Coming up to ten years since what I think is one of the worst crimes in Indian history; as also one of the worst breakdowns in law and order in our history. The massacres across Gujarat, of course.
There's so much that's already been said about those godawful weeks and months, so much that I don't even want to try finding something new to say. But these few points:
* To those who say there should be an end to "raking" up the past, there's just this to say: If there had been some kind of justice for everything that happened then, nobody would be raking up anything. Since there hasn't been that kind of justice, please don't expect silence. The country you live in is itself a testament to the spirit of folks who would not keep silent and who kept raking up injustice.
* To those who say we should "move on", there's just this to say: I'm set to meet someone who lost, say, a young son to the violence, who will say "It's true, we should move on." On the contrary: some of these people are the most dogged I've ever knowm, in their pursuit of justice.
* To those who speak easily and angrily about the "demonization" of the CM of Gujarat, there's just this to say: This man presided over a collapse of law and order across his state on a nearly unprecedented scale. If it had been any other state, this man's own party would have been leading the calls, and rightly so, for that state's CM to own moral responsibility for this collapse and resign. (Consider, after all, that the CM of Maharashtra lost his job after the terror attacks of November 26, 2008). But in this case, any criticism at all is immediately painted as an insult to a state, the demonization of a man. Both of which charges are nonsense. Understandable nonsense from those who want to sweep a massacre under a carpet, but nonsense nevertheless.
* To those who talk of "development" and the "efficiency" of Gujarat's government, there's just this to say: How do those things change the reality that 1000+ people were slaughtered in 2002? But more than that, what is the "efficiency" in failing to prevent those 1000+ being killed?
* To those who say "but are you aware of the ground realities in that state, then and now?", there's just this to say: I travelled Gujarat while some of the violence was still happening. I got a pretty good sense of some ground reality, thank you. It was this: 1000+ people had been slaughtered, and those wounds were still raw. That reality has not changed, and does not change because of other claims.
* To those who say "but why does nobody speak about these other horrific massacres in state X, under leader Y of party Z?", there's just this to say: Plenty of people speak about those other massacres too; if you choose not to listen for your own reasons, that's nobody's fault but yours. More important, the fact that you make these equations/comparisons is an admission that you know just how horrific Gujarat was, that you know there's been no accounting for it. Face up to yourself, for once.
* Finally, to those who say of Gujarat that it was "unfortunate", or "shit happens", or the like, there's just this to say: when a thousand and more Indians are killed, that's not unfortunate shit happening, that's a massacre. Equivocation doesn't change that.
Ten years on, I want justice for Indians slaughtered in Godhra, Ahmedabad, Dehlol, Halol, Baroda, and plenty of other places across Gujarat. I think you do too.