India, 20 Years Ago: The 2002 Gujarat Pogrom Against Muslims

Twenty years ago, India witnessed the most gruesome acts against its Muslim minority.

In the westernmost state of Gujarat, facing the Arabian Sea, starting in late February, thousands of Muslims were killed, even more were injured, in the most horrific manner one could imagine.

One particular episode, the “Naroda Patiya massacre” on the 28th of February, included pregnant Muslim women having their wombs slit open and the fetus then thrown into the fire before themselves being burned alive.

The Indian Express reported in 2012:

One of the goriest stories to emerge from Naroda Patiya after the riots was of a young nine-month-old pregnant woman’s stomach being slit open, her foetus being pulled out, and of her being set on fire. Kausar Bano was found lying half-burnt and naked outside her house.

As those who attacked her were finally punished today, her husband Firoz broke his silence of 10 years.

“My wife who was nine months pregnant was raped, cut and burnt. It was my biggest failure that I couldn’t save her. I have never spoken to anyone about her after her death,” he said.

What’s particularly disturbing in all of this is not so much the state complicity, Indian government having always been instrumental in the persecution of its Muslims. What is most disturbing is that the chief minister of Gujarat who made the pogrom possible later became India’s prime minister: Narendra Modi.

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The Wire recently reported:

India’s response to 2002 came in 2014; the 2014 election result would not have been possible without 2002. Why do I say so? Because there was something dramatically different about the violence of 2002 and the other instances of mass violence India had witnessed against Muslims and Sikhs before. Never had the leader of the state sounded so brazen about it.

The violence was called a shame for Gujarat. As a retort, Narendra Modi led a Gujarat gaurav yatra; apparently to restore the honour that was sullied by the ‘enemies of the state’. “What was there to be ashamed of?” he asked his people, leading them into active denial of the violence. In his speeches during the yatra, he made his people believe that the story of violence was a conspiracy of enemies who wanted to tarnish the image of Gujaratis.

As always, we’ll try in this article to give some context to all these issues.

Gujarati Muslims and Their Contributions to Islam

As per the 2011 census, Muslims make around 10% of Gujarat’s total population.

Like other Gujaratis, the Muslims are mainly into trade and business. Because of this, they have been travelling all around the world. Much of the “Indian” community you find in southern and eastern Africa, for instance, is  mostly Gujarati in background.

Some of South Africa’s best-known Muslims have been ethnic Gujaratis, including such luminaries as Ahmed Deedat. And for those who have a familiarity with Gujarati surnames, they can find them among the current South African Islamic scholars (“Kathrada,” “Dockrat” and so on, to just take some examples featured on the MuslimSkepticKnowledge Series“).

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These Gujarati Muslims mainly hailed from Surat, which, for centuries under the Mughal rule, used to be India’s most prosperous port city, and as such also attracted Muslim merchants from all over the world. This is why many of the locals from this part of Gujarat have foreign ancestry (namely Arab and Persian, but also Turkic and African to a lesser degree.)

This cosmopolitan nature of Gujarati Muslims, which further differentiates them from their non-Muslim neighbors, can be found in the faces of its people as well their architecture, their food, and their language.

Being a transcontinental, always-on-the-move, trading community, Gujarati Muslims thus played an active role in the spread of Islam, mainly into Southeast Asia.

Times of India reported:

“One of these legacies was Islam. There were influential scholars and teachers of Islam from Gujarat who, though few in number, planted the seeds of their belief in local disciples who in turn spread the word throughout the (Malay-Indonesian) archipelago. Gujarat was also the base of Islamic scholars from the archipelago who returned home to propagate the religion,” writes Leonard Andaya, a professor of Southeast Asian History at University of Hawaii at Manoa, in the book ‘Gujarat and the Sea.’

One of these Gujarati Muslim scholars was the 17th century author Nuruddin ar-Raniri, considered the first Muslim scholar of Southeast Asia.

He worked at the court of the sultan of Aceh, Aceh being a province in the northeast of Indonesia which then became a regional center of Islamic scholarship and which today has also the particularity of being the only province to apply Sharia officially in the country.

We could multiply the contributions made by Gujarati Muslims for the strengthening of Islam in India itself but also in many parts of Africa and Asia and, increasingly, in the West.

Hindu Sexual Frustration and Muslim Women

As often with Hindutva violence against Muslims, there’s a whole angle of sexual violence, which was particularly dramatic in this specific case of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom.

RELATED: Remember When Hindutva Called for Gang Rape of Muslim Women?

Tanika Sarkar is a well-known contemporary Indian historian who specializes in Hindu nationalism or Hindutva.

She wrote about the Hindutva sexual frustration and sexual violence against Muslim women during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom.

This is her contribution for the collective book Fascism in India: Faces, Fangs, and Facts, released in 2003.

We will quote at length to show the extent of the Hindutva sexual frustration.

She wrote in pp. 159-162:

There is a dark sexual obsession about allegedly ultra-virile Muslim male bodies and overfertile Muslim female ones, that inspire and sustain the figures of paranoia and revenge. VHP leaflets, openly circulating in Gujarat today, signed by the state general secretary, Chinubhai Patel, promise: “We will cut them and their blood will flow like rivers. We will kill Muslims the way we destroyed Babri mosque”. This is followed by a poem

“The volcano which was inactive has erupted
It has burnt the arse of miyas and made them dance nude
We have untied the penises that were tied till now
We have widened the tight vaginas of the bibis”

One of the most spectacular forms of sadism in the recent events had been the way Muslim female and infantile bodies were made to function in the drama of Hindutva terror. There had been earlier anticipations of that. The investigations made by the AIDWA in 1992-93, especially in Surat and Bhopal, had pointed out several similar features. Women were “tortured, molested, raped, and then burnt to death”. Sometimes, their children were killed before their eyes. (…)

One can go on narrating the ways in which babies and women were tortured and killed, but the point here is often the two acts were coupled together. The pattern of cruelty suggests three things. One, the woman’s body was a site of almost inexhaustible violence, with infinitely plural and innovative forms of torture. Second, their sexual and reproductive organs were attacked with a special savagery. Third, their children, born and unborn, shared the attacks and were killed before their eyes. (…)

Beyond Godhra are the legends that all boys in the shakhas are bred on: partition time rapes of Hindu women, rapes of Hindu queens under Muslim rule, abductions of Hindu women all through history by Muslims. There is also the perpetual fear of a more virile Muslim male body that lures away Hindu girls, a kind of penis envy and anxiety about emasculation that can only be overcome by doing violent deeds. Violence, for the Sangh, is both source and proof of maleness. In the 1990s, when communal violence had intensified, bangles were sent to localities where riots had not taken place, to taunt Hindu men with effeminacy. At Jawaharlal Nehru University, a post-Godhra procession of the ABVP chanted: ‘Jis Hinduon ka khoon na khola, woh Hindu nahin, woh hijra hain’ (Those Hindus whose blood does not boil, are not Hindus, they are eunuchs’).

This identification between killing and masculinity, is a strong and uniquely Sangh teaching. In Gujarat, mobs who raped, sometimes came dressed in khaki shorts or in saffron underwear, rape being obviously seen as a religious duty, a Sangh duty. In times of violence, Hindu male sexual organs must function as instruments of torture. (…)

Muslim children are a promise of future growth, of community self-strengthening, of survival of the community beyond the pogroms. (…)

The burning of men, women and children, as the final move, served multiple functions: it was to destroy evidence, it was to make Muslims vanish, it was also to desecrate Muslim deaths by denying them an Islamic burial, and forcing a Hindu cremation upon them; a kind of a macabre post-mortem forced conversion.

We feel for our Muslim brothers and sisters in Gujarat and India as a whole who have to sustain such existential frustrations from their polytheist neighbours.

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Abdullah

The only option left for Muslims of India would be to either leave India, or move to Muslim majority enclaves in India.

Baz

Whenever this kind of persecution of Muslims in India happen, the pagan fascists always bring up whataboutery to point out persecution of nonMuslims in Muslim lands, especially Hindus and Sikhs in their neighbors Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Part of solution to help India Muslims is to stop the khawarij in Muslim land (both organizations and vigilante mobs) from persecuting NonMuslim minorities through their relentless B0mbings, communal riots and lynchings which happen way too much

Abdullah

It’s actually against Islam to harm non Muslim subjects living in the Islamic state. Unless they commit a crime. But the problem is that Bangladesh and Pakistan are not ruled by Sharia. If they were ruled by Sharia, then Hindus in BD and Pak would actually be treated with much more honor.

Baz

I tell you from 1st hand experience which Muslim state actually treat NonMuslim EXACTLY as per sheria. GCC does perfect flawless job with this, by making 99% of their NonМuslіms into de facto Jizia-paying Zimmies (in the name of “expats paying fees to renew residency visa”), and give them high level of freedoms to live as per their religion and culture, all without affecting supremacy of Islam/Muslims in the land, and with ZERO khwarij attacks. Hence millions of cuffar relocate there and love it

Abdullah

GCC is not doing it out of devotion to the Sharia. Most GCC countries are openly enemies of Islam like Saudi, and UAE. Saudi and UAE have openly aided and abetted the Modi regime.

Baz

Every country has its good and bad points, pros and cons. The good thing about GCC is that even if their foreign policy isn’t exactly ideal, they are still unintentionally following sheria regarding NonMuslims, accidentally or as coincidence, in addition to keeping Islam as official religion, sheria as official source of law (at least in their constitution), and criminalization of blasphemy, in addition to their rulers making huge economic development and prosperity (which Afg+Pak can’t do).

Mehreen

‘expats paying fees to renew residency visa’ bro it’s a real thing and it is not simply to attack non-muslims. I am a muslim Indian and I live in Saudi Arabia, we pay the expat fee every year (it is a monthly charge though).

Last edited 3 months ago by Mehreen
fireworks

Hindus in Pakistan are even allowed to celebrate their shirki festivals in muslim majority cities. For example, during Diwali, you can hear lots of fireworks in muslim majority cities where there is a significant Hindu minority

Baz

No, hindus/NonMuslims in Pak(hawarij)istan not allowed to celebrate openly in the streets (only behind closed doors), they live in perpetual fear because of khawarij regularly making communal riots, 6om6 attacks on their temples/churches and gathering, and munafiqs bride-kidnapping their girls (all this is widely reported and admitted by the state and global media). Everything that India hindutva goons do to Muslims, PaKhawarij are keen to imitate those cuffar and do it the other way round.

akh

She wrote about the Hindutva sexual frustration and sexual violence against Muslim women during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom.”

This phenomenon is particularly strong in countries with severe gender imbalance. This imbalance is concentrated in the Hindu community because of selective abortion. China is another one.

This is also why they came up with the lie of “love jihad”….basically a mate guarding strategy to protect the Hindu community from an already huge female shortage.