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Year 2002, No 3
July
Ethnic Cleansing In Gujarat
An Analysis of A Few Aspects
By Tanika Sarkar
Waterwoes
Degradation of Indus Basin: how secure is South Asia's future?
By Arjimand Hussain Talib
Religion and civilisation
By Mushirul Hasan
Outsider as Enemy
Politics of Rewrting History in India
By KN Panikkar
Passing Blame on Godhra Muslims
By David Hardiman
Censoring nuclear truths
By MV Ramana
The No-Exit Society
By Praful Bidwai
From software to nowhere
By P Sainath
In Gujarat, Adolf Catches 'Em in Schools
By Monobina Gupta
  Special  
Ethnic Cleansing In Gujarat

An Analysis of A Few Aspects



I



Gujarat is now well into its third month of violence. Communalism Combat published a comprehensive report of the situation in April. According to its estimate, based on painstaking research, the death toll is at least 2000, economic losses among Muslims amount to Rs. 3500 crores, and more than 270 mosques and dargahs have been reduced to rubble. Of course, the death toll is necessarily underrated, since very large numbers of corpses were burnt to ashes after the killings. After April, moreover, there have been many more flare-ups, more of destruction and terror. What is going on there, judging from the nature of selected targets of violence, is clearly a process of ethnic cleansing, an elimination of the cultural, economic and demographic presence of the Muslim.



More important than the statistics of loss, is the nature of terror, for violence now consists of public acts of sadism that have been missing from earlier histories of carnage in our country. Looked at dispassionately, we have exceeded the achievements of Nazi terror, Bosnian atrocities, our own Partition violence - if not in scale or numbers, then in the intensity of torture, the sheer plurality and innovativeness in forms of cruelty. It is as if the most gruesome elements from all the annals of mass destruction have been pulled together to form a whole that is Gujarat today.



If Nazism needed to shroud its evil behind impenetrable concentration camps and gas chambers, the Gujarat genocide is carried out in streets, often in front of television cameras; it is recorded by journalists and thoroughly investigated by courageous fact-finding teams of women's groups, civil rights activists, international agencies, and even by the Indian state's own National Commission of Human Rights. If after such exposure and condemnation, terror is allowed to continue and hold its own with its entire machinery intact, - both the Modi Government and the Central coalition remain unchanged, none of the accused political leaders in Gujarat is punished, and violence has become a daily event - then, indeed a page of history has been turned, and our people have taken a long step towards collective barbarism and dehumanisation. "After such knowledge, what forgiveness?" It is not Muslims alone who need to fear the future, but Hindus even more so - for what they have allowed to happen will make savages out of them, will destroy a complex and rich religion that used to be Hinduism. For the survivors of violence are told to convert if they want to live, as the victims who were massacred were told to utter the name of Ram before they were cut down and burnt. It is not remotely an exaggeration to say that this is the worst crisis in its history that faces our country today - worse than any foreign invasion, old or new, worse than colonisation, worse than the terrible sundering apart of the land. The crisis involves more than the security of minorities, the integrity of the nation, or law and order. It involves the survival of basic human values in our land.



The facts of Gujarat violence are well known. I will try to locate a few patterns and trends within this violence. My main contention is, it is not the collapse of the state machinery that we are looking at, but the penetration of state and grass roots institutions - from police to hospitals - by the Sangh Parivar. I will try to link the trends in Gujarat with dominant ideological and institutional activities of the Sangh. When talking of Gujarat events, it is very common to use terms like the failure of the Modi Government, the weakness of the state, or the limits of the BJP-led coalition at the Centre. I would strongly insist that, on the contrary, the Modi Government as well as the Sangh as a whole have been spectacularly successful in their agenda. What is happening in Gujarat is not a mark of weakness or inadequacy but a sign of the strength of the Sangh Parivar, its firmness of resolve, its ideological consistency. This is the first time in our history that a state is headed by a RSS pracharak. The state governor, Bhandari, is a leading light of the Sangh, while the Central government has as its Prime Minister and Home Minister, two very senior and experienced Sangh leaders. Vajpayee chose to remind us of his basic allegiance in the middle of the carnage during the Goa Conference: "The Sangh is my soul." Gujarat's Lokayukta, its chairman of the state public service commission, the vice-chancellor of the Gujarat University, are all old RSS hands. So is Arun Oza, the senior government pleader at the Ahmedabad High Court. Narendra Modi freely used the services of the state radio or Akashvani to put forward his views, and the vernacular press, especially the Sandesh and the Gujarat Samachar, manufactured stories of Muslim violence and freely circulated them.



KG Shah, who leads the judicial commission to enquire into Gujarat events, is well known for his Hindutva leanings and his anti-Muslim judgements during TADA trials. Among senior police officials, Sangh links abound. V.B.Rawal, Inspector, Crime Branch, was a karsevak at the time of the demolition of the Babri masjid and he proudly displays a photograph to attest his contribution to the cause. DCPs R.D. Makadia and D.G. Patel are close to the VHP General Secretary Pravin Togadia, while DCP Parghi is an intimate associate of Haren Pandya, the state home minister, and accused by many of inciting the violence and actively assisting in it. We may remind ourselves here that at the time of his election, Pandya had promised to "wipe any trace of Muslims out of Paldi", Paldi being his constituency, and a site of great violence in recent months. In 1999, Mahen Trivedi, Minister of state for Home, publicly declared at a police function " We told you that we don't want Muslims in controlling posts. " Gujarat, incidentally, has only 65 senior Muslim police officers, none of them at present in active field service.



A happy conjuncture for the Sangh parivar, with all contingencies taken care of, all loopholes sealed. As a result, no important member from the entire combine - not even from the Bajrang Dal - has so far been arrested. This, despite the fact that several FIRs had been launched and numerous complaints made by eyewitnesses that not only local BD and VHP office-bearers, but also municipal corporators and MLAs - both men and women - led the mobs. Even BJP Ministers have been named by many: Gordhan Zadaphya, Revenue Minister; Bharat Barot, Food and Civil Supplies Minister; Nitin Patel, Finance Minister; Ashok Bhatt, Health Minister; and I.K. Jadeja, Development Minister. VHP leader Jaideep Patel and Maya Kodnani, BJP MLA, are extensively implicated in the gruesome massacres at Naroda Patiya.



All the affiliates and the sub-affiliates of the Sangh Parivar have displayed great mutual solidarity and protectiveness. BJP supported each of the VHP bandh calls that led to massive carnage - VHP bandhs over the last four years had unfailingly done so, there was thus sure foreknowledge about what a bandh call would mean. Modi consistently concealed the extent of damage and claimed that things were almost normal even while massacres were happening. The RSS and the BJP cleared Modi of all blame and responsibility. Vajpayee's explanation for the violence echoed Modi's action-reaction thesis: Godhra led to a spontaneous outburst from all Hindus, Muslims have never lived in peace with non-Muslims anywhere in the world. Advani had cleared the BD of all charges of violence at the time of the murder of Graham Staines and his children: "I know these people, they will never do such a thing." K.K.Shastri, a nonageraian VHP leader and noted Sanskritist,, issued a circular which claimed that a team of 50 lawyers were working to release the arrested and to fight their cases.



It is not accidental that the RSS had described Gujarat as " the laboratory of the Hindu Rashtra. " The experiments are now showing results. So magistrates sat quietly while the state burned, the police refused help at best, and, at worst, shot, tortured and raped Muslims. Fire brigades did not come to help, hospitals turned away Muslim victims, Muslim ambulance services were systematically disrupted by the police. FIRs were either not registered, or registered at a collective level which left no room for individual complaints. Arrests were not made and relief came mostly from Muslim, Christian or Non-Governmental organisations. There are no rehabilitation plans, compensation claims are impossible to establish, and, if established, they are either not paid at all or paid fractionally.



For the last six months, charges had been made by independent agencies that the BD was holding congregations on Saturday evenings, where tridents and swords were distributed and martial training was given. It was also pointed out that systematic lists of Muslim addresses, business concerns and of collaborative ventures with Muslim capital were compiled. The truth of the allegations was borne out in the knowledgeable and sure-footed way in which mobs identified households and residences, selecting Muslim apartments in mixed housing societies, or burning hotels that carried Hindu names but included some amount of invisible Muslim capital. Government departments and their official records had obviously been pressed into service. The pile up of weapons and the training to use new and deadly chemicals to burn house and bodies, the ability to deftly light and throw burning gas cylinders, the availability of swords which is legally a contraband object - all this proves months of systematic planning and not at all a spontaneous outburst immediately after Godhra.



More sinister is the management of the aftermath of the major flashpoints of violence. The erasure of evidence and of bodies, the chain of help to BD and VHP from the highest quarters, also speaks of meticulous advance planning. Was the role of the NDA allies also foreknowledge, or was it an inspired guess? Was it anticipated that allies like Fernandes would applaud rape as natural, that TDP would demand the dismissal of the Modi government but would not vote against BJP, that Trinamool would demand President's Rule but would vote with the BJP?



Be that as it may, there is no doubt that without a unique conjuncture of events - BJP at the helm at the Centre, an RSS pracharak at the state - ethnic cleansing on such a scale could not have been carried out. It was no mere criminal elements who caused the massacre, nor was it the independent work of lumpen BD activists. At any given time, mobs of thousands were roaming the streets, in as many as 16 districts, and no state can harbour that large a professional criminal population. Faces in the mob that were recognised by the victims included well-known political leaders, teachers, advocates, shopowners and traders, sarpanches, farmers, labourers, tribal and dalit groups. The recruitment of widely divergent social groups, the training in combat action, the mobilisation of an immense will to violence bespeak tenacious and longstanding political activity within the very pores of civil society.



II



What kind of politics accomplished all this? The BD is the official youth wing of the VHP, which, in turn, is the religious wing of the Sangh, established and trained by the RSS. Its top leaders are all RSS members, and many also have BJP membership. The Sangh leaders told us in 1990 that Bajrangdalis were junior members of the Parivar, important only during vendettas and scuffles - " during tit for tat situations" - but important, nevertheless. Incidentally, on the day of the VHP bandh on 28 February, a group of ABVP students ransacked the Delhi University library building. They sported saffron headbands with Jai Shri Ram stamped on them, they carried swords - the typical gear of BD mobs in Gujarat. The ABVP, however, is an official organ of the RSS.



The RSS was set up in Nagpur in 1925, with a group of upper caste and middle class urban youths. It, therefore, has been in continuous service for nearly 80 years. Since it stayed away from all anti-colonial or working class and peasant movements, it never came under any colonial repression. Till the 1940s, it was a low-key organization, with a slow spread into parts of western and Central India, mostly among brahman youths. It came into its own during the growing communalisation of politics in the 1940s, and it played a considerable role in the holocaust violence. After it recovered from the brief ban after Gandhi's assasination, it moved into grassroot work: setting up a chain of schools, using its womens' organisations which had been founded in 1936 to spread Sangh values through informal networks among neighbourhood and workplace women, providing training camps for children and schoolteachers. It also founded the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Bharatiya Jan Sangh. In 1964, it added the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to its list of affiliates to work among religious organisations, sadhus and mahants, temple networks and priests. The presence of a cluster of interrelated sub-affiliates that ideologically trained a range of social groups in sangh values was not merely a means to ensure electoral success for its electoral wing - the BJS, later renamed the BJP. It was to hegemonise civil society.



The RSS is profoundly and decisively influenced by the ideological message of V.D. Savarkar, one-time revolutionary terrorist who turned towards a theory of Hindu nationalism from the early 1920s. Its birth was directly inspired by his 1923 text: Hindutva, Who Is A Hindu? The immediate context to this work was the Hindu-Muslim unified struggle under the Non-Cooperation-Khilafat movements, the growth of Gandhian mass anti colonial movements that idealised the peasant as the ideal satyagrahi, and the beginning of organised low caste and worker-peasant protests under leaders like Ambedkar and the communistic Workers' and Peasants' Parties. All this threatened the power-lines within Hindu society.



Savarkar preached that Indians were essentially Hindus in their cultural ethos, and all those who had any affiliation with religious or cultural movements outside the land were not Indians. The formula excluded Muslims and Christians from the body politic. Later, the VHP Constitution added Communists to the list. At one stroke, therefore, citizenship was reserved for Hindus alone and nation and Hindu were made synonymous. In his multi-volume histories of India, Savarkar painted a bleak picture of Muslim tyranny in India, emphasising especially the alleged abductions of Hindu women. The RSS drew a single corollary from this. All Muslims are a threat to faith and nation, and especially to women at all times, and, therefore, revenge must be taken on present-day Muslims both for historical wrongs and for the future danger that they embody.



The RSS thus constructed its own narrative of Muslim rule that was made into a description of invariable Muslim behaviour at all times. Either Hindus suffered emasculation, or they avenged themselves. Revenge was a mobile concept, as was the figure of the Muslim. For the Muslim of today embodies all past offences and future threats that have been allegedly committed and could be committed. Therefore, revenge could be taken on any Muslim anywhere for anything that any Muslim could do or had done. This is crucial, for it alone explains Modi's action-reaction theory: Muslims of far-away Panch Mahal or Ahmedabad justifiably paying for an action done at Godhra. Or take the notion of Ramjanambhoomi, for instance. Present-day Muslims must be attacked to avenge an alleged attack on an alleged Hindu temple in the days of Babur. Again, a 15th century Muslim poet's tomb or a 20th century Muslim singer's tomb can be smashed to avenge Godhra. Even Muslims of the past must pay for what Muslims of the present are doing, just as Muslims of the present are paying for past sins. Of course, it is the RSS which decided what that past actually represented. That is why history teaching, textbooks and historical scholarship have been special targets of its attacks. They need to assert their monopoly over historical truth, for there is a strange symmetry between their historical allegations and their present violence. They assert that Muslims broke temples, and then they demolish mosques. They allege forced conversion, and then they command victims to utter the name of Ram or to convert. Legends of rapes of Hindu women abound, and Muslim women are then raped freely.



It is not as if the RSS invented the entire range of negative stereotypes. What Savarkar and RSS have accomplished is, rather, to conjoin socio-cultural prejudices with the theme of nationalism, and then to provide a wide-ranging organisational structure to systematise these ideas into a coherent whole, and to systematically train various social groups in these ideas.



The RSS shakhas have ideological and combat training schedules on a daily basis. The cadres are taught this message as history, as religion and as nationalism. Two facts stand out within this ideological formation. One is that both religion and nationalism are being recast as a crusade against Christians and Muslims. At the same time, religion and Nation are fused into a single entity whose lifeblood is vindictiveness for alleged past wrongs committed by Muslim rulers. The second is that Hindu unity is based on its antagonism against other Indian religions, which would overrule any engagement with power relations and social abuses of class, caste and gender within the Hindu community. In fact, even a reference to such problems is described as divisive of both religion and nation. The second Sarsanghchalak and ideological Guru of the Sangh, Guruji Golwalkar, was quite frank in his denunciations of democracy, low castes and labour agitations. These open statements, however, became covert and muted once independent India adopted a Constitution based on universal franchise and the electoral wing of the RSS needed to broaden its constituency. The new tactic was, therefore, to silence discourses on rights, equality and social justice by promoting a militant Hindutva and a militaristic nationalism in its place. Savarkar was a staunch supporter of nuclearising of India. The Sangh works among exploited social groups to Hinduise and communalise them; it does not tolerate work for social justice. Golwalkar had explicitly stated that the Hindu ideal of monarchy was ideal for India, democracy is a foreign idea. Recently, Vajpayee echoed that theme when he said that a collapse of law and order was opposed to Rajdharma - a strange word to use in place of democracy.



At RSS shakhas, themes of revenge are renewed through a plurality of mediums: songs, plays, anecdotes and histories are narrated and performed every day. In shakhas meant for children between five and eight, the games revolve round attacks on Muslims. In RSS run schools, textbooks portray India as a land filled only with Hindu holy places. All geographical features are imbued with Hindu associations, and no other Indian religion seems to exist in the land, except as enemies of the nation. Histories are stitched with myths, epics and legends, portraying Hindu heroism against the enemies of the faith. They are blended so cleverly that it is difficult to notice how very different contexts are mixed up: Babur emerges as the enemy of Ram, medieval history becomes an extension of an ancient epic, and Babur replaces the mythological demon king. Bharatmata is torn apart by Muslims who further plot to tear out Kashmir from the sacred geography of India.



In the middle of the violence, in secondary and higher secondary exams held under Gujarat school boards, students were told to join up the following sentences into one: "There are two solutions. One of them is the Nazi solution. If you don't like people, kill them, segregate them." The reference to Nazism is not accidental. Golwalkar, had expressed strong admiration for Hitler's anti semitism in 1939, as something that Indians must learn from. He also held out two options to the minorities: either change their religion and merge themselves with Hindus, or live here without citizenship rights, without any claims. Very recently, the Bangalore Conference of the BJP has echoed this message. VHP leaflets, openly circulating in Gujarat today, signed by the state general secretary, Chinubhai Patel, promise: " We will cut them and their blood will flow like rivers. We will kill Muslims the way we destroyed Babri Mosque". This is followed by a poem





" The volcano which was inactive… has erupted


It has burnt the arse of miyas and made them dance nude


We have untied the penises that were tied till now


We have widened the tight vaginas of the bibis…"


We will return to the obsessive fantasies of sexual aggression of the Sangh combine in our last section.
The Sangh has been working assiduously among tribals and dalits to coopt them into its Hindutva agenda., to eliminate Christian influence, to deflect them from a politics of rights and social justice. (It may be recalled that Gujarat has had a record of militant Dalit movements in the 1960s and `70s). While some minor education and charitable programmes have lent back-up, the real work lay in implicating them in anti Muslim violence. Tribals of Panch Mahal, Dahod and Sabarkanta, dalit groups like sections of Vaghris and Charas, led mob action against Muslims, thereby ensuring a safe corner in the Hindu Rashtra for themselves. If communal violence ensures some social mobility within the Hindu community, it is important to remember that the path is a substitute for egalitarian ideas, action for social justice.



The Hindu Rashtra that is Gujarat works and widens its constituencies with such a vocabulary, such an imagination. Without this context, it is impossible to understand what is happening today. These words are poured out on a daily basis from shakhas, from affiliated bodies that provide education, charity, leisure time activities, combat training and weapons, among men, women and children, urban and rural, rich and poor. Narendra Modi is not an ordinary RSS member, he is a pracharak. A pracharak is the key figure in the entire apparatus. He is celibate, he has no family life or professional work. He is a wholetimer who teaches and disseminates the theme of revenge. Modi has spent an entire lifetime doing just that.



III



One of the most spectacular forms of sadism in the recent events had been the way Muslim female bodies were made to function in the drama of Hindutva terror. There had been earlier anticipations of that. The investigations made by the AIDWA in 1992-93, especially in Surat and Bhopal, pointed out several similar features. Women were "tortured, molested, raped, and then burnt to death." Sometimes, their children were killed before their eyes. At the same time, more often than not, such atrocities were whispered about and not always confirmed openly. This time, rape victims as well as their male relatives have no inhibition about reporting rape and sexual torture; the police, however, do not admit FIRs on rape, a senior officer claims that mobs have no time for raping, and that Hindus, moreover, do not rape. Fernandes, on the other hand, says that rape is so universally prevalent that Gujarat rapes are not worth talking about. So, it has not happened, or it happens universally; in either case, it cannot or need not be mentioned.



Women have been killed in very large numbers. At the mass grave that was dug on 6 March to provide burial to 96 bodies from Naroda Patiya, 46 women were buried. Bilkees Begum from the Godhra Relief camp told a tale that seemed to confirm a recurrent pattern in most places, according to survivors' accounts. She was stripped, gang-raped, her baby was killed before her, she was then beaten up, then burnt and left for dead. For variety's sake, other women also had acid thrown upon them, and then burnt in fires. A women's' fact-finding report sums up the usual procedure: " …rape, gang rape, mass rape, stripping, insertion of objects into their body, molestation… a majority of rape victims were burnt alive. " Before they were finally killed off, some were beaten up with rods and pipes for almost an hour. Before or after the killing, their vagina would be sliced, or would have iron rods pushed inside. Similarly, their bellies would be cut open or would have hard objects inserted into them. A thirteen year old girl, Farzana, had a rod pushed into her stomach, and was then burnt. A mother reported that her three year old baby girl was raped and killed in front of her, while elsewhere daughters reported on the rapes of their mothers, now dead. Kausar Bano, a young girl from Naroda Patiya was 9 month's pregnant. Several eyewitnesses testified that she was raped, tortured, her womb was slit open with a sword to disgorge the foetus which was then hacked to pieces and roasted alive with the mother.



At Fatehpura, more than 50 young girls were paraded naked, and then asked to urinate. After they were rescued by a Muslim ambulance service, they travelled to the camp without a stitch on them. Other victims arrived naked at camps, too, after acid had been poured upon their clothes, which they tore off in agony from their burning and peeling bodies.



Medina Mustafa Ismail Shaikh reported from Kalol camp: "My daughter was like a flower, still to experience life…The monsters tore my beloved daughter to pieces..the mob was saying, cut them to pieces, leave no evidence… I saw fires being lit. After some time, the mob started leaving. And it became quiet. "



It became very quiet, for the voices of children could not be heard. A very large number of parents, especially mothers, had to see their children die in excruciating agony before they, too, were tortured and burnt. At the mass grave for 96 people, they buried a six-month old baby. Fatimabibi, who secretly came to Delhi to testify to the violence, kept repeating dementedly: " Innocent (masoom) tender babies were crying for water, they filled them up with petrol and then lit them up." At Randhikapur village, a young pregnant woman first saw her baby cut to piecs. Then she was raped and her foetus was ripped out and killed,. They beat her up and left her for dead. Four year old Asif died of 90% burns after several days' of agony. Before he died, The Hindu took a photograph of his bandaged face, out of which his large, beautiful, fully aware eyes were blazing out.



One can go on narrating the ways in which babies and women were tortured and killed, but the point here is often the two acts were coupled together. The pattern of cruelty suggests three things. One, the woman's body was a site of almost inexhaustible violence, with infinitely plural and innovative forms of torture. Second, their sexual and reproductive organs were attacked with especial savagery. Third, their children, born and unborn, shared the attacks and were killed before their eyes.



In readings of community violence, rape is taken to be a sign of collective dishonouring. The same patriarchal order that designates the female body as the symbol of lineage and community purity, would designate the entire collectivity as impure and polluted, once the woman is raped by an outsider. Rape, in Gujarat violence, obviously performed that function. But what, then, is the point of the elements of excess, the surplus of cruelty, and its multifarious forms? We need to remember that the Gujarati press invented the murder of 80 Hindu women on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, who had been raped and had their breasts cut off - a complete invention, since even the Gujarat police denied the story. However, it served to justify rapes and mutilations of Muslim women within the structure of " action-reaction" discourse. The fact that revenge went far beyond that is not surprising for revenge is not revenge if it does not outstrip the original offence.. In Delhi, on 28 February, we heard RSS boys shouting: Ek Ka badla Sau me lenge. (We will avenge one death with a hundred").



Beyond Godhra are the legends that all boys in the shakhas are bred on: partition time rapes of Hindu women, rapes of Hindu queens under Muslim rule, abductions of Hindu women all through history by Muslims. There is also the perpetual fear of a more virile Muslim male body that lures away Hindu girls, a kind of penis envy and anxiety about emasculation that can only be overcome by violent deeds. Violence, for the Sangh, is maleness. In the 1990s, when communal violence had intensified, bangles were sent to localities where riots had not taken place, to taunt Hindu men with effiminacy. At Jawaharlal Nehru University, a post- Godhra procesion of the ABVP chanted: " Jis Hinduon ka khoon na khola, woh Hindu nahin, woh hijra hain". (Those Hindus whose blood does not boil, are not Hindus, they are eunuchs'). This identification between killing and masculinity, is a strong and uniquely Sangh teaching. In the Gujarat violence, mobs who raped, sometimes came dressed in khaki shorts or in saffron underwear, rape being obviously seen as a religious duty, a Sangh duty. In times of violence, Hindu male sexual organs must function as instruments of torture.



There is more to it. For generations, anxieties had been whipped up about Muslim fertility rate, of their uncontrolled breeding and numerical outstripping of the Hindu majority. So coupled with anxieties of a comparatively less potent Hindu maleness, there is a fear of infertile Hindu femaleness, and a drying up of future progeny, - the longstanding image of dying Hindus. This is counterposed to that of vigorously self-multiplying Muslims.



Fed on such self-invented self-doubt, Hindu mobs swooped down upon Muslim women and children with multiple but related aims. First, to possess and dishonour them and their men, second to taste what is denied to them and what, according to their understanding, explains Muslim virility. Third, to physically destroy the vagina and the womb, and, thereby, to symbolically destroy the sources of pleasure, reproduction and nurture for Muslim men, and for Muslim children. Then, by beatings, to punish the fertile female body. Then, physically destroying the children, they signified an end to Muslim growth. Then, by cutting up the foetus and burning it, a symbolic destruction of future generations, of the very future of Muslims themselves. The burning of men, women and children, as the final move, served multiple functions: it was to destroy evidence, it was to make Muslims vanish, it was also to desecrate Muslim deaths by denying them Islamic burial, and forcing a Hindu cremation upon them.



There were, thus, many layers of signification, of symbolic meanings that went into the act that were repeated by different mobs at different locales, but on fairly identical lines. They can be aligned to Sangh teachings, stereotypes and fantasies. This also explains why the same female body was subjected to a series of sexual humiliation, torture, mutilation and obliteration. Conjoined with the bodies of their children, they provided a site where the entire drama of revenge was enacted in its long and complicated sequence.



May, 2002




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