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Anti-Muslim video surfaces as Gujarat elections near

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The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Gujarat has ordered a probe into a viral video allegedly made with an intention to cause the communal divide in the context of the Gujarat Assembly elections. The probe comes in the backdrop of the vital Gujarat elections, which are crucial for the incumbent BJP government as it is the home state of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The cyber crime cell of Ahmedabad police will investigate the complaint of Govindbhai Parmar, a human rights activist and lawyer, who objected to the video saying it was made with the intention of spreading communal hatred between Muslims and Hindus and demanded that it be banned.

In 2007, in a report titled “The Truth: Gujarat 2002,” the state government was implicated in the pogrom. It asserted that the targeted rioting was not spontaneous or even instigated by vengeance but was in fact, a “state-sanctioned pogrom”.

The 1.15-minute video clip in Gujarati starts with a line that reads: ‘Gujarat ma sanjhe 7 pachhi avu thai shake chhe’ (This can happen in Gujarat after 7 in the evening). It shows a young girl walking down a road, fearful and in a great hurry. A sound that resembles an azaan plays in the background. Her parents are anxiously waiting for her at home. In the background is an idol of Lord Krishna. When she reaches home, the girl frantically rings the doorbell. Her mother opens the door and the girl hugs her while her father pats her on the head.

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The girl’s mother then faces the camera: “Ek minute, kem navai lagi ne ke aa Gujarat ni vaat chhe?” (One minute, why are you surprised to see that this is happening in Gujarat?). And then it is the father’s turn: “Bavis varsh pehla pan avu j thatu hatu. Ane avu thai shake chhe. Jo e loko avshe to.” (Twenty two years ago, this used to happen. And it can happen if those people come).

The girl then says, “Pan don’t worry. Koi nai ave. Kemke ahi Modi chhe.” (But don’t worry. Nobody will come. Because Modi is here). The clip ends with a saffron line in Gujarati: ‘Apno Vote, Apni Suraksha’ (Our Vote, Our Security).

The video has become a bone of contention between the BJP and its main rival the Indian National Congress. Gujarat Congress IT cell chief Rohan Gupta said: “We are not naming any party for this (video clip), but I personally think that this could be a surrogate campaign of the BJP as the only party that can benefit from it is the BJP.” The Congress IT cell has launched a social media campaign called ‘Gujarat ne daravsho nahi’ (Do not frighten Gujarat).

Pankaj Shukla of Gujarat BJP’s social media cell, however, denied that his party had anything to do with the video clip. “We do not know who has made the video. We have not done it. There are so many well-wishers of the BJP who must have turned their feelings into a video.”

The BJP, who was the ruling party in the centre as well as the state, has been asserted to be the main culprit and was supported by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in instigating and prolonging the violence.

Gujarat is rather infamous for cases of violence against the Indian Muslim community. The Hindutva fundamentalist RSS group is indicated to have been first reported in violence in Gujarat during the 1969 riots. However, the greatest atrocity was to be the 2002 riots which caused the deaths of over 2000 according to official estimates.

In 2002, in an incident described as “a genocide”, “a state-sanctioned pogrom”, the Sangh Parivar waged acts of bloodletting targeting the Muslim community, ostensibly in retaliation for the Godhra train attack that was blamed on the local Muslims.

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Using the arson attack as a pretext to attack the local Islamic community, mobs of Hindus engaged in acts of slaughter, rape, looting and building demolition in a continuous process for a period that ranged more than two months. Not only full-grown men but also women and children were targeted in this orgy of violence.

The casualties are reported to be approximately 1000 and were overwhelmingly Muslims. Other damage included the destruction of nearly 20,000 homes as well as 360 religious sites and business centres. The displacement of an approximate 150,000 people is estimated to have taken place.

The two largest massacres were the Naroda Patiya massacres, which resulted in deaths of 90 victims, and the Gulbarg Society massacre, at a Muslim housing complex where the Vishwa Hindu Parishad used a rumour to incite violence by mobs. The house of a former Parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri who belonged to the Indian National Congress was used as a sanctuary for Muslims fleeing the violence.

It came under attack that went on for six hours even while Jafri called many influential people for help and support to stop the assault. No help came as it was made evident by the deaths of sixty-nine that also included Mr Jafri who was hacked to death.

The BJP, who was the ruling party in the centre as well as the state, has been asserted to be the main culprit and was supported by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in instigating and prolonging the violence. This has been denied by both groups.

The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Gujarat has ordered a probe into a viral video allegedly made with an intention to cause the communal divide in the context of the Gujarat Assembly elections.

It has been reported that following the train attack the police was restrained from stopping incensed mobs containing hundreds by the local authorities. Senior officials told researchers that the then Chief Minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Damordas Modi gave the order to local administration not to intervene. One of these officials was later murdered. In spite of the testimony of eyewitnesses, thousands of arrested rioters were freed due to lack of evidence by the police.

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In 2007, in a report titled “The Truth: Gujarat 2002,” the state government was implicated in the pogrom. It asserted that the targeted rioting was not spontaneous or even instigated by vengeance but was in fact, a “state-sanctioned pogrom”.

The Hindutva fundamentalist RSS group is indicated to have been first reported in violence in Gujarat during the 1969 riots.

According to Human Rights Watch, the riots in Gujarat were premeditated and had the participation of the local government and the police extension. However, a Special Investigation unit appointed by the Supreme Court vindicated Modi of any charges in 2012.

Activists have cried foul over the vindication of Modi and pointed out flaws in the investigation. The riots have supposedly boosted the standing of Modi in Hindutva circles. Flourishing on Hindu-Muslim enmity, the BJP has often risen to power across India including the 2014 elections. As the Gujarat elections loom near, it seems an increasingly cornered BJP is utilizing hate tactics as a means to stave off defeat.


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