Gujarat after Godhra: real violence, selective outrage

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Gujarat after Godhra: real violence, selective outrage is a book by Ramesh N. Rao and Koenraad Elst.

Co-editor of Gujarat after Godhra. Real Violence, Selective Outrage (Har-Anand Publications 2003, with Prof. Ramesh Rao): Collection of papers on the Hindu, Muslim and “secularist” reactions to the Gujarat riots (early 2002) provoked by the Godhra train massacre, and prematurely blamed on Narendra Modi and the Hindu movement.


  • In the Gujarati town of Godhra, on 27 February 2002, a Muslim mob set on fire a train wagon carrying passengers returning from a Hindu pilgrimage to Ayodhya, killing 58. This incident ignited a cycle of communal violence affecting much of the state of Gujarat, which remained in a state of crisis or at least unease for six months. More than a thousand people (about 800 Muslims and 250 Hindus) were killed in riots, and many more rendered homeless and forced to seek shelter in refugee camps. Strangely, the effective cut-off date for this period of tension was another violent incident: on 24 September 2002, two Muslim terrorists entering the Hindu Swaminarayan shrine of Akshardham in Gandhinagar. The events of Godhra and Aksardham define the time-bracket of the present study.
  • The extremely brazen-faced application of double standards in the name of secularism was a ubiquitous feature of the media's reporting and comment on the Gujarat riots. By now the complaint that "you secularists weren't half as indignant, in fact entirely uninterested, when a quarter million Hindus were cleansed from Kashmir" is entirely worn out and boring, but only because it remains unanswered and hence in need of being repeated.
  • It is all very well for intellectuals in their air-conditioned offices to bemoan the unbelievable impact of either mean-spirited or silly rumours in the genesis of communal riots among the common folk. But in this instance, in their own reports on and analysis of communal violence, factual data were just as shamelessly replaced with invention, rumours and conspiracy theories. In this respect, religious extremists such as the Shahi Imam have behaved themselves better than the secularist campaigners who pose as the guardians of modernity and the scientific temper. Arundhati Roy risked the international fame she so clearly cherishes by going public with blatant lies about atrocities against named Gujarati Muslim women who turned out to be either non-existent or abroad at the time of the riots. Perhaps a fiction writer can afford this, but the news media with their deontology of accuracy and objectivity made themselves guilty of similar howlers. Internationally influential media like the Washington Post copied from an Islamist website rumours about Hindu provocations behind the Godhra carnage, falsely claiming a Gujarati journalist as source, and never publishing a correction when the journalist in question denied ever having put out such a story. With such media, who needs rumors?