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Communal Violence and Inter-Community Relations

by Manoj Kumar Jha. Social Action,  Jan-Mar 2010

The submission of the voluminous report of the Liberhan Commission and the consequent noise and contentious positions impel us to look at the fragmentation of the communities and societies in recent times. It also wants us to look at the divergent frames of the private and thepublic memory before and after the demolition of the Babri Masjid seventeen years back. The available social data undoubtedly underlines that the worst of the violent episodes in recent times have occurred when the criminal aggression got "ritualised", meaning thereby that theperpetrators had nothing to fear and nothing to feel bad about, for it was all intrinsically devised as a set of rituals and supposedly with the consensus of a majority. The blurring lines between ritualised violence and brutal criminal violence indicate a major shift in the socio-cultural framework governing distantiation and sequently, the formation of the disparaged others category who are summarily denigrated as people, they are presented as entities who absolutely lack values and principles which are integral to our persona. In fact, the agitation whichwas led from the front by the VHP/BJP and RSS leaders witnessed substantial ruptures in inter-community relations in almost every part of India. Expression of violence brute physical and psychological, were just the natural corollary of a politics which frequently changed the garbs of religion, culture, politics and social reconstruction.

 

Role of the State in Promoting Communal Harmony

by Lalit Kumar, Social Action, Jan-Mar 2010.

Controlling communal violence and maintaining societal harmony is a must for any diverse democratic country for sustaining economic growth rate at a respectable level. It has also been realized that for accelerated development in plural societies, the social capital and civic infrastructure are as important as the financial capital and physical infrastructure.The concept of "communal violence" refers to any action of omission or commission which constitutes a scheduled offence on such scale orin such manner which tends to create internal disturbance within any part of the State and threatens the secular fabric, unity, integrity or internal security of the nation.

 

Ongoing Communal Riots, 2009 (A Report of Communal violence which occurred during the year 2008-09)

by Asghar Ali Engineer, Social Action, Jan-Mar 2010.

The year 2009 did not witness any major riot since the Gujarat riots of 2002, though the pattern of continuing riots is ongoing. However, no year so far has been a riot-free year. Communal violence erupts on a smaller scale in different places throughout India. It is interesting tonote that since the Mumbai riots of 1992-93 there was no major communal riot until the Gujarat riots in 2002, except in Coibatore in 1998 in which about 40 persons were killed. Similarly, since the Gujarat riots of 2002 there has been no major communal riots except in Kandhamal, Orissa, in which also around 40 people were killed. All this abundantly proves that communalism is a political and not a religious phenomenon and that communal graph goes up and down depending on the political dynamics of a region. It gives us hope that the bewildering diversity of Indian society cannot sustain communal violence on a long-term basis. If communal violence erupts, it is more because of weakness of secular forces than the strength of communal forces. Secular parties often lose courage and political will in the face of communal onslalught at certain junctures. If secular parties show courage and strong political will there is no reason why communalism will have a long lease of life.

 

Redefining Democracy as a Positive Alternative to Communalism

by Rohini Hensman, Vikalp X13, 2002,

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27 February, 1933: one of the blackest days in Germ an history. That was the date when the Berlin Reichstag, the seat of Germany's parliament, was set on fix. Hitler and the Nazis used the event as a pretext to hit at their Communist and Social Democratic opponents, annul basic rights, increase their share of the vote, and consolidate their power- Subsequent investigations showed that those who were accused of plotting and carrying out the arson could not have done so, and it was the Nazis themselves who lighted the fire) But that did not prevent Germany from going through the nightmare of fascism, and the murder of millions of people in Nazi concentration camps and gas chambers.

27 February, 2002: one of the blackest days in Indian history. Following the burning of a bogie of the Sabarmati Express near Godhra station in Gujarat, a genocidal massacre of Muslims throughout Gujarat was unleashed. Reports by numerous agencies who investigated the carnage concluded that it was planned well in advance, and carried out with the active complicity of the state government. Various spokespersons from the Sangh Parivar followed up the slaughter with open threats to do the same in the rest of India.

Initial accusations that the train was burned by a Muslim mob which surrounded it had to be abandoned when the forensic report revealed that the fire had started from within the bogie, fuelled by a large quantity of inflammable material. As in the case of the Reichstag fire, suspects from the community being scapegoated were arrested and apparently found guilty, without any explanation as to how they could have carried out the deed and escaped unharmed from a train packed with hostile Ram sevaks. When the aftermath is taken into account, the 'date begins to appear as something more than an uncanny coincidence.

 

 
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