New Internationalist

The aftermath of genocide


Like most people, genocide was a word I’d encountered only in the news referring to places like Nazi Germany, Rwanda, and Bosnia. Coming face to face with the reality was a totally different proposition. Ten years ago, in March 2002, Indian TV channels screamed: ‘Gujarat is on fire, Muslims are being massacred!’ I’d witnessed riots as a child in Kolkata, people shouting, entire slums blazing, ubiquitous chaos. But it was not up close and personal. Interviewing women who’d been gang raped and had entire families and friends slaughtered in Gujarat in 2002 was the worst experience of my life.

I was invited to Gujarat by a citizen’s group to investigate the atrocities perpetrated on Muslim women. The terror began on Feb 27, 2002, the fateful day 59 Hindu pilgrims were burnt to death in a train at Godhra in Gujarat, allegedly by a Muslim mob. That night the charred bodies of the Hindu victims were publicly paraded in Ahmedabad, the region’s capital. This ignited anger and hatred against not just the Muslims who had allegedly committed this ghastly crime, but the entire Muslim population. Hindu-Muslim tensions can easily reach flash point in India, but here a deliberate campaign was carried out to start a riot.

One of the more chilling aspects of the Gujarat massacre was that it was coldly calculated, designed to teach Muslims a lesson and hopefully drive them out of the state. Some see it as Narender Modi’s – the Gujarat Chief Minister blamed for not preventing and even encouraging the violence – personal responsibility. We recorded evidence of stockpiled weapons, knives, trishuls and tridents, bombs, explosives, all stored for use on the planned D-Day. Police officials reported that the Chief Minister had ordered them to look the other way and allow Hindu mobs to take revenge, to rape and kill unarmed, innocent Muslim women, men and children.

Our Women’s’ Commission, headed by Dr. Syeda Hameed, a senior Planning Commission expert, produced a report, ‘The Survivors Speak’ which subsequently appeared on the websites of most newspapers. We recorded the harrowing stories of rape and murder. It haunted me for months. I had nightmares and got stress-induced diabetes. I’m ashamed to even mention this. My stress was only in the interviewing and writing. Imagine the mental state of those poor women, the survivors who’d been brutally raped, and seen their children and loved ones mercilessly butchered before their eyes.

Women at the Shah Alam Camp, the biggest centre for the survivors, described how they’d resuscitated half-dead women. Rape victims were brought in bleeding and unconscious. The physical pain and agony passed, but the mental trauma remained. Nothing will ever remove that pain.

‘We heard them coming and we ran and hid in the fields, it was night,’ a woman told me. ‘Suddenly I realized they’d caught my daughter. I heard her screams as they raped her. I sat there frozen. I could not go to her because they would discover our hiding place. They would have killed all the others too. I have nightmares reliving her screams. It haunts me day and night. My daughter was just sixteen, she knew no man, she was innocent, untouched, like a flower that was about to open. I would have given my life, gladly exchanged places to save her. But I could do nothing. Just sat there, trembling, and listened to her screaming.’

We recorded hundreds of such stories.

Now, ten years later, the tragedy is not merely in the past. It continues in the present, in the treatment meted out to the survivors and the Muslim community in Gujarat.

A few years after the genocide, I visited some of the survivors’ camps. They showed me the miserable conditions they still lived in. The Gujarat government had not helped them at all. Worse, Muslims in Gujarat live like second-class citizens, shunned by Gujarati society, always on the edge of fear.

‘We are working closely with the survivors,’ says Harsh Mander who leads a campaign for justice and peace. ‘It’s not just the memory of the brutality, there is a total lack of remorse permeating the entire state. They compare 2002 to 1984 [when hundreds of Sikhs were killed after Prime Minister Indira Ghandi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards], but the PM apologized to Sikhs in 1984. In the absence of genuine remorse, the pain persists. Around two lakh (200000) people were displaced. Of them, 30000 are still in relief camps. Not one camp was set up by the government. Never in the history of India has a government refused to open camps for victims. People cannot return. They are not welcome back in their villages. There is a social boycott of Muslims in village after village in Gujarat.’

Indian civil society’s response was only lukewarm. Critics talked about how the major relief came from Muslim groups. Father Cedric Prakash, founder of Prashant, a Gujarat-based Jesuit centre for human rights, led relief and rescue measures in Delhi both in 1984 when Sikhs were massacred and again in Gujarat in 2002.  ‘People often compare the response to the genocide survivors with the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake which saw the whole world rushing here to help the quake victims,’ he said.

Gagan Sethi, founder of Jan Vikas, a charitable trust that works with Indian street children, agrees.

‘If 1000 volunteers came for the earthquake, there was just one for the genocide, if 1000 rupees came in, it was just one rupee for the genocide survivors,’ he says. ‘This was partly also because the state made it difficult. The state denied anything had happened. If people came to help, they came in spite of the state. Whereas for the earthquake everyone was welcomed with open arms.’

Cedric also decried the attitude of Gujarati society, particularly the refusal to condemn Modi: ‘Rationalizations abound from the educated elite and those afraid to deal with the past. “2002 was an aberration” they say, “look at the way, we have progressed since; roads, shopping malls, flyovers” or  “didn’t they (Muslims) deserve it? They are terrorists.”’

The Gujarat government insists there are Gujarat-bashers who are bent on sullying the state’s reputation. But the last word belongs to Sairaben, a survivor who speaks as we drive past her parents’ farm.  

‘See they killed my father, mother, brothers, and uncles. All our women were raped,’ she says. ‘The men who murdered my father are in possession of his house and fields. The rapists swagger around free, gloating, laughing at us as we cower in terror. They jeer at us, “if you step out of line, we will repeat 2002”. That’s life for us Muslims in Gujarat.’

As long as the rapists and murderers remain free, as long as justice eludes the victims, the name ‘Gujarat’ will continue to have terrible connotations for all Indians who believe in a secular India.

Without truth, reconciliation, remorse and justice, peace cannot return. Gujaratis all over the world should see this and try to undo the evil of the past two decades where the seeds of hatred sown with the arrival of the Modi government have been allowed to overtake the land. Gujarat will never be the same again. But truth and justice, the phrases used in our Constitution, and in our freedom struggle, were born and discussed in Gandhi’s Gujarat. That’s what’s particularly ironic about this tragedy.

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  1. #1 Vijay Kumar 03 Mar 12

    You have really touched a raw nerve, Mari.

    Sadly, while Gandhian values are taught and practised at large in India and in several parts of the World, one wonders why they never permeated the very society that gave birth to the same.

    Perhaps the Sabarmati River is to blame...it flows West, does it not, into the Arabian Sea. And so...the teachings from the Ashram may have simply washed away into the Sea. Sad...but, very evidently, true!

  2. #2 Nishita 04 Mar 12

    I went to Ahmedabad about a few months ago and was disgusted by the hero worship given to Narendra Modi by the people of Gujarat. Everytime i saw his face on a huge hording i would cringe inside and wonder how people could give so much power to a man like that.
    ’Without truth, reconciliation, remorse and justice, peace cannot return.’ Its been 10 years, and I know unless those responsible for this genocide are punished I wont return!

  3. #3 Celia Vaz 04 Mar 12

    Dear Mari,
    I have lived my schooling & college years in Ahmedabad. Although I have wonderful memories of my life in Ahmedabad part of it was tainted by the communal riots we experienced too. My heart aches when I think of the people who have lost all that meant everything to them and are still suffering till date. I wonder when will Ahmedabad see the day of a secular government where each person can live safely and not in constant fear that is lurking beneath always.
    Thankyou so much to Fr. Cedric Prakash for sharing this article written by you and I am extremely touched yet saddened after reading your article.

  4. #4 onedaywonder 05 Mar 12

    I have school friends from 'cultured'(the Indian euphemism for well-to-do and well-educated) families who refuse to believe that anything untoward happened to Muslims in Gujarat and who say that all reports are exaggerated. When questioned how they can say this when there has been such ample documentation of what happened, they reply that all the reporting is wrong and they just know!
    Similarly, a person from my parents' generation who is a university science lecturer claimed the most unbelievable atrocities were committed during a particular spell of rioting in MP by Muslims against Hindus. All quality media had reported that Muslims had again born the brunt of Hindu rage. The lurid detail she went into sounded concocted by a horror movie script writer. When challenged about how she could be so sure this actually happened, she claimed to have heard it from 'good sources'.
    This then is the scale of denial from people who should be able to make better judgements. I have heard it time after time. They say they are not prejudiced in the same breath as claiming all Muslims are evil. Such monstrous fascist beliefs are perfectly normal for far too many people. Secularism has truly become a dirty word in contemporary India.

  5. #5 C 05 Mar 12

    It's amazing how Hindu's in their quest for revenge did not mind that their sons and brothers became rapists and murderers. I wonder what kinds of sons, brothers and husbands these men now are - after the frenzy. I would really like to see a psychological study on this.

  6. #6 Ludwig Pesch 05 Mar 12

    Thank you for sharing this personal, moving yet unsentimental reminder of the vulnerability of civilisation!
    Premeditated violence and abuse of human rights of this type can rarely, if ever, predicted or prevented. In 1940, Rabindranath Tagore hailed the practical approach to following Gandhi as having ’one thing in common among us: we never fill our purses with spoils from the poor nor bend our knees to the rich. When they come bullying us with raised fist and menacing sticks, we smile to them …’ (Tagore on Gandhi, New Delhi 2008)
    Yet just following this laudable advice of virtual, well intended non-resistance will offer no protection to people victimized by powerful fellow citizens-turned-predators ; particularly if their cynicism and cruelty surpasses even that of Tagore's and Gandhi's formidable opponents within the colonial establishment. Today little protection remains open to minorities other than perhpas the knowledge among prospective perpetuators that the course of (national or international) law cannot not be obstructed in the long run.
    Even though this offers little consolation for the real victims like those introduced to us here, the culprits must be held accountable even though democratic institutions fail to protect minorities. The last available deterrent may be an awareness that the identities and deeds of criminal leaders remain public knowledge indefinitely.
    The manner in which Joachim Gauck, the new German President, preserved and opened the records documenting the crimes committed by the ’Stasi’ secret service in the name of ’communist’ East Germany is an ongoing act of ’national self-cleansing’ worth contemplating, if not emulating, elsewhere: we have seen that in the absence of tangible records, governments tend to remain indifferent even to crimes on the scale described in this highly commendable column; unless, of course, free access to information is assured for all.
    The real suffering, so forcefully depicted here by an impartial observer, reminds me of the crimes committed in the names of Germans under Nazi rule and their enduring impact for generations to come: these, like those against minorities all over the world ever since, were so much more devastating than statistics or news coverage alone would convey. I grew up in Germany during the cold war and remember so many traumatized people whose youth and health was irrevocably stolen once the seductive yet deadly tunes of formidable pied pipers were broadcast with deadly effect: leaders turned ’ordinary people’ (including sympathizers among the ’silent majorities’ of neighhouring countries) into willing, mostly silent, accomplices. Millions of casualties later we try to reckon the collective price paid for demonizing others, be it for their looks, creed or value system. For many then and now, what amounted to complicity in crime required nothing more than looking the other way!
    The Indian constitution just as that of Germany and most democratic countries guarantees the freedoms so violated. So let us guard these guarantees, the privileges Gandhi, Martin Luther king and Nelson Mandela and others secured also for our benefit – and this in a peaceful manner!

  7. #7 Priya 06 Mar 12

    Hi Mari,

    Thankyou for writing...I wonder if you've seen this article before http://epw.in/epw/uploads/articles/17166.pdf

    I was really disturbed when i read the extent to which our entire state machinery is controlled by fanatical right wing forces. It is amazing that almost a decade has passed and we have not been able to do anything significant to counter these forces....

  8. #8 Sushil 06 Mar 12

    Thank you Mari for another incisive, yet compassionate article on communalism issues in India. As an Indian American, residing in the U.S., it's very important that Indian American Gujaratis understand the ongoing apartheid of Gujarati Muslims that the Gujuarati government, with support of much of mainstream Gujarati Hindu society, is engaging in. Perhaps our Indian American community, especially the younger generation, would rethink their support of Modi and other Gujarati groups that refuse to challenge this horrible oppression.

  9. #9 Sheila 07 Mar 12

    Thank you, Mari, for this post. I am a young Gujarati-American, with most of my family still living in Gujarat and, despite ’Gandhian values’€ and Jain beliefs, still defending Modi's Gujarat. Because it has always been difficult to have constructive conversations with them about the riots (they, like others you mention, continue to rationalize or turn a blind eye to the ongoing communalism), I have stopped trying to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, living in the U.S., I find it easier than it should be to disassociate from the carnage of '02 and even as it continues to manifest today. Your article, however, is a critical reminder that disengaging does not bring truth or reconciliation any closer. I'm not sure if my family will ever change their views, or how I, as an NRI, can best help usher in a renewed Gujarat—one that I am proud to be from, but your article reminds me that continued engagement and dialogue with others in my community—including my family as well as other Gujarati-Americans—is an important, if small step in achieving a just and compassionate Gujarat.

  10. #10 Akhil Paul 07 Mar 12

    Hi Mari,

    Being gone through quite a bit of trauma myself, I find solace after going through your blog. I don't know if it is correct to say that ’we (me & my wife) were fortunate to have fled our home’ in the early morning of 1st March as a huge crowd gathered below our flat. We were the only 'mixed couple', I am Christian & my wife is Muslim) in the gated community, which we though was cosmopolitan. We live in the largest muslim ghetto called ’Juhapura’ which consists of about 3.5 lakh people. And as far as the ’Vibrant Gujarat’ model is concerned, well the vibrancy has left Juhapura untouched as it lacks basic amenities like PHC, School, water & sanitation.

    The majority gujarati community is happy to be part of ’development & vibrancy’ of new malls, wide-smooth roads and flyovers, as portrayed by the very efficient PR agencies.

  11. #11 Esi 09 Mar 12

    Dear Mari,

    I also have been reading about the events marking the 10 years since the riots/massacre in Gujarat. I always remember your complete disgust at the female politican who denied anything happened. I read an article in the Economist stating this event is a cloud over the head of Narendra Modi: so it should be. If he became India's PM then anyone who incites a genocide will feel bold enough to go for a position in their own countries.

  12. #12 mari 09 Mar 12

    Going back to Gujarat leaves me with anger and despair. Sheila, its really reassuring to find a comment like yours which proves thepoison has not taken over Gujarat fully. It was good that the memorial featured Gujarati Hindus who saved Muslims from mobs, hid them, fed them and protected them. Restores yr faith in humanity.
    If more Gujarati Hindus expressed their frustration at the hatred, the pogrom and the current rampant injustice, perhaps something in the state will change.
    thank you Sheila.

  13. #13 Roopa Devadasan 09 Mar 12

    It seems strange how there has been such silence at the level of an entire state to the brutality. As a doctor, I know how often I have felt ineffectual in dealing with the physical manifestations of disease, violence and accidents. Surely we don't need experts to tell us that healing requires much more, the images and residue that the psyche carries after such a happening affect the rest of one's life and the hate moves on to the next generation.
    When will we accept our role with honesty ?
    A statement I heard from a Muslim gentleman, father of seven who gave me his two month old baby girl to treat often rings in my head, and seems particularly appropriate. He said ’Allah to bachon ko Khuda ke roop mein paida karte hain, lekin, hum insaan unhe shaitan banaa dete hain’ Tranlated, it means ’ The Lord creates babies in his own image, and man transforms them into devils’

  14. #14 KB 10 Mar 12

    Thank you for this important article. I also think that part of the problem comes from the Indian diaspora often unknowingly donating to causes that end up financing the Hindu right in India. Being more conscious about our funding is probably one of the more concrete things we can do from abroad.

  15. #15 mari 11 Mar 12

    Dear Akhil Paul, I am glad this blog brought you some comfort. I know another Christian Muslim couple who also just escaped with their lives. I understand yr trauma and pain. Perhaps u shd meet with other such people. Do send yr email id to NI and I can connect you to others like you, Hindus and Christians married to Muslims who were threatened.
    There are people working towards reconciliation, but unless there is justice, I dont see this happening. Perhaps you cd link up with folks working for communal harmony if you want to live in Gujarat for the rest of yr life.1842

  16. #16 Shwe 11 Mar 12

    Hi Mari,

    Thank you for sharing this enlightening yet forgotten story. I think 'genocide' brings up so many emotions all over the world as you mentioned in your first sentence. Along with the muslims in gujarat i've heard about christians being targeted in orissa and other states of which Arundhati Roy has spoken about. Genocide in general I think is born out of a fear or a trained hatred against someone 'not like me'. Is it possible that when we are born we are inherently good and accepting? I would like to think so. Anyway, appreciate you bringing this up and will keep their story alive.

  17. #17 Siddhartha 11 Mar 12

    Mari Marcel Thekaekara has captured the tragedy of the 'victims' of Gujarat in all its anguish, pain and hope. Only a 'truth and reconciliation commission', similar to the South African one, can begin to heal Gujarat. This is not a Hindu-Muslim conflict, but a shameful political project. Hinduism itself emphasizes peace and pluralism. Mahatma Gandhi, who came from Gujarat, was inspired by the non-violence which the Indian spiritual heritage holds dear. Hopefully, articles like Mari's will help people introspect and begin the dynamics of reconciliation and healing. Of course, this cannot happen without justice to all those who have suffered.

  18. #18 sriram shamasunder 12 Mar 12

    Hi Mari: I have actually been in Rwanda twice on the anniversary of the genocide of 1994. I was there for the 15th anniversary of the genocide in 2009, and again last year. And the entire country stops during that time. There is a mourning process, and a grieving process but also a healing process. There may be some political reasons for such a public display, but it is important as a ’never again’ exercise. The same with growing up in the United States with so many Jewish folks. The Jewish Holocaust is discussed again and again, remembered and recounted. Told and retold. I think the usefulness of this is that it seeps into the public consciousness, the next generation and there is an acute awareness of how the worst of human nature and state sponsored terrorism lurks below the surface. There is also a beautiful movie by a friend of a friend called ’A long night's journey into day’ about the Truth and Reconciliation committee that Archbishop Tutu presided over. It wasn't popular, but necessary.
    The problem with state sponsored violence is that the state has to have strong enough checks and balances to address grave wrongs. The United States has failed to do this in so many instances of their history. Israel never does this. It will be a challenge to see if the judiciary in India is willing to hold accountable people in power in any meaningful way. That would seem a testament to some real robust democracy instead of the farce that parades as democracy although still forever on the side of big names, big power and big money.

  19. #19 Shiva Shankar 12 Mar 12

    It is no surprise that genocides happen with sickening regularity in Hindustan, there is after all a very old one that has lasted some one and half millenium, namely the violence against Dalits - and the genocidal violence that targets Adivasi Peoples is even older by a few millenia. While it might be hindutva that is responsible for the violence against Muslims and Christians, the violence against Dalits is in the teachings of hinduism itself, starting with the Rig veda. Hindus introspect elementary amounts, and understand the source of all this violence, it will be a long while before civilization arrives in hindustan.

  20. #20 Srinivasan 12 Mar 12

    Why so much outrage about Gujarat Riots & MR. MODI, whatever happened in 2002 was the reaction of public post Godhara-Kand. This is not the first of its kind in India, what about 1984 riots thousands of Sikhs were killed for PERSONAL REVENGE of Congress Definition of Secularism? Favouring minority is secularism? Protecting Afzal Guru, Kasab and others for Muslim vote bank is secularism? Lakhs of Kashmiri Pundits being killed in Kashmir during Congress Govt, not protecting their lives is secularism? Denying anti-terrorist law like POTA & TADA is secularism to please minorities is secularism? After BATLA-HOUSE encounter in which Inspector Sharma was killed by terrorist, visit by Congress Leader, Dog Vijay to terrorist family is secularism?
    In India ’Osama Ji’ is offered special prayers by many mosques. Scores of protests for Paki Israt Jahan, Babari masjid, Gothra. Many demand & protests against Israeli - India friendship. SECULARISM is the medicine prescribed only for the HINDUS.

  21. #21 Anaswara Jose 12 Mar 12

    I studied in Ahmedabad for two years from 2006-08, during which I couldn't help but notice how the so called Muslim areas of the city seemed largely neglected and untouched by Modi's highly praised ’development’ agenda. During the latter part of my stay there, I had the good fortune to attend a course on Good Governance by Prof. Harsh Mander. It was truly an eyeopener for us, who had till then led a fairly cocooned life inside campus. As part of the field work for the course, two of us visited Juhapura and met several people there who told us the horrors they encountered during and after the 2002 riots. Your article brought back those memories and the anger and the pain. Thank you for not letting me forget.

  22. #22 Soumik 13 Mar 12

    I never could understand how ordinary people like you and me in this age could leave all our thoughts and rationality behind and perpetrate genocide, whether it was against the Jews, or Namibian people or Congolese the many millions of people exterminated across the globe by the military-industrial complex....in the greed to acquire MORE and MORE....why do these things keep happening time and again.....with few opportunistic people like Modi...able to torment the minds of ordinary men to kill another of them....the reasons for these politicians I can still make sense....but people like us.....and people still go about their lives as if NOTHING happened...a section of them want to make Modi the PM !!...there are no words for all this.....it feels so shameful to call us Humans....Modi did not come from nowhere it simply reflects what we are inside...shameless indifferent it is hard to say we are Humans at all.......the people who held out and worked untiringly and silently to help their fellow souls still keep the light of humanity alive....and are the real Heroes......whom this mass of senseless society cannot realize...

    Quoting Martin Luther & Krishnamurti

    ’A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.’

    ’It is no measure of health to be well adjusted in a profoundly sick society.’

  23. #23 tarsh 14 Mar 12

    Good article, but the question of what can be done remains. All of this is like preaching to the converted. How do you reach out to the other side?

  24. #24 ritwik 16 Mar 12

    We live in a country with a 'oh this happens', 'chalta hai' attitude. It seems as though our politicians and state machinery can get away with absolutely anything because they bank on the fact that people will let go of it soon. Ten years have passed since the Gujarat genocide, and most people have no recollection of anything. It is time we stopped forgetting.

  25. #25 ritwik 16 Mar 12

    We live in a country with a 'oh this happens', 'chalta hai' attitude. It seems as though our politicians and state machinery can get away with absolutely anything because they bank on the fact that people will let go of it soon. Ten years have passed since the Gujarat genocide, and most people have no recollection of anything. It is time we stopped forgetting.

  26. #26 Peter Berger 17 Mar 12

    Hi Mari,
    What a terrible event and a continuing situation for those poor people. I always thought West Bengal was the most intolerant state but they are champions of integration and tolerance compared with the government of Gujerat What can possible be done to bring that government to account, as it seems ten years down the track they still have done nothing and apparently don't care to. Since 1992, when the Babri Masjid-Ram Jamnabhoomi riots it seems that tolerance has taken a back seat in Indian Politicas and in fact the National consciousness. I guess it's up to people like you who keep the conscience awake that one can hope that at sometime someone will have the guts to say 'sorry.' It took the Australian Government more than a hundred years to apologise to the 'stolen generation.'Let's hope India's record is better than that.

  27. #27 Sabita Banerji 19 Mar 12

    Thank you for an excellent article, Mari - honest, brave and unsentimental - perhaps the only way to talk about such a terrible event. It is a powerful reminder that justice has still not been done in Gujarat. It is hard to stomach the fact that the person who so many believe - with good evidence apparently - was responsible for the atrocities, can not only continue to enjoy impunity, but continues to hold the power that he gained through the advent of those atrocities. I am saddened each time I hear people say of Modi ’Yes, he's controversial, but at least he gets things done.’ Wasn't the same said of Mussolini - that at least he got the trains to run on time? Gujarat needs to take a leaf out of South Africa's book and, as you suggest, strive for truth and reconciliation. They should do this for the sake of justice pure and simple, but if self interest is all that motivates them, then they should think about the long term consequences of a segment of the population nursing their memories of a terrible and unavenged injustice perpetrated on them. Better to seek justice now that wait for vengeance some time in the future, and the cycle of violence making another cruel turn.

  28. #28 Aloke Surin 21 Mar 12

    I tend to agree with comment #18 by Sriram Shamasunder; namely, that these tragic and horrific events should be brought annually to the mainstream consciousness and that pressure be brought upon the government and judiciary to punish the guilty.International agencies like Amnesty International should also be included to highlight these atrocities. As a lay person I am not sure how these crimes against humanity can be addressed....but I am certain that there are good and powerful people and organizations out there who can provide the correct guidance. The problem with authority (both individual and on the bigger scale) is that it finds it extremely hard to admit to sins of ommission and commission. Fortunately, there are journalists like Mari who persistently highlight all that is wrong with certain aspects of modern India.

    As the old adage goes, it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness....it is better to keep hope alive than to give in to depair...

    So keep plugging away, Mari. There will always be people to show solidarity and support...

  29. #29 Cynthia Stephen 22 Mar 12

    There are no words left to speak of the horror not only of the actual events but of the systematic way in which people have played the system to airbrush the crimes away, deny justice to victims, and hero-worship the perpetrators. At the same time, serious firsthand accounts by the perpetrators, brought out by a section of the media, were underplayed both in the mainstream media and within the justice and the political system. This is cynical in the extreme. I shudder to think of what our society would have come to but for the fact that a few courageous individuals and groups did not let themselves and us forget. And in this, I see reasons to hope - now the wheels of justice have begun to grind, though agonisingly slowly. I just fervently hope that the ends of justice and right will be met in our courts and in the hearts and minds of people too.

  30. #30 Xavier Dias 22 Mar 12

    A very well written and documented piece. I am posting it on my FB page. Keep it up Mari

  31. #31 Helen Cromar 27 Mar 12

    'Without truth, reconciliation, remorse and justice, peace cannot return'- true indeed. And without the solidarity of people coming together and revealing truths like these, too much will always remain hidden.
    It was your heartfelt, and deeply touching and honest account you gave us doing the 'Development from the Inside Course', that stays with me from 2004 to this day.
    You taught us about a social justice and rights based approach, in so many ways that we feel never able to ignore. Thank you for always sharing Mari.

  32. #32 Prayaag Joshi 31 Mar 12

    We 'used' ahimsa or non-violence as a tool to win political freedom, because it worked with the Brits. We were quick to discard both non-violence and Gandhi as soon as the job was done. There lies an opportunity wasted. We could have all seriously gone down the path of non-violence and scratched it underneath the superficial level that we'd experimented with during the freedom struggle, but we were devious and are paying the price for it to this day.

  33. #33 enakshi ganguly 02 Apr 12

    so incredibly moving....

  34. #34 Shangon 03 Apr 12

    I read this piece and was pained ..... you wrote it and shared some of the trauma and suffered a stress-induced health condition.. And there is that whole community out there who has experienced 'genocide'.... will they ever get over it? Perhaps, never.

    While one appreciates all that you have documented so vividly, I don't agree when you say, in your last para that 'Gujaratis all over the world should see this and try and undo the evil.....’ I beleive this is the obligation of not just Gujaratis, but every Indian..... no, not only Indians, but every human to commit to demanding accountability for this time..... and ensuring that this never happens again.

  35. #35 Ratnesh 15 Jun 12

    Great Work.
    But this massaacre was far behind Kashmir th massacre of hindus where hindu women were raped by muslim mobs and then hanged on trees on kashmir streets with ’pakistan jindabad’ written on thier breasts.
    6 million pandits were forced to leave kashmir with thousands being killed and raped.
    You talked about atrocities on muslims in Gujrat. Now tell me who killed those 300 hindus in Gujrat riots?

  36. #36 Rafeeq Nisarwala 19 Jun 12

    Yes, these are facts. Ironically, the perpetrators are beyond the reach of justice. They move freely. Nobody has so far been punished for their crimes against humanity.

    Thanks for your efforts in bringing the facts to gen public attention.

  37. #37 Sankar Narayan 25 Aug 12

    You are saying that Godhra riots were planned by Hindus and Modi was responsible. The riots started immediately after Hindus were burnt by Muslims. Muslims planned to murder Hindus, but where was the time for Hindus to plan after the murder? Hindus were wrong but they reacted with anger. There were two tragedies. Why is the Muslim tragedy worse than the Hindu tragedy? Hindus are killed every other month in bomb blasts planned by Muslims. In Kashmir, the population of Hindus has decreased from 25% to 5%. There are many Hindus who condemned the Godhra riots and are seeking justice for Muslims. How many Muslims are seeking justice for Hindus? I wonder what your background is and if you can be impartial?

  38. #38 Raja 30 Sep 12

    Total bakwas r u insane mari u donot think about the murder of 6o hindu in godhara .they were innocent .6 million hindu have discrimnated in kashmir

  39. #44 Shiraz 03 Jan 14

    What happened in Gujarat was unfortunate
    people have rights when those are violated the nations become peril and it happened its the job of we the citizens of India to stand against these atrocities and claim legal protection for life and property. Those who took part in the criminal activities should be punished severely and thus the law and order authorities should ensure that people do believe in the constitution.
    Jai hind.

  40. #45 Delila 03 Jan 14

    newint.org est un l'un des blogs plus impressionnant que j'ai vu. Merci beaucoup pour garder l'internet chic pour un changement. Youve a obtenu le style, la classe, la bravade. Je le pense. S'il vous plaît gardez à cause sans l'internet est définitivement manque d'intelligence. wish you all the best in 2014!

  41. #47 Evelyn Barrios 12 May 16

    Does anyone know the affects of the genocides of Efrain Rios Montt on Guatemala?

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About the author

Mari Marcel Thekaekara a New Internationalist contributor

Mari is a writer based in Gudalur, in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu. She writes on human rights issues with a focus on dalits, adivasis, women, children, the environment, and poverty. Mari's book Endless Filth, published in 1999, on balmikis, is to be followed by a second book on campaigns within India to abolish manual scavenging work. She co-founded Accord in 1985 to work with Adivasi people. Mari has been a contributor to New Internationalist since 1991.

About the blog I travel around India a lot, covering dalit and adivasi issues. I often find myself really moved by stories that never make it to the mainstream media. My son Tarsh suggested I start blogging. And the New Internationalist collective are the nicest bunch of editors I’ve worked with. So here goes.

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