This day one year ago was to become a day of sorrow for the people of Gujarat in particular and India and the world in general. On Feb. 27,2002, the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express,full of Ramsevaks returning from Ayodhya, was allegedly set on fire, around 800 meters from the Godhra railway station, between 8 and 8.30 am. Fifty eight persons inside the coach, and belonging to a particular community were burnt alive allegedly by a mob consisting of members of another community.
This act is to be condemned by one and all and was a dastardly act.No words can describethe horrific nature of this tragedy. Was it spontaneous or a planned act is still being probed.
However what was to follow was still more horrific and frightening. Tthe completely burnt bodies of the Ramsevaks were brought to the Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad during the night of Feb. 27-28. When these were witnessed by the relatives,activists of certain beliefs and assembled persons,the passions run skyhigh and calls go out for revenge.
Violence spreads like wildfire thrughout the state of Gujarat. People of one community are targeting the persons and property of the community held responsible for torching the S-6 coach at Godhra. People are being killed by hundreds and property is burnt and destroyed by the thousands. Suddenly people realise that there seems to be a lack of will to control the riots. The police appears to be selective in controlling the violence and in many pointed cases even fails to provide protection. The army is sparingly used. The politicians also appear to be not doing their bit to normalise the situation as they would be expected to do. For about three months or so mayhem rules thye streets of a large number of urban and rural areas of Gujarat. When the situation comes under control nearly 2000 persons
The communal situation in Gujarat is polarised. The social fabric is fractured .Attitudes are hardened. Showing of remorse or compassionis is at a premium. The extensive coverage by the electronic media brings Gujarat into focus for a wrong issue.
In the elections that are held after a few months in 2002, the party ruling the state during the riots is voted to power by a handsome majority and is returned once again by a still better majorty in 2007.In the period since 2002, no one is any wiser as to why and what happened. The affected persons are still seeking justice, the rulers are not expressing remorse or regret at their inability to protect the lives and property of those killed at and post Godhra.Attention is sought to be diverted by pointing at the 'development' agenda.A decade seems to be not enough for the riot related cases to be decided.
Affected persons of both the communities are struggling to carry on with their lives. The only fear is that so many sane people today became mad during the fateful days and having committed the crimes are roaming scotfree in the society today. But can the memories of 2002 be ever erased. Will its exploitation by politicians stop. Will the victims ever get justice Ten years is a large period in a victims life but perhaps not very significant in the lives of the perpatators and the exploiters. What is needed is a meannigful,respectful and sincere act of closure by the powers. Will they rise to the occassion?