Go On, Get On With It

Nothing more to do here:
There may have been no overt violence in the last five years and both communities may repeatedly express a desire to look beyond 2002 and “get on with their lives”. But beneath the surface calm, the communal divide in Gujarati society has become much deeper; the polarisation of differing worldviews almost complete.

For the average Gujarati Hindu, the Muslim remains a figure of fear and loathing and will be tolerated only “if they behave themselves”.

Padma Desai (name changed), an educated and articulate Vadodara schoolteacher, is all praise for the “development” under Modi. But when we finally broach the subject of the Godhra aftermath, she says: “We all feel really bad about it. But frankly, something like that was needed to show the Muslims their place.”

It is a common sentiment. Taxi drivers in Ahmedabad will routinely tell you that it was impossible to enter Muslim areas before and no girl could walk safely on the streets at night for fear of the marauding Musalman. All that has changed because Modi “taught them a lesson”.

And that, more than the violence and the abysmal condition in the relief camps, is what hurts the ordinary Muslim most. “We can forget what happened after Godhra, but the BJP has convinced every Hindu that all Muslims are terrorists, goondas, pro-Pakistan. They have made Hindus view us with suspicion. Tell me madam, if there is an Indo-Pak war, do you think their bombs will spare us?” asks Abdul Qadir.

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