More than four months after the dreadful killings and arson broke out in Gujarat, the people in the State continue to live in uncertainty and an atmosphere of violence and fear. Almost every week some new provocation or incident breaks out, which targets the minority population. Only a couple of weeks ago the state government had proposed a ‘gaurav yatra’ to supposedly express the triumphant feelings of the Hindus. The occasion of the rathyatra which took place in different cities in the State last week, was another instance where large sections of the population were forced to leave their homes out of fear that their lives and houses would be destroyed. That no such incident took place, does not take away from the fact that at the slightest pretext large scale violence could break out. Why is such a state of affairs allowed to continue, why does peace not return to the state?
The organised nature of the Gujarat killings and the complete protection provided by the state to the perpetrators of these crimes obviously means that those responsible will go unchecked. Many newspapers and televisions stories report the difficulty faced by victims in filing police complaints. The victims, housed in camps after the destruction of the homes, are living in intolerable conditions. Instead of sympathising with them, the state government is pressurising them to close the camps and to return to their now-destroyed homes. Normalcy has returned asserts the government. Any government that was sensitive and responsible would see that normalcy has far from returned. Killings and arson continue to break out in different places. The existence of the camps is an acknowledgement that much is wrong in Gujarat. Therefore, close them down, is the solution of the authorities. At the same time, in a very deliberate manner tensions are being kept alive and feelings based on religion , feelings of hatred and prejudice are being kept alive in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
All this provocation is permitted to continue unchecked. On the other hand, preliminary forensic reports about the Godhra incident, where the train bogie was set on fire, have started coming out. According to news reports, the train was locked from inside at the time of the fire. Experts now state that the fire could have started only by dousing the carriage from inside. The implications of this are horrific. It also implies that the strident basis, on which the Gujarat riots were justified – that mobs set the train of karsevaks on fire from outside – is also not the case. Hysteria and vviolence was whipped up across Gujarat on the basis that the train was set on fire by mobs from outside. People of India and Gujarat demand the truth of this incident be clearly and impartially investigated the guilty punished.
-A letter from an activist