Gujarat Riots the True Story: The Role of Narendra Modi and the State Government in the 2002 Violence
Gujarat Riots: The True Story of the 2002 Violence
The Gujarat riots, also known as the 2002 Gujarat violence, were a series of inter-communal clashes that took place in the western Indian state of Gujarat in February and March 2002. The violence was sparked by a train fire in Godhra that killed 59 Hindu pilgrims and activists returning from Ayodhya, a disputed religious site. The incident was blamed on Muslims and led to retaliatory attacks by Hindu mobs against Muslim communities across the state. The riots resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, mostly Muslims, and displaced over 100,000 people. The riots also raised questions about the role of the state government, led by Narendra Modi, who was accused of condoning or even abetting the violence.
What happened in Godhra and how did it trigger the violence?
On February 27, 2002, a train carrying Hindu pilgrims and activists from Ayodhya, where they had gone to support the construction of a temple at a site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims, stopped at Godhra station. According to official reports, a scuffle broke out between some passengers and Muslim vendors at the station over a trivial issue. The situation escalated when a mob of Muslims gathered near the train and allegedly set fire to one of the coaches. The fire engulfed two coaches and killed 59 people, including women and children.
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The incident provoked outrage among Hindus, who saw it as a premeditated attack on their religious sentiments. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu nationalist organization, called for a statewide strike on February 28 to protest against the incident. However, instead of a peaceful protest, the strike turned into a violent rampage by Hindu mobs who targeted Muslim neighborhoods, shops, mosques, and individuals. The police and administration were either ineffective or complicit in stopping the violence, which lasted for several days.
How many people died and what was the impact on politics and society?
The official death toll of the Gujarat riots was 1,044, of which 790 were Muslims and 254 were Hindus. However, some independent sources estimated that as many as 2,000 people may have been killed. More than 2,500 people were injured and over 100,000 people were displaced from their homes. Many cases of rape, mutilation, arson, and looting were reported during the riots.
The riots had a profound impact on the politics and society of Gujarat and India. They polarized the population along communal lines and created a climate of fear and mistrust between Hindus and Muslims. They also damaged the secular image of India in the international arena and attracted criticism from human rights groups. The riots also boosted the political career of Narendra Modi, who emerged as a popular leader among Hindus for his tough stance against terrorism and appeasement. He won three consecutive elections as chief minister of Gujarat and later became the prime minister of India in 2014.
What are the allegations against Narendra Modi and how did he respond?
Narendra Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time of the riots, faced serious allegations of being directly or indirectly responsible for the violence. He was accused of failing to prevent or control the riots, giving tacit support to the Hindu mobs, influencing or intimidating the police and judiciary, and destroying evidence. He was also accused of making inflammatory statements that justified or encouraged the violence.
Modi denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the riots and claimed that he did his best to restore law and order. He said that he was being targeted by his political opponents and biased media for his nationalist ideology. He also said that he was pained by the loss of lives in the riots and appealed for peace and harmony among all communities.
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In 2012, Modi was cleared by a special investigation team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court of India, which found no evidence to prosecute him. He also received a clean chit from the court in 2013. However, some of his former associates and officials were convicted for their role in the riots, such as Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi, and Sanjiv Bhatt.
What are the main takeaways from the Gujarat riots and their aftermath?
The Gujarat riots were one of the worst episodes of communal violence in India's history. They exposed the deep-rooted hatred and mistrust between Hindus and Muslims, as well as the failure of the state to protect its citizens. They also showed how religion can be used as a tool for political mobilization and manipulation. The riots had lasting consequences for the victims, the survivors, and the society at large.
However, the riots also inspired some positive initiatives and responses from various quarters. Many civil society groups, NGOs, activists, journalists, lawyers, and ordinary citizens came forward to help the victims, provide relief and rehabilitation, document the atrocities, seek justice, and promote peace and reconciliation. Some examples of such efforts are the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), the Concerned Citizens Tribunal (CCT), the Gujarat Media Centre (GMC), and the Aman Biradari (Peace Brotherhood). The riots also prompted some reforms in the legal and administrative system, such as the enactment of the Communal Violence Bill, the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Act, and the Witness Protection Scheme.
What is the difference between communal violence and communal riot?
Communal violence is a broad term that refers to any form of violence between groups of different religious, ethnic, or linguistic identities. Communal riot is a specific type of communal violence that involves large-scale mob violence between two or more groups in a public place.
What is the role of media in communal violence?
Media can play a positive or negative role in communal violence. On one hand, media can help in exposing the truth, raising awareness, providing information, and creating public opinion against violence. On the other hand, media can also spread rumors, misinformation, bias, and propaganda that can incite or justify violence.
What are some of the causes of communal violence in India?
Some of the common causes of communal violence in India are: - Historical grievances and conflicts between different communities - Political rivalry and competition for power and resources - Religious fundamentalism and extremism - Socio-economic disparities and discrimination - Cultural differences and intolerance - Provocation by vested interests or external forces
What are some of the effects of communal violence on society?
Some of the adverse effects of communal violence on society are: - Loss of lives, property, and livelihood - Displacement and migration of people - Trauma and ps