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Will there be a repeat of Godhra incident in Bengal?

Over an obnoxious Facebook post, communal clashes broke out on 4 July in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. The entire saga twisted into Hindu-Muslim riots. Since Hindus are minority in certain areas of West Bengal hence they always become victims of communal violence. The situation in communal strife-torn Baduria in North 24 Parganas district remained tense even as the spat over the clashes continued between Governor KN Tripathi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The situation is yet to come under control. People are dying, but politics is at its peak. Meanwhile, BJP MLA Raja Singh asks Hindus to respond like they did in Gujarat.

In a video message posted on Twitter, the MLA from Hyderabad appealed to people saying, “Today, Hindus are not safe in the West Bengal state. Hindus in Bengal should respond to people involved in communal violence as Hindus in Gujarat did. Otherwise, soon Bengal will turn into Bangladesh.” He also asks ‘Bengal Tigers’ to awake and unite in order to protect themselves. Raja Singh also blamed the West Bengal government for failing to control the tense situation in the state and alleged that they are supporting those who are spreading communalism. Whatever incidents are happening in Bengal is not good but that does not mean elected politicians incite violence. That means BJP silently agrees that the killing in Gujarat was a deliberate act?

The 2002 Gujarat riots, was inter-communal violence, following the initial incident, there were further outbreaks of violence in Ahmedabad for three months; statewide, there were further outbreaks of communal riots against the minority Muslim population for next one year. The burning of a train in Godhra on 27 February 2002, which caused the deaths of 58 Hindu pilgrims karsevaks returning from Ayodhya, is noted to have resulted in violence.

In the aftermath of the violence, it became clear that many attacks were focused not only on Muslim populations, but on Muslim women and children. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch criticised the Indian government and the Gujarat state administration for failure to address the resulting humanitarian condition of the people, the “overwhelming majority of them Muslim,” who fled their homes for relief camps in the aftermath of the events.

It is estimated that at least 250 girls and women had been gang raped and then burned to death. Seventy six children were killed after being burnt alive and those digging mass graves described the bodies as “burned and butchered beyond recognition”. Children were force fed petrol and then set on fire, pregnant women were gutted and their unborn child’s body then shown to the women. In the Naroda Patiya mass grave of 96 bodies 46 were women. The murderers also flooded homes and electrocuted entire families inside. Violence against women also included them being stripped naked, objects being forced into their bodies and later they being killed. According to Kalpana Kannabiran the rapes were part of a well-organized, deliberate and pre-planned strategy, and that this puts the violence in the area of a political pogrom and genocide.

Other acts of violence against women were acid attacks, beatings and the killing of women who were pregnant. Children were also killed in front of their parents. George Fernandes in a discussion in parliament on the violence caused widespread furore in his defence of the state government, saying that this was not the first time that women had been violated and raped in India.

Children and infants were speared and held aloft before being thrown into fires. Describing the sexual violence perpetrated against Muslim women and girls, the survivors reported “that sexual violence consisted of forced nudity, mass rapes, gang-rapes, mutilation, insertion of objects into bodies, cutting of breasts, slitting the stomach and reproductive organs, and carving of Hindu religious symbols on women’s body parts. A chilling technique, absent in pogroms unleashed hitherto but very much in evidence this time in a large number of cases, was the deliberate destruction of evidence. Barring a few, in most instances of sexual violence, the women victims were stripped and paraded naked, then gang-raped, and thereafter quartered and burnt beyond recognition. The leaders of the mobs even raped young girls, some as young as 11 years old before burning them alive. Even a 20-day-old infant, or a fetus in the womb of its mother, was not spared.

Many Muslims were killed for avenging the Godhra train burning incident. Hindu organizations and administration all stood against one community and tried finishing them to ground zero, today after 14 years BJP MLA is asking Hindu groups to go Gujarat way, rape woman, kill Muslims, burn their houses and do all that has been done in 2002. This type of provocation will kill many innocent people who have got nothing to do with communal riots or politics. These elected representatives should learn to respect the lives of common man.

In the meantime, Mamata Banerjee government ordered a judicial probe into the communal violence and has been making attempts to bring the law and order situation under control. She also accused the Centre of “non-cooperation” in dealing with the crisis in Darjeeling, and alleged that the Central government and BJP were trying to “disturb peace” in the communally sensitive area.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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