The State gives and the State taketh away
October 30, 2007 9:19 AM   Subscribe

The Guajurati State Government has been directly implicated in a massacre of over 2,000 moslems during riots in 2002. There has been surprisingly little coverage by world news media. via pickledpolitics a British based SE Asian current affairs / political blog.
posted by adamvasco (18 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
And, just to get this out of the way:

Is it correct to write Muslim or Moslem? Muslim is preferred. People refer to themselves as Muslims. Many regard Moslem as a term of abuse, like people of African descent dislike being called negroes. Also avoid Mohammedan and Musselman. pdf
posted by found missing at 9:26 AM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

*that was a quote, and I should have indicated it as such*
posted by found missing at 9:28 AM on October 30, 2007

And it's "Gujarati".
posted by madman at 10:03 AM on October 30, 2007

"British-based" would probably be the preferred form. Use the hyphen to turn two words into a single adjective.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:10 AM on October 30, 2007

posted by mr_roboto at 10:10 AM on October 30, 2007

Thanks for posting this. It's been clear that there was state complicity, but this makes the picture much clearer.

Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat, equivalent to a US state governor.

Transcript of Dhimant Bhatt, chief auditor of MS University: After Godhra, there was this reaction and a certain climate was created in the Parivar by the top leaders, meaning the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, the BJP and the Durga Vahini… and in that we had Narendra Modi’s support… Let people say what they like, [we had] support in the sense that if Hindus are going to be burnt like this… if conspiracies are going to be hatched to burn Hindus… they wanted to burn the whole train [the Sabarmati Express]… and now if we don’t do anything, if we don’t generate an adequate reaction, another train will be set on fire…. This was the idea, the thought that came from him [Modi]… I was present in the meeting…

Human Rights Watch released a report back in April 2002 stating that "state officials of Gujarat, India were directly involved in the killings of hundreds of Muslims since February 27 and are now engineering a massive cover-up of the state's role in the violence".
Between February 28 and March 2 the attackers descended with militia-like precision on Ahmedabad by the thousands, arriving in trucks and clad in saffron scarves and khaki shorts, the signature uniform of Hindu nationalist—Hindutva—groups. Chanting slogans of incitement to kill, they came armed with swords, trishuls (three-pronged spears associated with Hindu mythology), sophisticated explosives, and gas cylinders. They were guided by computer printouts listing the addresses of Muslim families and their properties, information [they] obtained from the Ahmedabad municipal corporation among other sources, and embarked on a murderous rampage confident that the police [were] with them. In many cases, the police led the charge, using gunfire to kill Muslims who got in the mobs' way. A key BJP state minister is reported to have taken over police control rooms in Ahmedabad on the first day of the carnage, issuing orders to disregard pleas for assistance from Muslims. Portions of the Gujarati- language press meanwhile printed fabricated stories and statements openly calling on Hindus to avenge the Godhra attacks.
Pankaj Mishra, June 2007, reviewing Martha Nussbaum's The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future:
The starkest evidence of Hindu extremism came in late February and March 2002 in the prosperous western Indian state of Gujarat. In a region internationally famous for its business communities, Hindu mobs lynched over two thousand Muslims and left more than two hundred thousand homeless. The violence was ostensibly in retaliation for an alleged Muslim attack on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims in which a car was set on fire, killing fifty-eight people. Nussbaum, who is engaged in a passionate attempt to end "American ignorance of India's history and current situation," makes the "genocidal violence" against Muslims in Gujarat the "focal point" of her troubled reflections on democracy in India. She points to forensic evidence which indicates that the fire in the train was most likely caused by a kerosene cooking stove carried by one of the Hindu pilgrims. In any case, as Nussbaum points out, there is "copious evidence that the violent retaliation was planned by Hindu extremist organizations before the precipitating event."

Low-caste Dalits joined affluent upper-caste Hindus in killing Muslims, who in Gujarat as well as in the rest of India tend to be poor. "Approximately half of the victims," Nussbaum writes, "were women, many of whom were raped and tortured before being killed and burned. Children were killed with their parents; fetuses were ripped from the bellies of pregnant women to be tossed into the fire."

Gujarat's pro-business chief minister, Narendra Modi, an important leader of the BJP, rationalized and even encouraged the murders. The police were explicitly ordered not to stop the violence. The prime minister of India at the time, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, seemed to condone the killings when he declared that "wherever Muslims are, they don't want to live in peace." In public statements Hindu nationalists tried to make their campaign against Muslims seem part of the US-led war on terror, and, as Nussbaum writes, "the current world atmosphere, and especially the indiscriminate use of the terrorism card by the United States, have made it easier for them to use this ploy."

A widespread fear and distrust of Muslims among Gujarat's middle-class Hindus helped the BJP win the state elections held in December 2002 by a landslide. Tens of thousands of Muslims displaced by the riots still live in conditions of extreme squalor in refugee camps. Meanwhile, the Hindu extremists involved in the killings of Muslims move freely. Though denied a visa to the US by the State Department, Narendra Modi continues to be courted by India's biggest businessmen, who are attracted by the low taxes, high profits, and flexible labor laws offered by Gujarat.
posted by russilwvong at 10:19 AM on October 30, 2007 [3 favorites]

Arundhati Roy wrote about the Gujarat riots in "Democracy"; an excerpt was published as a column here.

Riot isn't even the right word for what happened, as it suggests spontaneity and lack of direction. This was a pogrom.

The leaders of the mob had computer-generated cadastral lists marking out Muslim homes, shops, businesses and even partnerships. They had mobile phones to coordinate the action. They had trucks loaded with thousands of gas cylinders, hoarded weeks in advance, which they used to blow up Muslim commercial establishments.

I was disturbed that this didn't even make the news in the US. Granted, India doesn't take up much of our media consciousness beyond "outsourcing, oh no!"...but the massacre of a religious minority group, with state support (which must have been obvious in 2002; the news here is just confirmation)?

Maybe reporting on a few more dead Muslims just didn't play well during the post-9/11 hysteria.
posted by a young man in spats at 10:24 AM on October 30, 2007

Thanks for sharing this, I might never have seen it without this post. It's astonishing what little attention these events have gotten in the West, and it's hard for me not to blame it on the fact that they don't fit our usual pattern of coverage of Muslims.

Apparently the Gujarati state government has also blocked TV coverage of the aforementioned events.
posted by bijou at 11:14 AM on October 30, 2007

Martha Nussbaum: Why women were mutilated in Gujarat
posted by homunculus at 11:41 AM on October 30, 2007

One reason this hasn't gotten much coverage in the US are well-organized cells of BJP supportersin America that try to silence or discredit any speaker that brings up these issues. The organization of radical far-right Hindu students overseas is stunning and is part and parcel of this problem.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:16 PM on October 30, 2007

The US Connection. - right - hand column.
posted by adamvasco at 1:45 PM on October 30, 2007

Hindus jailed over Gujarat riots
posted by Artw at 1:58 PM on October 30, 2007

A friend of ours made a movie about a similar event in 1984. Her name is Shonali Bose and the film is called "Amu". Here's an interview. It's a great film!
posted by filchyboy at 10:16 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mod note: few comments removed -- if your feeling is "why is this post here, it sucks" take it to metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:40 AM on October 31, 2007

Gujarat in flames: a photo essay
posted by hadjiboy at 7:52 AM on October 31, 2007

thanks for making this post adamvasco
posted by hadjiboy at 7:53 AM on October 31, 2007

Thanks for adding depth to this russilwvong and hadjiboy.
I think allen.spaulding brings up an interesting point re US coverage of this. Who are these BJP lobbyists in washington?
I can't figure why British news outlets are so slow on the uptake, especially as UK has a large minority from the Indian sub continent and this exposal by Tehelka is all over the Indian Press.
posted by adamvasco at 9:15 AM on October 31, 2007

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