Ten years have passed since the Gujarat riots. The images of burnt houses, smoking villages, charred babies, brutalized women and murderous sword brandishing mobs are still fresh and vivid in our psyches. It is very sad that thousands still languish in refugee camps and many more live on in terror, alienated within their own land.
Such examples of planned polarization, arson, looting and carnage aimed to further petty political ambitions make even the most optimistic evangelists of “Unity in Diversity” disheartened and skeptical. Are our differences so irreconcilable and our past so traumatic that we have to commence self destructing cycles of provocations, revenge and counter revenge at the drop of a hat? Is the dream of a unified India, proactively working together to realize its deserving place in the world community too utopian? Are we destined to sporadically and almost automatically trigger self defeating pogroms that undo everything that we have done so far? Can’t we just forget the past, quell the anger and hatred and move on? Can’t we diffuse and throw away, the time bombs loudly ticking all around us?
Today, I have a story for you that will give all the optimists and well wishers something to cheer for. A story that will definitely resuscitate hope within our hearts. Hope that our children won’t make the follies their predecessors did. Hope that the underlying foundations of love, tolerance and camaraderie that have been pushed deep down by the belligerent war mongers, divisive politicians and sectarian war lords will shrug off the layers of abhorrence and appear again. Hope that the true spirit of India, which has manifested itself every time our country has faced a real threat (Internal or external), will resurface once again… in a new invincible all pervading avatar.
My story is about the valiant fight put up by a defiant and fearless group, consisting mostly of non Muslims to win justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots. People who have put their own lives in extreme danger to struggle for the rights of their hapless brothers and sisters.
This is an incredible story- a riveting tale of sting operations, court cases, movie productions, digital protests, whistle blowing and bold social activism. This is the story about how our Non-Muslim leadership fervently stood by Gujarati Muslims. And this is the story of true India.
Officers like V K Gupta, Manoj Shashidhar, Narasimha Komar, Vivek Srivastava, M D Antani, Upendra Singh and Keshav Kumar who went against official dictates and ensured that violence was controlled in their areas.
The reporter who through a sting operation disproved the government’s take on the Godhra burning, the police officer who arrested the Sangh activists who hosted the Pakistani flag in Karnataka to trigger communal riots, the journalist who traced the true sources of Love Jihad propaganda. They were all non Muslims.
These are just a few names from the heroic cast of India’s epic battle against sectarianism and tyranny. I am sure that there are many more of these valiant fighters who shut out brainwashing attempts and rise over narrow communal inclinations to stand up for pluralism and togetherness. Every single one of them is India’s answer to the demigods of strife and odium.
While these heroes inspire me, they put me to shame as well. For I will find it hard to name even a handful of Muslim leaders who took up similar positions against the ethnic cleansing of pundits in Kashmir and the harassment of non Muslims in certain Muslim countries. But I hope that the selflessness of these heroes will inspire me and countless other fellow men to follow their steps- and to make the True soul and spirit of India stronger.
With gratitude towards my mentor, the author of the blog anindianmuslim.com for inspiration, context and data- Jai Hind