Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Saturday, August 27, 2016
जब हम चल बसे
तब सिर्फ दो बूँदे निकली
उन्हीकी सूँखी आँखों से
बाहरी सन्नाटा बस
वैसेही बजता रहा
खुदीकी अनकही अावाज से
Saturday, June 25, 2016
If a man claimed that another person has encroached on his land and if one of the two is hindu and the other muslim, the dispute between them is a personal, legal dispute and not a hindu-muslim dispute. If there is a dispute between area boundaries of two housing societies, it is a legal dispute nothing do with religion. The Babri Masjid- Ram Janmabhoomi dispute should have been treated just the same - as a legal dispute over ownership of the land - and not as a dispute between hindu and muslim communities , nor as a conflict between all hindus and all muslims. But thats what extreme thinkers at the time of L K Advani’s Rath Yatra attempted to project in 1990. In spite of assurances by Advani there was violence and riots at many places on Rath Yatra route. While Advani and BJP leaders kept a sober tone , VHP, Bajrang Dal and others upped the ante to very high levels. In addition to depicting muslims, all muslims, as vicious, criminal, religious predators, as threat to women and life, muslims were also linked to Pakistan and described as terrorists. So if there was any inadequacy in inflaming religious fanatism, there was nationalistic jingoism to assist. Stage was being set, battle cries were raised. All these were showing positive results for BJP with significant increase in parliament seats and winning majority in UP Assembly elections.
Gujarat has a centuries long history of tussles between hindu and muslim groups. But in those days such incidences were treated simply as tussles between any other groups. Only in the British Raj were they came to be defined as hindu-muslim conflicts. Since about mid-eighties hindu religious organisations with extreme ideology succeeded in building coordinated networks. They were able to cross caste barriers and reach even to adivasis. Their work was not only getting hindus together on religious foundation and increasing their religious ego, but they also preached militant and aggressive philosophy and actual training in arms. In the same breath they slowly preached hatred towards muslims. ‘We are great’ took secondary role to ‘they are bad’, ‘they need to be improved’, ‘they need to be taught a lesson’ !
Amidst this, A rally was decided to be held in December, 1992. Big campaign was run all over the country by BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shivsena and other hindu organsiations. Huge crowds of animated followers convulsed at Ayodhya site. Either they really went beyond control or had tacit support of UP government and Central government, but they went beyond shilapoojan and demolished the masjid that was there. Not only were there huge jeering and cheering about the masjid demolition but big insults and intimidations were thrown towards muslims. Fanatics in muslim communities were not going to let the opportunity slip out. There were extended riots in different parts of the country resulting in loss of much life and property.
These hindu organisations had successfully managed to merge hindu religious sentiments with nationalism, and conversely being muslim was equated to being anti-national and supporter of Pakistan. This success was a huge help in inflaming emotions further. In spite of this BJP could not win enough seats in Lok Sabha to form government on its own and had to look for support. Vajpayee was selected as being more moderate than Advani. This tempered BJP a little but it rebounded through VHP and others. Limited success needed to be fortified and improved further.
Gujarat was a big player in all these, aided by frequent hindu-muslim disputes and riots in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat etc. BJP won majority in Gujarat assembly elections in 1998. So in 1999 both Centre and Gujarat had BJP governments. It was time to govern . Under the pressure of governance Ram temple got pushed out of main political focus, though VHP and others continued working on their agenda. Governing was not easy, and in 2001 BJP suffered some significant setbacks in by-elections in Gujarat. Something had to be done. In December 2001 Chief Minister Patel was replaced by committed RSS pracharak Narendra Modi. And Ram temple issue was brought back into prominence. Senior BJP politicians kept talking peace and development but every time they also kept mentioning ‘traitors’ and Pakistan. VHP, Bajrang Dal and others became aggressive and abusive in their language, wielding trishuls often. VHP organised a maha yadnya at ram temple sight. Thousands of volunteers / devotees / ramsevaks from Gujarat went to Ayodhya, not just charged with building ram temple but full with hatred against muslims deeply ingrained in themselves. Even amongst this emotional high, in the by elections held on 21 February, 2002, BJP lost 2 out 3 assembly seats. Only CM Modi won his seat.
In February 2002 thousands of devotees (know as ramsvaks or karsevaks) had gone from Gujarat to Ayodhya at behest of VHP to take part in Purnahuti Mahayagna. On 25th February 2002 about 2000-2500 ramsevaks boarded Sabarmati Express for return journey, without reservations, and many without tickets. Each coach was filled with passengers douple-triple its capacity. Train started towards Vadodara. It is said that on all stations that the train stopped these volunteers would get down and create ruckus, often abusing muslims on platforms, making them shout “Jai Shri Ram”. (There are also hearsay reports of similar incidences on way to Ayodhya). It is not investigated whether this news had reached muslim community of Godhra, but strangely, government officials officials did not seem to have have any intimation or warning, before the train reached Godhra in early morning of 27th February. Godhra station is surrounded by residences of a muslim community. Some of them are reported to be involved in petty crimes at and around Godhra station and yard. On the platform of Godhra station there were same scenes as at earlier stations. There were incidences with vendors, many of whom were muslims. A old muslim vendor was abused. Some say the incidence happened on platform while some claim it happened in coach S-6. A young muslim woman was picked up by someone. Though she managed to escape and hide inside booking office, rumours started going around , or were deliberately spread, and easily believed that muslims women are being picked up and one is taken into a coach. Due to this and also due to troubles with vendors who had strong support nearby, fights erupted. Train started its onward journey to Vadodara but was stopped as Alarm Chain was pulled from multiple coaches. Some say it was stopped by muslim who wanted to stop the train and some say it was stopped by ramsevaks as many of them were left behind on the platform as the train started rolling forward. Report by the guard of the train said that many people from platform ran behind the train to get in. Arguments and fighting continued. Crowd also had gathered on one side of the track. Police theory claims that the crowd was part of the conspiracy, but there is nothing done to prove this. It could just be a crowd of people interested in finding out what was happening to their folks on platform, or it could be a crowd of mere onlookers. It is important to note that there were many women and children in that crowd. Train started moving again but the girl was nowhere to be seen. Some said she was in coach S-6. Meanwhile some in the crowd had started pelting stones at the train. So passengers closed all doors and windows. It became dark and stuffy inside. The coach S-6, with capacity for 72, had 130-200 passengers in it, many were ramsevaks. Somebody from outside managed to make the train stop again. The train stopped at Cabin A about a kilometre from the platform. Stones were being thrown at the train. Some of the vendors had stoves with them. Probably using fuel from those stoves, burning rags were thrown into coaches - maybe to make the passengers open the doors. There were smokes from couple of coaches but passengers managed to quickly douse those. For reasons unique to S-6, fire inside that coach could not be doused and it spread very quickly inside the coach. Many investigators could not find conclusive evidence of what exactly made coach S-6 to catch fire so fast but everyone is in agreement that the fire was from inside the coach. Police theory accepted by the sessions court is that the accused got into the coach S-6 and set it on fire by dosing petrol. But none of the passengers have seen anybody getting in or throwing any liquid. All four Exit doors and doors towards both vestibules were stacked with luggage, some claim to prevent doors being opened from outside. Some passengers somehow managed to get three doors opened and escape started. One passengers has stated that there was some fire and lot of smoke and then big fire erupted at seat No. 72. When he was standing he felt intense heat on upper part of his body and so he crawled out. In a short while whole coach started burning. 59 passengers (some of them ramsevaks but others were normal passengers with reservations) were not able to come out and got charred to death.
Police theory is that there was conspiracy to burn coach S-6 but the theory has not given any details about what was special about this coach that it was particularly chosen to be burnt. Police claim that accused came to spot with 7 carboys of 20 litres of petrol each, cut open the vestibule (which 5 ft and above from the ground) between coaches S-6 and S-7, cut open the upper parts of carboys, got into the vestibules with carboys (20 litres of petrol in each carboy) , broke open the door going into S-6, got into the coach poured all the petrol, and came out by opening a door, set the petrol on fire - totally unhurt and unseen. Nobody from coach S-6 have seen any of this, nobody from other coaches have seen anybody getting in, nobody from the railway staff or onlookers had seen any of this. Theory seems completely implausible with circumstantial evidence against it. The Sessions court has accepted the Police argument on the basis of confessions of the accused made in front of the Magistrate, though these confessions were retracted later during the hearing of the case.
There are some more points to be noted:
- None of the railway staff was touched, even those who were hindu
- None of the people on the platform or in the station were touched.
- None in the crowd were touched, though it is not verified by the police whether the crowd was 100% muslims or there were hindus in it too.
- There were no incidences of rioting against hindus in Godhra town
- When a army man passenger jumped out of S-6 and was held by the gang of youth on the track, he pleaded that he was a armyman. On seeing his ID card he was allowed to go. Though seeing name he was hit saying “Oh, this man is hindu’, but in the end he was safely escorted away from the track
- Some of the main conspirators accused of planning a conspiracy were acquitted by the court.
- No traces of carboys, neither of the main bodies nor of the upper portions which had been cut off, were recovered from the site - neither from coach, nor from vestibule, nor from track.
All these things strongly suggest
- There was no conspiracy
- Conflagration had happened on the spur of the moment
- The incidence, whatever it was, was not against general hindus by general muslims, but it was directed only at passengers, particularly ramsevaks by some people on platform and around.
- There does not seem to be intention to set a coach on fire, certainly not a specific coach S-6.
- Unfortunate deaths did happen due to a coach catching fire, some of the dead, though not all, were ramsevaks returning from Ayodhya
Around noon of that day, Collector of Godhra, Jayanthi Ravi had announced that it was an incidence of violence and not an act of terror. But by the evening, CM Modi had declared, without an iota of evidence, that it was a terror attack. At the moment police had no clue about what had happened and it was weeks later that they filed a conspiracy chargesheet. It may appear that CM was directing the conclusion of police investigation. All the passengers of that train, even those who were merely gone as devotees and those who had nothing to do with ram temple, were called ramsevaks. CM and BJP leaders and hindu religious leaders kept on highlighting that there were women and children amongst the dead.
Next day, against the advise of some senior-most bureaucrats, government gave permission to get dead bodies to Ahmedabad for identification. Dead bodies were brought to Ahmedabad civil hospital before day-break, some accuse, in a big procession, with pilot gypsys and vans made to look like raths. VHP and BJP called bandh for 2 days. Again, in spite of the advise by senior bureaucrats to ban this bandh, it was not banned. Generally when there are possibilities of mass trouble, political and other leaders are detained till situation starts normalising. I have not seen anything suggesting this was done in Gujarat at that time. There were announcements by senior leaders expressing grief which was ok, but the death of women and children was highlighted time and again till the election campaign in December, 2002. It was called an attack on hinduism and consequently an attack on the nation. Questions were asked to the citizens whether they will be mute spectators to attacks by muslims. It was told that the time has come to discard Mahatma’s philosophy. All these created a spark to the already overheated fuel. And the carnage started before noon that day! It continued next day, and next day and went on. At places muslims defended, at places counterattacked. There were some muslims who saw this as opportunity in adversity. This went on for three months.
All the time later BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders kept on shouting how 59 ramsevaks were mercilessly burnt alive , women and little children among them, how these muslims hatched this inhuman conspiracy, how these demons were against our religion, our nation, how these devils need to be taught a lesson. And then they would entice the crowd to respond yes or no. They would ask if you want to be impotent when your women were raped and burnt. When it was found out that ramsevaks in the train had had fights in every station, had misbehaved with women on platforms and also inside the train, instead of checking whether that could be related to the subsequent incidence, leaders shouted “for 2 rupee cup of tea they burnt our women and children”. During and after the carnage these leaders proudly proclaimed how they had given up Mahatma and followed a true path.
When the state government was severely criticised internationally for the massacres that happened under its rule and was accused of conniving with the culprits, and CM Modi was called ‘Maut ka Suadagar’ , he came out with Gujarat Gaurav Yatra. He toured all over Gujarat and held rallies enticing and asking people to shout against burning of women and children, to stand up against terrorists, to stand up behind those who gave justice, to be a nationalist and stand behind patriots of Gujarat and so on. And it bore tremendous fruits - from loosing by-elections in late 2001 and early 2002, to two-third majority in December 2002! Politicians accused of coordinating and directing the frenzied crowd won with thumping majority. BJP’s electoral wins were more fantastic in places where riots were worse. Party and leaders claimed being absolved of any blame for the riots. If there was any indication that government had helped in riots, then it would be taken to its credit. RSS man, a real hindu patriot, was king of Gujarat now. Years of hard work and planning had paid off. VHP and friends claimed to have earned the right to pronounce themselves to be sole representative of rising true hindus, that they say should be treated as voice of all hindus. It wasn't only about Gujarat. Eyes turned to Delhi and vision all over India.
Some say, Gujarat riots happened because Godhra happened. If Godhra had not happened? … This question by itself is an utopia. After years of planning, getting quick response teams ready, inflaming emotions , creating hysteria you just can’t remain a mute spectator to things not happening. Had it been not been Godhra it might have been some other place, if not train it might have been temple, if not people getting burnt it might have been idols getting destroyed. Something had to happen, hindu pride had to get its due respect.
Whatever has happened or not allowed to happened, can not be changed. Then CM of Gujarat has now been elected PM of the nation. Ruling party is same. But people of the nation seem have learnt a big lesson. If election results in past months are to go by, if reactions to speeches and actions of religious extremism are to go by, people of the nation are not willing to get brainwashed into violence. There are people who are trying to create violence and there are people, even from religions’ fraternity, who are standing up against it. That may be a big long term positive for the nation !
- Judgement of the Court of The Sessions Judge, Godhra - Sessions Case No. 69/2009, 86/2009, 204/2009.
- Books ‘Gujarat Files’ and ‘Scarred: Experiences of Violence in Gujarat’
- Documentaries ‘Raam Ke Naam’, and ‘Final Solution’
- Wikipedia and other internet pages
- My own interpretations of what could happen and could not happen and so on to what would have happened.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
मै अौर मेरा अईना
अक्सर ये बाते करते है
मै ये होती तो कैसी दिखती
मै वो होती तो कैसी दिखती
अाज अाखिर मैने उसे पूछा
तुम वो होते तो कैसी दिखती ?
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Labels: Social Issues
ज्ञानाची अास ही अश्वत्थाम्याच्या भळभळणा-या जखमेसारखी अाहे - संतत, निरंतर. अनंतमितीय भूमितीय अाकारासारखी. एक बिंदू, अाणखी एक बिंदू, अाणखी अाणखी एक बिंदू, बिंदूपुढे बिंदू, बिंदूशेजारी बिंदू, बिंदूभोवती बिंदू, बिंदूत बिंदू, बिंदूतल्या बिंदूत बिंदू. ना रुंदी, ना लांबी, ना जाडी, ना अाकार, केवळ पसार. अनंताकडे, शून्याकडे. शून्यातून अनंताकडे, अनंतापार शून्याकडे. अनंत अावर्तने, अनंत दिशांनी.
शून्याच्या गर्भात अाणि अनंताच्या देहापार. पंचमहाभूतांचे उश्वास अाणि पंचेंद्रियांचे श्वास. अनादी नादावर स्वार होऊन प्रकाशाहून वेगाने, केवळ प्रवास.
Labels: Prose Marathi