I am not only talking of the post-Godhra riots, but Gujarat always had this inherent tension between Hindus and Muslims embedded in its polity and society. The recent revelations of an IPS officer that he was ordered to carry out a mayhem, despite his opposition does not run counter to my views. The statement of the officer created more than a furore in the country, but like all obstreperous things that happen in India, this also died down.
However, the pundits again in full throated glee tell us about the immeasurable progress the state has made, and panegyrics are showered upon not only the state and its people but also its most daunting Chief Minister. I remember in the 1990s one of my students who was studying in Ahmedabad told me that it was unimaginable the kind of undercurrents of tension and animosity that prevailed in the state among two religious communities. At that time I looked askance at him and wondered whether this was typically symptomatic of the Indian tendency towards hyperbole. I realise how correct his appraisal was and I find Gujarat to be vulnerable on many counts.
The first is of course the antagonism between two communities. The second is that there is a danger of being liberal minded and secular there. We can express secularist points of view sitting outside Gujarat, but what about inside it, but the IPS officer alluded to above had the moral guts to do so. Many dismissed it as a figment of imagination and a desire to arouse sensationalism, but what is the truth? Why did he make such an allegation? Would a government officer jeopardise his career in order to be in the news? Is this the only way of getting attention?
His allegations are now in the rubble and probably he has been transferred, or better still he has quit his job. I am not sure of either, although both were being contemplated, the first by the government and the second by the officer. But this is India, you can't say things, you have to clam up. Haven't we seen what happened in Mumbai recently? We have to learn lessons the hard way I suppose.
But what happens if Modi comes back to power? The answer is the hype about the thunderous progress of the state will continue, and the common Hindu or Muslim will continue to lead lives of insecurity and fear, the kind of fear that takes the worst out of a human being; the kind of fear that is incarceration of the human spirit and the bellicosity of the human mind and body and the kind of fear that represses. Have we ever thought of what happens to school children when they are in the midst of such calamitous riots such as those in Gujarat or other states? And what happens if Modi does not come back? Will this progress continue or will there be a regression of matters: social, political and economic?
The tryst with Gujarat is intertwined with Modi and his political fallacies...