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Remembering the Gujarat massacre: 13 years on

An estimated total of 1,000 people lost their lives due to incessant killing and violence, mostly Muslims among them. More than 360 Muslim places of worship were desecrated and destroyed. 20,000 Muslim houses were destroyed in the frenzy which began as a violent reaction and advanced into a murder, rape, loot and plunder spree.

Till this day the Modi government (then CM of Gujarat) has been accused of being in cohorts with the violent Hindu riots and deliberately slowing or refraining to reprimand the protesting extremists.

The town of Godhra was the center of violence and madness when on February 27, 2002 a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was torched and all occupants were burned alive. The casualties numbered 59 slain Hindu priests who were journeying from Ayodha and were returning to Gujarat. The population of Ayodha was 40 percent Muslim and it was a town that was nefarious for religious violence. Apparently the train was stopped in Godhra and a scuffle broke out between the Muslims and the Hindu pilgrims who were aboard the train. Within fifteen months of the fight that broke out in Godhra, coach S-6 was burnt alive. This act of burning and rampaging houses continued towards the western side of Gujarat.

As is the practice in sub-continent for provoking emotions and encouraging outbursts, the bodies of coach S-6 were openly displayed in Ahmedabad. Close aides and confidants Chief Minister Modi called for a widespread strike which has, to this day, been accused of stoking anti-Muslim sentiment. The following day, thousands of angry Hindus take to the streets of Gujarat and commit violent acts against the Muslim community. Hundreds of men were killed, children were butchered and women were raped, before being skewered. The violence stretched to roughly two months and dented the secular image that the Indian nation projected so proudly.

Violence struck the worst at two locations, Naroda Patiya where 90 Muslims were killed and in Gulberg society, a Muslim housing complex. Muslims were forced to take refuge from their impending doom in the house of Ehsan Jafri, a prominent ex member of Parliament. Mr.Jafri made important calls to influential people to mediate and stop the madness but to no avail. Scores of Muslims were butchered; hacked into pieces, Mr.Jafri among them.

Almost two months later, the riots ceased and an inquiry was initiated. A 2005 Indian government inquiry found that the train fire which instigated the Gujarat riots, were not caused by Muslims but an unfortunate accident. The repercussions of the attack were sever and tragic. Modi was banned from visiting the United States of America on account of his complacency and alleged complicity in the event.

This day should be spend mourning the victims of the ghastly attack that not only killed and mutilated scores form a religious community, it also heightened tensions and encouraged cynicism to remain among the Muslims and Hindus of India.



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