Danseuse and social activist Mallika Sarabhai on Tuesday alleged that Gujarat was gripped by fear as it had been run as an ‘autocratic' State for the last 10 years.
Talking to journalists on the sidelines of a function at a women's college here, Ms. Sarabhai said people in the State were very frightened and it was difficult to hold an agitation there.
Observing that the three-day fast of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was a ‘political circus' to put himself in the limelight, she charged that he was a master of brand-management.
“Mr. Modi keeps saying that there is peace in the State. There has never been any riot in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Does that mean that they are all peaceful societies?
“If a part of a society is frightened and people do not open their mouths, that is not communal harmony.”
According to her, Gujarat had now turned into such a society. It was not only Muslims who were at the receiving end. There were over 100 villages where Dalits had been boycotted. They could not take drinking water from wells and even go to shops to buy things.
“Today there is more rape of women than ever before in Gujarat,” Ms. Sarabhai charged, claiming that they could not go out after 10 p.m. When she was growing up it was completely safe and crimes against women were unheard of. “I am not talking only about 2002, I am talking about 2011 injustices; injustices to farmers, to fisher people and to anybody who is not a corporate honcho.”
On the one hand, Mr. Modi was speaking about how he repented everything and on the other he had arrested her and others who had attempted to stage a dharna along with the victims of the 2002 violence. The proposed dharna was 10 km away from the venue of Mr. Modi's fast and was meant only to remind the people that none of the victims of the 2002 riots had got justice, she said. It had also happened on the very day the former Intelligence officer R.B. Sreekumar filed an affidavit before the Nanavati Commission saying that Mr. Modi had handed him Rs. 10 lakh to bribe her lawyers.
“Where are all those Anna followers across the country? Why are they not raising a hue and cry about this evidence given by a senior police officer [Mr. Sreekumar]?”
On Anna's fast
To a question on social activist Anna Hazare's fast, Ms. Sarabhai said that his agitation had not been a sponsored programme, though lots of people with dubious connections had come out on the streets to support it.
Disclosing that she was one of the signatories during the earlier agitation started by Mr. Hazare, she said the fast had been made to look like a sponsored programme by parties to get political mileage.
The Anna movement was not meant to be a middle class agitation, though the press was making it out to be one, she charged.
“I genuinely feel that those of us who are at the core of the India Against Corruption feel that corruption across the board needs to be tackled,” Ms. Sarabhai said, emphasising that the Jan Lokpal Bill would not be able to tackle all kinds of corruption.