An independent reporters group
claims 5,000 Muslims killed, 50,000 made homeless, hundreds of
mosques, and dozens of hotels, shops, and villages destroyed during
riots in the Indian province of Gujrat.
Former Chief of the Indian Navy, L. Ramdas, in an open letter to
the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has condemned the
anti-Muslim violence in India describing it as genocide and a
"pogrom." Mr. Ramdas demanded that the Chief Minister of Gujrat be
dismissed for his involvement in the anti-Muslim riots, and a ban on
"extremist rightwing organizations like the VHP, Bajrang Dal, and the
"Clearly this appears to be the culmination of a planned series of
attacks on our minority communities by the extremists within the Sangh
Parivar," wrote Mr. Ramdas. "The entire list is too long to cite here,
but to name only a few, the past decade has witnessed the destruction
of the Babri Masjid in 1992, which led to the Mumbai bomb blasts and
the subsequent massacre of innocent Muslims; the burning alive of
Father Staines and his sons in Orissa; and the attacks on Christians
and their places of worship in Gujrat and elsewhere."
extremeists, armed with swords and rifles, are reported to have
"exploded houses and mosques" with LPG and oxygen cylinders,
and are reported to have been supplied with trucks loaded with gasoline and gas
cylinders. They are also reported to have been paid Rs 500
($12.50) per day, and provided food, water, wine, and medical aid. If
arrested, their legal expenses were to be covered by the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad, and if they were killed, it is reported, their families
would be given Rs 200,000 ($5,000).
Based on "actual field surveys and counts in the state of Gujrat,"
the independent reporters group estimates
the toll of death and destruction as follows:
- More than 5000 dead, 40 to 50 thousand homeless in 25 relief
camps, including 72 people burned inside their homes in Gulmarg
society, 29 people killed in Mehsana village, 46 people killed and
burned in a truck on Lunawada highway, 18 people burned in the "Best
Bakery" in Baroda, 350 Muslim dead thrown in a well near Naroda
Patiya, young girls and women molested and raped before burning.
- Mosques destroyed: 12 in Baroda, 10 in Ahmedabad, all in the
villages affected by riots, and several converted into Hindu temples.
- Completely burned areas of Ahmedabad: Ansar Nagar, Chamanpura,
Nutan Mill, Gulmarg Society, Maryambibi's Chawl, Barasancha's Chawl,
Darji's Chawl, Anupam Cinema's area, Lent Wada, Pannalal's Chawl,
Niranjan's Chawl, Jhalampura's Chawl, three societies of Vatwa, three
societies of Narol, Guptangar (Juhapura), Naroda Patiya, Mai Fatehshah
- All the property of small Muslim villages, approximately 200
hotels, two cloth markets (Nawa Bazar and Mangal Bazar with 163 shops)
"The entire nation is shocked at the callousness and inefficiency
displayed by the law and order machinery of the Government of
Gujarat," said Mr. Ramdas, "which not only failed to perform its duty
to its citizens, but also stood by and in several cases actually
incited what can best be described as a 'pogrom'. Compare this to the
scene indelibly imprinted on my mind, when I saw Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru,
Prime Minister of India, hop out of an official car and chase away
looters and rioters, who were killing Muslims and looting their
properties in Connaught Place in August 1947."
Joseph Kay, "Report
exposes role of government in communal violence in India," WSWS, May 8, 2002
Rukmini Callimachi, "The
scars of nationalism," Daily Herald, May 7, 2003
Masjid demolished at Advani's behest'," Times of India, June 7, 2003
["The primary message of speeches by Acharya Dharmendra and his colleagues
was that the holy duty of Hindu youths was to kill and finish off the
Muslims . . .
"Muslims breed like rabbits and their population would soon overtake that
of the Hindus. Until now, we Hindus had been moderate in our demands but now
we will be demanding all the 30,000 masjids."--Rajmohan Gandhi, "Blah,
blah, blood," Hindustan Times, July 4, 2003]
[After completing a five-month excavation, government archeologists say they
have found no evidence of an ancient Hindu temple under the ruins of a 16th
century mosque in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya.--"No Hindu Temple Found Under Ruins of
Mosque," Times Wire Reports, August 16, 2003]
Javeed Akhter, "Muslim Legacy In
India: Do Muslims Deserve The Hatred Of Hindus?," Media Monitors,
November 25, 2003
[Hindu nationalists claim 30,000 temples were destroyed by Islamic iconoclasts. But
accredited scholars can find verifiable examples for only a fraction of this number. Even
then, the temples that were destroyed were usually associated with the outgoing dynasty.
It was a tradition for new Hindu dynasties to do precisely the same thing. Turkish
Muslim armies left the provocatively erotic temples of Khajuraho in central India
untouched because the Candella dynasty that had built them had already fled.
In fact, Muslim rulers would frequently use Hindu symbols to legitimize their rule in
the eyes of the people. For example, Muhammed-bin-Tuglakh, whose dynasty ruled from
Delhi, transported water from the Ganges, the holiest river in Hinduism, south to
Daulatabad, when he built a new capital in 1327. Contemporary inscriptions never
identified the royal house by religion but by language (such as Turkish, Persian, or
Afghan). It was also common for Islamic dynasties to repair and provide for the upkeep
of prestigious temples. For example, the world-renowned Jaganath Temple at Puri in the
state of Orissa was restored during the Mughal era. Because of Aurangzeb's open
antipathy to Hinduism[sic] and because he tried to stretch his rule too far into south India,
he laid the seeds for the breakup of the Moghul empire. one of Aurangzeb's sons even
joined a rebellion against his father that was led by Hindu Rajput generals. The space
vacated by a declining and enfeebled Mughal empire was gradually inhabited by the
Through the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, the British learned the hard way that imposing its
religious bias on India's population could be dangerously counterproductive. That is one
reason that fewer than 3 percent of Indians were Christian in 1947 after more than two
hundred years of British rule (and most converted to Christianity long before British
rule). In contrast, almost a third of Vietnam was Christian when the French left--Edward Luce, "In Spite
of the Gods," Anchor, March 11, 2008, p304-305]
[For years, the RSS had claimed that the Babri Masjid, a 16th-century mosque in the town
of Ayodhya, stood on the very spot where the Hindu deity Ram was born. The location
warranted a temple, the RSS declared, not a mosque built by an invading Muslim king.
Late in 1990, a BJP leader toured India's heartland for two months, in an
air-conditioned Toyota mocked up to resemble a chariot, to rouse Hindus to demand that a
temple replace the mosque. (The man who sat in the Toyota's cabin, serving as the
rally's logistician, was Narendra Modi.) In December 1992, a crowd of men from the RSS
and BJP razed the mosque, watched but unhindered by the police. In the following weeks,
religious riots erupted across India, particularly in Mumbai. Two thousand people were
killed. The BJP's obsession with the Babri mosque was bloody and divisive, but it also
earned them new political capital. In 1996, the BJP came to power for the first
time.--Samanth Subramanian, "How Hindu supremacists are tearing India
apart," theguardian.com, February 20, 2020]
[Tripathi, who was born in Mumbai but lives in New York, is a writer for various
publications and a contributing editor for the Indian publications Mint and the Caravan,
and often critiques Hindu nationalism. . . .
Sunday was the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque, a Muslim mosque that
was torn to the ground by a Hindu nationalist mob in 1992.--Hannah Ellis-Petersen, "Twitter accused of censoring Indian
critic of Hindu nationalism," Anchor, December 6, 2020]
Salil Tripathi, "My
Mother's Fault," telegraphindia.com, December 7, 2020
You marched with other seven-year-old girls,
Singing songs of freedom at dawn in rural Gujarat,
Believing that would shame the British and they would leave India.
Five years later, they did.
When you first saw Maqbool Fida Husain's nude sketches of Hindu goddesses,
When I told you that some people wanted to burn his art.
'Have those people seen any of our ancient sculptures? Those are far naughtier,'
Your voice broke,
On December 6, 1992,
As you called me at my office in Singapore,
When they destroyed the Babri Masjid.
'We have just killed Gandhi again,' you said.
Aavu te karaay koi divas (Can anyone do such a thing any time?)
You asked, aghast,
Staring at the television,
As Hindu mobs went, house-to-house,
Looking for Muslims to kill,
After a train compartment in Godhra burned,
Killing 58 Hindus in February 2002.
You were right, each time.
After reading what I've been writing over the years,
Some folks have complained that I just don't get it.
I live abroad: what do I know of India?
But I knew you; that was enough.
And that's why I turned out this way.
Copyright © 2002 The Wisdom Fund - Provided that it is not edited,
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