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home > News/Analysis  > Archive: Selected Analytical Articles  > Replicating the Experiment

Replicating the Experiment
By Mukul Dube

[Originally appeared in Milli Gazette, issue of 16-31 January 2003]

    Maybe the Sangh Parivar cannot repeat elsewhere all that it has done in Gujarat: but certainly it has made great progress in poisoning the minds of the majority.

    Several weeks ago, Shri Ashok Singhal became the first international functionary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to say in so many words that Gujarat had been a successful experiment for his tribe, one which would be replicated across the country. That Gujarat had been used by the Vedic Taliban as a testing ground, a rehearsal, an evaluation of cadre training and performance, had of course become clear long before Singhal´s declaration, several commentators having pointed to it.

    After the results of the Gujarat assembly election were out, members of the Sangh Parivar began crowing over their victory and making statements about repeating the experiment elsewhere in the country. But now, led by Shri Venkaiah Naidu, they are trying to shift to speaking of “the Gujarat experience”. The attempt is to paint Gujarat as a purely electoral affair, one of successful party organisation and mobilisation. They are seeking to deny or disguise the fascist social engineering, the pogrom, which was a core part of Gujarat in 2002 and which is intimately connected with the outcome of the election. The danger is that this tomfoolery with words might acquire, through simple repetition, acceptance and eventually even moral legitimacy.

    Gujarat cannot be replicated elsewhere in the country, for the reason that the circumstances of Gujarat were unique. Nowhere else, at any time, have we seen the arrant use of State power actually to plan mass mayhem, guide it and help in its execution. If in the anti-Sikh riots of Delhi in 1984 the State had looked on passively, in Gujarat in 2002 it provided the marauding bands´ logistics. Bunches of rapists, murderers and arsonists carried print-outs listing Muslim homes and other properties. There was no shortage of cellular phones and cooking gas cylinders. Transport for the beasts across the region, not just within townships ran with precision. There was no shortage of money. Just think of the cost only of the petroleum products burnt. It is also said that imported “specialists” were paid handsomely for each Kill and rather more for each Kill Plus.

    Nowhere else in the country has the Sangh Parivar so morally depraved the polity and so completely bought out, infiltrated, suppressed and tamed the administration. Gujarat had been in its back pocket, so to speak, for months before Godhra and the subsequent savagery. The report of the Concerned Citizens´ Tribunal is only one of the documents that make this quite clear.

    It should remain clear to us that “the Gujarat experiment” includes, as an essential component, the organised side-lining of religious minorities and the systematic cutting away of their economic base. The genocidal attack against Muslims was the high point. It is for all to see that what was begun in February is still continuing. Muslims can return to their own homes only on accepting conditions which in effect grind them into the dust. Compensation and rehabilitation are not even spoken of by that fine administrator Narendra Modi, praised daily by the deputy prime minister and weekly by the prime minister himself.

    Sangh Hindutva has undoubtedly made advances such that, almost across the entire country, there is a hardening of insular ideas. In particular, Muslims are equated with Pakistan and with terrorism. This is the mind-set which enables the middle-class Hindus of Gujarat to casually say, without a care for reason or evidence, “They deserved what they got. They asked for it.”

    What is crucial is the particular manner in which the word and idea of “they” is used. It cleanly makes enemy aliens of fellow citizens, in relation to whom the usual rules of democracy and elementary humanity need no longer be observed. Maybe the Sangh Parivar cannot repeat elsewhere all that it has done in Gujarat: but certainly it has made great progress in poisoning the minds of the majority.

    The atmosphere, saturated and flammable, must be cleansed with reason. The urgency of this cannot be stated too strongly. Sparks are easily planted.