India Uncut

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Godhra, and the Gujarat Riots of 2002

Every time I mention the Gujarat Riots of 2002, as I did here, I get a handful of emails from people who ask, "Why aren't you writing about Godhra?" Indeed, this is quite the trend in any online discussion where Gujarat is mentioned: "What about Godhra? Why don't you talk about the people who did that?" Well, at the risk of stating what might seem obvious to some, let me try and answer that question.

What happened in Godhra was monstrous. A terrible crime was committed. The perpetrators, as far as I know, were apprehended. I haven't heard of anybody who defends what was done there. No one tries to justify it.

What happened in Gujarat was also monstrous, and on a much larger scale. The difference is that the perpetrators walk free, and smug. Plenty of people defend what happened there, and justify it on the grounds that it was a reaction to Godhra. Hundreds, if not thousands of people were killed, women were raped, lives uprooted. And Narendra Modi, whose government was at best indifferent to and at worst complicit in the riots, was voted back resoundingly at the next assembly elections.

So you see, it is not merely the crimes in question I am reacting to, but what happened afterwards. In one case, the guilty walk free. Indeed, you might even say that their actions get applauded by some. That shocks me, and upsets me, and that is why I write about Gujarat, and not Godhra. It's not an issue of religion here, but of criminal justice.

Update: My thanks to Sidharth for pointing out the worst typo ever in the headline and first line of this post, which has now been corrected. I really musn't blog when sleep-deprived!
amit varma, 4:47 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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