India: Rioted – RIOTS IN INDIA

Posted on October 31, 2008 in Society

-Anshul Tewari

A few weeks back I was reading the Hindustan Times when I stumbled upon an article on the Godhra Massacre. Not that I didn’t know about the issue earlier, it is just my curiosity which makes me read such articles again and again. After a few hours when I logged on to Youth Ki Awaaz I started my research on the Gujarat riots, of which the Godhra Massacre was a part. I read quite a few facts and thus would like to confess that my awareness about the issue was not too good. In fact, it was bad. So I read a few articles here and there and stumbled upon a few facts which outraged my sentiments. These communal riots in the year 2001-2002 between the Hindu and the Muslim community were an aftermath of the burning of the Godhra train. In September this year, the Godhra commission confirmed that the train was attacked by a Muslim mob. The reports also claim that one Hasan Lalu had thrown burning objects into the train and around 140lts of petrol had been used to put the train on fire. An overwhelming majority of Muslims fled their homes for relief camps.

An incident which gave me a fix was that of an Ex-Congress Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri, who was surrounded by Hindu mobs, while many other Muslim residents in the area took shelter in his compound, was believed to have contacted the local police stations, Members of Parliament of the area as well as the Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi to save the people from the ever increasing mob. However, no help arrived to control the violent mob. Eventually he was burnt to death along with 50 others. Official estimates say that around 1044 persons were killed in the riots out of which 790 were Muslims and 254 were Hindus. 223 people went missing and 2548 injured; 919 women were widowed and 606 children orphaned. While unofficial estimates say that over 2000 persons were killed with the majority being Muslims, many women were sexually assaulted by violent mobs.One of the witnesses alleged before the Nanavati Commision that BJP leader Maya Kodmani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and others led the mobs on February 28th, that year.

Reading about this incident increased my curiosity and I started my research on the most famous riots in India and the following was what I came across:

Ramnad Riots, 1957: These were politically motivated violent clashes between Dalits and Thevars which occurred between July and September 1957 in the Ramnad district in southern Tamil Nadu. These were an aftermath of the murder of Emmanuel Sakaran, leader of the Dalit/Congress delegation. He was just 33 and a father of 4.
The result of this was the death of 5 Dalits and 3 Thevars on September 13th, police firings on September 14th led to the death of 5 Thevars; clashes between the 2 communities caused death of 60 Dalits. Such incidents continued till September21st, after which no incident was reported(officially).
On September 28th 1957, U Muthuralingam Thevar, the CRC state conference event speaker was arrested just after his speech with charges regarding the riots.
1984, Anti Sikh riots: These occurred after the assassination of Indira Gandhi on 31st October 1984 by her 2 Sikh guard, acting in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar, in which the Indian Army attacked Sikh militants hiding in Harimandir Sahib. This caused damage and outrage among Sikhs.
This led to Congress activists and sympathizers killing Sikhs in retaliation for the next 4 days. On November 2nd, Delhi was under curfew but only on papers. The National Army and the local Police units worked together to subdue this violence.
The aftermath of this was the murder of Lalit Maken and Arjan Das, both Congress leaders, by the members of Khalistan Commando Force.

1992-93, Bombay riots: These riots were a result of the communal tension in the city afer the Babri Masjid demolition on 6th December 1992. The riots took place in 2 phases, 1st being a Muslim backlash in the week immediately succeeding 6th December 1992 by Hindu hardline elements in the city of Ayodhya, and the 2nd being a Hindu backlash between 6th and 20th January 1993, as a result of killings of Hindu Mathadikanjar (workers) by Muslims in Dongri( South Mumbai). 900 people were killed and 200000 (mostly Muslims) reportedly fled their homes. This incident was followed by Bomaby Bombings on 12th March 1993 allegedly orchestrated by Gangloard Dawood Ibrahim and his D-company in which 250 people died.

Youth Ki Awaaz: These are just a few of the incidents. India has faced many such riots such as the Aligarh riots in 2006, the Kandhamal riots in 2008(read here) and also the regional riots in Mumbai by MNS workers again in 2008(read here and here).

After reading about all these incidents I can say that riots have become a way of life in India. Politicians are using it as a tool of their Political Jargon and are manipulating the mob mentality. The people are getting influenced by such incidents and are gaining courage to redo such mishaps.

Indians, being democratic citizens must condemn such acts. We should put our Nationality before our community or religion or caste. Shouldn’t we? We are from the same land, the land which must breed social, communal and regional harmony. But then why doesn’t it? Are we puppets being directed by Anti-social and Anti-national elements? Or are we just too crippled to change our mindset?

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