Lessons from the riots in Gujarat

Published: February 26, 2012

The writer is a director with Hill Road Media and a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar aakar.patel@tribune.com.pk

Tomorrow, February 27, is the tenth anniversary of the violence in Gujarat. In March of 2002, the Editors Guild of India sent a three-man team to investigate the role of the media in the riots. The team comprised of BG Verghese, Dileep Padgaonkar and myself.

We filed a report whose finding was that much of the local (Gujarati language) media was prejudiced against Muslims. It played not an insignificant role in keeping the violence going. The tone that newspapers should have adopted during a period of violence was found rarely, and sometimes there was also incitement. All this was fine with its readership, and these papers have since thrived.

Two aspects to the violence in Gujarat have stayed with me.

The first was the understanding that a riot happens in India when the state steps aside. This happens willfully, because the administration sees benefit in allowing the violence to continue. The reason for this is that often the political party in power during a riot is rewarded with a return to power if elections are around the corner. The former bureaucrat Harsh Mander said that the British had left us a system of neighbourhood policing through which law and order could be imposed within 48 hours. That this had not happened in two of Gujarat’s cities, Ahmedabad and Baroda, indicated that the state was complicit.

The second reason for the state to step aside is when its constituent elements, by which is meant the police force, the administrators, the district magistrates and the judiciary, are part of the same civil society that is violent. They take sides in the violence without instruction from above. There is reason to believe that the latter happened in Gujarat in 2002. We can speculate this because the Supreme Court moved some riot cases out of Gujarat and to the Bombay High Court. There is reason to believe that the deliberate withholding of the state’s ability to stop violence happened also, but to me that is the less disturbing element. Once the administration signals its passiveness, normalcy leaves the neighbourhoods and the killing begins.

The second aspect was the participation of civil society in the violence. The state could have prevented the rioters, true. But why were Gujaratis killing Gujaratis in the first place? This difficult question must be confronted. This role of civil society and media in the violence is the single most important fact of this and all other Indian riots.

The reason given here was provocation. That is to say, if the train had not been set alight in Godhra by Muslims, the killing across the state would not have happened. This justifies collective punishment and civic violence. If one is unable to accept this reasoning, then it is difficult to move on from the savagery.

I was struck by a couplet in a poem Bollywood lyricist Gulzar wrote on the riots: “Sar nahin katey they, topiyan kati thi ke jin mein sar they” (They didn’t cut off heads, they merely cut off caps in which heads were present).

Ten years after the riots, we in India soothe ourselves with the thought that the violence has not recurred. But whether the state and its constituents will behave differently next time, and whether the population will be less wrathful are questions that lurk, and will not go away easily.

There was one aspect to the events in Gujarat that was not immediately obvious.

This was the first communal riot where the violence was shown live on television, over an entire week. This made the event transformational. More people (2,700) were killed during the riots in Delhi in 1984 after Indira Gandhi’s murder and more again (over 2,000) in 1992-93, after the demolition of the Babri mosque. In Gujarat 790 Muslims and 253 Hindus were killed, and about 250 more are missing, presumed dead. Despite the smaller number, the impact of the Gujarat riots was deeper than the previous two because of television. The violence was shown in a vivid manner, and the bestiality was remembered. It has produced a fiercely secular national media in India that has pushed Hindutva back in the last decade.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2012.

Reader Comments (46)

  • qwerty
    Feb 26, 2012 - 12:56AM

    The madness that engulfed Gujarat in 2002 was perhaps a spontaneous violent eruption of outrage which had been simmering in that land since probably the first time the Somnath Temple was demolished(it was rebuilt 17 times).There’s a limit to humiliations that a community can tolerate.The people who burnt that train carrying women and children played right into the hands of the hindutva forces.Let’s hope the communal violence bill is passed to prevent such incidents from repeating.

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  • ex Gujju
    Feb 26, 2012 - 12:56AM

    Dear Aakar, at least you article would inform Pakistani readers, who are always claiming that 2000+ Muslims died in riots of 2002 that actual no. was 790. Also aren’t Ahmadabad and Baroda called Amdavad and Vadodara now?

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  • Aam Aadmi
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:11AM

    What’s the point of writing this peace in a newspaper of Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

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  • Khurram
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:12AM

    Mr. Patel, we also need more people like you in Pakistan who have the courage to speak the truth and tell the public as it is, not what the the authorities want us to hear while concealing the whole truth.

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  • gp65
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:49AM

    Aakar, you say “But whether the state and its constituents will behave differently next time, and whether the population will be less wrathful are questions that lurk, and will not go away easily.”

    I think the question was answered unambiguously 8 months after the Gujarat riots. 59 people were killed in Akshardham temple in Gujarat later in 2002. The state acted swiftly and there was NO retaliation.

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  • G. Din
    Feb 26, 2012 - 2:38AM

    @ex Gujju:
    If “only” 790 Muslims died in those riots, you can bet many more will die the next time. Such incidents follow a certain logical progression. One need not squirm and be apologetic about it. The problem is not how many died but the mindset that provides the provocation for those killings in the first place. What Godhra demonstrated was that Hindus will not take it on the chin any more and that there will be an inevitable retaliation and the punishment shall be wholly disproportionate to the provocation provided for very good reasons.

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  • John B
    Feb 26, 2012 - 2:41AM

    Communal riots always have an underlying current and theme and it takes two to tango.

    The last communal riots post Rodney King acquittal in the US, the last one in Detroit some time back and the recent one in UK all had different flavors but sparked with the same current of superiority Vs persecution. Who is persecuted victim depends on whom you ask. China claims Buddhists monks are initiating communal riots in Tibet.

    I disagree with the author that states play a role in initiating communal riots. Often, the states enter communal riots later in law and order and the state machinery is always blamed by both sides once the dust settles down.

    Contrary to the authors view the media never change the society’s attitude. It is the self awakening of society’s sensibility in response to the events that changes the future course of events. If media had such an influence on creating secular sensibilities, one would not expect a present carnage in Kabul following the Quran burning, because Kabul just had one last year following Terry Jones episode. Conversely, one should expect similar riots in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, India or in US. The media never brought the changes but the society did, always.

    The Indian media should ask the fair and honest question. Why there is communal tension between these two religions, while none between Muslims and others(at least in recent past) or between Hindus and others, and why such riots happen in pockets of India and not in other places. If any, one should have expected old Delhi and New Delhi or Hyderabad to go up in flames in Ayodya fiasco or Gujarat riots, but that did not happen. Why?

    Is it fair to brand them all in two polarized groups or will appeasing the victim of one riot help in alleviating the problem in the future?

    Neither the Hindu nor the Muslim culprits of Gujarat riots are saints. As said earlier, it takes two to tango. If only Hindus are that bad, then in Pakistan we should be expecting peace and tranquility and carnage in India.

    It has become a fashion to be politically correct in todays world to blame others whenever the “Muslims” are victimized. The truth of the matter is there are two separate groups of people call themselves as Muslims. Read the accompanying column ” Why Muslims kill Muslims “. Interestingly, Muslims identify these two groups easily, whereas others don’t know how to distinguish them, and become victim of self persecution in doing the right thing.

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  • Feb 26, 2012 - 2:43AM

    @ ex Gujju Does it matter that much whether it was 790 or 2000? Anyway this figure of 2000 is the un-official figure ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1977246.stm ) Un-official reports (including one by the British High Commission, and one by the Human Rights Watch, and acc to Indian peace activist and journalist Cedric Prakash) put death toll around 2000 with the major chunk being the Muslims. (see Wikipedia’s page on Gujarat Riots).

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  • Feb 26, 2012 - 3:02AM

    20000 Muslims were killed while none of the hindus were touched .. that is a fact.

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  • Indian
    Feb 26, 2012 - 3:54AM

    These 3 big riots in the last 3 decades still haunts secular India very hard.In fact many people question it’s secular credentials just on the basis of it. Thanks to the media that it has kept it alive .
    Almost all the news channels are showing documentaries on guj riot on tv in the last 2-3 days. perhaps it’s a good thing to do. It is reminding people of grave long term consequences. secularism does not mean that there won’t be any conflict. but it means that state will not discriminate on the basis of religion. Certainly after 2002 we have been successful in avoiding any major conflict except one or two abe-rrations. For such a highly diverse society it’s a good achievement.

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  • vasan
    Feb 26, 2012 - 6:19AM

    Zaid Hamid : That must have been during the WOT in pakistan.
    I am glad this author highlights the hindus killed also.

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  • Phajja
    Feb 26, 2012 - 7:08AM

    Standing with the Oppressed is standing with truth and Justice. Those who stood with the Truth and Justice , they never die. They are kept alive in the history & they are loved across the nations of the world regardless of their own Religion, cast or creed. This is how the magic with siding with oppressed works. Keep Standing with the unfortunates Mr. Aakar. Honor and respect is none, but yours.

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  • Rakib
    Feb 26, 2012 - 8:09AM

    Remarkable insight by Aakar Patel & great introspection for a media-man.. Not many are aware that it was not only Muslims that suffered; tragedy of innocent Hindus was no less and numbers do not tell the whole tale. One violent death is one too many. The fault of State lies in its conduct post-riot too. Traditional Indian way is Mohalla Peace Committees comprising of Elders of both sides calling for immediate truce & going about restoring peace & order.

    Revenge followed by Reconciliation (Gujarati word for it is “Maandwal”) is the usual course of conduct among communities living in India,Gujarat in particular. Reconciliation is the healing touch with which India has survived despite the huge burden of history. The fault of men that matter in Gujarat was to prevent that natural instinct,prevent “Maandwal” & encourage polarization to ensure Hindu “vote-bank” remains committed totally to BJP the ruling party in Gujarat.

    After a decade to conduct some Sadbhavna (Good faith) meets and skipping lunch for a day as Guj-CM is doing has no meaning. There is no evidence of any sincerity. The dent on the psyche is massive and far out of proportion to the actual killings. Let not the cosmetics & propaganda make anybody oblivious to the undercurrents of resentment. However, except for the hard-liners, if the masses of Sagacious Gujaratis are coming to terms with their own recent past one wishes them well. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 26, 2012 - 8:23AM

    Why dont u guys just say straight and clear that Anti muslims BJP terrorist Modi is sole responsible for this killing and hate and secular indian Gujrathis still chose him in election what a shame guys when truth come u hide him what a clever. even america did not issued him visa even though his crime is equals to izraelis crimes against palestinean.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 26, 2012 - 8:24AM

    Why dont u guys just say straight and clear that Anti muslims BJP terrorist Modi is sole responsible for this killing and hate and secular indian Gujrathis still chose him in election what a shame guys when truth come u hide him what a clever. even america did not issued him visa even though his crime is equals to izraelis crimes against palestinean.Recommend

  • Vishal
    Feb 26, 2012 - 9:49AM

    “Every action has Opposite and equal reaction”.
    Would there been no Train burning in Godhra,There would not any riot in Gujrat.
    And This Riot got huge coverage bcose of “SICKULAR” Congress govt in Cente and “COMMUAL” BJP in State,not bcause of Television or Media as Congress is afraid of Modi and know that only he has capacity to end Nehru Dynastical rule from India.

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  • saleem
    Feb 26, 2012 - 9:52AM

    Dear Aaker Patel,

    Keep up the good work you have been very correct.
    @John B

    You do sound to be genuine American, cos your perception is neither Indian hindu or muslim nor Pakistani and therefore naive, not baised

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  • Feroz
    Feb 26, 2012 - 10:19AM

    The State cannot adopt an attitude of “see nothing do nothing”, whatever the reason for spark turning into a fire. Gujerat has moved on to become India’s most Investor friendly state, they are the most enterprising people. Gujerat is well on its way to eliminate poverty in another 5 years. Modi’s message is clear, keep your religion at home I will make conditions conducive for making money. Today every Industrialist and Businessman wants to go t his state and invest because he favours progress over Politics. Every Politician including his own party men in BJP hate him as few can match his record in development.

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  • Thinktank
    Feb 26, 2012 - 10:34AM

    Why does everybody forget ( including aakar Patel) that minority community should always act in the goodwill of majority? By burning innocent women and children alive, they lost all the goodwill. And had to face the consequences …. Passsive role of government had very little to do with the outburst…

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  • wonderer
    Feb 26, 2012 - 11:38AM

    @Zaid Hamid:

    How come you always get the “facts” wrong?????

    It was a truly tragic event in Indian history, like the demolition of Babri Masjid, and lessons from it have been learnt. What is taking time is the punishing of those responsible. The delay is shameful, but Justice will surely be done one day. The biggest suspect (all know who) is already squeamishly sweating under the collar.

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  • whoever
    Feb 26, 2012 - 11:57AM

    Whatever happened was not good for society .If train was not burnt , then this thing wouldn’t have happened .We should always find out the root cause of everything .Booming state of Gujarat is the most peaceful state of country , thanks to its trading community and gov .The Muslims who were brainwashed to fire the train couldn’t guess the consequence . Due to some handful Muslims , other innocent Hindus and Muslims suffer .Again after some days , Akshar Dham temple was attacked by Islamic terrorists .But this Islamic violence is not new to state of Gujarat, thanks to its its history of Ghanznavi .It is the people of Gujarat ,its forward looking youths,business-savvy mindset , pragmatic people like Gandhi who has made this state pride of country.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Feb 26, 2012 - 12:40PM

    @Thinktank:
    “Why does everybody forget ( including aakar Patel) that minority community should always act in the goodwill of majority? “
    Only now, I fully understand the wisdom behind the demand for a separate homeland for Muslims. Until before, I thought we had the same blood lines. Thank you Mr. Thinktank.

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  • BlackJack
    Feb 26, 2012 - 12:43PM

    @Aakar Patel:
    It is naive to believe that the post-Godhra riots were purely spontaneous with no deep-seated ill-feeling behind them – and as with typical mobs, once the shackles are broken, the animal within then runs amok. I disagree with your congratulatory note on the role of visual media (esp English) which has always been anti-Hindutva (or fiercely secular – what’s in a name?) and comes with fairly rigid points of view – they only reinforce opinions in those viewers who already think on similar lines. Visibility of the carnage during those few days is not the factor that keeps Gujarat in the spotlight (relatively), but the last 6-7 years of relentless Modi bashing by the establishment to remove a (possible) contender (while I agree that he probably turned a Nelson’s eye to the violence). It is also simplistic to say that riots are successful only with state connivance – in that case the Govts in Maharashtra and AP (Congress) were also hand-in-glove with the rioters after the Babri Masjid demolition? Further, the point about Govts coming back to power shortly after riots is incorrect – in Maharashtra, the Shiv-Sena BJP have wrested and retained the Mumbai corporation ever since the Bombay riots (they also won the next state elections). In AP, the TDP came to power in the next (1994) election (I don’t see any correlation btw).

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  • Falcon
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:18PM

    @John B:
    I slightly disagree with your thesis that media doesn’t change psyche of the society. Media might not create the trend itself, but it does amplify a trend. The key evidence of it is that convergence of human behavior in the last few decades is directly proportional to the increase in information flows. However, I agree that media is a sub-set of society and therefore reflects deeper emotional under-currents and fears prevalent in a society.

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  • P N Eswaran
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:57PM

    @Truth Seeker:
    @Thinktank:
    “Why does everybody forget ( including aakar Patel) that minority community should always act in the goodwill of majority? “

    Only now, I fully understand the wisdom behind the demand for a separate homeland for Muslims. Until before, I thought we had the same blood lines. Thank you Mr. Thinktank.

    When the capacity to self-introspect is absent folly appears as wisdom. The demand for ‘separate homeland’ was Pakistan. While reserving my comment on the ‘wisdom’ of such a demand I am glad that this has done immense good to India.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Feb 26, 2012 - 2:49PM

    @G. Din:
    “If “only” 790 Muslims died in those riots, you can bet many more will die the next time.”
    I guess you are referring to the extermination of 790,000+ Kashmiri Muslims, or 5000+ Punjabi Sikhs.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Feb 26, 2012 - 2:56PM

    @G. Din:
    “One need not squirm and be apologetic about it.”
    Only an Indian could have the courage to say that, after killing tens of thousands of innocent people.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Feb 26, 2012 - 3:08PM

    @G. Din:
    “punishment shall be wholly disproportionate to the provocation….”
    You have already proved that. In case of Sikhs, 5,000+ lives for 1 Hindu life; and, through out India 100,000+ Muslims for a few Hindus.

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  • BlackJack
    Feb 26, 2012 - 3:20PM

    @Truth Seeker:
    I don’t agree with G. Din, but you need to do some more truth-seeking my friend – the only time in post-independence history of the subcontinent that tens of thousands of innocent people have been eliminated in an organized pogrom was Operation Searchlight.

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  • Ashvinn
    Feb 26, 2012 - 5:04PM

    Well riots are disgusting thing to say the least but when the state fails to intervene and stop the hemorrhage,that leaves a sense of fear and helplessness in society which then leads to anarchy.Congress was guilty of Sikh riots and BJP is guilty of Gujarat riots.Both these political parties have been taught a lesson for their mistakes.But the question is how are going heal the wounds of those who got hurt during those roits.Let us look ahead and promise to hold ourselves to higher moral standards when we face such challenge in the future.As for the Pakistan, forget minorities,their majority community does not feel secure, they are killed and bombed by their Islamic soldiers on a daily basis, if they dont do it,their allies do it for them (China,USA Saudi Arab).Also guys dont forget to ask them about black September and killing of Palestinians ,these guys just dont kill their own they go on and kill people of other countries for a couple of dollars.Sorry to all humble Pakistanis but this those mullah right wing types. Recommend

  • Gypsy
    Feb 26, 2012 - 5:13PM

    a teenager (like I was) in 1946 during Jinnah’s call for Direct Action, or 1948 and in Ahmedabad, you would have known who was killing whom. would have heard of Vasantrao Hegishte and his colleague Rajab Ali Lakhani, who went on a peace mission in Jamalpur and were so stabbed that not an inch of their bodies was without a stab wound inflicted by the ‘topi-wale’ mobs. I had seen their bodies kept in the Congress House, Bhadra, Ahmedabad therefore I know.

    Topian kati thi, jin mein sir the? There were no caps on those head. Maybe choties, if at all. And where were you in 1969? Who started those riots? Who carried out the first killings, and arson? Which party was in power? Who was the CM then?

    all those who were killed were Gujaratis; only, they belonged to different faiths. All those who were killed spoke Gujarati, Hindus, Muslims, Jains and a rare Parsi, made world famous by the likes of you. All that has become a game the some people in the media like to play, blame Gujarat and a particular section of Gujaratis. What a shame! Recommend

  • harkol
    Feb 26, 2012 - 7:05PM

    The number of dead in Gujarat Riot is rather accurately summarized by various NGOs, and press outside of Gujrat. There is no need to quibble on those numbers.

    The question isn’t about how many died, it is Why they had to die at all? The shame of Gujarat 2002, and many other such violence where numbers may have been less, is more than the fact that innocent people were killed.It is the fact that 50+ years after independence, we were still focused on silly issues like religion & caste divides and would kill each other.

    Only ray of hope is post 2002, there hasn’t been instances of violence that lasted long. But, some flare ups still happen. The divide still persists. India will be a true developed country when everyone considers themselves Indians and are bound by same vision, aspiration for combined well being.

    To that extent, I hope Narendra Modi/BJP will never win an election again, till he apologizes for the insult to our nationhood that was Gujarat 2002, just as Congress apologized for 1984.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Feb 26, 2012 - 8:24PM

    @P N Eswaran:
    “When the capacity to self-introspect is absent folly appears as wisdom. The demand for ‘separate homeland’ was Pakistan. While reserving my comment on the ‘wisdom’ of such a demand I am glad that this has done immense good to India.”
    You seem quite confused in your thinking. You are glad for something, and at the same time having reservations and think it a folly. Don’t understand if you are really happy or not.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Feb 26, 2012 - 8:36PM

    @BlackJack:
    “the only time in post-independence history of the subcontinent that tens of thousands of innocent people have been eliminated in an organized pogrom was Operation Searchlight.”
    I thought it was Operation Blue Star (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OperationBlueStar) and subsequent massacre of 5,000+ Sikhs in 1984 (Please check the actual figures at the above link). Let’s not talk about the genocide of tens of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims during past 2 decades.

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  • Zalim singh
    Feb 26, 2012 - 9:15PM

    @ Ali Tanoli

    Why dont u guys just say straight and clear that Anti muslims BJP terrorist Modi is sole responsible for this killing and hate and secular indian Gujrathis still chose him in election what a shame guys when truth come u hide him what a clever. even america did not issued him visa even though his crime is equals to izraelis crimes against palestinean.

    Modi made Gujarat into a vibrant economy where foreign investment is flowing in like floods. I am working in gujarat, though I am from different state. I earn close to Rs 80 Lakh per Annum equivalent in Pakistani currency. This cannot happen in any other state in India, No surprise he gets re-elected. Dont be surprised if you see him as prime minister of India in 2014. USA will beg him to visit their country then.

    Izraelis never committed any cimres against palestine people. The palestines who make a living in Israel are quite ok and have no complains. Recommend

  • Truth Seeker
    Feb 26, 2012 - 11:51PM

    @Zalim singh:
    “Izraelis never committed any cimres against palestine people. The palestines who make a living in Israel are quite ok and have no complains.”
    No wonder you chose “Zalim” moniker for yourself as the rest of the world is sobbing over the miseries of Palestinians. I guess your 8 millions come from an Israeli outfit. What a change of Indians’ heart from Palestinians to Israelis.

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  • G. Din
    Feb 27, 2012 - 12:41AM

    @Indian:
    “Almost all the news channels are showing documentaries on guj riot on tv in the last 2-3 days. perhaps it’s a good thing to do. It is reminding people of grave long term consequences.”
    What “grave” consequences are you talking of, Indian? If anything, it galvanized Gujratis behind Narendra Modi in every election and Narendra Modi was able to deliver a governance every state in the Union is envious of.

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  • Sikandar
    Feb 27, 2012 - 2:11AM

    If our Truth Seeker would have been in India then my guess is that there would have been many more riots until either Mr. Truth Seeker goes down or people get tired of riots.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 27, 2012 - 3:51AM

    @Zalim singha
    I understand one thing man in india and pakistan any area is prospers is just because of that
    area peoples working over seas and sending money its can be Gujrath or tamil nado or Hazara and mir pur kashmir or Mandi bahudin Gujrath Punjab nothing else and second thing
    some lucky peoples only makes 80 lakhs working in india and pakistan and by luck u got that job the is not Modi extremist and i have many friend who are working in oil firms and and even in textile industry making one lakh a months.

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  • Ramanujam
    Feb 27, 2012 - 4:54AM

    Thanks Aakar Patel for publishing the actual death figures.
    You should have also mentioned the number of preventive arrests made by police when the riots started.
    Official Figures state and I quote
    *Preventive arrests of 17,947 Hindus and 3,616 Muslims were made. In total 27,901 Hindus and 7,651 Muslims were arrested. Nearly 10,000 rounds of bullets were fired in police shootings that killed 93 Muslims and 77 Hindus*

    Lots of Pakistanis and Indian Muslims are being radicalised by an event where both parties were affected and the riot was caused by Muslims who set fire on a train filled with pilgrims….

    You should have mentioned that the per captia income of Gujarati muslims are the highest among all states and it is higher than the income of Hindus…
    Inspite of the alleged involvement in the riots,Modi is being voted by both Hindus and Muslims and he’s transforming Gujarat into a Singapore….

    As Hassan Nisar has said “Half Truth is even worse than lies”. I wish all pakistanis understand the complete truth on Gujarat Riots before starting their ghazwa e hindRecommend

  • ethicalman
    Feb 27, 2012 - 12:25PM
  • Gaizoo
    Feb 27, 2012 - 2:41PM

    Mr Akhar Patel has spoken the truth which is unlikely to most of the Indians.He is the man of integrity. He has written irrespective of religion.

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  • XXX
    Feb 27, 2012 - 8:27PM

    gujarat riots have been regularly highlighted in media because muslims were killed in large numbers than hindus. i am sure if it hindus were massacred in large number in riots, it would not have been big news for a long time. Bashing India in general and Hindus in particular sells in muslim communityRecommend

  • ali
    Feb 27, 2012 - 11:09PM

    Hate to see fanatical Hindus spreading misinformation in a Pakistani newspaper. Godhra train burning was done by Hindu fanatics themselves. It is a fact proven in court investigations. And Gujarat is a prison for Muslims with literally no opportunities. Go take your shining India slogans elsewhere.

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  • Deb;India
    Feb 28, 2012 - 12:47AM

    As an Indian, I feel ashamed by what happened in Gujrat 2002.
    I know it counts for little, still I beg forgiveness to all those whose life were affected one way or the other by and because of the evil deeds of those who have no respect for humanity.
    Hope and pray justice will be done.

    At the same time, I am proud of the Indian media (both print and electronic variety), many NGOs and a horde of intellectuals,op-ed writers,social workers and individuals who has worked and todate working towards a reconcilliation and justice.

    Lessons from the riots in Gujarat?
    1.Democracy is not mobocracy.
    2.Democracy is not merely a ‘rule by majority’, far less of a ‘rule of majority’ and certainly not ‘tyranny of the majority’. (It might take most of us,Indians and Pakistanis as well, another couple of hundred years to understand the nuances.)
    3.Rule of law and a fair (and robust) justice system is the way forward.

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  • harkol
    Feb 28, 2012 - 12:47PM

    The lessons from Gujarat 2002:
    1. A Democratically elected govt. isn’t always right.
    2. People do vote on xenophobic consideration, even when they are in majority & should feel safe
    3. Leaders like NaMo focusing on Guj votes, will get weighed down by Gujarat 2002
    4. India is too complex and diverse country for a single virulent, extreme ideology to spread
    5. With all Extremist Hindutva push, BJP can win Gujarat. But, it’ll loose India.
    6. People of India have learnt how cynical politicians can exploit situations. Many bomb blasts, terror incidents after 2002, didn’t revoke an backlash and a riot.

    Hopefully People of India have matured.

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