From carnage to carnival
What is the meaning of these endless debates and discussions, consultations and chronicles, symposiums and seminars on 2002 genocide of Gujarat? What is the meaning of mining the detritus of the Gujarat pogrom for positive stories? What is the meaning of praising our so-called syncratic (or stinking) culture, our unity in diversity (or disparity) , our federalism (or feudalism)? What is the meaning of these endless narratives aiming at igniting collective conscience of civil society?
Call to punish Narendra Modi is must. The murderer must be prosecuted. But, is there any provision to purge and punish a defunct and degenerated judicial system of a state (and perhaps, entire country)? There is a high court, agitated and excited on cows sitting and distracting traffic on roads. It does not move a millimetre, it does not awake Suo Moto, even if thousands are massacred in broad daylight in a state where the chief minister and his colleagues marshal the hooligans hired for mayhem and mass slaughter unprecedented in the history of a nation. I have read such narrations in Genghis khan, Nadir shah, Taimur Lang ………………… Narendra Modi. There must be a full stop.
The legal activism is praiseworthy. Can we pat our back by citing example of one and only Bilkis Banu? Minal devi, mother of King Sidhraj Solanki, ordered to change plan of a pond to protect hut of a widow. Jahangir commissioned a bell. Under medieval darkness, Justice was like a sound and light show, full of visual effects. Our judicial systems are like a tunnel of fatigue and frustration. Temples of justice are facing danger of being overtaken by rabid communal, irrational, casteist forces. An organisation is openly distributing tridents in the streets, are they not more harmful then wondering cows? The silence of three - police, politician and judge, is scorching and treacherous. Certainly, I am also talking about this trident!
They killed Ahesan jafri. No, they killed the democratic representation of a community. They annihilated the most legal, political aspirations of a group. For me Jafri is a symbol of one of the noblest representatives of civil society. He was face of Muslim moderation. A fact, that Muslim can become leader of main stream politics. They want to turn this fact into fiction. Muslim must be a terrorist or a bootlegger. Muslim can not be our leader. This was the message. In 1985 a slogan was written on the wall of civil hospital in Ahmedabad, "burn gaddar, Ahesan Jafri". It takes them 25 years to complete their pernicious and vicious agenda. Story is not just about murder and rape.
When BJP made Kalam president of India, another slogan was written on the walls of Ahmedabad, "they give Abdul Latif, we gave Abdul Kalam." Community may need good scientists, but it can survive without scientist. Community can not survive without good representatives. If your democracy does not provide this simplest opportunity, then it is hell. Such hells produce blood-soaking trauma centres and traumatize the most innocents on earth.
Commemoration's flash point is not exactly 2002. We cannot sum up history in ten years. Mr. Modi is student, definitely a novice in this pathshala of fanaticism. We can not forget K. K. Shahtri (keka) who was unanimously chosen as president of Gujarati Sahitya Parishad, the most creditable and the most reputed literary institute of Gujarat. By choosing keka, the then president of Viswa Hindu Parishad, the Gujarati writers, the most enlightened stock of Gujarati creed, stamped keka's authority as an intellectual. They endorsed his list of 3000 mosques. They joined chorus of "Ram lalla hum ayenge, mandir jarur banayenge." Twenty five years on, not a single Gujarati writer has expressed remorse for selection of keka as Sahitya Parishad's president in 1985, and we are expecting such gesture from an illiterate, drunkard of Chamanpura! It is pitiable pathology of our polity.
Massive efforts are on to camouflage the suffering and sorrow, anguish and agony of masses under enchanted, captivated and enthralled mist of masti and manoranjan. When the survivors were running from pillar to post to get justice denied and delayed, the rulers were inventing new avenues of amusements, recreations and celebrations of their victory. Only one phrase suits their efforts – from carnage to carnival. It was exactly a carnival of cannibals, not silently whispering on their successful carnage, but trumpeting big drums given by Radias, Tatas, Adanis and Ambanis.
Rs. 120 million riverfront schemes displaced thousands thrown on the outskirts of city and they celebrated it in their own style, the kite festival; Air-conditioned tents with cost of Rs. 7000 per unit have been installed forranotsav (for political honeymoon in desert!) in Kutch where average 50 to 85 percent people in villages migrate in search of employment. Rs. 300 billion is the amount of profit Mr. Tata has booked, after being allotted land at Rs. 900 per square foot, the market value of which is Rs. 10,000 per square foot. Rs. 2500 strong Nirma group of companies' owner Mr. Karsan Patel, the richest person of Gujarat, was allotted the most fertile land of Mahuva for the construction of a cement plant. (In his lesser known village Ruppur, when Karsan's relatives usurped graveyard of Dalits in 2003, the advocate general of state appeared on behalf of Patels to defend the respondents in a writ petition filed by Dalits. Ruppur is constituency of Anandi Patel, the in-charge of Modi's Sadbhavna Celebrations). The cannibalistic celebration of carnivals is creating a self-deceiving atmosphere where aggrieved may find solace in musical melodies.
Unfortunately we have creamy celebrities, not lofty leaders. We have celebrities, wherever they go, they immediately attract attentions of bite-hungry media. We have celebrities addicted of rummaging their names in daily news papers. We have celebrities who never dare to thrash 'rogue' media which has precipitated and polarized entire Gujarati masses. Can anyone forget that news item published on the day after Godhara tragedy in one of the leading Gujarati dailies on "Muslims cutting breast of Hindu girls." The rapes on Muslim women were the only result. Can our law punish that vernacular daily? (Our organizations are fighting two such cases in courts). They had done it in 1981 against Dalits. They have done it against Muslims in 2002.
I called for political encounter of Mr. Narendra Modi in a recently held convention in Godhara. Some misconstrued it as support to Congress. The fact is Congress has been taking soft Hindutva line after Godhara. In coming legislative election Congress may win or may not. Can congress fulfil political aspirations of minorities? Can congress give adequate representation to Muslims? This is the question we must ask to ourselves and Congress. In 1981 there were nine Muslim MLAs, at present they are only four. Merely defeating BJP can not be our goal.
(Paper presented in seminar organised by Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution (IPSCR) under [programmed 'insaf kid agar par', 10 year commemoration of genocide, 2002 of Gujarat)
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