RSS, are actively functioning in Gujarat since decades. Bharathiya Milan Mandir is engaged in celebrating Hindu festivals extravagantly; it made Adivasis a part of these celebrations. They spread the message that all non-Muslims and non-Christians are Hindus and all Hindus should pray to 'Cow, Rama, Veda, Geetha and Achari'; the main target of this outfit is Adivasis. Another outfit which is the brainchild of the RSS, called Samajik Samajik Samrasta Manch is engaged in attracting dalits and Ambedkarites towards Hinduism.

Due to such intensive campaigning, they have succeeded in making some Dalits and Ambedkarites loyal to the BJP. There was a special agenda and a perfect plan to attract Adivasis and Dalits from the beginning itself. Another right wing organization called Vanavasi Kalyana Ashram is working exclusively among Adivasis. The activities taken up by these right wing organizations did not fulfill any material needs of Dalits and the tribals. The main intention of these outfits is to lure these people into the fold of Hindusim. On the other hand there are no other political parties other than the Congress and the BJP. The members of Hindu right wing organizations like RSS and VHP are acting as leaders in Congress party and as public representatives, and BJP is acting as the political representative for Hindu fundamentalists. The leaders of Congress are also pro-Hindutva. There is no alternative to Hindu politics in today's Gujarat. There is no political party that represents the interests of, or supports the Muslim fraternity.

Scores of Textile Mills were closed down due to the crisis in Gujarat Textile Industry in the 80s and 90s. More than one million people were thrown on the roads. The disgruntled among the unemployed, poor and the starving were used as a Vanar Sena, or monkey soldiers, by the Hindu fundamentalists. They used them in killings, lootings and house burnings.

In Gujarat, both Hindu Baniyas and Bohra Muslims are engaged in the business of pawnbroking. Acting on prior information, the Baniya community reduced the interest rate from to 120% to 80%. This helped to instigate Dalits and Adivasis against the Muslim business community which had no access to any prior information about the plot.

When we observe the social, economic and political situation in Gujarat (in 2002), we can understand that there was a pre-hatched plan worked out for decades by Hindu fundamentalists to carry out genocide of the Muslim community. There are no effective movements to confront this genocide of the Muslims. The most pathetic effect is that some so called Ambedkarites are also members of BJP.

This Gujarat carnage is like a final caution for secular, democratic, Dalit, Communist and Naxalite movements and organizations. The responsibility of giving assurance to the Muslim community is upon these organizations. In our state (Andhra Pradesh), especially in Telangana region, the ideology of Hindutva is gaining strength day by day.

Victory of Hindutva-driven BJP in districts like Karimnagar, Warangal, Medak and Hyderabad in recent elections (in 1999) where the Naxalite movement is considered strong, is the sign of a dangerous new development. Can we restrain our state from becoming another Gujarat?

How can we stop any other state from becoming another Gujarat?

Karthik Navayan is a human rights activist.

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