New York = Ahmedabad ?

I saw this new movie New York recently. For those who don’t know, it’s about the retribution faced by Asians (especially Muslims) in America after the 9/11 attacks. A very nicely told story of how a perfectly innocent guy is driven to terrorism and destruction just because of his religion.

The first thing that came to my mind after I saw this movie was, How similar the story and the issue depicted in the movie is to what happened in Gujarat post-godhra in 2002. The more I thought about it, the more I realised how intolerance and prejudice (racial or religious) transcends borders and is the same everywhere.

In New York, the plight of the Muslims in America after the w.t.c attacks is the same as that faced by those in Gujarat in the immediate aftermath of the Godhra massacre. Not only that, even the reason of their misery is similar. While what happened in America was a reaction to the truly evil act committed by a few mindless zealots, what we saw in Gujarat was an outcome of the dastardly act committed by some fanatics in Godhra. The similarity is that in both cases, the people who faced the retribution were totally disconnected from the respective events. The average Asian in America had nothing to do with the terrorists just as the poor Bakery owner in Baroda or Ahmedabad had nothing to do with Godhra.

In the U.S, what happened was due to the prejudice that suddenly sprang up against Muslims, Arabs and Asians along with the free hand given to the investigative agencies there. What we saw in Gujarat was due to the intolerance that has been systematically developed among the Gujarati populace by fanatical right wing organizations that use “Ram” to justify their acts. This intolerance in Gujarat has also percolated into the law enforcement agencies which were mute spectators and at times even active accomplices in what happened.

I ve heard many people praise New York and sympathize with the victims in the movie. All I wish is that we showed similar empathy and solidarity even in real life, in Gujarat. I don’t want to get in to the politics of the issue. I despise Modi for what he did (or didn’t do). I know most of my fellow gujaratis don’t. I don’t care. All I wish is that we, as a civilized, peaceful society; and as a state that gave India Gandhiji and Sardar Patel atleast understand the gravity of what happened in February 2002. I feel saddened by the fact that we have, in the last 7 years, not made a single expression of collective remorse at what happened! We must learn from Australian P.M Kevin Rudd who publically apologized for what the country had done to the aborigines there. Would it be too much to expect our elected leaders to at least say they regret what happened? A little compassion never does any harm….

I know some friends who still justify what happened 7 years ago by using the “Every action has a Reaction” nonsense. To them all I can say is that reactions do not happen hundreds of kilometres away from the action!! I don’t care what view you subscribe to, left, right or centre. At least be humane enough to feel sorry for what happened…..

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23 thoughts on “New York = Ahmedabad ?

  1. Nice to see you back here Deval.
    I would have commented on this one…but i don’t have the complete knowledge of this issue. And i have heard somewhere that “HALF KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS” and it is the only reason i am not giving any proper comment on this issue….

    but it is a nice article anyway!!

  2. I haven’t visited this site before but it’s really great site to present your ideas and thoughts!!

    Deval, it’s nicely written thought provoking article and I fully agree what you have just said and your beliefs. I must watch New York! Will get back to you shortly 🙂 But I am sure there have been such incidences happening all around the world. Not just Gujarat or New york but every corner of the world. It’s not injustice to Muslims but every other person who is attached to one or the other religion and is suffering with such incidences and racial bias. Unfortunately it all started way back in ancient times when the powerful ruled the weakest. Our Lord Krishna supported the war that was based on “Dharma” and there are many followers of him. The great King Ashoka did mass killing thousands of innocents. He expanded his kingdom like anything and later he realized what he did wasn’t correct but it was too late. Aren’t we supportive of these great leaders? Our leaders today aren’t exceptions either. But to change all these, we first have to change ourselves and the present system in our country. We need to REMOVE EVERYTHING that’s based on religion or caste. You would say how.. well if we think hard.. it’s very simple. An example could be.. remove the field of “Religion” or “Caste” from EACH AND EVERY official registration forms and application forms. Start with each and every registered school. I would challenge anyone who says it’s impossible to implement it. In fact it will make life much simpler and remove a lot of administration work for the schools too!!

    Sorry to divert the original topic but I thought they are related somehow.

  3. thanks dhavalbhai…

    me and some friends of mine started this blog as an outlet for our thoughts….

    i agree with what u say about religion. But what you are suggesting is a very ideal thing. Something that one can only dream about. I dont think removing all traces of religion is possible in today’s India.

    The best we can do is not allow religion to dictate what we do. Religion should be a part of our identity and not the other way round.

    The word tolerance seems to have gone out of our lexicon…. That must not happen

    and @chintan : thanks 🙂

    • @anonymous…
      i ve seen that site… and this post is not for blaming anyone for the riots…..
      i have my own views on modi but this post is not abt him…. so i dont think i need to comment on the site u suggested….
      and ya its very easy to make websites and all… but u cannot deny a pogrom when it happens… 2000 deaths or 700 doesnt make a difference.
      and y are u posting anonymously dude… everyone is entitled to their opinion.. u dont need to hide…

  4. the “few” lunatics didnt do as much damage as the attitude of the average gujarati did….

    and there’s a difference between collective remorse and collective responsibility.

    i m not asking u to say u were responsible for what happened…. i am asking u to feel sorry that such a thing happened ur state… by u i mean all…

    collective responsibility sounded familiar…. now i remember… rajnath singh’s being using it of late… 🙂

    • Deval, there is no point in writing about some individuals.. no point in bring what Rajnath singh said or what Indira Gandhi did and what Tytler did to sikhs and what modi did to muslims. No one knows what are facts and what’s made-up. There is no end to it. We better write about new ideas and suggestions. I am sure we have a lot. It’s good that you have started with few ideas but we want more like this from everyone and then try to bring them in practice.

  5. hehe… i mentioned rajnath because my friends use of the phrase “collective responsibility” reminded me of rajnath singh’s explanation of bjp’s recent defeat… 🙂

    i agree with u … no point bringing individuals in it…

  6. Loss of any life is a tragedy- be it 790 or 2000. But a loss of 790 Muslim and 254 Hindus in a population of 5 crore is no “Pogrom”. Narendra Modi- far from being involved in the riots- handled the riots extremely efficiently- and managed to stop riots in 72 hours- despite brutal roasting of 59 Hindus including 40 women and children in Godhra by Muslims- while it took previous Congress governments 6 months to stop riots in 1969 and 1985 in Gujarat- even without any cause as Godhra.

    If you continue to hate Modi- despite his administration saving 24,000 Muslims from ceratin death in the riots- in places like Sanjeli, Bodeli, Viramgam- then you are not a rationalist. You will be just as fanatic and irrational as any rioter if you go by blind hatred for Modi- instead of logically seeing reason and what he actually did in those riots.

    But you are ignoring the fact- unlike USA- Muslims were EQUALLY ON THE OFFENSIVE EVEN AFTER GODHRA- and attacked and killed hundreds of Hindus even after Godhra. Muslims were hardly the cattle hiding from the slaughter house that you make them out to be in this post.

    You know the reason why Muslims are viewed with suspicion? It is because of Muslim religion- Islam- which TEACHES VIOLENCE AND TREACHERY- Islam teaches CONVERT OR KILL.
    See this link- (link removed due to inappropriate content)

    You must first see this site (link removed due to inappropriate content)
    Then see (link removed due to inappropriate content)
    And finally- (link removed due to inappropriate content)

    Rise out of your sleep- and realize that Muslims will CONVERT OR KILL- there are more Godhras in store. See what they did for 1000 years.

  7. Thanks for your reply Rahul… Finally I got an example of the kind of ppl I was talking about…

    As far as definition of “pogrom” is concerned… Get ur definitions right…U dont see the amount of ppl killed while naming something a pogrom!!

    Here’s one link for you
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogrom

    Now going to your “I love modi” rant… My post was not about modi… if u read it carefully… I am entitled to my personal opinion about modi rite? just like u are abt ur wonderful views on islam and all….

    I’d like to clarify once again… i am not talking abt modi in my post… I want us to forget the whodunit thing for a moment and acknowledge the gravity of the incident. Thats all.

    the point in my blog is not about modi… its infact people like you. I ve been equally critical of both godhra and post godhra things… Infact I ve put religion aside when i say that we must have remorse abt the killing of so many people… but its ppl like u who I have a problem with..
    “U hurt me so I ll hurt all the ppl I meet that resemble u” – This is the mentality such ppl have…

    All I wanted from that post is to convey my sense of outrage at the remorselessness that’s prevalent among people today… And my outrage transcends all faiths and religions.

    As far as the latter part of ur comment is concerned… I dont think I need to reply to it… Your words have conveyed my point about fanatics quite well!!

    Lastly.. I have removed the websites u suggested from your comment. This blog cannot be a forum for such venom-spewing propaganda. We can discuss our views amiably but canNOT descend to such blatant communal talk. Sorry for disappointing you.. but this is my post. I decide what is appropriate here!

    Cheers

  8. Dear All,

    Its just a case of whether you want to follow Gandhi or Savarkar, Gandhi or Godse….

    We need to decide for our children, our coming generations, whether we want them to experience love or hate.

    Regards,

  9. hi rahul,

    i agree with what deval says. only because u r a hindu u come up and say such rubbish. problem is about mind set ppl like u have. forget about hindu and muslim, just try to think from humanity point of view. just killing people who have no relations with the mishaps is a solution??? doing that will give u a sound sleep at night?? its very easy to say such things with having your laptop on your lap but when things come to u ur perspective changes.

    its neva about being a hindu, a muslim , an indian or something……

    its all about understanding that u r a human being not GOD and hence u got no RIGHT to give or take any ones life.

    got it dude????

  10. Dear Deval-and Moksha,
    Your reply was not at all unexpected. Nor was your deleting the so-called “Venoumous” links. I thank you for deleting only those links while retaining the other parts of my comment!

    Do you think I have not with people like you before? When I put forward my arguments on Gujarat riots- they jump to conclusions- and unable to counter arguments- put words in my mouth. I have never said that what happened after was a solution. It was a TRAGEDY. But why exaggerate- and paint one-saided picture- that only Muslims suffered? Are the killings of 254 Hindus after Godhra- and 40,000 Hindus rendered homeless by Muslims- not killings- and human tragedies?

    Mr Deval- your post includes-“I despise Modi for what he did (or didn’t do). I know most of my fellow gujaratis don’t. I don’t care. All I wish is that we, as a civilized, peaceful society; and as a state that gave India Gandhiji and Sardar Patel atleast understand the gravity of what happened in February 2002.”

    If you are a true rationalist- you will not despise Modi- because he saved the siatuation in 72 hours. If you have proof to the contrary- present it- and counter the arguments raised by http://www.gujaratriots.com

    Mr Deval- WHY DO YOU DESPISE Modi? It is fully within your rights to despise Modi- but doing so blindly will indicate your lack of rational thinking. As for “pogrom”- forget wikipedia. If it was a pogrom- so was the roasting of Hindus in Godhra and even after Godhra- a ‘pogrom’.

    And as for saying “Got it dude”- I already got everything. I never justify or rationalize a single killing. But if you really want venomous literature banned- then first read Quran and see if that is a book fit to banned.

    I view everything from humanity point of view- but that doesnt mean you should whitewash the kilings of Hindus. Then why do you call the riots as a ‘pogrom’ against Muslims- if you want only humanity- no religions? Why dont you call the riots- as killings of humans- and sufferings of Humans- instead of “Suffering of Muslims”.

    • @Rahul Kedia

      Let me quote you “Narendra Modi- far from being involved in the riots- handled the riots extremely efficiently- and managed to stop riots in 72 hours”

      Well 72 hours. Yeah. After the VHP/RSS mob finished killing everyone, Modi “stopped” it. Absolutely

      “59 Hindus including 40 women and children in Godhra by Muslims” The evidence as to whether the people on the coach were Kar sevaks is patchy. Lots of discrepancies have come up during the investigations. It seems fire was also lit from the inside. The whole Godhra might have been a set up, a pre planned affair which was to be used an alibi for the subsequent riots. Read a few magazines and newspapers and you would know.

      ” You will be just as fanatic and irrational as any rioter if you go by blind hatred for Modi- instead of logically seeing reason and what he actually did in those riots.”

      Modi actually did everything in that riot, everything in his power to let it go on. As for being irrational, Rahul, anyone who believes in God or religion is irrational, first and foremost. Whats rational in religion and this my-shit-is-better-than-you-shit behavior of Hindus and Muslims?

      ” Islam- which TEACHES VIOLENCE AND TREACHERY- Islam teaches CONVERT OR KILL ”
      Yes, Islam mixes religion with military conquests and can be interpreted to incite violence. But thats true for “any” religion. Because religion means blind belief and submission which can be used to make the follower commit any act of violence. With religion,you lock up rationalism and throw it out of the window.

      Do you really think Hindus are very calm people? What about Anti -sikh riots? Or Hindu-muslim riots? Or Gujarat? Or beating up of girls in Mangalore?

      You are welcome to reply to my comments, Rahul

  11. Hi again Rahul!

    I m glad that this time I m seeing a much toned down comment from you.

    And ya u r welcome… I approved your comments more out of selfish reasons… !!

    I am quite happy that u acknowledge what happened as a tragedy.. that was the whole point of my post….

    I am also quite delighted that u have seen many ppl like me!! I thought mine was an extinct species!! 🙂

    Now, coming to ur problems with my points… U should see my blog again and see the words with which I have denounced godhra….: ” what we saw in Gujarat was an outcome of the dastardly act committed by some fanatics in Godhra” I couldnt be more categorical than that!

    But if u want me to treat one event as the reaction of the other and justify that then i wont do it.

    Nobody has whitewashed anything.. Tell me one place in the post that says godhra was rite…

    and pogrom : again u must refer to its definition… if u dont like wiki then go somewhere else… But u MUST.

    U should see my post properly and try to understand its context. I started with an analogy that struck me once… and i explained why i felt two things were similar…

    and then i went on to say how I felt that some ppl who approved of what happened here are sympathizing with what is shown in New York… and since u have urself said u feel all that has happened is a tragedy..you do not belong to that category of ppl. I guess we have one thing in common!!

    then towards the end i say we should show remorse for what happened… where have i said that killing hindus was justified????

    Now abt ur favorite topic.. modi!!!
    What i ve said in my post is that whether we like or dislike him is besides the point. I want ppl to rise above that topic.

    Now as to why i have problems with modi is not an issue here : in this post. If u wanna know why i dislike him… u have two options…

    1) wait till i write a post abt him
    2) start ur own blog and praise him. I ll surely express my points there

    This post is not about modi… and i m not going to let that happen either….

    lastly i dont want “venomous literature banned”. I just wont tolerate it here!!

    This is the last time i m talking abt ur points… kindly dont repeat them again. . Coz my views and urs are not going to change!!… If u wanna add something else to what u have already so nicely said, and that is relevant to this topic… u r welcome. Do not make this a Hindu vs Muslim issue..

    cheers!!

  12. Dear Rahul…….

    That is where the point lies… it should be called and understood as “Sufferings of Humans” and nothing else.
    Finally after a long discussion i think you understood what deval means to say.

    Dear Deval,

    A remorse can be planned out and things can be worked out and i completely agree with wat dhawalbhai has said about the arguements.

  13. Dear Rahul,

    i never said killing of hindus was correct or only muslims being killed is killing of humans or as such.

    the point is when i see this on humanitarian grounds, the only answer is sinful act as a reply for one sinful act is never a solution.

    it is never a solution but on the contrary its the beginning of a new problem. what do you wanna c – the children of yours and mine living in a time when there is no guarantee and security of life only and only because they are HINDU or MUSLIM.

    i understand a solution for something what happened is difficult but that never means that repeating the same from other side is a solution.

    i dont know ur opinion will change or not but yah i just wish and hope that destructive views of yours will change so that we can at least start dreaming about a peaceful INDIA where humanity is above religions.

    got it dude?

  14. Deval
    I completely agree with ur arguments in this article….I would like to add something to this article..

    I recently studied the graph of the Investment done in Gujarat.it had records of last 15 years…the graph says that before the 2002 GUJARAT Riots the investment or development of gujarat was very high…After Modi took the charge , growth went down drastically…..and after riots its very less….Due to this people all over the world have stopped investing in gujarat and thus the growth of gujarat came down in last 6 years…Modi every year oraganises the Vibrant Gujarat Summit but than no progress has been made in our state’s growth…

    i dont know that this comment is related to this article or not…i just wrote what came to my mind after reading this article…

    cheers

    • Hi Udit…

      I understand what you feel about the state’s progress and all. Its not exactly relevant to this topic.

      Moreover, things such as industrial progress and all are subjective and quite complex. One cant say that there has been no progress. That would be too sweeping a statement.

      I must admit I do not know enough to comment on what you have said.

  15. wow…A lot has been written , so let me add my two penny (or less?) worth of opinion.

    First of all I am happy to see Deval, a Gujarati, acknowledging that the Gujarat carnage was a mistake and all Gujaratis must take up collective responsibility of their action or inaction thereof. Hindu Gujaratis just stood by and let their muslim neighbours and friends get slaughtered.

    Before coming to NIT Surat, I had a grim view of Gujaratis. I was always wary of them. But I could never find the religious bigot in any of my Gujarati friends. Yet it stays like a thorn in the flesh. But still, Gujaratis are a great people (I love gujjus)

  16. I partly agree and partly dont with what Gaurav n Sandy have said….

    I didnt want this discussion to end up being about modi. That’s why I avoided his issue. I still dont want to go that way….

    But since so much has been said about modi, I’d like to add just one small point: Modi may or may not have been directly involved in what happened (we may never know that due to the wonderful system that we have) But one thing that no one can deny is that modi did take advantage of this ghastly incident (before anyone raises their hackles, I mean both godhra AND after that) for his political gain… He further polarised the already vitiated atmosphere. His statements prior to the 2002 assembly elections are proof of that…Patnaik, or Nehru or Gandhi didnt do that….

    And as far as Muslims supporting him is concerned, Its good if they do… Though one could cite the recent debacle of the BJP in Junagadh to counter Gaurav’s claims. But that is besides the point… just as ppl hating him doesnt prove he is guilty, ppl supporting him doesnt prove otherwise either, right??

    I agree with Gaurav that who the ppl killed in the train is immaterial and doesnt merit any debate.

    Lastly, thanks Sandy for liking my post but I do take exception to you saying that “Hindu Gujaratis just stood by and let their muslim neighbours and friends get slaughtered.” I have personally witnessed many examples of communal harmony and togetherness in the middle of all the havoc, I ve seen ppl of one faith risking their lives to protect their victimised neighbours… Lets not get into generalizations…

  17. @ Gaurav

    I mentioned kar sevaks because that is how it was initially told, that kar sevaks were killed by a muslim mob. Later investigations showed much to the contrary. Many people who were burnt in the coach S6 were not kar sevaks. I am not saying kar sevaks dying is a good thing, just that all this sounds like a big conspiracy. In the world of politics, truth is often stranger than fiction.

    As for trusting the investigations, initial forensics showed that the coach was probably burnt from the inside too. Later on, those investigative committees did some flip flop. All knowledge I have about the Godhra incident is from the newspapers and magazines.

    Who was to gain from a hindu-muslim riot? Well, God’s own party. The party that triumphed the subsequent elections. Didn’t Modi become a towering figure (a RSS favourite) after the riots. Every bit of the riots speaks of Modi’s complicity.

    I dont know about others but to me, the anti-sikh riots and the gujarat riots are equal on the scale of dastardly acts. And I do blame Congress for the anti-sikh riots. Its not that I hate the BJP only. I hate all of our political parties. Elections, to me, are about choosing the “current” lesser of the two evils.

    As for Hindu gujaratis not coming to the help of their muslims neighbours, well I did generalize a bit. There were many cases of Hindus coming out to help muslims. But those were evidently not enough. As of now, I have not met a single Gujarati who played a direct role in the riots. That does not mean they dont exist.

    As far as Islam inciting violence. Well its true and its true for every religion. Read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins.

    “Every religion is wonderful, they are all basically the same, just differ superficially say in some customs and rituals but the basic teachings stay the same.”

    I just have to say one thing. All religion are the same. Religion is basically guilt with different holidays.

    There is nothing wonderful about religion. Anything that cherishes ignorance and blind following cannot be.

    Nothing against any religion in particular. I hate ’em all.

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