Build-Up in Gujarat
1.1. In the
past four years of BJP rule in Gujarat, several unconstitutional
measures have been initiated. Since February 1998, when the BJP was
returned to power for a second term, fundamental rights of citizens have
been violated, the rule of law flouted and the security of the life and
property of citizens, particularly the religious minorities and Dalits,
consistently threatened. No action has been taken against the culprits.
A plethora of outfits like the Hindu Jagran Manch and Dharam Raksha
Samiti spawned by the sangh parivar, have been engaged in the
task of mobilisation for intimidation, threats, terrorisation and
1.2. From the
evidence placed before the Tribunal, it is evident that a full catalogue of
the words and deeds of the sangh parivar in the last four years, and
the BJP government’s unabashed support and encouragement to these on the one
hand, and dogged refusal to book the perpetrators of hatred and violence on
the other, is itself an appropriate subject for a separate report. Given
below are mere examples to illustrate how the calculated spreading poison
has been systematic and sustained, especially since 1998.
Targeting the Minorities
2.1. The whole
of 1998 and 1999 saw a spate of attacks on minorities, especially on
Christian institutions and Christian religious persons in remote areas of
Gujarat state, as well as in cities like Rajkot and Ahmedabad. But no action
was taken by the state government against the offenders.
Christmas time in 1998, 17 churches were destroyed in Dangs in south Gujarat
in a concerted attack on the minority led by VHP leaders Janubhai Pawar and
1998, as part of the attacks on Christians by the BD, VHP, RSS, and BJP all
over Gujarat, some incidents took place in Vadodara as well. One of the
major incidents was the attack on the five-day National Convention of
Christians (Alpha Group). The gang, led by Shri Niraj Jain (VHP leader) and
others allegedly belonging to the VHP and Bajrang Dal, started threatening
the participants to stop the convention and quit as "they resorted to
forcible conversions of Hindus to Christianity." Police supported them.
Several people were beaten and one man suffered a fracture of the hand. At
midnight, the VHP men also attacked women delegates who were staying at the
Women’s Hostel in Fatehgunj.
2.4. In many
parts of Gujarat, the police visited Christian institutions at Christmas
time (1998) asking how many people attended Christmas mass. Should this be
allowed in a country that calls itself both secular and democratic? Each act
of violence over the past four years was preceded by hate-mongering and
vicious propaganda through pamphlets signed by Janubhai Pawar of the Hindu
Jagran Manch (VHP). No action was taken until a year later; in December
1999, he was arrested at Dangs before Christmas. (For details on the hate
propaganda unleashed in Gujarat against Christians and Muslims, see chapter
on Hate Writing, Volume II).
2.5. A private
members Bill, "to prevent conversion by coercion or force", but which did
not consider conversion to Hinduism an offence, was sought to be rushed
through the state legislature in November-December 1999. It was ultimately
held back because of the outcry by local groups. The campaigners pointed out
that existing provisions within the Indian Constitution were adequate to
prevent conversions by inducements and coercion and that the maximum number
of conversions, post-Independence, have been of tribals to Hinduism.
2.6. In August
2000, Pakistan-trained terrorists shot down 33 Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir and
in the cross fire another 100 died. The VHP leader, Shri Praveen Togadia,
took it upon his organisation to ‘avenge’ these deaths and targeted
unsuspecting Muslims of Gujarat. At a press conference in Ahmedabad on
August 1, 2000, he declared, "We will give a fitting reply to these killings
here, in Gujarat." For the next ten days, the law and order machinery was
held to ransom, as gangs of the RSS/VHP/BD led by elected representatives of
the BJP destroyed Rs. 15 crore worth of Muslim property in Surat, Ahmedabad,
Khhedbrahma, Lambadiya, Rajkot, Porbander and other Gujarat cities. Not a
rupee in compensation was paid to any of the victims. Leaders and activists
of RSS/VHP/BD figure in the FIRs of the police, yet no action has been
initiated against them.
In September 1999, police fired 80 rounds
of bullets on Muslims from Rajpurani Pole near Mandvi, in Vadodara to stop
any Muslim who would come out on the road to save his/her property or to
protect the Jumma Masjid. Shri Nalin Bhatt, then a minister in the state
government, personally directed the firing by the police. He even made the
statement, "Muslims have no place in Hindustan. Either they go to Pakistan
or Kabrastan (graveyard)." In the current riots, some BJP leaders and
members of violent mobs made similar statements.
3. Enforcing Ghettoisation
3.1. On February
8, 2000, a horde of people ransacked the homes of Muslim families who had
bought homes in Paldi, a posh and predominantly Hindu inhabited locality of
Ahmedabad. The families who had just bought a flat there were terrorised,
their belongings destroyed. Two municipal corporators of the BJP led the
mob, shouting, ‘Jai Sri Ram!’ One senior VHP leader was also present.
The motive was to terrorise Muslims to move out of a pre-dominantly Hindu
locality. (The Asian Age, February 9, 2000).
happened in Paldi is becoming more and more common all over Gujarat state.
This violates Article 14 (Equality before the law), Article 15
(Non-Discrimination on grounds of religion, race, gender, caste), Article 16
(Equality of opportunity in matters of employment), Article 19 (Protection
of the freedom of speech, expression and movement), Article 21 (Protection
of life and personal liberty), Article 22 (Protection against arrest and
detention), Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion).
This was not an isolated incident. Social
and economic boycott enforced through terror and violence is happening every
other day in BJP-ruled Gujarat, where the writ of the RSS runs large.
4. Encouraging the RSS
4.1. In early
December 2000, the then CM Keshubhai Patel took the lead in lifting the ban
on government servants from joining the RSS. In response to a national
outcry within and outside the Indian Parliament, on December 15, 2000, the
Prime Minister, Shri Vajpayee, assured the Indian Parliament that there was
no question of army or government officials being allowed to join the RSS.
On February 6, 2000, Shri Vajpayee announced that he saw nothing wrong in
the move since the RSS was a cultural organisation. However, the BJP
government in Gujarat was forced to rescind its earlier directive following
relentless pressure from the opposition parties and even some of the BJP’s
4.2. Soon after
the Gujarat government announced its no ban on government servants from
joining the RSS policy; it played the role of a generous host at a national
meet of the RSS, an organisation that openly espouses its goal of a Hindu
State. Photographs of the then union home minister, Shri LK Advani, standing
alongside the then chief minister Shri Keshubhai Patel (the latter donned in
the trademark khaki shorts of the RSS), at the head of the rally, were
published by major national newspapers throughout the country. On January
11, 2000, following its convention, the RSS heaped lavish praise on the
state government for the "free services" it provided to the three-day
‘Sankalp Shibir’. Pucca roads were laid overnight especially for
the event and free drinking water and sanitation services provided. The
Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation stationed 260 new buses at the
venue to facilitate transportation of participants. This amounted to a
blatant misuse of government and semi-government machinery. Billboards put
up by the VHP all over Gujarat since 1998, proudly proclaim: ‘Welcome to
Hindu Rashtra’. (‘Welcome to a Hindu State’).
5. Discrimination Politics
5.1. The Gujarat
government has also taken a series of administrative measures that directly
violate the Constitution. These are:
u A selective census specially directed at Christians and
Muslims in the state.
u A selective census of SCs and STs initiated to
ascertain ‘when they converted to Islam or Christianity.’
u A directive to the state police asking them to
‘investigate’ every case of inter-religious marriage. This followed spurious
propaganda by the RSS-VHP-Hindu Jagran Manch combine that Muslims were
abducting and marrying Hindu girls in order to convert them to Islam, while
Christians were guilty of forced conversion.
u Inter-community marriages between couples are frowned
upon by the state. In 1998, the government directed the police to set up a
special cell to investigate every case of inter-community marriage. Recently
a Christian groom was forced to convert to Hinduism even after his marriage
to a Hindu girl took place in a civil ceremony before the courts.
6. Imposing Hindutva
children have had to sit for exams on Id day. A few years ago, the Gujarat
government also tried to remove Good Friday from its list of public
holidays. A volley of protests from the Christians forced them to shelve the
6.2. In January
2001, the education department of the Gujarat government issued a circular,
directing all schools in the state to subscribe to the RSS mouthpiece,
Sadhana. The directive was allowed to lapse thanks to widespread
criticism and protest.
6.3. In January
2002¸ the Gujarat state’s education department ordered that all grant-in-aid
schools must perform dharti poojan on January 26, the day on which a
killer earthquake had devastated Gujarat a year ago. The fact that such
activity is contrary to the practice of religious minorities was
deliberately ignored. A government circular issued earlier this year,
informed tribal welfare institutions receiving grants from the government
that a part of the sanctioned amount this time would be paid to them in kind
– copies of Hindu scriptures.