India : the Godhra carnage

Muslim girl in a koranic school. Gujarat, India.

Gujarat is a state in western India, once famous for its cotton fields and its salines. Gujarat is also the native land of Mahatma Gandhi. Like him, Gujarati are an audacious and traditional minded people. But despite being devot hindus, these efficient businessmen and merchants are not afraid of leaving their country to start businesses anywhere in the world : in U.K., in the U.S.A., in Africa,… They love India, they love the Indian culture and may be that’s one of the reason why Gujarat, through its history, has seen religious pogroms, communalists violences between the hindus and the muslim minority.

The last one occured in 2002,… in february, when 58 hindu pilgrims and activists were burnt alive in a wagon near the Godhra railway station. The arson was premeditated by a mob of islamists ( including local politicians). The carnage provoked communal hindu-muslim riots in the state, the worsts ones since the Independence, and the death of about 800 muslims and 250 hindus ( besides 200 missing) according to official estimations. Something like 5000 ( mostly muslims) according to unofficial estimates ! Many muslim shops and houses have been plundered and burnt, many muslim women raped,… A national shame for most Indians. Moreover, the state government led by Narendra Modi, an hindu nationalist still in power, is accused because of its laissez-faire policy in favour of the hindu rioters. Police forces didn’t react to prevent the attacks against muslims and their properties. They took place and watched the events without interfering. And state ministers themselves made detailed plans to use petrol for arson and other methods of killings. Hindu nationalists killed muslims by pouring petrol on them, then throwing matches. So they burnt on the spot. Rioters were organized : they had the list of the victims ( extracted from the electoral registers) and moved in trucks, forming armed militias.

Violences lasted for months. In mid-april 2002, 150.000 people had moved to more than 200 relief camps. Later, compensations have been paid by the state government but the amount was different depending on the religion.

Since then, Narendra Modi has been re-elected in Gujarat. Locally, he is not considered as the responsible of the biggest pogrom India has ever seen, but as a dynamic, a market-oriented politician who does a lot to develop its states. An hero for the hindus who feel frightened by the islamists…and who want to run their businesses peacefully.


About travelerreport

My blog is all about travelling and photography
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