Godhra is main centre of Panchmahal district, which is considered to be communally very sensitive. Chronology of a few communal riots/atrocities is appended below:
1927-28 Murder of P. M. Shah, a leading local representative of Hindus.
1946 Mr. Sadva Hazi & Mr. Chudighar, pro-Pakistani Muslim leaders were responsible for attack on a Parsi Solapuri fozdar during communal riots. After partition, Mr. Chudighar left for Pakistan.
1948 Mr. Sadva Hazi conspired an attack on District Collector Mr. Pimputkar in 1948 but his bodyguard saved him at the cost of his own life. After that Mr. Sadva Hazi also left for Pakistan in 1948.
On 24 March 1948 one Hindu was stabbed to death near a mosque in Jahurpur area. Around 2000 houses of Hindus were burnt, besides Hindu temples. District Collector Pimputkar could save the remaining areas belonging to Hindus by imposing curfew, which lasted for six months.
1965 Shops belonging to the Hindus were set ablaze near Police Chowki – No. 7 by throwing incendiary material from near-by two Muslim houses viz. Bidani & Bhopa. It could be possible because of the MLA belonging to the minority community. PHI of this Police Chowki which was near by Railway Station was also attacked by unsocial elements.
1980 A similar attack was made on the Hindus on 29 October 1980, which started from the Bus Station of Godhra. This attack was planned by Muslim miscreants; who were involved in anti social activities near the Station Road area.
Five Hindus including two children of 5 and 7 year age were burnt alive. A Gurudwara was also set on fire, in Shikari Chal of this area. Forty shops belonging to Hindus were also set on fire in station area. Due to these communal riots, Godhra was put under curfew for a year, which severely affected the business and industries.
1990 Four Hindu teachers, including two women teachers, were murdered (cut into pieces) by miscreants in Saifia Madresa in Vhorvada area of Godhra on 20 November 1990 in the presence of children. One Hindu tailor was also stabbed to death in this area. All this was done by anti-social elements at the instance of the local MLA of the area.
1992 More than 100 houses belonging to the Hindus were set on fire near Railway Station in the year 1992 to snatch away this area from Hindus. All this was done by anti-socials. This area, now a days, is lying vacant as most of the Hindu families have shifted elsewhere.
2002 Three bogies of Ahmedabad bound Sabarmati Express were set on fire on 27 February 2002 by Muslim miscreants. Municipal members, Railway officers & employees belonging to minority community, tea stall owners, auto rickshaw drivers and Muslim anti-social elements residing nearby, had a plan to set on fire the entire train but could not do so because the train was late for four hours and they could not take the advantage of darkness of night.
(Source: Vishwa Sanwad Kendra, Gujarat and also the report of The Indian Express dated 30 April 2002- quoting the then Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home- Gordhan Zadaphiya http://www.indianexpress.com/storyOld.php?storyId=1822)
2003 September Ganesh idol immersion saw stone-pelting and conflicts between Hindus and Muslims This was reported by rediff.com and The Times of India, but was forgotten by everyone, including the Sangh Parivar leadership.
All the above details of Godhra (except 2003 Ganesh stone-pelting) are also mentioned in an article titled-“Godhra in ferment even before Independence” in
Milli Gazette magazine on Mar 16, 2002, the link for which is:
This magazine is considered as mouthpiece of Indian Muslims- or at least a voice of Muslims in India. This is the Indian Muslims’ leading English newspaper and it has published these details about Godhra.
“The following article from Gandhiji’s article entitled “What are We to Do ?” in Young India (October 11, 1928) reveals that the Muslims were ever aggressive against Hindus in that city (as in other areas of Gujarat) in the wake of the Khilafat fiasco. There was virtually a state of war between the two communities in which the nonviolent Hindu was the real sufferer. The following are the exact words of Gandhiji in the said article.
” Two weeks ago I wrote in ‘Navajivan‘ a note on the tragedy in Godhra, where Shri Purshottam Shah bravely met his death at the hands of his assailants and gave my note the heading Hindu Muslim Fight in Godhra. Several Hindus did not like the heading and addressed angry letters asking me to correct it (for it was a one sided fight). I found it impossible to accede to their demand. Whether there is one victim or more , whether there is a free fight between the two communities, or whether one assumes the offensive and the other simply suffers, I should describe the event as a fight if the whole series of happenings were the result of a state of war between the two communities. Whether in Godhra or in other places, there is today a state of war between the two communities. Fortunately, the countryside is still free from the war fever (no longer now) which is mainly confined to towns and cities, where, in some form or other fighting is continually going on. Even the correspondents who have written to me about Godhra do not seem to deny the fact that the happenings arose out of the communal antagonisms that existed there.
“If the correspondents had simply addressed themselves to the heading, I should have satisfied myself with writing to them privately and written nothing in Navjivan about it. But there are other letters in which the correspondents have vented their ire on different counts. A volunteer from Ahmedabad who had been to Godhra writes:
‘You say that you must be silent over these quarrels. Why were you not silent over the Khilafat, and why did you exhort us to join the Muslims? Why are you not silent about your principles of Ahimsa? How can you justify your silence when the two communities are running at each others throats and Hindus are being crushed to atoms. How does Ahimsa come there? I invite your attention to two cases:
‘A Hindu shopkeeper thus complained to me: Musalmans purchase bags of rice from my shop, often never paying for them. I cannot insist on payment, for fear of their looting my godowns. I have, therefore, to make an involuntary gift of about 50 to 70 maunds of rice every month?’
“Others complained: ‘Musalmans invade our quarters and insult our women in our presence, and we have to sit still. If we dare to protest we are done for. We dare not even lodge a complaint against them.’
“What would you advise in such cases? How would you bring your Ahimsa into play? Or , even here you would prefer to remain silent!
“These and similar other questions have been answered in these pages over and over again, but as they are still being raised, I had better explain my views once more at the risk of repetition.
“Ahimsa is not the way of the timid or the cowardly. It is the way of the brave ready to face death. He who perishes sword in hand is no doubt brave, but he who faces death without raising his little finger is braver. But he who surrenders his rice bags for fear of being beaten is a coward and no votary of Ahimsa. He is innocent of Ahimsa. He, who for fear of being beaten, suffers the women of his household to be insulted is not manly, but just the reverse. He is fit neither to be a husband nor a father, nor a brother. Such people have no right to complain …” (extract from ‘To the Hindus and Muslims‘, a collection of articles by Gandhiji from Young India)”