16 years after the Gujarat Genocide

16 years after the gruesome State organized communal genocide in Gujarat, the guilty remain unpunished. Those in charge of the state administration, in command positions, including the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, continue to occupy the highest offices.

On 27th February 2002, 59 kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya were burned alive in a train at Godhra railway station. In the days that followed the entire state of Gujarat was held to ransom by armed mobs that went around with petrol bombs, looting and burning houses and shops, murdering men and young boys, raping women and young girls. The police just stood by and watched, refusing to heed the cries of the victims – they were simply following orders that they should allow the criminal mobs to loot, rape and murder.

The then Chief Minister claimed that his government’s inability to prevent the brutal violence was due to an “intelligence failure” – this was blatantly false. The Gujarat government organized for the bodies of the kar sevaks killed at Godhra to be paraded by road all the way to Ahmedabad and openly called for revenge, justifying an “opposite reaction” to the killing of the kar sevaks. The rulers developed further on what happened in 1984 wherein khoon ka badla khoon was the slogan given to justify slaughter of Sikhs. Blaming the killing of PM Mrs Gandhi on Sikhs, Rajiv Gandhi justified the killing of innocent Sikhs saying “when a big tree falls, the earth shakes”.

Without establishing how the train got burnt the local Muslims were blamed. The death of kar sevaks was condemnable, no matter who did it. How could an entire community be blamed for it? It was the State’s responsibility to protect those travelling in the train. It was the State’s responsibility to protect the lives of those who were massacred in the genocide that followed. Far from fulfilling its responsibility the State actually supervised the genocide.

Preparatory work for the communal genocide had begun at least two months earlier, with the identification of names and addresses of Muslims in Ahmedabad and other cities based on voter lists, collection of petrol and weapons for distribution. Facts that came to light later, despite all attempts to silence evidence, clearly showed that the genocide of the people of Gujarat took place with the active organisation and connivance of the state government. Various commissions of enquiry and Special Investigation Teams (SITs) were constituted and submitted their “reports” over the next 14 years. But they gave a clean chit to those who masterminded the genocide.

All of this goes to show that there is no scope for establishing the truth about such an event, because the various governments at the centre and in the states ensure that the real conspirators behind such violence are not revealed. It is in the interest of the ruling class to appoint various commissions of inquiry and SITs and to make sure that the people never get to know the truth. Finally, there is a big mismatch between the people’s experience and the judgments of the courts.

This is the same pattern that has been seen in countless instances of communal violence that have taken place, whether it was the genocide of Sikhs in 1984, or the 1993 Mumbai and Gujarat massacres or the 2013 Muzzafarnagar killings and the most recent incident of communal violence in Kasganj, UP on 26th January. Each event of communal violence clearly shows that it is organized. Communal propaganda against this or that religious group is carried out in a systematic manner, and then on the pretext of one event which is organized, violence is unleashed against the masses of innocent people. Those at the highest levels who are guilty of organising such criminal violence against the people are never punished.

The BJP which was in power in Gujarat had systematically used the State machinery to target people of the Muslim faith in the decade that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The Congress Party which came to power at the Centre in 2004, its own hands bloodied by the 1984 genocide, did not do anything to deliver justice to the people of Gujarat. Both parties collude with each other to keep the people divided so that the bourgeoisie can carry on its anti-people rule. Both BJP and Congress use communalism and communal violence to keep the people divided and enslaved to the existing system. One does it openly and aggressively while the other does it deceptively, under the garb of ‘secularism’.

One of the important lessons to be drawn from Indian people’s experience is that the source of communalism and communal violence does not lie in any section of the people and their religious beliefs. The repeated occurrence of State organized communal violence and the fact that the guilty are never punished exposes the lie repeated by our rulers that the Indian Constitution is based on a “secular foundation”, that the problem lies with the certain parties and individual leaders. The Constitution is based on the communal outlook of considering the Indian polity as being made up of a “Hindu majority” and numerous religious minorities. It defends the existing political system in which those in power can organise communal violence and go unpunished. The source is the communal and divisive nature of the State and the exploitative and anti-social nature of the class in power. The State includes the executive power controlled by one or another party or coalition, the legislative bodies, the judiciary and all the coercive organs of enforcing law and order. The big bourgeoisie controls the State and wields it to divide and rule over the toiling majority of people.

The ruling class is so criminal that it even wants to divide the opposition to state terrorism and state organized communal violence on communal lines. People must not fall for this. The answer is to build the revolutionary unity of all those who want to end the colonial legacy of divide and rule.  We must continue to step up the demand that the guilty, especially those in positions of power and responsibility, be punished. We must take our struggle forward with the aim of establishing a new State and political process, which will ensure that sovereignty is vested in the people. The only way to end communal violence is to fight for the punishment of the guilty with the vision of replacing this communal state of the bourgeoisie by a state that will fulfill its duty of securing the lives of its people.


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