In The Land Of The Mahatma
Santoz recommends: Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy - Siddharth Varadarajan
Product Rating: *****
Warning : If you have a heart , if you have a conscience , if you have feelings , if your heart pains for others , if life means anything to you. PLEASE DO NOT READ MY REVIEW AND THE BOOK..as my review is a hotchpotch of what you’ll find in the book and my thoughts about them
Riots. Not a new word for India and Indians.
Communal Riots. A word most commonly associated with the kind of riots that break out in secular India. In fact this is not a new or rare thing for India at all. The birth of India as a free nation had witnessed possibly the worst communal riots in history. And since then India has never been able to cleanse herself from this poison. And whenever and wherever there has been harmony it is only superficial, The Undercurrents are palpable. Every now and then politicians and/or right wing fundamentalist organizations be it Hindu or Muslim have kept the fire burning. And there have been no dearth of reasons for them to do so. The Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Majsid dispute provides more than necessary fuel to the already burning communal fire.
So, now I assume we can safely conclude that riots are common thing and there is nothing new about it, that will shock the reader. In fact the most shameful and distrurbing thing is that you and me have become immune to read and hear about 10 people killed or x shops and vehicles burnt down in a communal flare up. Then why read this book, Gujarat : The Making Of a Tragedy edited by Siddharth Varadarajan [?]
A point to note is that this is not a novel , not a even a non-fiction novel hence there are no author(s), This is a compilation of the reports submitted by the various fact finding missions , NGOs , articles submitted by intellectuals , and of course reports extracted from various leading National and local dailies of Gujarat. Siddharth Vardharajan, the chief of the national bureau of Times of India has acted only in the editorial capacity to bring out the chilling horror that was Gujarat 2002.
Then, what is that is so different about the “usual” riots that we hear of and forget and what happened in Gujarat. Why is this different?
Gujarat 2002 : A saga best left untold , a happening which we wish had not happened. A thing we wish will never happen again not in India , not anywhere else. If merely following the happening thru the print and the televised media had shocked you and given you nightmares, the contents of this book will give sleepless nights and haunt your daylights. Chapter after chapter, page after page, lines after line it will instill in you a fear. A fear that what will happen to me, my family if the state and the government machinery is against me with a mob of psychos is already thirsty for your blood.
Yes , This is what was different in Gujarat. ('A License to Kill': Nandini Sundar ) The involvement of the state , politicians , rightwing organizations(obvious) , emergency services. Etc etc. There was a clear bias, a clear racial discrimination How unlimited quantities of petrol , LPG cylinders suddenly became available to the rioters. How the victims were deliberately stopped from reaching relief camps.You will be surprised at the degree of organization that went into managing these riots.There was a clear bias in the compensation for the riot-affected also How ministers and officials stage-managed the riots and then boasted about controlling the riots within 72 hours. Reading the book will make it clear that the riots could not have lasted 72 minutes if the government willed. But is was not to be , It was a clear case of state sponsored genocide , Instructions were given to senior most police officers and men in power to turn a blind eye . A well thought out and immaculate plan to punish to make “them” suffer and pay for a sin that they had not done.
Sin ?. what Sin. A Sin of burning, or is it roasting. Nah ! Frying , A sin of
'Narratives from the killing fields'. Omit this chapter. Tear off the pages. Don’t say you were not warned. This is how a gist of this chapter will look like
Place: Naroda Patiya
Official death count: xxx
Unofficial death count: xxxx
Number of women and girls raped: xxx .
Read about men stripped naked to “check” their religion. Then doused in petrol and set on fire. Women stripped , paraded and raped. Gang raped. Girls as young as 12 or 13 gang raped. By people they knew. Sometimes their neighbors. And then burnt alive. Pregnant ladies raped and the fetus ripped out and then thrown in fire. foreign objects inserted into the private parts of ladies. Steel, small parts of wood have been removed from them at the hospitals and relief camps if some “lucky” lady managed to reached one. The book has quoted victims and many ladies from the women organizations (NGO). I have refrained from using any names.(More about this in the chapter 'Nothing New?' : Women as Victims by Barkha Dutt etc., i.e if you still have the guts)
One more startling feature of Gujarat 2002 was that the revenge rioting was carried even to the upper strata of the society. Ex MP’s, Police officials, Even the ex judge of the high court were not spared. Every one is aware of congress MP Mr.Eshan Jafri.
Now just let your imagination run wild, If an ex MP was not able to get protection in spite of unlimited calls to the men in power. How could a man (read Muslim) on the street even dream of safety. Needless to say, Mr.Eshan Jafri was burnt alive in what is now known as the Gulbarg society case.
The adivasis (tribals) who are neither hindus nor muslims. How were they motivated to participate in the riots? Saddest part is that Hindus who saved or sheltered Muslims were also punished. 'When Guardians Betray' : Testa Setalwad . What could have been prevented or atleast stopped from reaching such a peak of obsecenity was intentionally allowed. Statistics from official government and NGOS recorded in this book will show that there was next to none preventive arrests post Godhra. The answers that some police officials gave to the victim who approached them frantically for help , the logic that the police have applied to register certain cases of rape and arson will make you seethe.
Most of the other chapters are analysis of pre, and post Gujarat 2002 for India. And how it has widened the already strong communal divide. How systematically the religious divide is entering the state governance of Gujarat and how if not stopped now, in the roots , will only spell hell in the days to come.
In my review, I have just tried to give a gist of what the book contains. And to make the reader aware that such a document is available in case they wish to read. The review could have been full of facts, figures and names. I have refrained from doing so.
But in a country, where the defense minister applied the sick pervert logic of trying to justify one crime by stating that there are precedence to this kind of happenings in India. ..
Quote of George Fernandes:
”Yeh jo rona roya jaa raha hai ek-ek baat batakar jaise yeh kahani pehle baar desh main ho rahi hai. Kahan Maa ko markar pet se bache ko nikala , kahan maa ke saamne uski beti ke saath balatkar hua,kiskko aag main jalaya, kya yeh pehli baar ho raha hai. 1984 main dili ki sadkon par kya sab nahi hua”
Oh thank god for small mercies, It has happened in 1984 in Delhi so no worries. The sickening part is he said this in an ongoing session of the Lok Sabha. And still sticks to his statement and refused to apologize.
So, if a communal riot does not match the horrifying nature of Gujarat, we should be happy[?]. When I have a defense minister with such pathetic gray matter...
I sincerely hope that such things never happen again. That the guilty whether of the arsonists of the Sabarmati express or the in-human rioters are punished. That they are made to pay for the gruesome and barbaric acts they have committed. I can’t understand how they are sill moving about freely. How the people in power are trying their best to see that the guilty go unpunished. How the neighbors of those who were forced to flee are asking those returning to drop all charges including rape, to allow them to come back.
I can’t understand any of this. I just hope and pray that such a book is never ever written again.