Fascism's Firm Footprint in India: The Indian State Is Criminally Culpable for the Murder of Muslims in Gujarat

By Roy, Arundhati | The Nation, September 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

Fascism's Firm Footprint in India: The Indian State Is Criminally Culpable for the Murder of Muslims in Gujarat


Roy, Arundhati, The Nation


Gujarat, the only major state in India with a government headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has for some years been the petri dish in which Hindu fascism has been fomenting an elaborate political experiment. In spring 2002, the initial results were put on public display.

It began within hours of the Godhra outrage--in which fifty-eight Hindus were killed when a train returning from the disputed site of Ayodhya on February 27 was set alight as it pulled out of a station in Godhra, in Gujarat. Even now, months later, nobody knows who was responsible for the crime. The Forensic Department report clearly says that the fire was started inside the coach. This raises a huge question mark over the theory that the train was set alight by a Muslim mob that had gathered outside the train. However, the then-Home Minister (now elevated to the post of Deputy Prime Minister), L.K. Advani, immediately announced--with no evidence to back his statement--that the attack was a Pakistani plot.

On the evening of February 27, Hindu nationalists in the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP, the World Hindu Council) and the Bajrang Dal movement put into motion a meticulously planned pogrom against the Muslim community. Press reports put the number of dead at just over 800. Human rights organizations have said it is closer to 2,000. As many as 100,000 people, driven from their homes, now live in refugee camps. Women were stripped and gang-raped, and parents were bludgeoned to death in front of their children. In Ahmedabad, the former capital of Gujarat and the second-largest industrial city in the state, the tomb of Wali Gujarati, the founder of the modern Urdu poem, was demolished and paved over in the course of a night. The tomb of the musician Ustad Faiyaz Khan was desecrated. Arsonists burned and looted shops, homes, hotels, textile mills, buses and cars. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs.

Across Gujarat, thousands of people made up the mobs. They were armed with petrol bombs, guns, knives and swords. Apart from the VHP and Bajrang Dal's usual lumpen constituency, there were Dalits (untouchables) and Adivasis (indigenous peoples), who were brought in on buses and trucks. Middle-class people participated in the looting. (On one memorable occasion, a family arrived in a Mitsubishi Lancer.) The leaders of the mob had computer-generated lists marking out Muslim homes, shops and businesses. They used mobile phones to coordinate the action. They had not just police protection and police connivance, but also covering fire. The cooking-gas cylinders they used to burn Muslim homes and establishments had been hoarded weeks in advance, causing a severe gas shortage in Ahmedabad.

While Gujarat burned, our prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was on MTV promoting his new poems. (Reports say cassettes have sold 100,000 copies.) It took him more than a month--and two vacations in the hills--to make it to Gujarat. When he did, he gave a speech at the Shah Alam refugee camp. His mouth moved, he tried to express concern, but no real sound emerged except the mocking of the wind whistling through a burned, bloodied, broken world. Next we knew, he was bobbing around in a golf cart, striking business deals in Singapore.

One hundred and thirty million Muslims live in India. Hindu fascists regard them as legitimate prey. The lynch mob continues to be the arbiter of the routine affairs of daily life: who can live where, who can say what, who can meet whom and where and when. Its mandate is expanding quickly. From religious affairs, it now extends to property disputes, family altercations, the planning and allocation of water resources. Muslim businesses have been shut down. Muslim people are not served in restaurants. Muslim children are not welcome in schools. Muslim parents live in dread that their infants might forget what they've been told and give themselves away by saying "Ammi!

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Fascism's Firm Footprint in India: The Indian State Is Criminally Culpable for the Murder of Muslims in Gujarat
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.