Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Communal riots happen all the time, what's so special about Godhra?

Communal riots happen all the time in India, what is so special about Godhra riots? Why it gets mentioned for so many times in media? Why to give it a special treatment? Why can't people get over it, after all it almost happened a decade ago (in 2002)? Hindus also die in these riots so what a big deal, why to make such a big issue out of it? Now a days one can hear lot of questions and statements like this, specially because Mr. Narendra Modi is prime ministerial candidate of BJP for upcoming national elections in India and Godhra riots is one of the major issues he is going to face during his fight for the top post. I remember hearing similar type of questions many times before, in 1984 when massacre in Delhi happened after unfortunate assassination of then prime minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, that time late Rajiv Gandhi said these infamous lines, "When big tree falls, earth shakes", these words seem to somehow try to justify things which happened after Mrs. Gandhi's assassination, similar statements were made after Babri demolition, after riots which followed it, after Mumbai bomb blasts...the list is too long to mention, almost after every riot there is lot of anger, emotional drama and blame game, justifications offered, motives questioned, some parties get political mileage and others wait for next riot to get their chance to score some points for their side, this is a tragic and vicious cycle going on for several years in Indian politics, neither political parties are interested in breaking this cycle nor people seem to be interested in understanding that they are being used like cards in this whole game and are ultimate sufferers. Literally people are used just like cards, nothing else, cards which are used to kill other cards, which can be sacrificed if necessary to save some important cards, anything can be done to these cards to win the game, but the strange thing is not only players who play this game but even cards seem to be loving this cruel game may be because they are not aware of their pathetic situation.

So what is wrong with all these questions? Why I feel they are are insensitive and some how try to legitimize or justify these riots? First of all these statements seem to assume that if something is happening regularly then it's OK and even if it's wrong, cruel or inhuman we should get used to it, but according to me just because it's a routine event, it doesn't deserve acceptance. Another assumption some people make is two wrongs can make one right, so if Muslims along with some Hindus get killed in riots or vice versa then it's OK because both sides suffered the loss, such a strange logic. Have we become so casual and insensitive about plight of victims of these events? Every riot, every murder, every death in this manure is wrong, they are tragic and unfortunate doesn't matter which caste, race or religion those people belong. Political parties and religious leaders both take advantage of this rift between people of different faiths, many of them doesn't seem to be interested in narrowing this gap but they want to widen it more, so much that there should not be any scope of reconciliation, they want to do it by using either Mandir issue or Masjid issue, by fatwas or moral policing, communal riots are part of this game. It is for investigation agencies to decide whether Mr. Modi was involved in Godhra riots in any way or not, he should not be treated like criminal without any strong evidence against him but at the same time he is answerable to questions related with these riots because he was the head of that state when this thing happened. His silence on this issue or his refusal to apologize for not only displays his compulsion to play for his vote bank but also displays the perception that even though whatever happened was sad but it was not completely wrong or criminal, it was an act of revenge and no one could have avoided it, even powerful administrator like chief minister can not prevent such things and therefore we should ignore failures like these and move on, but the question is how many times we need to ignore such failures and move on, how many times more?

Whatever happened in 1984 was wrong, whatever happened with Kashmiri Pandits was wrong, any riot is wrong, period, it doesn't matter victims belong to which religion or party, every incident should be investigated, every culprit should be punished, if this doesn't happen these things will get institutionalized like corruption and will keep on happening regularly. That is why Godhra riots are serious, so are Muzaffarnagar riots, so are 1984 riots, Malegaon blasts, Mumbai blasts everything is serious, how can we even compare or say one is less worse than others? Based on number of deaths? Based on reason why they happened? Based on which party was ruling during that time? What criteria people use to categorize them? Why they even try to do this, every such incident is slap on our country and its secular constitution, slap on our inclusive culture but no one seems to mind it.

How can people even justify punishing entire community for some stupid acts of few people from that community or on the order of few fanatic religious leaders? Terrorists do this, rioters do this and surprisingly even after performing such a gruesome and cowardice acts both find some sympathizers and supporters in our community, when is this madness going to stop? If I question Godhra these people ask why am I not questioning Mumbai blasts or anti-Sikh riots? If I raise question about Kashmiri Pundits I am asked about why I am not talking about plight of Muslims killed in Kashmir? Whenever someone questions about some "X" incident he/she is asked why they are not questioning about some"Y" incident. In the end neither victims of that X incident get justice nor victims of Y incident, riots keep on happening, leaders win or lose election because of them, people keep on getting killed in these incidents, no one knows when all this will end? I am sick and tired of all this, whom I should blame here? Politicians who make inflammatory speeches? Religion and religious leaders who spread fanaticism? People who follow these leaders blindly? Poor investigations, inability of our legal system to punish culprits? or all of them? Gandhi had said once, 'an eye for an eye only ends up making whole world blind'. Are we going to do something to stop these riots or wait to turn whole world blind before taking any action? We have to start somewhere so what can't we start with this particular incident, if we ignore this one then there will be some other reason to ignore next one also, if want to put an end to all this we all must act, by we I mean everyone involved in this including our judiciary, politicians, people, everyone.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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