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Naming the guilty

The perpetrators of the violence that has engulfed Gujarat have derived their encouragement and legitimacy from the subjective endorsement extended to partisan and communal sentiments, say SWAMI AGNIVESH and Rev. VALSON THAMPU. The first of a two-part article.

Fanning the flames of communal violence.

STATING the obvious has become a high art since Gujarat began to burn. Countless high-decibel speeches continue to be made each day denouncing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal for their role in the post-Godhra riots. Eloquent efforts to project the unspeakable agony of the riot-victims and pillory the sub-human callousness and mendacity of the Modi administration continue unabated. But all these would amount to nothing in the end unless we engage the crucial question who was responsible for this kalank on the nation.

It is naive, even dishonest, to put the blame for this national scandal exclusively on the Sangh Parivar. The biting irony in the Gujarat scenario is that the coalition partners and the other political rumps that prop up the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-dominated National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government at the Centre bear the prime responsibility for the genocide in Gujarat. Among them the spotlight must fall squarely on Andhra Pradesh's Chandrababu Naidu. He would be deluding himself if he were to assume that, because he has kept his party out of the Government, he would escape the condemnation for its failures. Admittedly, neither the NDA partners nor the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has advocated this anti-Muslim pogrom.

Nor have their cadre workers participated in the systematic execution of Muslims or in the targeted destruction of their houses and business establishments.

But the irrefutable fact is that, but for their unconscionable support to the NDA government, the tragedy of Gujarat would not have happened and continued so far. There is no getting away from the awkward fact that the orchestrated economic and psychological pogrom that the Sangh Parivar has launched on the Muslims of Gujarat would have been simply impossible but for the assured support from the Central dispensation. The way the Ayodhya melodrama fizzled out proves this beyond any doubt.

While the VHP-BD storm-troopers are very valorous in attacking the helpless members of the minority communities, especially their women and children, their bravery vanishes in the face of adversity and opposition.

Crowds numbering 5,000-10,000 people roaming around for days killing, burning and pillaging under assured state patronage is not a spectacle of courage but of cowardiceThe eagerness to sink into unimaginable cruelty and bestiality under guaranteed immunity and State complicity is only one side of the coin.

The other side is extreme cowardice in times of adversity and risk. All those who have lent their support to the BJP-led government at the Centre have played a role in opening wide the door of immunity to these cowardly hoodlums to run amok in Gujarat. Morally, therefore, they are more culpable than these misguided and indoctrinated agents of terror.

(To be continued)

Swami Agnivesh is a noted social activist and the national president of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front.

Rev. Valson Thampu is a distinguished writer and a peace activist. He is a faculty member of St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and an ordained minister of the Church of North India.

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