Silent majority speaks: Gujarat riot victims yet to receive death certificates

By Rafat Nayeem Quadri for,

Ahmedabad: Even as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi claims it to be the “vibrant state” and the chorus is joined by the ‘silent majority’ of Gujarat, some of the victims of the Naroda Patia massacre have yet to receive the death certificates of their dear ones.

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Noorjehan Ansari, Madina Mushtaque Shaikh and others who were felicitated by Anhad for their struggling and resilience spirit told media persons. Meanwhile, on the second day of Anhad’s special programme devised for commemorating the ‘decade of resilience’ under the title ‘Dastak’ witnessed an impressive convention ‘Silent Majority Speaks’.

On this occasion the promoter of Anhad, Shabnam Hashmi said, “Dastak is an attempt to unite people and spread the message of communal harmony while establishing the fact that justice is a precondition of peace and communal harmony in the state.

Hashmi termed “Dastak” as an attempt to invoke Gandhi and the Sufi traditions of Gujarat to spread love and win the heart of the people.

“Dastak- is the commemoration of ten years of 2002 as well as it is a dastak (knock) on the doors of those in power to realize that all marginalized sections of Gujarat are coming together against the tyranny” she added.

The convention saw non-conventional speakers whose voices are not heard otherwise from major platforms or do not become part of the mainstream. Excerpts of the speeches made by the speakers are given below:

Manoj Sharma, a young employee: A systematic hatred campaign is on in Gujarat which has made the majority ‘unconcerned’ about Muslims who have been alienated and separated. They don’t get loans, are treated as second class citizen in thoughts and manner by the majority. In fact, parents including his own do not allow their children to not make Muslim friends or continue friendship with them anymore.

Manoj said once he was introduced to the reality of events he was shocked and continued to have Muslim friends, in fact now he even invites them to his house and has been successful in convincing his parents that it is not correct.

Preeti Das, academician and a writer: Preeti said people if Gujarat are not ‘afraid’ but they are ‘indifferent’; they don’t want to know what happened to all those who were killed; they don’t ask questions as to what, why, where, how things are happening in Gujarat. An attitude of ‘theek chhe’ (it’s alright) is prevalent in Gujarat.

Preeti, a blogger also criticized the mainstream media and said its role has changed over the years and thus the important pillar of democracy in this state was being not exercised.

Preeti said 2002 was a well orchestrated ‘event’. She said she doesn’t like the attitude of mainstream media which doesn’t take a stand and believes in ‘neutral writing’. She said we have all seen the brutal murder details for Ishrat Jehan, no candle light demos were done for her mourning. Real issues are put under the carpet.

Falak Choksi, a student: Falak who watched ‘Perzania’ recently, was shocked and said ‘was shivering’ and decided to pen down some points. She said it was very sad that youth were not aware of so many facts which they should. Challenge lies with NGOs and other forces to bring awareness on a large scale.

Sonal Solanki, activist of Urja Ghar and a young student: She narrated how the state machinery is making fool of poor and ordinary people. There is no “vibrant Gujarat” in other remote and tribal places of Gujarat. Even roads are not good and lot of other problems, exist but Modi talks of development.

Amit Dave, professional and writer: Known for his effective SMSes sent for seven years now to all his acquaintances and friends and his popular SMS ‘Chakde India cheque de Modi’ Amit writes and expresses his opinion despite paying a heavy price for the same.

Amit said ‘the ideological differences are in black and white, but, when the next day, you have to deal with people of different ideology, you should be ready to pay this price, sometimes at the cost of losing business also’.

Amit said he was sad to see a thin audience and specially the absence of youth in such a programme. But, he said what you do when the ‘big and influential’ people of the society like good writers are silent and indifferent to such glaring issues. Forget about a common man who is busy struggling for his family’s bread and butter’.

Media’s role has been proactive and positive also but with the media houses becoming corporate entities, journalism standards and styles has changed and there are compromises. Many of them mean ‘business’.

Kiran Trivedi, freelance writer: Not hesitant for a minute, Kiran explained how the Modi machinery was at work brainwashing the common man and influential at the same time. He said there can’t be any denial of the fact that without getting justice, how the victims can be asked to ‘march ahead and forget it all’.

He criticized at the moderate, middle class of Gujarat who finds no interest in the affairs of those around them. They don’t want to listen and see so they are not seeing it, he felt.

Kiranb called Modi ‘the New Hitler’ in whose regime it was possible to speak from such platforms, only because of the Indian democracy.

Manan Trivedi, social activist: Manan is responsible to spread the message of justice and truth. He was instrumental in changing the ideology of young minds. Working for an NGO Manan feels it is a complete ‘U’ turn of Narendra Modi from ‘Miya Musharraf to organizing Sadbhavna’. Manan said “Gujarat Genocide’ was the biggest attack on the Constitutional rights.

Manan suspected that the next agenda of such forces could be to divide the community say Muslims into Tableeghi and Sunni sections; he was sensing a simmering movement in the community. If this happens it would be very unfortunate, it needs to be checked and controlled.” he added.

Alpesh Bhavsar, RTI activist: Alpesh with his friend has done wonders and moved the government machinery with his RTI applications. Sober and serious Bhavsar believes in doing the work in legal frame and giving a fight against such heinous forces using our constitutional rights.

Renu, professional designer: ‘Often I am called a pseudo secular’ by my employer and some friends. They taunt at you. I make it a point to draw attention of all those who are around me, to realize the truth and the result is that you are sort of alienated in your space and some times, you are even asked to leave the state but I tell them this is as much my Gujarat as yours.’

(Rafat Nayeem Quadri: Editor BILKUL, the First English Fortnightly of Gujarat. She can be contacted at: 90999 27424 and [email protected])