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Genocide of Muslims continues in Gujarat
By P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News Staff
The massacre of Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat by Hindu fanatics has stunned the whole world. Human rights activists, relief workers and peacemakers who have visited the state in recent days have come out with appalling stories of mayhem, murder, gang rape and other forms of barbarism.
"It is nothing but genocide," says Syed Sadat Husaini, president of Students’ Islamic Organization of India (SIO), of the brutal killings of Muslims in the state at the hands of Hindu thugs. Husaini visited Gujarat recently as part of a 72-member peace mission comprising prominent personalities from all walks of life including politicians, religious leaders, NGOs and journalists.
The visit was arranged by the New Delhi-based Dharmic Jan Morcha, an organization set up by prominent religious leaders for communal amity at the initiative of Jamaat-e-Islami. The team first visited Godhra, which saw the torching of a train carrying Hindu activists on Feb. 27.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its sister organizations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad claim that the pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat was a retaliatory action for the Godhra train attack that killed 58 people. According to unofficial reports, the ongoing anti-Muslim genocide has claimed the lives of 3,000 Muslims and destroyed properties worth 280 billion rupees.
Husaini expressed his astonishment at the silence of Muslim countries toward the carnage of their brethren in Gujarat. The 55-member Organization of Islamic Conference, which represents the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, did not issue even a statement of condemnation. As a result, the slaughter of Muslims and the destruction of their properties are continuing unabated. The BJP-led federal government has so far refused to take any action against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the man accused of pampering the rioters. (More information on Gujarat riots can be had from www.gujaratcarnage.com.)
The peace team, which visited Gujarat, has urged the state and central governments to carry out an independent CBI inquiry into the Godhra train attack and the subsequent premeditated genocide of Muslims. Police in Gujarat have already presented a report to the authorities saying that the Godhra attack was not preplanned.
In addition to a federal inquiry by a sitting Supreme Court judge, the team also called for the rehabilitation of the riot victims and payment of full compensation (as per a Supreme Court decision in 1994). It also urged enforcement of a full-fledged anti-genocide legislation and implementation of the National Police Commission’s proposals to curb communal riots and genocide in the country.
"There are plans to take legal action against political leaders, police officers and parties involved in the carnage to punish them and get financial compensation for deaths and destruction. There are strong evidences against them," said Husaini. "We’ll also put pressure on the government, the opposition and secular parties to take up the issue," he added.
The mayhem in Gujarat, carried out by Hindu zealots, gives an astounding picture of the horrific state of affairs in India. Hundreds of millions of people from minority communities in the country are now living in total fear and uncertainty without knowing where the Hindu chauvinists will take the country to.
"Extremist Hindu organizations have been successful in inculcating hatred against Muslims deep into the minds of the general public including government employees and college students. Muslims are now afraid of going to government offices and shops. Muslim students are hesitant to go to schools and colleges. We find hatred in every section of society," Husaini explained.
About 90 percent of the people arrested by police during the riots were Muslims, he said quoting a recent report. "In Muslim majority areas, Hindu rioters carried out attacks against Muslims with police support," he said. Police carried out combing operations and imposed curfews to harass Muslims. "Police opened fire at Muslims who reacted in self-defense against Hindu rioters," he said, adding that majority of those killed in police firings were Muslims.
The peace mission, which was led by Swami Agnivesh, general secretary of Arya Samaj, conducted meetings with the public, visited refugee camps, met with NGOs and collected information on the carnage.
Hindu zealots threatened the peace mission and asked it to leave the state immediately. Most Muslims, opposition parties and civil rights groups accused the Hindu fundamentalist state government of fanning violence by allowing Hindu mobs to have a free rein to kill, burn and loot.
The carnage in Gujarat has raised widespread protest throughout India and Indian newspapers commented editorially against the anti-Muslim pogrom and urged the federal government to take action against the state’s chief minister. Even some pro-BJP newspapers condemned the attacks. The Indian public also reacted forcefully by voting against the BJP in recent elections, dealing the ruling party with humiliating defeats.
The anti-Muslim genocide in the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi stresses the need for launching a nationwide campaign to promote communal amity. "Muslims must carry out a massive awareness campaign to bring about a total positive mind change," Husaini said. "Even Hindu schoolchildren whom we met in Gujarat believe that Muslims are troublemakers and cannot be good neighbors. This shows the enormity of hatred created against Muslims by Hindu extremist groups."
Husaini advised Muslims to establish good relations with the police, government officials and human rights organizations. "We should also set up committees of all religious communities at village levels to foster communal harmony," he said. "No communal riots have taken place in Bhiwandi, which was once notorious for such riots, since the formation of such a committee in 1993," he pointed out. "We should also explain to Hindus what is Islam and its divine teachings to remove their misconceptions and hatred."
The SIO, the largest student Islamic organization in the country with 1,600 branches and 125,000 members and associates, he said, was planning to hold a nationwide campaign with the main theme: "Student solidarity for a better India."
The campaign aims at uniting students from all religions to fight communal hatred and riots as well as communalization of education. Husaini emphasized SIO’s efforts in promoting interfaith dialogue.
Every Indian, who believes in humanness and moral values, should be ashamed of what has happened and is still happening in Gujarat and make sure that it never happens again. The federal government should also take the initiative to end communal hatred, which has already opened the Pandora’s box, raining deaths and destruction in the country and tarnishing India’s image.
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