There are people who claim to be ‘Champions of Dalits’, many of whom are full of hatred for Hindus and Hindu religion. Some people try to raise slogans like “Dalit-Muslim bhai bhai” trying to bring Dalits and Muslims together against the Hindu society, like Dr Udit Raj, formerly known as Ram Raj. Udit Raj is a man burning with hatred for Hinduism, which he left and adopted Buddhism. In 1995, BSP leader Mayawati became Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, and hurled abuses at Lord Ram, fabricated cases against upper caste people under the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act. Many people, from politicians like Sonia Gandhi, Ramvilas Paswan, Mayawati, Communists to social activists like Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar etc claim to be fighting for the cause of Dalits, the oppressed classes and other weaken sections.
Some of these people also falsely launch a campaign against Hindu organisations like RSS, VHP etc accusing them of being organisations of ‘upper caste Hindus’ with a ‘anti-Dalit’ bias. Organisations like RSS, which was praised for its caste-less character by Dr Ambedkar in 1939 during his visit to a RSS camp in Pune, have been trying hard to unite the Hindu society for the past 88 years. No one except the Sangh Parivar even talks of uniting the Hindus. But the media and so-called champions of Dalits try their utmost to paint the dedicated Hindu organisations as anti-Dalit. But what is the truth? When other caste people commit atrocities on Dalits, the media highlights the case and a hullabaloo is raised (and rightly so, so it should). Even if the attacks have nothing to do caste, or even if they are caste-based, when other caste people are involved, they are almost always projected as caste-based.
After 12 Dalits were killed in Bihar under Lalu’s rule in 1998-99, Sonia Gandhi herself visited Bihar immediately and declared that the state government has no right to be in power. (But then when the then Central Government tried to impose President’s Rule in Bihar, Sonia Gandhi opposed it and supported the RJD Government, allying with Lalu within 3 months).
But what happened when the attacks on Dalits were by Muslims?
The post-Godhra riots of 2002 in Gujarat were falsely projected as ones in which only Muslims suffered. But the truth is of course, that even after Godhra, Muslims were equally on the offensive and attacked and killed Hindus. Many of these Hindus were Dalits who suffered heavily in the Gujarat riots. India Today weekly reported in its issue of 15 April 2002:
“The next few days saw mayhem. In Ahmedabad, violence broke out on March 17 when Dalits in Danilimda area were attacked by Muslims”.
The report of Dr Suvarna Rawal published in Marathi daily Tarun Bharat dated 21 July 2002 is a must read. Here it is in full.
“Dalits suffered heavily during Gujarat riots
The news of Godhra inferno and the subsequent riots which erupted in other parts of Gujarat were highly disturbing events for the minds of any person interested in the welfare of the society. Yet among them, those of fights between Muslims and Dalits and Muslims and Adivasis were very surprising. Generally the slogan of ‘Dalit, Muslims – Bhai Bhai’ is raised and given a high pitch. There is also a talk of forming a federation of Dalit and Muslim by alienating Dalits from Hindu society. On this background, the news of Muslim crowds attacking Dalit localities or Adivasis shattering the Muslim localities was astonishing. The apprehension that perhaps, the Dalits are being used as shields in the Hindu Muslim riots also came to mind. This was the background in our minds, when we proceeded to visit Gujarat on behalf of the Survey Committee of Samarasata Manch.
But what awaited us was quite different.
…In the group of Ramsevaks in Sabarmati Express which was burnt to charred remains by Muslim fundamentalists, there were some Dalit youths also. Just as they became martyrs in the carnage, there were many Dalit brothers living in slums of different parts of Ahmedabad who were victims of Muslims attack. We heard a number of heart-rending reports from the relatives and neighbours of the dead persons during our sojourn in Gujarat. I am giving below a few of them by way of samples.
Ramjibhai Parmar was a 24 years youth from Gomatipur area which is inhabited by Valmiki community. He saw Constable Amarbhai Patil patrolling near the Masjid was being attacked with swords by Muslims and went to rescue him but Muslims fired at him and shot him dead. (This was also reported by India Today dated 20 May 2002 and rediff.com quoting the MoS Gordhan Zadaphiya on 22 April 2002)
Devendrabhai Solanki from Radhanpur, working in the Ahmedabad Sales Tax Office as Notice Server had come to the Nanu Wadkar house for Holi. On 30th March, stone-throwing started in the direction of this house. Children were playing in front of the house and to take them inside the home, he came out. A mob of about 5000 Muslims rushed on him while Darmesh some how slipped out, but one of them cut his face with sword. He lost his front teeth. Miss Dipti Solanki, daughter of Dendrabhai Solanki weeping incessantly, told us bitterly that after 13 days, the dead body of Devendrabhai were found cut in 25 pieces.
25 years old Vasantkumar Parmar, earning Rs.1000 p. m. by working in a private factory, was looking after his old father and unmarried sister. After curfew was withdrawn, bombs were thrown near his house, the lights went out and by the deafening sound of explosion Vasantkumar rushed out of house running. The Muslims which were hiding in an ambush on the way-out, attacked him with swords and killed him on the spot. His death cries shocked his sister-in-law Gitaben but she had the presence of mind to beat the Dish (Thali) loudly and collected people nearby. Muslims attacked this locality of 125 families from all four sides. If we had weapons, we would have fought with them better. Gitaben was sobbing saying, “My younger brother-in-law became a victim without any reason.
Pravinbhai Mooljibhai Solanki, a 25-year-old youth, living in the Ramanpura area, Saatchaali was running a Panpatti shop on lease. On Ramanavami day (21st April 2002) while he was returning home after closing his shop, Muslims attacked and killed him. Mooljibhai told us that Muslims from Daryapur-Kalupur area came in our locality and exploded a bomb. As the children and women were running away, Muslims fired on them. If Dalits kept arms with them for their protection, the Police took action on them, but they take no action on the Muslims when they keep them. He said they had a serious gripe against Police for this discrimination.
In the Khariwadi of Shahpura slum, there are about 220 Hindu and 10-15 Muslim families. To the left of the slum, there is a restaurant Relief Club.The Muslim manager of this hotel, got together fanatic Muslim youths from the same locality and set the houses in the locality on fire, first taking care to remove all inhabitants of Muslim houses to a safe place. They burnt houses of 35 Hindu families. Everywhere there was a desperate cry. Two girls from two houses were burnt alive. Seeing this spectacle, a 10 year Hindu boy, Suresh Mehru died of the shock. The Sindhi owner of the Hotel Reviera which is to the right of the slum, gave asylum to all these people and made arrangements for their food. These people of the slum belonging to Vaghari community were running the business of selling old clothes.
Behrampura is a Muslim-majority area having a population of 1,20,000. We found that in the minds of the Dalit community, there was a terrible anger against Muslims who had shattered the life of their community. Yusuf Ajmeri with a 1000 strong mob and with swords and guptis in their hands rushed to Hindu locality shouting “Kill Hindus, Allah is with us”. On 28th February, Kisanbhai Bhikabhai Dantani who was returning from work, was attacked on his chest with swords and was killed on the spot. His 70 year old mother was telling with deep sorrow depicted on her face. She told that this treachery was done by their neighbours who were living along with them for last 8-10 years. She said, “They had come to finish us. My son was killed, my daughter-in-law could not stand it and has left for her village. What will be the fate of my grandson Sanjay? They have completely made our life desolate and barren.”
Muslims living in Behrampura have houses with 2-3 storeys. They resorted to heavy stone-throwing on the Dalit localities. Jaisinghbhai Shyamjibhai, who had passed 9th Standard and working in a Hosiary shop was standing near his house. A heavy brick came down spinning at a great speed and hit Jaisinghbhai on the chest. The impact was so disastrous that his chest cage nearly broke open and he died on 1st March. Father of Jaisinghbhai works on daily wages in the Municipality. He was narrating us this history along with his children, all of them were terrified and jittery.
Dani-Limda area of Ahmedabad has a large population of weavers community. Piyushkumar a youngster living in the Annpurna Housing Society was told by Mustak Kania, Mohamed Rafique, Kasimbhai Ganichiya and Mustak Menon from Dhruv Society just in the front side, that they were planning to launch a rocket from their building and as the rocket will take off, Mecca – Madina will be visible. Believing this story, he went to see it with curiosity, but on going there, was riddled with bullets in the throat and liver. His father and other youths from the society took him to Lallubhai Govardhandas General Hospital, but before anything was done, he died on 12th April at 6 p.m. His parents were unable to speak anything to us and hence, his grand father related us this terrible story.
Dayabhai Rathod from Nirmalpura had taken Voluntary Retirement and was living along with his wife, 3 daughters and his only son Pinakin of 26 years old. When stone-throwing started, a bullet from the Police hit him and he was killed on the spot. We were simply short of any words of consolation for the continuously weeping parents. His maternal uncle was expressing terrible anger against the Police.
Ms Induben Laljibhai Gohil living in the Municipal Sweepers Colony near Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar bridge in Chamunda died of a Police firing. Jitu of Marwari community living in Behrampura locality also died in Police firing.
Dinesh Kantilal Makwana from Damodar Chawl was returning on 3rd March from his work. Near the graveyard, two Muslim youths stabbed him to death. His address was found by the police from some papers in his pocket and his body which had undergone post-mortem, was handed over to his grandmother who was the only relative he had.
Generally, Muslim community lives close together. In many areas, there are Dalit localities or slums alongside. Around such area there are many small factories run by Muslims and Dalit labourers working in them, live surrounded by the factories and Muslims. Those Dalit brothers who could not go out due to curfew, got caught in the deadly grip of Muslims. These financially weak people were the soft target for the Muslims. From the terraces of houses, it was easy and safe for Muslims to attack the single storeyed houses, slums or sometimes two storeyed houses with stones, and crude bombs. In the closed Muslim locality of Gomatipur, even an electric current was sent preventing Police to enter.
Crooked and selfish Politicians:
These stories are indicative and not exhaustive. Atrocities on Dalits were done on such a vast scale, but no secular politician from Sonia Gandhi to Ramvilas Paswan felt like visiting the affected Dalit localities. The reporters of English press or channels did not come at all to these areas. No progressive person wearing the mask of ‘anti-fanaticism’ felt like to wipe the tears of Dalits. Anti-fanaticism means unleashing criticism on Hindus is their equation and they have firm belief in the convictions that the love for Dalits is only a point for propaganda. The Dalits in Gujarat have got the test of this naked truth in the recent riots.
At the same time, Dalits got experience of the people from so-called Anti-Dalit organisations, RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal etc. coming to their rescue risking their own lives.
During this survey, we came to know as to how true was the minute analysis of Muslim mindset done by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.”
Along with this, let us now take a look at the report of The Indian Express dated 10 May 2002, Friday, written by Palak Nandi:
“A home for long now just a death trap
Posted online: Friday, May 10, 2002 at 0000 hours IST
AHMEDABAD, MAY 9: Prem Darwaza in Ahmedabad is another Panwad, though here Hindus are at the receiving end unlike the Vadodara village. The locality stands out with its burnt houses, and broken bangles, steel utensils and torn bed sheets scattered across the streets.
A half damaged wall full of charcoal scribbles summarises the Vaghri Vas locality’s feelings: ‘‘Mini Pakistan’’; ‘‘Miya Vad, Karachi’’; “Don’t come back or you’ll pay a heavy price’’, and ‘‘Hindus not allowed’’.
Before the riots, around 800 people lived at Vaghri Vas, mostly Hindu Dalits. In the hate wave that followed, both communities were targeted. While the Dalits fled, some Muslims dared to stay put.
Now things have changed. Unlike earlier, the minority community now calls the shots. Jeetendra Datania, an autorickshaw driver, said: ‘‘We were living here for almost 40 years. Though outsiders attacked their (Muslim) homes on February 28, they avenged it by driving us out on March 21. Now, not one of us dares to enter the locality.’’
A daily wager’s wife, Bhavnaben Naranbhai, said: ‘‘We were more in numbers. But we dare not enter our locality now. If we try, they shoo us away saying ‘Jo tha, sab khatam ho gaya. Chale jao, varna pachtaoge(Life’s no longer the same. Run or you’ll regret it).’’
The Dalits have put up at a nearby temple for when they returned home about a week back, they found dead animals in their houses. ‘‘The walls were full of warnings,’’ said Raju, Bhavnaben’s younger brother.
Life is much the same at Bhanderi-ni-Pol in Kalupur locality. As many as 518 riot-hit people from Kalupur Darwaza and Kalupur Tower now stay at the Bahuchar Mata nu Mandir. ‘‘We have no choice. My shop was looted, our house pelted with stones and handmade petrol bombs,’’ said Jaswantbhai Modi.
The locality of the temple is the ‘‘the border’’ for just across live Muslims. ‘‘A constant flow of stones, petrol bombs and even bullets from across the border is regular,’’ Nirmalaben Dave said. She lost her house in the riots. ‘‘We avoid going close to the border.’’
Though the camps here are registered, the refugees have not been allotted a building to stay in. Refugees in Kalupur sleep on the streets and those in Dariapur spend the days in a building under construction.”
This clearly proves that Muslims attacked Dalits. None other than The Indian Express reported this.
It is worth reading another front-pages article in the same newspaper, i.e. The Indian Express, dated 7th May 2002, also written by Palak Nandi:
“With no relief, they turn to religious places for shelter
Ahmedabad, May 6: THESE are the 1,000-odd riot victims for whomrelief is an eyewash. While some have been driven away from their houses, others had no choice but to leave their houses badly damaged in the riots.
Relief seems to be a far-fetched idea because since the past 15 days, theyhave been spending their days either on the streets or in a half-constructed building.
About 550-odd residents of the Prem Darwaja Vagheri Vas, Dariyapur, had no choice but to leave behind their belongings and take shelter in a near-by temple, following the violence of March 21. These Dalit families claim that they had been attacked by the people belonging to the minority community, who damaged their houses, property and drove them out of the area.
‘‘We had no choice but to take shelter at this temple. However, the temple cannot accommodate all of us hence, we are compelled to live in this half-constructed building,’’ says Gautamiben Dhirabhai, a resident of the Vagheri Vas.
This half-constructed building is right opposite the temple, in the same premises and though it does not have a single fully-built room, it is the ‘house’ for more than 400 people, while the remaining sleep in the temple.
The situation is no different at a similar relief camp in Kalupur. The Bahuchar-Mata-nu-Madir, located at Bhanderi-ni-Pol at Kalupur, is currently accommodating about 518 riot-affected victims. They are the residents of areas located between Kalupur Darwaja and Kalupur Tower and which witnessed violence on March 21.
While a few of these people sleep at their neighbour’s house, some sleep in the temple while the rest, mainly the men, sleep in the lanes, just outside the temple. The temple area is called as ‘border area’ by the local residents, as across the temple is the locality of the Muslims. ‘‘There is a continuous flow of stones, petrol bombs and even bullets at times, from across the border. All of us avoid even going close to the border,’’ says Nirmalaben Dave, whose house has been damaged during the riots.
The inmates of both the camps have demanded for a building, but as yet none of them have been allotted one. ‘‘We have been demanding for the Kalpur Municipal school number 14 and 19, for a long time now, but we have not been allotted the school building. Because of the space shortage, these people have no choice but to eat and sleep in the lanes,’’ says Paresh Thakkar, organiser of the camp, who lives nearby.
For years, both Hindus and Muslims lived together in the area. Now the mutual trust and faith between the two communities has been replaced by fear, panic and hatred.
‘‘For more than 60 years, we lived peacefully and there was never any problem. However, on March 21, a few people of my locality came to me and told me that I should leave my house for good and if I return, they will not be responsible for the consequences,’’ says Badamiben Prajapari, who lives alone with her son.
‘‘It is not safe for these people to live here as one does not know when the stone-pelting and violence will begin. Already, the third floor of my building has been damaged due to the petrol bombs,’’ says Bhagyovadan Khatri, trustee of the temple. But the refugees are apprehensive about returning to their houses.
‘‘About five of us were injured in a private firing on March 21. All of us now are very careful and avoid going to their area, except in a group’’, says Hitendra Shah, who was injured in the incident.”
This is a clear proof of the fact that Dalits suffered heavily in the riots, at the hands of Muslims. But the entire non-Gujarati media generally kept quiet on this issue.
The reporters of English press or channels did not come at all to these areas. On the contrary, they tried to push these atrocities under the carpet, ignore them, and act as if there were no atrocities on Dalits done by Muslims at all. Arundhati Roy, Brinda Karat, Medha Patkar, etc also did not bother to even let the world know these atrocities, not to talk of helping the affected Dalits and exposing the attackers (Muslims) and demanding harsh punishment to the attackers. No progressive person wearing the mask of ‘anti-fanaticism’ felt like to wipe the tears of Dalits.
These attacks exposed 4 catagories of people:
1- Media: It often reports cases which have nothing to do with caste as caste-based attacks. The genuine attacks and sufferings must always be reported, but in case of atrocities done by upper caste people, the media at times exaggerates. But when the attacks were done by Muslims, the media totally ignored them and pretended as if nothing happened.
2- A section of Muslims: Those who talk of uniting Dalits and Muslims against Hindus in general and RSS in particular were so fanatic that they did not spare even those with whom they plan to ally in other areas. The true face of fanatics is always that non-followers of their religion will suffer, be they of any caste or any other religion.
3- So-called Dalit leaders: So-called champions of Dalits like Mayawati, Ramvilas Paswan, Udit Raj etc who would have raised a hulabaloo had the atrocities on Dalits in Gujarat committed by Muslims instead been committed by upper caste Hindus, did not even notice and tried to suppress all these atrocities.
4- Hindu organisations like RSS, VHP: Volunteers of these Hindu organisations gave great help to Dalits often coming to their rescue at a great risk to their own lives.
When this writer talked to some ‘secularists’ on the attacks by Muslims on Hindus and Dalits in particular, he got interesting answers. In Muslim-dominated areas of Ahmedabad and other places, the Hindus living in minority, (often microscopic minority) many of whom were Dalits, suffered horribly, were thrown out of their homes, attacked and killed by Muslims. Not only that, even in other areas like Sindhi market and Bhanderi Pole areas of Ahmedabad the Muslims attacked the Hindus. The Muslim backlash started on 1 March 2002, 1 day after 28 February when the Hindus attacked Muslims in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya, Gulbarga Society and other areas. The ‘secularists’, after listening to these facts of Muslim attacks said to me:“It is natural and inevitable. If Hindus attack and kill them in Naroda Patiya, they will obviously attack, kill, render homeless the Hindus living in minority in their dominated areas in the next days”. This response has 2 important implications:
1- When Muslims attack Hindus, they think it is ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable’ because of attacks by Hindus on 28 Feb in Naroda Patiya. But for them Naroda Patiya attacks were not ‘inevitable’ and ‘natural’ because of Godhra killings of Hindus!
2- They know and admit that Muslims attacked Hindus even after Godhra, when they say its ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable’. If you know that its ‘inevitable’ that Muslims will attack Hindus in their areas and also other areas if riots last weeks, then why do they lie that Muslims were massacred in one-sided attacks ignoring attacks on Hindus, in particular, Dalits?