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

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Deeply Flawed

Recent events in Nandigram have led to varied reactions. One, which has become more marked recently, is the at­ tribution of commonalities of these events with the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. The common features are said to be the use of politically organised cadres, and the absence or active participation of the police force in the course of the violence perpetrated on the victims. The victims are said to be the Muslim peasantry of Nandigram and the Muslim population of Gujarat, respectively. In this view, the scale of the violence may be different, but they are expressive of a shared anti­ Muslim political culture and of shared state connivance in violence perpetrated on the poor.

We, too, have been appalled by the events in Nandigram and the equivocating response of the West Bengal government. However, interpretations of events such as that summarised above are deeply flawed, being shockingly dismissive of the sheer enormity of the Gujarat po­ grom. They have the effect of trivialising the large­scale physical elimination, and then planned ghettoisation of a faith­ based section of the population. This project which was unleashed in 2002 in Gujarat, continues to this very day, clear­ ly exemplified by the statements of the chief minister. Here, those targeted were Muslims across various social strata, with varied political persuasions. In comparison, the events in Bengal are ac­ tually reflective of a continuing political struggle over the grievances of a social group, the peasantry of different reli­ gious denominations, in a limited region.

We strongly feel that such generalisa­ tions grossly diminish the degrading na­ ture of the assault on both human and democratic values that the Gujarat experi­ ences exemplify.

Nasir Tyabji, Satish Saberwal, B G Verghese, Rashmi Doraiswamy, Amar Farooqui, Aijaz Ahmad, Anil Nauriya and others.