Hindu Vivek Kendra

16. On Godhra

16.1 The communal riot that took place in Gujarat in March 2002 had its trigger in the burning of 58 Hindus (26 women, 12 children, 20 men) in the early morning hours of February 27, 2002. They were returning from Ayodhya after taking part in a programme to rebuild the temple at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi. A mob of 2000 Muslims in Godhra attacked the train carrying these people and set fire to one of the bogies.

16.2 Given the ideological orientation of the authors of the Report, they do not find it incongruous to treat the event in a cavalier manner. In the Report, consisting of more than 25,000 words of primary text, the sum total of the depiction of the event is in the following 35 words:

· "On February 27, 2002, a train carrying Hindu activists was set afire in Godhra, a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat, allegedly by a Muslim mob, resulting in the death of 58 people." (The only other time the word Godhra appears in the primary text is in context of a resolution passed by the Sangh.)

16.3 Thus the action taken by about 2000 Muslims in the burning of the Hindus, is termed as 'allegedly', while the actions taken against the Muslims and Christians are definitely attributed to the Sangh Parivar.

16.4 While the Report does not make any mention of the reason why the Hindus were burned, there is another report prepared by an organisation called "Concerned Citizens Tribunal" says the following:

16.5 This is the manner in which evidence is collected, and it is a feature of the communists writing on issues that they call as Hindu fundamentalism. A rumour is to be treated as a fact if it means that it can 'prove' the case against the one who is already labelled as a convict. Or, perhaps one should invent a rumour if it does not exist. As Lenin said : "That's how every sound revolutionary should react."

16.6 And if one sees the composition of these so-called concerned citizens, the ideological inclination to the left (even extreme left) of the political spectrum is quite clear. And the report of these 'concerned citizens' follows this time-honoured modus operandi in its entirety.

16.7 In this modus operandi, the burning of the 58 Hindus at Godhra has always been rationalised. (Just as the attacks on the Swami Narayan Mandir in Gujarat on September 24, 2002, and the Ragunath Mandir in Jammu on March 31 and November 24, 2002,was rationalised as a reaction to the post-Godhra communal violence in Gujarat.) The comments of Setalvad, of Sabrang, are relevant here. She said:

· "While I condemn today's gruesome attack, you cannot pick up an incident in isolation. Let us not forget the provocation. These people were not going for a benign assembly. They were indulging in blatant and unlawful mobilization to build a temple and deliberately provoke the Muslims in India." (Washington Post, February 28, 2002.)

16.8 This was before the Hindu reaction had even started. (One wonders if Setalvad would also not pick the demolition of the World Trade Centre in 'isolation', and talk about the 'provocation' provided by the Americans in supporting Israel.) Incidentally, in the speech referred to above, which dealt extensively about the riots in Gujarat, she did even utter the word Godhra even once.