ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Short on Facts

Short on Facts Nireekshak INTERSPERSED with reports of the Gandhi Centenary celebrations, postmortem accounts of the Ahmedabad riots made grim reading in the newspapers last week. In a two-part article "Communalism in Perspective", written after a visit to Ahmedabad, Nandan Kagal of Indian Express put much of the blame on the massive procession taken out by Muslims to protest against the burning of the Al Aqsa mosque. He absolved Balraj Madhok, the Jan Sangh leader, of the charge that his speeches in Ahmedabad and other places in Gujarat just a few days before the riots broke out had roused anti-Muslim feeling. Kagal blamed the hypersensi- tiveness of Muslims as a major cause of communal tension. In Ahmedabad, as in most communal riots in the past all over the country, it was, he pointed out, the Muslims who had been responsible for the first provocative act. Kagal had a warning for Muslims: "India is a predominantly Hindu country which has chosen to be a secular State. The element of choice needs to be emphasised . . . The pity is that far too many of India's Muslims do not realise this." Other commentators were less inclined to absolve the Hindus and the Jan Sangh of a part of the responsibility. Writing in Hindustan Times, Ajit Bhattacharjea prominently mentioned among the factors contributing to the violence the fact that "two days before the temple incident, Mr Balraj Madhok, the Jan Sangh leader, was warning Ahmedabad citizens of an 'inevitable' Pakistani attack on Gujarat while casting doubt on the loyalty of Muslim leaders". Bhattacharjea also pointed out that "the first cases of arson after the Jagannath temple incident occurred after some time in a locality some distance away in which the Jan Sangh and RSS organisation is particularly strong".

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