This February 27, 2002 photo shows the burning S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra. Credit The Hindu
Abdul Hafiz Lakhani | Caravan Daily
AHMEDABAD – The ongoing Patidar agitation in Gujarat has taken unexpected turns with Patidar Samiti leaders Rahul Desai and Lalbhai Patel lashing out against the governing BJP for its communal politics. “The BJP is fundamentally a communal party that has been planting its ideology of Muslim hatred for years now,” said Desai. “I can tell you with certainty that Modi would never have been re-elected as the chief minister in 2002 if it had not been for the Godhra train burning.”
In February 2002, a fire in the Sabarmati Express killed 59 commuters, many of them Hindutva karsevaks. Thirty one Muslims were later convicted of their alleged involvement in the fire. The Godhra blaze was followed by anti-Muslim pogrom across Gujarat in which more than 2,000 people died. Desai, who was in school at the time, remembers being shown videos of the Godhra train burning in class.
“They were doing it to propagate the idea that all Hindus need to come together or else the Muslims would kill us,” said Desai. “I don’t know if the men who burnt the train were Muslims or not, but I know that the Godhra train burning was a pre-planned political stunt by the BJP to win the state election later that year.”
When communal thinking takes root, says Desai, it is very difficult to get rid of. “Because of the BJP’s propaganda, all of us began to think communally, and I feel kind of cheated now,” he said. “Even today, people are afraid that Muslims will riot against them, but honestly, even if they….. (read more)