February 28, 2006 is the fourth anniversary of the Gujarat genocide. On this day four years ago, a well-planned pogrom was unleashed on Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat, after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire during a confrontation between Hindu militants traveling in the train and the Muslims from the town of Godhra, killing fifty nine passengers.
Extremist Hindu parties espousing the supremacist ideology of Hindutva used the incident to incite Hindu passions into a frenzy of religious hatred. Hindu mobs went on a well-planned rampage targeting Muslim homes and businesses. Villages and cities across the state of Gujarat witnessed weeks of arson, killing, rape and ethnic cleansing of its Muslim population.
When the pogrom subsided, human rights groups estimated that over 2000 civilians were killed, hundreds of women were raped, over 150,000 were displaced and the socio-economic infrastructure of the Muslim community was completely destroyed.
Four years have passed since, but the Gujarat government has failed to investigate and prosecute those responsible. Although, India‘s Supreme Court intervened by moving the trials out of Gujarat and ordered fresh trials in over 2000 cases, the wheels of justice are moving too slowly for the victims. The trial in one of the cases completed last week resulting in life sentences to 9 accused that were part of a mob that attacked and burned the Muslim-owned Best Bakery killing 14 people that had taken shelter there. Otherwise, there has been little accountability for the perpetrators who continue to roam freely and intimidate their victims. Although the Congress led government elected in 2004 took important steps in recognizing the victims of the anti-Sikh riots in 1984, it has not done much to bring the perpetrators of Gujarat genocide to justice. The hate-mongering and brain-washing of the younger generation by the Hindutva movement has not stopped.
In a way the Gujarat pogrom that started in 2002 continues even today. Majority of the displaced victims are too scared to return to their homes and live in slums and ghettos. According to human rights activists, hundreds of thousands of Muslims living in the villages of Gujarat are subjected to a brutal economic boycott and low scale sustained violence. The perpetrators of the Gujarat ethnic cleansing had termed it "a successful experiment" and vowed to repeat it all over India. They have spread the climate of fear to other states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Karnataka. They have now turned their attention to the Christian community as evidenced by their recent mobilizations in states of Orissa and Gujarat.
Hindutva is an ultra-nationalist movement launched in the 1920’s to gain Hindu supremacy over India and is modeled on Mussolini’s Fascist Party. The Hindutva leaders admire Hitler and his persecutions of Jews and find in it an example to emulate for subjugating India‘s minorities. Their project of "Akhand Bharat" aims to transform India‘s multi-ethnic and pluralist society into a Hindu state engulfing its South Asian neighbors to make India a Hindutva super-power. They have embarked on social re-engineering projects by teaching a bigoted history glorifying India‘s past and victimizing India’s minorities. They brainwash young minds and espouse hatred against non-Hindu minorities who they perceive as a threat to Hindu supremacy. Apart from the terrible human tragedy, these violent riots and pogroms that erupt from time to time in such a climate, bring bad name to India and also pose a threat to its growing economy.
Dr. Shaik Ubaid, President of IMC-USA released the following statement on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the Gujarat pogrom:
"The fourth anniversary of the Gujarat pogrom coincides with the centenary celebrations of the Hindutva guru, Golwalker. The teachings of Golwalker and others like him are used by Hindutva-fascists to spread their hateful message all over the world including the United States.
We urge all peace and pluralism loving groups to join the Coalition to Build a Better India and other such pluralist alliances and to work hard to bring the perpetrators of the Gujarat pogrom to justice. Their prosecution will be a deterrent for future genocides.
IMC-USA calls as true patriots, the Indians who are engaged in exposing the horrible crimes and the dangers that the Hindutva-fascism poses to India.
On this anniversary, as is our tradition, we wish to thank decent men and women of different faiths and also those who do not follow any particular faith, who stood shoulder to shoulder with us. To them we say, Our Struggle Will Continue.
And on this anniversary, let we, the members and volunteers of IMC-USA, renew the pledge we made to the victims of Gujarat genocide – "Never Again!"
M.K.Rahman, Secretary General
Indian Muslim Council-USA
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