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Riots, violence and the power of perception
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Ali Khan Mahmudabad's reflections on the Muzzaffarnagar violence.



Ali was a participant at one of CfP's workshops on Identity.

At CfP, we are struggling to address the underlying causes of violence, and believe

that all change must start with ourselves…

There is no way to write a history of violence. Perhaps the only thing

that can be analysed, however incompletely, is the context in which

the violence takes place. Unfortunately, this approach too has major

shortcomings, not from the point of view of an analyst or academic but

from the point of view of those who are affected by the violence. Part

of the reason for this is that in the arguments over religious identity,

socio-economic backwardness, ideology, political machinations, the

numbers of people killed, or injured, caste configurations, the importance

of class and money, the individuality of the victims are forgotten or

subsumed into a narrative that does not seek to truly address the issue

but just to further its own particular cause: nationalism, liberalism, secularism,

Islam, Hinduism- you take your pick. In trying to write the history of violence,

often the history of the future of the individual is silenced. The biggest tragedy

and injustice is that those who die, suffer or are uprooted are denied their

talents, denied their future.


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