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Religious Studies: Book Review

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Communal violence has been endemic to the Gujarat and has been vibrant though out the 80s and 90s due to as a result of Hindu-Islam clashes spurred by continued attacks by the Hindus on Muslims with all manner of accusations including building mosques in the places of birth of the Hindu gods.  However hidden in this violence is great political drive by politician who seen to gain political millage by disorienting the Islamic vote and amassing the Hindu vote (Jaffrelot, 2007).  To Hindu nationalist violence became an important political strategy that is designed to see them dominate their Islamic counter parts. Jaffrelot 2007 recounts how the Hindu Nationalists achieved this and how the government played a role in the 2002 violence in a narration the is filled with evidence of every account he reports and accusations that he makes. 

The 27 February 2002 riots that broke out in the Godhra leading to the killing of 57 Hindus was termed as a political scheme by many.  Information by the collector form Godhra stating that the incident was not planned was played down by the  BJP Chief Minister, Narendra Modi who held that the incident was perfectly premeditated terming the incident a violent act of terrorism.  The government on the other had had the bodies of victims taken to Ahmedabad for a public ceremony and a postmortem an action that seemed to agitate the Hindu community, since the bodies were merely covered by sheets as was broadcasted on television.  The following day, as Jaffrelot (2007) reports VHP with the support of BJP organized a show down marking the start of state sponsored violence.  This time, even places that had had a peaceful Islam-Hindu coexistence experienced clashes between the two communities. The Gujarat seems to have received new power to terminate the Islamic citizens in various cities and villages.

It is impossible not to believe that the events which accompanied this incident weren’t previously planed. For instance the Hindus arrived in Islamic areas in track load carrying all manner of weapon and bottles of water each to quench their thirsts. Also in support of this idea is how that the Gujarat managed to single out Islamic homes that had disguised themselves with Hindu Names.  Apparently, the must have hard access to the national voter register and knew exactly where and who to attack. Another factor that supports the idea of organized violence is the fact that the Gujarat had coordination station that they linked to through cell phone at police stations.  The cell phones were further used to cause agitation to the Hindu community. a simple clashes between two communities could not have been this protracted without government support and  supplies. For instance Lories kept a steady supply of gas cylinders for activities of the Gujarat.

Is seam this occasion had been on the minds of Hindu nationalist as they rose to power and infiltrated into every government institutions including he police, this can be seen in the standard statement given to Muslims in heat of the clashes, “we have no order to save you.” the government did very little to help the Islamic refugees and returned the to their homes as elections approached. This move was meant to show that calm had returned and that elections could now take place.  

Despite the political outlook there was an economic influence of the conflict otherwise it wouldn’t have spread so quickly to the rural villages the way it did. In fact there had never a clash based on Hindu-Islamic relations in the villages. The Muslim classes though being the minority, had the rural economy in their hands and most of the Hindu classes in the rural areas were greatly indebted the. Evidently, the BJP and the Hindu nationalists promised the rural Hindu classes economic redemption by through the looting o the Muslims shops and homes.  As such they were organized into three groups, todwavalla that was in change of destruction, lootwavalla that was in charge of looting and baadwavalla that was responsible for burning.  These were effectively used by the upper castes to vanquish the Muslims from their homes and destroy their economic dominance.

The valance was also a great political strategy employed by BJP and the Hindu nationalists. it is thought that the strategy had been between 1989 and 1991. They mostly instigated riots as elections approached to dive the society a long religious line with the hope of being politically superior using the large number of the local Hindu community.  since this time valance seen to increase in the months leading to elections the decrease sharply after the elections, clear indicating that violence and religious conflict is a strategy the perfectly works for the Hindu nationalists. When, BJP rose to prominence, it stopped using this strategy and accommodated those who had contrary views. However, by the late 90 it had lost it prominence and had also started losing its seats one after another prompting the need for an urgent action to correct this loss and decline.  A return to the old strategy as eminent and the Godhara incident provided the opportunity for this. A creative Modi recommended that the governor dissolves the assembly as he resigned as the Chief Minister.

The desire to drive the Muslims out of the villages and the country was high. Most of the Gujarat said that the attacks against the Muslims were an anti-jihad attacks. Most people saw it as a ethnic cleansing act by the Hindus.  Muslims were associated with terrorism citing the September 11 2002 attack on America and a previous year attack on the Indiana parliament. The killing of Hindus at Godhara was also seen as a terrorist’s activity conducted y Islamic Jihadist. Many Muslim families were burnt or electrocuted. Some children were made to drink kerosene and their mouths set o fire. Many women wore killed after being gangrened, an act that was seen as an ethnic cleansing act. Certainly, the BJP and Hindu nationalists, despite having achieved their goal of winning the reelection, causes a lot of suffering and death to the Muslim communities in the country.   This incident raises two questions, first is whether the BJP and Muslim Nationalists are genuinely fighting terrorism as they suppose to be doing and whether these two facets can enjoy peaceful coexistence again after this incidence. Certainly, the answer to the first question is no. Terrorism can never be fought with terror. BJP is only interested in ensuring that the Hindus in the country are held together by far fetch hatred against the Muslims for it own political dominance.  The answer to the second question is an affirmative.  Many countries have experience conflicts that threatened to subdivide them along religious lines but recovered to experience stronger national cohesion than before. Religion and riots should never be used to gain political relevance due to the massive destruction they can cause.

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