Godhra!

Today is a special day in the history of contemporary India. Today is the day when a train was burnt. Today is the day, 58 people were systematically killed. In the riots that followed, more than 1000 others died, 200 went missing, more than 500 places of worship were burnt down. Today is the day, some of us choose to remember Godhra.

Forget about religion, this is a day when people died. Common men who care for their daily bread and butter were slaughtered. It is ironic how one political party managed to create a political avalanche and ride the piggy bank of excellent media coverage and coming back to power, while the other party which ruled the state of Gujarat, continues to rule it in the name of development (spelled PR). It is further ironic how the victims of the massive riots still await justice. Not just Godhra. Pick a riot. Take the ones in 1992 following demolition of Babri Masjd, which was obviously followed by Mumbai serial blasts, or the anti Sikh riots following India Gandhi’s death in 1984, or the partition of India for that matter.

Time and again, communal riots in our country have been used in elections to mislead the electorate and extend political gains. Time and again, justice has taken the back-seat! No violence, least of all, in the name of religion, is justified. Politically influenced riots are a major challenge for our nation. The only solution to this is, people clinging to their humanity and pacifism above other dysfunctional and divisive identities, including the national one. Unless people (and not Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs) dying in these riots brings hopelessness to us, political leaders will continue playing their divisive politics, humiliating us as a species that went too far with it’s imagined realities like religion and nations.

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