Muslims in Gujarat were 'stripped, burned and hacked'

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Muslim News" <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 1 May 2002 09:42:09 +0100

Two months after the event that triggered Gujarat's pogrom, Muslims in the 
western Indian state are still counting the cost. Yesterday, 40 survivors came 
to Delhi to tell journalists and parliamentarians how their relatives and 
friends had been stripped, raped, burned and mutilated. 

A boy of 11, Raja Bundubhai, recalled seeing his mother and sister stabbed then 
burned alive. A woman identified as Reshma recounted how she saw a heavily 
pregnant woman called Kausar Bano "being brutally raped ... Her stomach was 
carved open, her baby flung into the fire before she was sexually abused, cut 
up and burnt." 

On 27 February, a mob of Muslims in the town of Godhra attacked a train 
carriage full of Hindu activists returning from the temple town of Ayodhya, 
killing 59. Hindu retaliation in the days that followed left hundreds of 
Muslims dead inpogroms that shamed India and appalled the world. 

And although the scale of violence has slackened, peace has yet to return to 
the state, famed as the home of Mahatma Gandhi and as an economic powerhouse 
before it became a byword for savagery. 

At least 35 people have been killed in Ahmedabad, the commercial capital, in 
the past week. "They [Hindus] provoke us by yelling insults and bursting 
crackers during the night," said Iqbal Kansara, who lives in Juhapura, a large 
Muslim area. "Youngsters who can't stand the insults come out to retaliate and 
police fire at them." 

The state government says some 850 people have died in the violence, but a 
secret report by British diplomats leaked this week to the BBC says at least 
2,000 died. The report claims that far from being a spontaneous eruption of 
Hindu anger after the Godhra outrage, the violence was pre-planned and carried 
out with the support of the state government. 

The British officials said the violence had all the marks of ethnic cleansing, 
and that reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims was impossible while the 
controversial chief minister, Narendra Modi, was in place. Mr Modi heads the 
Hindu nationalist BJP government, and Gujarat is now the only sizeable state 
where the party that leads the ruling coalition in Delhi is in power. For this 
reason the central government is accused by the opposition of doing nothing to 
bring about normality. A censure motion on the government's performance on 
Gujarat will be debated next week. 

Delhi claims Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has apologised for the leaking 
of the report, but there have been many European rebukes.A Foreign Ministry 
spokeswoman said some governments were interfering and could damage relations. 
The "interference", however, is unlikely to end as long as the government 
ignores the worst communal bloodletting in 10 years. 

Tens of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat remain crammed into squalid camps, too 
scared to return to their homes. Some commentators believe cold political 
calculation by the BJP is to blame. The Indian Express said: "Because of the 
severe beating that the Muslims have taken ... no Hindu is safe unless 
governments ... partial to us are put in place." 
Source: Independent 

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