Gujarat Update April13th, 2002

Reality What we saw

Teesta Setalvad Fr Cedric Prakash Wilfred D’Costa

Even as we write this the situation here in Ahmedabad and other parts in Gujarat is far from normal. Today is the 47th day of the carnage…The tension, the fear, the insecurity, the violence still continues. For several hours yesterday, there was mob violence in Dani Limda and in other parts of the city. A visit to the Gomtipur area this morning, showed fear writ on the faces of many of the people living there. An attempt to take out a procession of the body of a young man found several days after the murder was thankfully foiled.

The speech of the Prime Minister at the BJP meeting in Goa did nothing to assuage the wounded psyche of a whole community. His rhetoric there was in sharp contrast to his "sentiments and tears" during his visit to Gujarat. But that was expected! In1999, during his visit to the Dangs, he did exactly the same thing. He used the right words to a badly battered and bruised Christian community and at the end of the day when he spoke to the media his only call was for a National debate on conversions…However, at this moment he does not find it fit to call for a National debate on the Sangh Parivar and of its affiliated goons, who have unleashed a reign of terror all over the State.

Speaking of terrorism and the Dangs a press release sent out by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Ashok Bhatt on his official letter-head has literally slandered some Christian organisations, whilst criticising their relief and humanitarian activities. In the cleverly worded statement, he has warned the people of Gujarat to be careful of such people/ organisations, since they support the terrorists who attacked the Godhra train and are thus spoiling the name of Gujarat nationally and internationally. These, he claims are the very same ones who spoilt the name of Gujarat during the incidents in Dangs and other parts of Gujarat in 1998-99.

The moot question is: who is spoiling the name of Gujarat? From the concern voiced by foreign missions, editorials in national and international media, the culprits are obvious. The fact that the US and other Governments have advised their citizens not to travel to Gujarat is a clear indicator of the environment still prevalent in most parts of the State. Most daily wagers have not been able to earn any money for more than one and a half months now; the ordinary salaried class, have had to dig deep into their savings in order to compensate for the loss of salary these past weeks. Inspite of all pretensions to optimism, normal business has never been so bad in the history of Gujarat.

At this moment nobody knows when this madness will end and if one goes by the sadistic thinking of the BJP to hold mid-term elections in Gujarat it will be a long time yet before stability, peace and security return to the State. An Independent Fact Finding Mission, which has submitted a Report to the Nation on the Gujarat Carnage 2002 has very categorically recommended that "under the obligations enjoined on it under Article 355, the Union Government should impose President’s rule under Article 356"….Most thinking citizens will have no alternative but to agree to this.