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Carnage in Gujarat: Citizens’ Initiative for Justice & Peace
Update   October 23, 2002

Since the BJP rode to power, alternate and brutal attacks on Christians and Muslims have soured the climate fof Gujarat culminating in the Gujarat Genocide of 2002. Communalism Combat has tracked these events over five cover stories thatcan be visited in our archives.

Now again, in the run up the forthcoming elections, the cabinet ministers of Modi’s government are blatantly indulging in threats and intimidation in  Dangs in South Gujarat. In the run up the next election, we will be sending regular updates on the Gujaraty situation.

Teesta Setalvad        Javed Anand

*Urgent Alert*    * Urgent Alert *          *Urgent Alert*              *Urgent Alert*               *Urgent Alert*


A repeat of 1999? 

Threats amd intimidation on Christians in South Gujarat


Fr. Cedric Prakash S.J.



Early this year, during the carnage in Gujarat, one of the trump-cards of the BJP was to highlight the role of the tribals and dalits in the attack on the Muslims. It is a known fact that only a very tiny section of these groups were actually involved in the killing, arson and loot. This too, after being literally bribed with liquor and money and provided with trishuls and other arms.


There has been a consistent effort to divide the tribals and to deny them of their fundamental rights. The latest is a circular of the Gujarat Government insisting that the tribals leave the forest areas of the State. This is in consonance with the move to call the tribals "Van Vasis" instead of Adivasis. The latter provides them with an identity wherever they are, the former denies them of the identity once they leave the forest areas or if the forests are rampaged and pillaged as it is today by politicians and rich vested interests.


The bogey of conversions is once again doing the rounds in the tribal areas of South Gujarat, very specially in the Dangs. Vicious pamphlets and inflammatory articles in South Gujarat editions of the Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar are doing the rounds. The venom is towards the Christians and the Christian Missionaries with absolute lies being propagated.


On October 22, 2002, a Ram Katha by Morari Bapu began outside the Jesuit Centre of Subhir in the Dangs. This Katha was inaugurated by Narendra Modi. There is plenty of tension in the air with efforts now being made by the trustees of the Sabari Mata Mandir to forcibly take away a land near the school which has been donated by a tribal woman to the Sisters to start a dispensary and a Girls Hostel for tribals. At the moment, the temple authorities have just gone and occupied the land for boarding and lodging of the people who have come from outside to attend the Katha. The Katha is supposed to last till October 30, 02 and already fears among the Christian community is high because some of the tribal children of the boardings run by the Fathers and Sisters have been threatened by the fascist elements.


“Would you like to live as Hindus or die like Christians?” is the intimidation being directly used. Girls and Jesuits were trembling with fear after the incident. This intimidation happened in the presence of no less than a minister from the Gujarat cabinet Karsan Patel.


In the meantime, a massive campaign has been launched by the Member of Parliament from Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Mr. Mohanbhai Delkar (Independent), in most of the tribal areas of South Gujarat. He calls it the "Parivartan Manch" and he is apparently flush with funds. He talks about "the tribal identity" but his proximity to the Sangh Parivar is well-known. A huge amount of orange stickers have been distributed to the tribal households in which "Parivartan Manch" is emblazoned to be stuck on each of the adivasi houses.

The situation is becoming alarming in the tribal heartland of Gujarat !




Gujarat mantri threatens Dangs Christians
- By Deepal Trevedie

Ahmedabad, Oct. 21: The saffron brigade on Monday threatened Christian missionaries in Dangs, telling them "to give up luring tribals," and reportedly warned them to behave or "experience another spell of riots, this time targeting foreign-funded Christians."

Five tribal children, boarders at a school run by the Navjyot Social Service Society, have been threatened and told "to decide whether they want to live as Hindus or die as Christians." A senior BJP minister in the Narendra Modi government, Mr Karsan Patel, has warned Christians in the sensitive Dangs area "to behave with restraint." The BJP minister is camping in Dangs to ensure the Ram katha in his constituency is a success and "wants Christians to cooperate or face the consequences."

Mr Patel, who ironically is the state minister handling the welfare of the socially and economically backward classes, told The Asian Age he "is not against Christians but they should behave like Indians, not Italians. If they have the right to propagate their religion, we have the right to propagate ours also. Why should they create a ruckus?"

Over 15,000 Ram bhakts have quietly converged on Subir, a nondescript village in Dangs, to attend a Ram katha which begins on Tuesday. The Ram katha is being organised by the Shabri Mata Seva Samiti headed by Swami Aseemanand, the man who led the Vanvasi Chetna movement of the BJP and "fought" against conversions leading to Hindu-Christian turbulence in 1998 that drew international attention.

This Ram katha is being held to create awareness amongst Hindus and to warn them of conversions which the Shabridhaam authorities feel "have increased tremendously after Sonia Gandhi became powerful." However, sources told this newspaper that the main Ramayana kathakar (Ramayana reciter), Moraribapu, a well-known saint, is likely to reprimand the organisers for their fundamentalism. He is Gujarat’s most popular Hindu saint and has mellowed over the years. He recently took out a peace rally in Ahmedabad to protest against violence.

However, after the riots in Gujarat, fundamentalists like Swami Aseemanand have got more support. "Dangs is a Hindu area since Lord Rama came here to look for Sita. It was here that Shabri waited for the Lord and it is our dream to stop the conspiracy of vidharmis to lure tribals in this belt for this is our Hindu legacy," said Mr Karsan Patel. Mr Patel represents Dangs and on Monday evening "warned" half-a-dozen Christian missionaries "not to make a mountain of a molehill."

The BJP minister told The Asian Age that he was "personally camping" in Dangs just to make the Ram katha a stupendous success. "It is bullshit that I threatened Christian missionaries. They are trying to frame me. I just said that Hindus have the right to propagate just like Christians do," he said, adding that he had "requested" district collector Mamta Varma and DSP Raju Bhargava to hold a special "shanti samiti" meeting "to give confidence to the Christians."

However, Christian priests and nuns claimed that "tension was in the air" and that the minister had behaved extremely rudely at the end of the meeting. "He told us, ‘You tried to rake up Dangs and got international attention. Did Godhra ever happen in Dangs? Has a single Christian died? Why do you people make a mountain of a molehill? And don’t dare talk to the English media,’" the priests and nuns said. The minister, however, denied this.

Meanwhile, Christians have urged the local authorities and the Gujarat government to provide them adequate protection. "Already provocative and inflammatory statements are appearing. This morning our boarders have been told by people setting up one of the pandals to leave the school or be killed. Over 400 children live with us and are panicky," Father M.A. Anthony, the president of Navjyot Social Service Society, told the district collector and police superintendent in a written memorandum.

Father Cedric Prakash, the director of Prashant, a human rights centre, deplored the "attempts made by the Sangh Parivar associates to vitiate peace."

However, the locals feel there are less chances of trouble with Mr Raju Bhargav heading the police. Mr Bhargav, a capable officer, recently lost his post as Godhra DSP after the ruling Narendra Modi government found him not very compliant. While Mr Bhargava was out patrolling, his office said they had made adequate additional police bandobast to avert any trouble.


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