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The genocide

 Clautzwitz said that war is an extension of politics by other means. But the notion of war itself has changed over the last century. While the targets and victims of war have increasingly become civilians, the warring factions are now more from within the same borders than across. Incumbent governments often make it their policy to incite intolerance between groups, for political mileage. Such ideologies when unchecked have assumed ominous proportion in the recent past.

 In the last century, some nations have made it a part of their policy to sponsor mass killings to achieve political goals. The Armenian Genocide (1914-18) that followed the deportation of an estimated 1 –1.8 million Armenians by the government of the Ottoman Empire was shortly followed by the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were annihilated. Social scientists estimate that since the end of World War II at least 16 nations have attempted or committed genocide.[1]

 The march of the communal saffron brigade[2] in India over the past several decades and their growing popularity in the wake of the communal unrest and religious intolerance they have unleashed in India bears a chilling resemblance to the trend shown by many of these regimes. While many agencies cried ‘genocide’ when the full realization of what had occurred in Gujarat dawned, the government and popular sentiment in Gujarat, as well as some factions in other parts of India, vehemently denied this charge. International voice was rudely rebuked and the matter was portrayed as another ‘riot’ gone awry in riot plagued India.

The early reports on Gujarat revealed that the ‘spontaneous reactionary riots’ were in fact pre-planned well-orchestrated pogroms targeted at the minorities. Godhra was the perfect excuse to implement these. Rape, murder, loot, organized arson and torture were the norm. The following sections visit the ghosts of many of these events of the summer of 2002 in Gujarat.

This article does not examine the activities of the Sangh Parivar nor visits the events marking its rise over the last few decades. It is a pictorial rendition of the recent events in Gujarat as seen through the eyes of the children.  It is primarily concerned with the mental trauma that events like these cause and with the long lasting effect on the psyche of children in society at large. It is not only the violence per se, but the official condoning of it and the silence and apathy of the larger civil society that also influence the impressionable minds of children and youth. This compilation ends with a discussion of some of these issues. The questions of the qualification of the Gujarat carnage as genocide and of the lack of international attention are also alluded to.

This compilation is an independent effort by the author. However it would have been inconceivable without the inspiration, cooperation and input of the many  volunteers from all over India camping in Gujarat  (of whom, I had the the pleasure to meet Monica, Amit, Sriram, Amarbabu, Shinu, Zahir, Jowerbhai, Zakiaben, Ganesh Devy,  Rupal, Sushma, Prakashbhai, Shahbuddinbhai, Jayantbhai, Charulben, Vijaybhai, Neeraj, Vipin and the many many others whom I did not have the opportunity to meet in person), the many concerned citizens of Bombay and Delhi including the indomitable Teesta Setalvad and Harsh Mander, and the true leaders of our society of whom the octagenarian and  Gandhian, Chunikaka Vaidya  stands the tallest. 

Click here to proceed to the Introduction

[1] "Genocide," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2002 http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 

[2] The RSS and its affiliated organizations: BJP (currently the political party heading India’s coalition government), VHP (Word Hindu Council- whose prime aim is to raise funds from the Indian diasporas), Bajrang Dal (Youth group), Shiv Sena (political party based in Mumbai, Maharashtra) among a horde of many others.