Horrible things, which no human
being should condone, happened. The image of a Muslim youth, his
clothes blood-stained, his hands folded in a ringing appeal for
mercy and his eyes melting in terrified helplessness, will
contrive to haunt the posterity. A four-year-old boy, who had
seen his parents and all his siblings butchered in front of him,
had lost his speech. A 22-year-old mother, the lone survivor
from a family of 17 members, including her two-year-old son,
gang-raped and her one leg and one arm broken with lathis;
the abdomen of an eight-month pregnant woman ripped open and the
foetus from her womb cut into pieces and thrown into fire, are
only a few examples that might have melted even a stone.
although emotionally surcharged, do not loose their sense of
proportion. They go into the reasons, the psychology and
philosophy of true dharma and the possible outcome of the
mayhem. In the opening article, they plead, "Let us use and
build together the temple of India where God delights to dwell
as love." The erosion of kinship and decline of compassion
have been the major causes for the decay of societies and
civilisations, they assert. Keenness to erode faith in public
institutions, especially the judiciary and the state, is yet
another factor. However, "what is absolutely new is the
complicity of the state in eroding its own credibility."
The authors feel
let down by the doublespeak of Prime Minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee—his statement at the Shah Alam camp, Gujarat, and the
other one in Goa. When the Prime Minister in him ought to speak,
the poet in him takes over. In addition to the Sangh Parivar and
Narendra Modi, the authors also hold Chandra Babu Naidu, George
Fernandes, Mamata Banerjee, Farooq Abdullah and other National
Democratic Alliance partners guilty of complicity. The
Opposition parties and Muslim leaders are also not spared, and
so is the policy of globalisation as well as the electoral
compulsions of the Bharatiya Janata Party. They feel an urgent
need for a national debate on religion, a higher harmony among
religions and a second look at religion and culture. They exude
optimism, for they foresee the sunset of communal politics and
that the game is up for the Sangh Parivar.
Part II of the
book carries guest articles by Arundhati Roy and Harsh Mandar.
Roy’s article, which first appeared in Outlook, deals
extensively with various facets of its origin—"whipping
up communal hatred is part of the mandate of the Sangh Parivar."
The pain in her heart oozes out when she finds that every ‘democratic’
institution in this country has shown itself to be unaccountable
and inaccessible to the ordinary citizen, either unwilling or
incapable of acting in the interests of genuine social justice.
Harsh Mandar had
the courage of conviction to resign from the Indian
Administrative Services in protest. He describes the modus
operandi of the planned massacre, the pogrom. He is sorry
that none came forward to help the victims and even the gates of
Sabarmati Ashram were closed to protect the properties.
dictum "Satyam Bruyat, Priyam Baruyat" the
go-by, the Swami has written the bitter truth and has made
himself vulnerable to the lumpens of the Sangh Parivar. Gujral
also means to convey the same. In its 140 pages, the book has
raised several important issues, which must be discussed and
debated at large for the benefit of society and the nation. I
add my voice to the authors’ hope that this volume will
continue to speak to the readers even after the mayhem in
Gujarat is forgotten.