Skip to main content

Fading Hindutva? Changing times "impact" vulnerable participants in Gujarat riots

By Rajiv Shah
Has unease finally begun creeping into the majoritarian psyche, which got swayed under the powerful Hindutva wave that followed the 2002 Gujarat riots? It would seem so, if journalist and film-maker Revati Laul’s just released book, “The Anatomy of Hate”, is any indication. The book does not say so in so many words, yet suggests that disconcerting traits for the Sangh Parivar have even sneaked into those who directly or indirectly participated in the violence which engulfed the state 16 years ago.
The book, written in a narrative form, tells the story of the riots and their aftermath through three random but vulnerable individuals, two of whom, Suresh and Dungar, actually participated in the riots, in which more than 1,000 people, majority of them Muslims, were killed. While Suresh was served a 31-year jail sentence in 2012 for murder and rape in the Naroda Patiya area of Ahmedabad, Dungar, a Bhil adivasi from a village in Godhra district, has sent to prison on “charges of burning down the houses of Muslims”, and now is a local block-level politician, having uneasy relationship with BJP-VHP, which he represented for long.
The third one, Pranav (not the real name), who was a student in a “green university”, was not a direct participant in the violence, yet, as a pillion rider, was an active spectator of looting and burning of shops by his student-mates. He is totally transformed now. In fact, he is quoted as an NGO trainer advising three young boys to “read up” about RSS on the internet, where “they would find that a man who was a member of the RSS and was trained by them ended up killing Mahatma Gandhi in 1948”, calling RSS an organization which “sided with the British colonisers when the rest of the country was struggling for Independence.”
Laul seeks to tell the story of each of them through interviews, spread over three years, to reveal “all their layers and complexities”, including how they lived before the riots, what they did when the riot began a day after the Godhra train burning incident, February 28, 2002, what happened to them during the mayhem that followed, and what are they now.
The book carries one through the long journey following the day the riots began, telling about Suresh, whose “acts of killing Abdul Majid’s family and Kauser Bano were a group act”; for Dungar, who razed the homes of Muslims “as a community rite”; and for Pranav, whose bike rides “were part of public voyeurism”. Today, if Suresh, a former bootlegger and a thief, has totally withdrawn from “all forms of communication other than violence”, Dungar, previously with BJP, was found trying to “help Congress” during the 2017 Gujarat state assembly polls. As for Pranav, he has made “unraveling of the Sangh Parivar’s politics his business.”
According to Laul, February 28 was “not a calendar day” to any of them. “It was a black hole that bent time”, rearranging “all previous days and experiences.” She adds, “Once the day was done, the randomness of the individual actions of each … acquired a new purpose”, drawing “fresh lines from their past that were a complex mix of deliberate action and circumstances...”
A highly complex character, Suresh identified as Suresh Langdo (“langdo” because he suffered from polio in the childhood), lived in one of the most backward areas of Ahmedabad, Chharanagar, next to Naroda Patiya, where 97 Muslims were massacred in the post-Godhra riots. He belongs to a community which was declared a criminal tribe by the British, Chharas, which in popular perceptions is involved in brewing illicit liquor.
Suresh got married with a teenage Muslim girl, Farzana, with whom he ran away, but had an uneasy relationship, especially after the 2002 riots. Laul quotes Farzana to say that on the day the riots broke out, Suresh handed over a dagger in her hands, telling her, “Shove it into the stomach of any Muslim who tries to approach you”. At another place, he is quoted as saying that he had decided to get married with her as a “revenge” against Muslims.
Convicted in 2012 after he was physically identified by an eye-witness, Laul compares Suresh’s arrest that of Maya Kodnani, a minister in the Modi government accused of triggering riots in Ahmedabad. Laul says, “It seemed to those tracking the case that Suresh was dispensable but Maya Kodnani was not. Despite several eyewitness accounts, Maya was not arrested until five years later. In that time, she had contested and won another election on a BJP ticket, and was even made a minister for women and child welfare.” 
Laul adds, “If Mayaben wasn’t going to be arrested, then others in the mob would have to be held to account. It was slowly drawing on Suresh that the charges against him were not going to unstuck so easily.”
As for Dungar, who seemed to have crossed over from the Sangh Parivar on finding support from an NGO working in the tribal area for his legal battles, emerged as a block-level BJP level leader after winning a panchayat election in 2005. Finding resistance from local leaders, he crossed over from BJP to the new party founded Narendra Modi’s top opponent, veteran Keshubhai Patel. As the party collapsed, he began moving closer to Congress, finding BJP losing its sheen.
Yet, things appear to have changed for Dungar, suggests Laul. He appears to feel that the riots seemed to be have been pre-planned. She quotes Dungar as saying, while they didn’t know a train was going to be burnt on February 27, which triggered the riots the next day, he nevertheless admitted, “But our leaders were preparing for the election that was going to take place later in the year. So people’s minds had to be stuffed with something”. Clearly, “everything was building up to move the BJP – an ally of the VHP – towards a win.” Wonders Dungar, “Otherwise why were VHP people being taken in trains from Gujarat, for what?”

Comments

Unknown said…
VEry good review. Kindly also mention the price of the book and address from where it can be procured.
Syed khalique ahmed
Editor, Counterview said…
Kindly follow the link in the second para
Uma said…
Good topic--I have always wondered what the men who raped the Muslim women and their families, specially their wives and children, feel and think now. This book at least gives us a perspective on one aspect of the mayhem that was created and its aftermath.
Lets Zing said…
But it is the Muslims who create the problems first isn't it?

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Protesters demand release of Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, seek review of SC order

By Our Representative  Protests broke out across India on June 27 following Teesta Setalvad’s arrest demanding her immediate release. Sabrang India , a site run by Setalvad, claimed she was “arrested on trumped-up charges after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition moved by Zakia Jafri demanding an investigation into the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat violence.” The protesters also demanded release of former DGP Gujarat police RB Sreekumar, also arrested simultaneously. The protests were preceded by over 2,200 people from across the globe signing a statement demanding their immediate release. Leading signatories such as People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) general secretary V Suresh, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) convenor Medha Patkar, former Naval chief Admiral Ramdas. “The state has used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicit

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Electoral bonds scheme 'compromises' voluntary nature PM relief fund donations

By Rosamma Thomas*  The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is meant to collect voluntary donations from the general public, either individuals or organizations, to enable assistance to people in times of natural disaster, or for expensive medical treatment. That fundamental voluntary character of the fund, however, has changed in recent years.  The gazette notification of January 2018 announcing the Electoral Bond scheme states, in Clause 12 (2): “The amount of bonds not encashed within the validity period of fifteen days shall be deposited by the authorized bank to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund”. The Union government has, thus, through notification, directed funds to be deposited into what was meant to be purely voluntary. Commodore Lokesh Batra, who has been campaigning for transparency in government functioning, holds that once a gazette notification has been issued directing that funds be deposited into the PMNRF, the character of the whole fund has changed,

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization

Majoritarian silence helping Hindutva forces 'handover' national resources to corporates

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The majority of Indian citizens are witnessing the persecution and everyday violence against their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities. The growing assaults on reason, science, secularism, Indian democracy and constitution are going to be landmarks in Indian history of diminishing democracy and citizenship rights. It is clear that Hindutva ideology is directly promoting sectarian politics of hate which is dangerous for the unity and integrity of India, peace and prosperity of Indians. The majoritarian silence helps in empowering Hindutva and their electoral dividends. From witnessing the persecution in the sidelines to the active participation and cheering loud or silence accelerates violence against our neighbours and our fellow citizens. How and why do majority of Indians stay silent and contribute to the persecution of their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities? The question baffles me as an Indian because I have gr

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria

Cops 'refuse to register' complaint after BSF shot landless worker off Bangla border

By Our Representative  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convener, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), in a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), referring to the incident of “firing and execution” of a poor Muslim youth, has alleged that the 26 year old was was shot at “without giving any warning” one and half kilometers inside the Indian territory from Bangladesh border by an on- duty Border Security Force (BSF) personnel. Stating that the person, Ruhul Mondal, belonged to an Other Backward Class (OBC), and hailed from Ramnarayan Para village under Sagarpara police station in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, Roy in his representation said, the BSF person who shot at him is “attached with Singpara Border Outpost, 141 Battalion”, underlining, the BSF has now floated “self defense theory” to cover up its operation. According to the BSF officials, the incident took place in the jute fields in