By Rafat Nayeem Quadri
25 February 2012
In the last 10 years since the Godhra train carnage and then months-long massacres of Muslims, the state of Gujarat has seen changes taking place in the society. The Ahmedabad-based author presents her observation about the present Gujarat--Editor
• Still a Gujarati means a Hindu native of Gujarat. Both communities do not deny or defy it.
• There should be more and more sincere efforts and attempts from civil society and not NGOs alone to rope in two communities and youth in large numbers to promote and spread the message of communal harmony while establishing the fact that justice is a precondition of peace and communal harmony.
• Time is changing. Youth can be made more sensitive and proactive to promote harmony and ask questions, seek answers to the questions which remained unanswered.
• Reconciliation and bridging the gap is far from being achieved between the two communities.
What Muslims feel
• Muslims to a large extent want to forget the 2002 and march ahead although they are still not in a mood to forgive.
• Several studies and books that have been written by ample number of national and international authors and common people, students of research etc reveal that Muslims do not have any vengeance in them even after ten years of being hated and isolated. Because now they are realising that for this even their community and their so-called religious elements are also responsible and that it is the refuge in the name of faith that they have been exploited to This awakening is not very bold and apparent but slowly surging among educated Muslims at least.
• Hardly any attempt has been consistently and seriously made to bring the two communities together. In fact Muslim donors and doers took it as an opportunity to drag Muslims to the mosques rather than teaching them or allowing them to take a pause and understand what was going wrong and where. As a result, a common feeling among Muslims which has been reinforced and imposed on them prevails that what happened ten years back and till date is the result of ‘bandagi me kami rah gayi’ (shortcomings in prayers). Consequently, rampant Muslim ghettos (Juhapura in the New Ahmedabad West is considered to be the biggest Muslim Ghetto of Asia) have come up at various pockets of Ahmedabad and in several parts of Gujarat. Interestingly, individually when you go and ask Muslim families as a unit to whether they are happy and feel safe about it they vehemently deny. They want to be part of the mainstream but no efforts almost nil have been done from the community which lacks leadership in all sense here in Gujarat. Muslims have division in the name of castes, sub-castes …functions rituals, condemnation of each other has only and sharply multipled in Muslim areas and population. As a result smart operators like Modi are busy appeasing marginalised Muslims to some extent which is slowly on the rise and mainstream Muslims have gone from bad to worse in terms of their overall standard and thinking of living.
• Faith in judiciary has sometimes dwindled among Muslims and justice seekers but it has only strengthened with the recent observations that court made in several cases.
• Not that no one has been booked, lots of hardcore but ‘used’ sort of dalits, SCs, STs, and VHP peop including some ministers and leaders have been booked.
• Maximum number of serving police officers, leaders from BJP has found themselves in jail in Gujarat during this span of time.
• NGOs have only grown harnessing on issues which can’t be solved in courts alone, although some of them did marvelous job and fought with vigour and character.
Modi is hero; Gujarat vibrant
• Hero worshipping and ‘maare shoo’ (‘how does it concern/bother me’) attitude of the majority community (both in terms of average middle class educated Hindu population and some of Muslim population NRGs included) has only increased. They seem to forget the scars and project both Gujarat and Narendra Modi at the top everywhere since it is long time Gujarat’s leaders have been at the helm of affairs. People of Gujarat have hardly any time to poke their nose in all political matters but are eager and very sincerely serious to make money and explore every opportunity of doing so.
• Faith and ghetto following towards Modi has increased rampantly so much so that Modi is Gujarat and Gujarat is Modi.
• Modi is indispensable for every Gujarati today; at least in his daily talk once they must be using his name and it could not be for bad reasons for many.
• Modi is at the helm of affairs both for good and bad.
• Entire world is looking at Gujarat with pride and honour and Modi is responsible for it is a common feeling among the mediocres of the society which is true or not is debatable but it has only seen more takers to it.
• Opposition which is just Congress here has miserably and utterly failed to check and bring to books the government and its bureaucrats, forget about leaders. In stray case, their participation and even endorsement has been documented and narrated both by victims and the media. This leaves no room for any credit to be given to the party. Now that the elections are approaching there has been some exercise to grab the power for past one year. Internal rifts, non-functioning and lack of any proactive leadership raise more doubts about its sincerity towards the issues of Muslims. This even Muslims are realizing after a hard phase of suffering.
Modi’s ambition and Muslim politics
• Modi may come up in a big way to allot tickets to Muslim candidates or place them at key posts in some or the other governmental positions, it could be just before the election time or soon after it, once he is sure that nothing much is going to happen against him.
• At least 100 Muslims have been elected from different municipalities and corporations etc on BJP tickets within last ten years while the number has only gone down in case of Congress.
• Quite a few temples were dismantled and grounded by Modi’s government, which gives an idea that he is trying to show the world that he knows what is what?
• Derogatory speeches made by Modi ten years back and around that time is a thing of PAST now. He wants to forget it all now. This is his requirement and the need of the hour since his aim is no less than Centre.
• Modi may have taken full advantage of the situation but hard-line psyche and planning for teaching a lesson to ‘Miahs’ (Muslims) was much before Modi; even Keshubhai time saw all this but for Modi’s self image building to the rank and stature that it stands today he has been criticized more than any other BJPite.
• Modi has been successful to introduce and strengthen a direct dialogue through personal communication (even Sadbhavna has done it in a major way you admit it or not) with his voters. At the same time without giving any bad name, making any derogatory speeches he has been successful to keep both the opposition and Muslims at bay.
• Great silver lining for and among the Muslims after 2002 has been the idea and implementation of education to girls. Despite resistance from some ‘mullah corners’ there are efforts form the community who is enabling education of both in religious and worldly education to their daughters and sisters. This is indicative of a Better Tomorrow.
• Muslim women played an important role and need to be celebrated and felicitated for it. However the clutches of fundamentalism should be not the jewel that they have to be gifted but empowerment and education which they have already started walking on. This perhaps is the biggest achievement of the tears and sighs of the community since past ten years and more.
Rafat Nayeem Quadri is Editor, BILKUL, first English Fortnightly of Gujarat