Dr Jay Dubashi
Ayodhya brought about a tremendous change in the Hindu psyche. For the first time, Hindus walked ten feet tall, as soldiers and generals do when they have won a battle and a war. Actually, this was only the beginning of a war, not its end. But it appeared as if it was an end, not a beginning.
There was a change in the psyche of the so-called secularists too who simply could not make out what had struck them. A few hundred young men and women had suddenly achieved in a couple of hours what a whole nation could not do in two centuries. They had washed off a blot on the nation’s face, which now looked brighter than ever. The secularist and the professional Hindu-baiters, most of them secluded in the air-conditioned salons of Delhi, were suddenly taken aback by the havoc – according to them – wrought by a small but determined group of Hindus as the whole country, and the whole world, looked on. And in a mere couple of hours, they had succeeded in creating history. The shift in the Hindu psyche was demonstrated in the aftermath of what has come to be known as the Godhra incident.
The Gujarat issue has a strong Ayodhya angle. The State, or some parts of the State, suddenly became engulfed in riots in 2002, following the burning in broad daylight, of Sabarmati Express at Godhra by a Muslim mob on February 27, 2002 resulting in the death of 58 Hindu pilgrims returning from a visit to Ayodhya. Why were the pilgrims torched alive on February 27, 2002? Because they were returning from Ayodhya? Is it a sin in the land of Lord Rama to visit his birthplace? This is as if Christian pilgrims returning from Jerusalem were waylaid on their way to, say, Rome, merely because they had visited a holy place of pilgrimage, which their forefathers had been doing for at least two millennia. There were children among them and there were women. They were a harmless lot and carried no weapons, just like the Jewish families who were massacred in thousands in and around Germany, because Adolf Hitler and his fellow gangsters didn’t like the smell of Jewish bodies.
Why were the Hindus killed? Nobody has cared to investigate the ghastly pogrom that place in Godhra on February 27, 2002, nine years and twentyone days after the demolition of the disputed structure. Someone, probably a group of desperate and murderous lot, must have been waiting all these years and planning the pogrom, as Hitler’s goons had done during the war. It is obvious that the holocaust of Godhra was planned, or was being planned for nine long years, and was not spontaneous.
The holocaust prompted retaliatory attacks against its perpetrators, whoever they were, leading to large-scale riots across the State – but nowhere else – in which 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed and otherwise lost their lives, and 223 more people were reported missing. Hundreds of places of worship were damaged, including 273 dargahs, 241 mosques, 19 temples and 3 churches. It seems to have been a free-for-all, involving, according to the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs (Sriprakash Jaiswal) nearly 28,000 Hindus and 8,000 Muslims in the embattled state.
All this was very sad, but it was also, as I have pointed, very spontaneous, as such events generally are. But the initial spark came from the Muslims of Godhra, for reasons that have not yet been fully ascertained. Remember that the Hindus were returning peacefully from Ayodhya, nine years after the fall of the disputed structure, by which time most people would have forgotten the incident. But apparently neither the Hindus nor the Muslims did. Such incidents in what is a thousand-year war, as I have explained, are not easily forgotten. The Spaniards, for instance, have not forgotten that they were beaten by the English at Trafalgar, and the French have not forgotten that they were beaten by the same English in the Thirty-Years War. The Germans are not likely to have forgotten so easily that they were truly and soundly beaten by the Anglo-Saxons in two wars – the so-called Great War of 1914-18, and the World War of 1939-45. In both cases, the victors were Anglo-Saxons, and the losers Prussians. The latter are now lying low licking their wounds, but time will come when they will be at each other’s throats again, triggering off another holocaust, which will be called World War III.
There were, of course the infamous post-Godhra riots in which everybody seems to have been involved – Muslims, Hindus, the administration of Gujarat, and, of course, the union government. The secularists, who were perhaps waiting with open mouths, like hungry cats stalking mice, were the first to jump into the mele’e , smelling yet another opportunity to whip up bad blood between them and the so-called communalists. It was not an opportunity they were going to throw away without squeezing it for every drop of precious Hindu blood.
These very the same secularists who were silent twenty years earlier in the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 in Delhi (eight years before Ayodhya). The riots of 1984 – not George Orwell’s 1984, but our own! – were much bigger than the Godhra riots of 2002, and involved 2,700 people, according to the so-called official statistics, but were actually closer to 4,000 people. It was a veritable pogrom in which only Sikhs were targeted and killed, unlike in Gujarat where both Hindus and Muslims suffered and the number involved was less than a thousand.
The Delhi killings were therefore a much bigger organised affair, a real pogrom in every sense of the word, in which a single community was targeted, while Gujarat was a spontaneous outburst, a violent but unplanned reaction to the obviously planned slaughter at the Godhra junction.
Yet our secularist friends have totally neglected, deliberately or otherwise, the organised killings in Delhi, and you don’t find a single secularist, including holier-than-thou people like Khushwant Singh – whose own community was involved and Kuldip Nayar in Delhi, and others elsewhere – writing or speaking about them. This is selective secularism at its worst, but this is what such people have always done, whether posing as democrats whenever communist-led pogroms were carried out in Soviet Russia, or even when supporting Adolf Hitler after he had signed a non-aggression pact with Joseph Stalin at the start of World War II in 1939.
(This is the seventh article in the series on the Ayodhya movement)