the one year anniversary of the violence in Gujarat approaches,
tensions between Hindus and Muslims are, once again, rising.
A few events in the last week illustrate the growing danger
to the fragile situation.
The BJP and Sang Parivar is exerting
new pressure on the Supreme Court to lift the ban on
all religious activity on the 67 acres of disputed land
in Ayodhya. More recently, the VHP general secretary
has asked the government for the “entire acquired land,”
not just the disputed land in Ayodhya, by February 22,
2003. Given that the burning of the mosque at Ayodhya
in 1992 and the beginning of construction on a temple
on the same site in 2002 sparked outbreaks of widespread
violence – this is a particularly provocative move.
Maulana Hussain Umarji, an iman in Gujarat,
was arrested in connection with the Godhra train massacre
of last year. The police claim he is the mastermind
behind the attacks, but local Muslims have rallied behind
him, protesting that he is a respected community leader
who helped rehabilitate victims. As of yet, there have
been no arrests in connection with the deaths of Muslims
in last year’s events.
There is also growing concern over 650
Muslims in the Dahod refugee camps. The refugees were
displaced after post-election violence on December 31,
2002 destroyed their homes. Organizers have also raised
concerns over the lack of health and sanitation in the
The Center for the Prevention of Genocide
will be monitoring Gujarat closely in the next few weeks.