Wednesday, March 7, 2012

VHP rally, Sufi songs to mark 10 years of Godhra carnage

Rathin Das | Ahmedabad

Unveiling a statue of a slain kar sewak in his native village, a rally by the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), prayer meetings in memory of departed souls and cultural programmes like Sufi sangeet and photo shows by the NGOs would mark the tenth anniversary of the gruesome Godhra train massacre that had sparked off the worst ever communal riots in Gujarat in 2002.
Provoked by a dispute between some kar sewaks travelling back from Ayodhya and vendors on the platform at Godhra station, a mob of minorities residing in nearby Signal Falia had torched the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express, killing 58 passengers on the spot. One badly charred kar sewak succumbed to the burns after a month.
More than a thousand people were killed in the riots that followed in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Anand and other places while properties of minorities were destroyed by the scores.
Though many survivors of the train carnage or the next of kin of the dead have since moved on in their lives, survivors of the post-Godhra riots maintain that nothing has changed in their lives in the last ten years.
But, even as the survivors are keen to move on provided they are compensated adequately, a series of legal battles over fixing responsibilities for the riots have delayed the final closure of the sordid past.
“Hindu consciousness has increased in the ten years since the riots,” said an activist of a Sangh Parivar outfit. Intellectual debate and awareness among the Hindu allied organisations have increased since the riots, he told The Pioneer on condition of anonymity.
Surprisingly, a similar feeling is expressed even in the community perceived to be victims of what many have called a “social mishap” in 2002. “The 2002 riots have made many Muslims realise the importance of education in the community’s upliftment,” Mohammad Shafi Madhni of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Gujarat chapter) told The Pioneer.
Conceding that the 2002 events have increased the polarisation of the communities and ghettoisation of the Muslims in few areas, Madhni said that Muslims have nevertheless realised that education, bonhomie and confidence building measures are the only way to move forward in life.
But, several activists and civil rights organisations disagree and insist there cannot be harmony or ‘forget and forgive’ attitude until there is justice for the victims and survivors of the carnage and culprits are punished. While most survivors of the Godhra train carnage have restarted their lives long back, many of the survivors of the post-Godhra riots have not yet been properly rehabilitated.
Riots-affected people have not yet been rehabilitated, lamented Madhni of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
Lack of rehabilitation of the 2002 survivors and not booking of many culprits are some of the aspects being highlighted by the civil society during their commemoration programmes which include poetry recital, plays, photo shows and Sufi songs.
VHP would take out a rally in Godhra railway yard where the burnt S-6 coach is quarantined since 2002. In Vadali village of Sabarkantha district, a statue of Lakhubhai Patel, a kar sewak killed in the Godhra carnage, would be unveiled as many other survivors would yearn to forget the sordid past.