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GODHRA CARNAGE :COMMUNAL HISTORY
M.D. Deshpande
Jun 2015

        1927-28: Murder of P.M. Shah, a leading local representative of Hindus.

1946: Mr. Sadva Hazi and Mr. Chundrigarh, pro- Pakistani Muslim leaders were responsible for attack on a Parsi Solapuri Fozdar during communal riots. After partition, Mr. Chundrigarh left for Pakistan.

1948: Mr. Sadva Hazi conspired an attack on the District Collector, Mr. Pimputkar in 1948 but his bodyguard saved him at the cost of his own life. After that, Mr. Sadva Hazi also left for Pakistan.

On 24th March, 1948, one Hindu was stabbed to death near a mosque in Jahurpur area. Around 2,000 houses of Hindus were burnt, besides Hindu temples.  District Collector Pimputkar could save the remaining  areas belonging to Hindus by imposing curfew, which lasted for six months.

1965: Shops belonging to the Hindus were set ablaze near police chowki No. 7 by throwing incendiary material from the nearby two Muslim houses, viz. Bidani and Bhopa. It could be possible allegedly because of the Congress MLA belonging to the minority community.  PSI of this police chowki, which was near the Railway Station, was also attacked by anti - social elements.

1980: An attack was made on the Hindus on 29th October, 1980, which started from the Bus Station of Godhra.  This attack was planned by Muslim mincreants who were involved in anti-social activities near the Station Road area.

Five Hindus including two children of five and seven years of age were burnt alive. A Gurudwara was also set on fire, in Shikari Chal of this area.  Forty shops belonging to the Hindus were also set on fire in station area.  Due to these communal riots, Godhra was put under curfew for a year.

1990: Four Hindus teachers, including two women teachers, were murdered and cut into pieces by miscreants in Saifia Madrasa in Vhorvada area of Godhra on 20th November, 1990 in front of children. On Hindu tailor was also stabbed to death in this area. All this was done by anti-social elements allegedly at the instance of the Congress MLA of the area.

1992: More than 100 houses belonging to the Hindus were set on fire near the Railway Station in the year 1992 to snatch away this area from Hindus.

2002: The bogies of Ahmedabad-bound Sabarmati Express were set on fire on 27th February, 2002 by Muslim miscreants. S-6 coach carrying karsewaks returning from Ayodhya was targeted as a pre-meditated plan/ conspiracy. 59 innocent men, women and children died and 40 sustained injuries. The attackers had a plan to set on fire the entire train but could not do so because the train was late for four hours and they could not take the advantage of darkness of night.

2003 September: Ganesh idol immersion saw stone pelting and conflicts between Hindus and Muslims.

Mahatma Gandhi's Views

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) had also written about the Muslim communalism in Godhra. The following are the exact words of Gandhiji in the said rticle entitled “What are we to Do?” in Young India (11th October, 1928):-

“Two weeks ago, I wrote in Navajivan a note on the tragedy in Godhra, where Shri Purshottam Shah bravely met his death at the hands of his assailants and gave my note the heading Hindu-Muslim Fight in Godhra. Several Hindus did not like the heading and addressed angry letters asking me to correct it (for it was a one sided fight). I found it impossible to accede to their demand. Whether there is one victim or more, whether there is a free fight between the two communities, or whether one assumes the offensive and the other simply suffers, I should describe the event as a fight if the whole series of happenings were the result of a state of war between the two communities. Whether in Godhra or in other places, there is today a state of war between the two communities. Fortunately, the countryside is still free from the war fever (no longer now) which is mainly confined to towns and cities, where, in some form or the other, fighting is continually going on. Even the correspondents, who have written to me about Godhra, do not seem to deny the fact that the happenings arose out of the communal antagonisms that existed there. “If the correspondents had simply addressed themselves to the heading, I should have satisfied myself with writing to them privately and written nothing in Navajivan about it. But there are other letters in which the correspondents have vented their ire on different counts.

A volunteer from Ahmedabad, who had been to Godhra, writes: You say that you must be silent over these quarrels. Why were you not silent over the Khilafat, and why did you exhort us to join the Muslims? Why are you not silent about your principles of Ahimsa? How can you justify your silence when the two communities are running at each other's throats and Hindus are being crushed to atoms? How does Ahimsa come there? I invite your attention to two cases:

A Hindu shopkeeper, thus, complained to me: Musalmans purchase bags of rice from my shop, often never paying for them. I cannot insist on payment, for fear of their looting my godowns. I have, therefore, to make an involuntary gift of about 50 to 70 maunds of rice every month? Others complained: Musalmans invade our quarters and insult our women in our presence, and we have to sit still. If we dare to protest, we are done for. We dare not even lodge a complaint against them.

What would you advise in such cases? How would you bring your Ahimsa into play? Or, even here you would prefer to remain silent! “These and similar other questions have been answered in these pages over and over again, but as they are still being raised, I had better explain my views once more at the risk of repetition. “Ahimsa is not the way of the timid or the cowardly. It is the way of the brave ready to face death. He who perishes sword in hand is, no doubt, brave, but he who faces death without raising his little finger, is braver. But he who surrenders his rice bags for fear of being beaten, is a coward and no votary of Ahimsa. He is innocent of Ahimsa. He, who for fear of being beaten, suffers the women of his household to be insulted, is not manly, but just the reverse. He is fit neither to be a husband nor a father, nor a brother. Such people have no right to complain ...”  (extract from To the Hindus and Muslims, a collection of articles by Gandhiji from Young India).

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