Skip to main content

New phenomenon? Communal violence "being taken to" Gujarat villages, small towns

The signboard calls Halwad a town of Hindu Rashtra
By Our Representative
A "fact-finding" report by a Gujarat-based minority civil rights organization, Alpsankhyak Adhikar Manch (AAM), involving 13 communal incidents in 2018, has suggested how, following the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which more than 1,000 persons, majority of them Muslims, died, the saffron brigade has allegedly changed its tactic by seeking to spread of communal hatred and violence in rural areas and smaller towns.
Suggesting that this trend has intensified during the last couple of years, the report shows that of the 13 incidents chosen, 10 took place in the rural areas and smaller towns such as Chhatral, Khambat, Himmatnagar, Idar, Kalol, Kheda and Halwad. It underlines, these areas did not witness intense communal violence during the 2002 carnage.
This new phenomenon, claims the report, coincides with BJP coming to power at the Centre, insisting, "The resulting polarisation can be gauged from signboards welcoming travellers into villages stating ‘Welcome to Hindu Rashtra’, placed by the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad."
"Such signboards are grim reminders of similar boards which were erected during the elections of 2007, mostly at the city level in different areas of Ahmedabad and Vadodara. However, from 2017, they are erected mostly in interior villages, blocks and towns", the report says.
In the 13 communal riots examined, 33 persons were injured, out of which 24 belonged the Muslim community, while nine were Hindus. The total number of persons killed was three; one was Muslim while two were Hindus.
In terms of the loss of property, in most cases, the Muslim community bore the brunt, the report says, adding, out of the 13 incidents only in one incident, in Sanjeli village, Dahod district, there was an equal amount loss suffered by both the communities.
Out of 13 communal incidents, seven took place during religious festivals (Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid, Bakr Eid Maharana Pratap Jayanti), processions and rallies, two under the pretext of inter-religious romantic relationships, one due to alleged eve teasing of a Muslim woman and another due to inter-religious marriage between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl, the report says.
Rest of the two communal riots were results of inter-personal petty disputes between individuals, which was given a communal hue, and resulted in violence between the two communities.
Contending that the "unambiguous visual presence of Hindu supremacists, including RSS, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has played a pivotal role in spreading hate among Muslims and in provoking Hindus against Muslims", the report regrets, religious festivals are being used as arenas for political mobilization along communal lines, which wasn't the case earlier.
"In the past, religious festivals were bonding factors where residents, irrespective of religious identities, participated", it says.
Noting that "increasing conflicts due to inter-religious relationship are rapidly growing, and both Hindus, including Dalits, and Muslims are aggressive", the report says, despite the basic right of choosing a partner, the choice is politicized and turned into ‘love jehad’ to target the Muslim boys who have any relationship with Hindu girls in order to demonize the community.
Pointing towards how "Hindu supremacists" play a very important role in these cases, with photo copies of notices issued in special marriage courts being made viral on various WhatsApp groups, the report says, this results in either in communal riots or pressurizing the families of the couple to stop the marriage and get the girl back to her parents.
It regrets, "Both communities react more or less similarly in this."
Suggesting that the impact of "small scale riots has been intense", as they seek to "achieve polarization of society along religious lines, increase intolerance, while creating an image that communal riots are not taking place in Gujarat", the report says, this has happened also because Congress and other opposition parties in Gujarat are "completely marginalized" and the Muslim vote "has been rendered irrelevant, having little bearing on elections."
According to the report, instead of the earlier KHAM (Kshtriya, Harijans, Adivasis and Muslims) theory which sought to bring together marginalized communities during 1980s, there is now the hegemony of dominant castes to formulate a Hindu vote bank.
Coming to mob lynching, the report says, cow vigilantes have triggered "a new form of communal violence in Gujarat", as the rest of India. Gautankwad, a portmanteau of the Hindi words for cow and terrorism on social media, has taken place in 19 of 29 Indian states, it says, with Uttar Pradesh (10), Haryana (9), Gujarat (6), Karnataka (6), Madhya Pradesh (4), Delhi (4) and Rajasthan (4) reporting the highest number of such cases.
"After cow vigilantes attacked Mohommad Ayub of Ahmedabad in 2016, many other incidents took place across Gujarat. In 2018, AAM monitored five incidents of mob lynching. These include two related to cow vigilantism, two to suspicion of theft and one to child lifting, in which tribal, Dalit and denotified community individuals were lynched to death", the report says.
In two cow vigilantism cases, three individuals belonging to the Muslim community were attacked and beaten up, but fortunately they survived after long medical treatment, it notes.
Yet another form of communal violence is socio-economic boycott as a potent tool for forced displacement of Muslims from villages in Gujarat, the report says, insisting, Muslims are compelled to live as secondary citizens. They are isolated by refusal to engage with them in trade or interact with them socially.
Instances of socio-economic boycott were reported from Kherda, Sherpur, Vaktapur and Chhatral, where Muslim families were forced to get out of their villages, the report notes. Out of 70 Muslim families from Vaktapur, 10 had to rent houses in Himmatnagar in Muslim ghettos. Twenty-two families stayed in Himmatnagar for three months, and after the tension was diffused to some extent they returned back to their village.
Then, 40 families from Kherda fled from the village after the riots to Verakhadi village and lived for a month in a relief camp, run with community support. "Fortunately, due to relentless efforts of AAM, the families were able to return to their village, though their loss in terms of children’s education, farming, livestock and mental stress was significant", the report says.
Similarly, the four families living in Sherpur were forcibly displaced and boycotted after a Muslim boy married a Dalit girl. After one month, the families returned to the village with police intervention but felt very hurt and wanted to move out of the village by selling their properties.
And in Chhatral, Muslims were forced to close their small businesses, farming, auto rickshaw driving for a week and bore huge losses. They had to keep women and children at safer places. This damaged the social fabric.
Coming to the police role, the report says, Muslims have had to not only bear the brunt of losses in terms of property and lives, the law and order machinery too has treated them with discrimination: As many as 129 Muslims were arrested compared to 62 from other communities.
FIRs prominently includes the names of Muslims in the list of the accused which forces Muslim victims to give up the pursuit of justice and move towards compromise, the report says. In one incident, of Vadali, though the arrest involved equal number of Muslims and Non-Muslims (each side 11), the police put all 11 Muslims boys to task by ill-treating them.
The fear of further violence keeps such police brutalities unreported, it adds.
In Sherpur village, communal forces pressurized police to slap charges under the Protect ion of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, against a Muslim boy. After getting the boy and the girl back to the village, the village panchayat called a meeting.
Members of local RSS, Bajrang dal and VHP felicitated the police for doing fabulous job in getting back the girl in this inter-religious romantic relationship, says the report.
---
Click HERE for details of 13 incidents

Comments

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

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".

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w

Muslims, Dalits off Bangladesh border 'don't have acess to' water, power, farmland

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, civil rights group Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), in a letter to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, has revealed how, even after 75 years of Independence, Muslims and Dalits living next to the India-Bangladesh border do not have access to electricity, drinking water, even to their own land. Stating that the “horrible situation” has due to “illegal restriction on the agricultural activities” imposed by the Border Security Force (BSF), plunging “farmers and their families into deeper poverty”, the letter, referring to the plight of 1,200 people reside in the Changmari village, states, There are about 200 acres of cultivable lands out of 3,500 acres is situated beyond the border fence. “The ingress and egress of the farmers to their own agricultural land through the fencing gates are regulated by the BSF. The soil and climate of this region is very suitable for jute and maize cultivation”, it adds. Text: This letter is