March 16, 2002
The Wisdom Fund

5,000 Killed, 50,000 Homeless in India 'Pogrom'

Former Indian Navy Chief Demands Ban on Extremists, Dismissal of Chief Minister

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 RSS."

"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."

Hindu 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 (Shahpur), Premdarwaja.

- All the property of small Muslim villages, approximately 200 hotels, two cloth markets (Nawa Bazar and Mangal Bazar with 163 shops) were destroyed.

"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

"'Babri 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 British.

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,", 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,", 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. You smiled,
When you first saw Maqbool Fida Husain's nude sketches of Hindu goddesses,
And laughed,
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,'
You said.

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.

We had.

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, and author name, organization, and web address ( are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and displayed on the Internet.
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