Fact: Out of Gujarat’s 18,600 villages, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had units in 10,000 villages at the time of the riots of 2002. If it had wanted, it could have easily organized retaliatory riots in many of these 10,000 villages. Instead, only 40 out of the state’s 18,600 villages saw riots. VHP General Secretary Dr Praveen Togadia is a Patel and hails from Saurashtra region of Gujarat- just like Keshubhai Patel. And yet, no riots happened in Saurashtra at all- even in the first 3 days!
On the other hand, the scale of the riots on February 28 in Ahmedabad was so large, that no organisation or group of organisations, like the Sangh Parivar could have done it alone. It was a spontaneous mass reaction to the Godhra killings.
Many people have asked-“On one hand you say nothing happened-hardly 40 villages saw riots. On the other hand you say that the riots were so enormous that they could not have been organized by anyone”.
Both these things are simultaneously true. On February 28 in Ahmedabad- there were 17,000 people attacking Muslims in Naroda Patiya area- as per the report of the then Police Inspector of the area- K.K. Mysorewala. India Today weekly also reports in its issue dated 18 March 2002 that the Charas had attacked in Naroda Patiya leading 3 mobs of at least 4 to 5 thousand each. At one point of time in Ahmedabad there were at least 25,000 people targeting Muslim localities. The mob outside Ehsan Jafri’s house was 10,000 strong. The police force of 6,000 for Ahmedabad out of which only 1500 were armed and the Rapid Action Force and the CRPF jawans could not control the violence. The Hindu also reported the next day that the situation seemed to slip out of control. Ahmedabad Police received 3,500 calls instead of the normal 200. It was beyond the means of the Sangh Parivar- or anybody to organise mobs on such a large scale in Ahmedabad within 24 hours.
However, the VHP could have easily organised riots in many of the 10,000 villages in Gujarat where it had units, either on February 28, or days after that.
On February 27 occurred the Godhra massacre. That same day the RSS gave a statement saying- “RSS condemns the killings and calls for restraint”. The Hindu also reported in its report on Feb 28 that the “RSS appealed to the people to exercise restraint”.
The then RSS Joint General Secretary Madan Das Devi said-“Now is the test of the patience of the Hindu society…These killings are a ploy of the terrorists to create riots…”. This was reported in weekly Organiser, the weekly mouthpiece of the RSS, in its issue dated 10 March 2002, which covered events till 27 February. In the 10 March 2002 issue itself, two RSS leaders- Madan Das Devi and Mohan Bhagwat gave statement’s asking the Hindu society to maintain peace. The Telegraph reported on 28th February 2002-
“The RSS rallied behind the Prime Minister, pleading for restraint. Joint general secretary Madan Das Devi said: “The tolerance of the Hindu society is a litmus test. Instead of taking the law into their hands, people should cooperate with the state government in dealing with the serious situation.”
See the statement by Madan Das Devi in the topic- “Nation faces trial by fire” 9th paragraph from the top.
The VHP also appealed for peace. The Times of India reported on 28 February 2002 even before a single major riot had taken place: “VHP international Vice-President Acharya Giriraj Kishore told reporters here at Sola Civil Hospital, where 54 out of the 58 bodies of the train attack victims were brought, that: “Hindus should maintain calm and keep patience. I appeal to Muslim brethren to condemn the attack and ask them not to put Hindus’ patience to test. Hindus are keeping a restraint but if such incidents do not stop, there can be a counter reaction which may be uncontrollable”.”
On 2nd March 2002- www.rediff.com reported quoting Agencies:
“RSS,VHP appeal for peace in Gujarat
In the wake of mounting violence in Gujarat, the RSS and VHP on Saturday appealed to their volunteers to avoid any action that would disturb peace in the country and expressed hope that ‘good sense will prevail’.
“I appeal to all RSS volunteers, sympathisers and friends who have faith in Hindutva to do their utmost in preventing any activity – like sloganeering and stone-pelting – that would disrupt peace, keeping in view the disturbed situation in the country for it would only strengthen the hands of anti-national terrorist elements,” RSS general secretary Mohan Bhagwat said in a statement in Delhi.
He urged followers of other faiths not to fall prey to the instigation of terrorist elements and ‘to conduct themselves as children of India along with their Hindu brethren’.(This statement of Mohan Bhagwat was reported in weekly Organiser in the 10 March 2002 issue. This statement was given on 27 Feb itself).
Meanwhile, the VHP also made an appeal to put an end to the ongoing violence in Gujarat, saying ‘any kind of violence against anyone’ was a matter of concern.
Talking to reporters in Delhi, VHP spokesman Veereshwar Dwivedi said: “The Godhra incident and the violence that followed was tragic. Any kind of violence against anyone is a matter of concern.”
Calling for an end to the ongoing carnage in Gujarat, he said: “Good sense must prevail soon.”
Dwivedi also condoled the deaths and expressed sympathies for those affected by the violence in the state.
He, however, regretted that opposition parties had decided to send a delegation to Gujarat to assess the situation but did not consider it appropriate to do so after the Godhra killings.
Dwivedi said this was being done taking vote bank politics into consideration.
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