The Killing Fields of Gujarat by DR. MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM (DECEMBER 10, 2007)


The saying that every revolution eats its own can be applied to Gujarat, albeit with some modification, writes DR MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM

In Gujarat Narendra Modi’s take is, “Gujarat shall win”. You don’t need a PhD from Harvard to know that here Mr Modi presents himself as the personification of Gujarat. That is, if Gujarat were to be a single human being it would have been the persona of Mr Modi.

But, what happened of the Gujarati who brought it the fame it is known for? The man called MK Gandhi. Or, the Gujarati called the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel? Or, the nuclear scientist Vikram Sarabhai who headed our nuclear energy establishment? And, what about Sunita Williams?

No, if BJP and its mascot Narendra Modi have their way Gujarat’s face will be Modi’s bearded, bespectacled face. It is the face that the Unites States, in its saner moments, decided not to allow to show up on US territory. It is the face that the European Union has decided to shun.

Yet, Mr Modi is sure that making him victorious is the religious duty of “five crore Gujaratis”. If America denies him visa (he is yet to clear his name in the genocide of 2002, that is why), Mr Modi promptly declares that America has insulted “five crore Gujaratis”. If the European Union decides to shun him he declares that “five crore Gujaratis” had been affronted. The five-crore phrase comes handy to him just because he believes he represents all the five crore without any share to anyone – not even to Shankarsinh Vaghela and Keshubhai Patel.

Mr Modi is convinced (and confidently so) that it is even the religious duty of the five crore to ensure that he wins every election, perpetually. But, what about the religious minorities, especially the Muslims and Christians? At least the Muslims, who constitute six percent of the population, do not seem to be greatly impressed by his credentials?

That would not worry him too much as he regards himself as yet another “Hindu Hirday Samrat” (the ruler of Hindu hearts). He is entitled to his delusions of grandeur even though he has turned Gujarat into killing fields in his endeavour to turn it into a Hindutva laboratory. He has been giving the impression the pogrom of 2002 was in the interest of Hindus. His simplistic mind tells him that the loss of Muslims is automatically the gain of Hindus. However, in real life it does not work in such simple terms.

He also tries to convince the Hindus that the killing of Muslims is good for the economic prosperity of the state. Or, at least, it does not affect the economic growth of Gujarat, most of the beneficiaries of which are Hindus. Again, the arithmetic is not that straight. If the United States and European Union subscribe to the view that the state is being run by mass murderers it will have some impact on the investment climate. The high foreign investment rate of Gujarat could have been higher if it were not so violence-ridden.

The worst violence is the violence of the state, especially that violence which is inflicted in contravention of the law. The state-sponsored murder, euphemistically called “encounter” in India, is a case in point. That such extrajudicial killing is untenable in law is evident from the ruling of Indian courts and the imprisonment of guilty policemen.

Even on this count, the record of Mr Modi’s government is reprehensible. There was no instance of an encounter death in Gujarat from 1960 (when the state was created) till 1990. The first encounter death came in 1991, and over the years 66 people were eliminated in such encounters. Out of them a staggering 60 encounter killings occurred during BJP regime while six occurred during Congress and Janata Dal.

The irony of it is that despite BJP’s vaunted claims of being pro-Hindu 40 out of the 60 encounter victims during BJP rule were Hindus and “only” 20 were Muslims. Although from the standpoint of their proportion in population the figure of 20 Muslim victims is still too high, but in absolute terms it gives a lie to Mr Modi’s tall claims of being the protector of Hindus.

That brings us to the old aphorism that if you stop feeding fuel to fire it devours itself. In the absence of enough Muslims Mr Modi has begun to eliminate Hindus, who he claims to protect. Hopefully, the Gujarat voter would know this.

(Watch this space)


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