People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXVI

No. 21

June 02,2002


CPI(M) IN GUJARAT

 

Playing A Worthy Role Despite Meagre Strength

 

 A NUMBER of delegations have visited Gujarat since the anti-Muslim carnage started. These included a delegation having Harkishan Singh Surjeet, H D Deve Gowda, Mulayam Singh Yadav and others. An all-party parliamentary delegation including Somnath Chatterjee, an AIDWA team led by Brinda Karat and a trade union delegation were among the prominent teams that came.

 

The CPI(M) and its mass organisations made all-out efforts for many of these delegationsí visits to the relief camps and affected areas. They are also active in arranging relief.

 

In the initial days, the CPI(M)ís Arun Mehta and Subodh Mehta stayed in Ahmedabad continuously to organise the work. As a result, contact was maintained with all CPI(M) units as well as other organisations. Many victimsí complaints were taken up, and the police, central/state authorities, the press and political leaders contacted. Thus, hundreds of lives were saved and several clashes prevented. Also, the help from outside was channelised to the camps.

         

A number of CPI(M) cadres and supporters in Ahmedabad did useful work. These included K M Rami, Devtadin Yadav, Satishbhai Parmar, Nizamuddin, Shahabuddin, Anandbhai Parmar, Vinod Vaghela, Patric, Mahesh Thacker, Ashok Sompura, Kishubhai Thacker, Kuberbhai Bhambhi, Naginbhai Patel, Pragjibhai Bhambhi, Nalini Jadeja, Ivaben Mehta, K D Jadeja, Ramesh Vaja, Ibrahim Pathan, Ramchandran, Kiranben and Kanubhai Kalavadia.

 

On March 14, functionaries of 32 organisations held a meeting, issued an appeal for unity and planned how to work for unity. Participation in the April 16 strike and holding a state convention were also considered. Two more meeting were attempted, but the atmosphere affected the presence. Nor could the planned convention be held. But the two-hour dharna of trade union leaders near Town Hall was well attended.

 

A well attended meeting was also organised, with Surjeet addressing. He also attended the state committee meeting and guided the members regarding work.

 

In this period, all the help sent by AIDWA and others was channelised to the camps. Medicines sent by the FMRAI reached the Aman Chowk, Bapunagar, Shah Alam and Juharpura camps as well as Al Amin Hospital where CPI(M) cadres are working with others. CPI(M) district units are in contact with relief camps in their respective areas.

 

The CPI(M) gave a memorandum to the prime minister, demanding Modiís removal. On April 25, all party units submitted to the district authorities the same memorandum, to be forwarded to the centre. A CPI(M) team also met Advani when he visited the state.

 

Permission was refused for the May Day rallies at Ahmedabad and Rajkot. But in Bhavnagar a huge rally did take place.

 

It will still take some time to have a comprehensive picture of all that the CPI(M) cadres did all over the state to provide relief to the victims and to save lives wherever they could. The notable thing is that even though the party is a weak force in the state, it has done whatever it could do with its limited material, financial and human resources.

 

AHMEDABAD

 

WHEN the situation deteriorated here after February 27, CPI(M) cadres in Bapunagar, Amraivadi and Gomtipur faced a tough situation. Devtadin Yadav remained a constant link and guidance.

 

In Bapunagar, the CPI(M) has five branches. Nizamuddin, Shahabuddin and Satish Parmar remained in contact with state secretary Arun Mehta, and kept contacting police and administration. They got the police force and later the military posted in some areas. This could save hundreds of lives when the situation was explosive at numerous points.

 

CPI(M) cadres are also working and involving others in work in Aman Chowk. Local doctors have been involved for work free of charge. Help came from medical representativesí organisations, from Kota and from the AIDWA. Several delegationsí visits to camps and affected areas were manned through this point.

 

When 85 persons of a factory were surrounded in this sensitive area, CPI(M) cadres rescued them with police assistance.

 

In Gomtipur, Anandbhai Parmar, Satishbhai Parmar and others preserved the atmosphere of unity to an extent. A unity committee began to work. VHP goons later surrounded this area, including Anandbhai Parmarís house. But the neighbouring women saved the situation. A CITU team later visited this place.

 

Shah Alam camp is the biggest relief camp in Ahmedabad. Here CPI(M) state committee member K M Rami and others are active in cooperation with others. Help in form of medicines and other materials reached here from the AIDWA. The work is being efficiently conducted.

 

However, the situation in Ahmedabad is such that it will take time to properly rehabilitate the victims. Some newspapers, especially Sandesh, incited communal passions.

 

BHAVNAGAR

 

ON March 1 evening, VHP leaders made provocative speeches at a meeting. Within two hours, as if with complete planning, Muslimsí shops, hotels and houses were set afire at 71 places.

 

Right during the VHP procession, CPI(M) cadres met the Collector to demand a stop to provocative slogans, and police protection for the minorities. But the situation went beyond control. The Collector and DSP could control it only after the army was deployed. CPI(M) cadres played an active role to save the situation, and their intervention led to the posting of army and BSF units.

 

CPI(M) cadres also took a group of leading citizens to the Collector on March 3. On the same day, Saurashtra Chamber of Commerce and some other institutions issued appeals, reiterating the CPI(M) demand of army posting. 

 

CPI(M) cadres also kept visiting the areas where trouble seemed imminent. With active help from the DSP, a catastrophe was averted in Ranika and Sandhiavad, and later in Kajivad, Prabhudas Talav, Khedutvas and some other areas. The CPI(M)ís intervention brought army protection to these areas when a big oil mill was set afire and even the fire brigade was not ready to go there. It was the CPI(M) cadres who drove fire brigade and fought the huge fire. CPI(M) cadresí intervention prevented clashes in some areas. This was a time when the CPI(M) was alone in the field; even Congressmen had hid themselves.

 

As the armed attackers, who were well-prepared in advance, launched sudden attacks, CPI(M) members faced a tough situation at places.

 

In Khedutvas area, Ramesh Vaja and other CPI(M) members had to fight a pitched battle with a mob in order to save the Muslimsí huts. But later a full-scale, well-prepared attack did destroy these huts. Even then, CPI(M) cadres did protect some of the properties. CPI(M) corporator Ms Manekben, Ramesh Vaja, Naresh Gohel and Ms Shardaben played a laudatory role here.

 

But the goons looted Rehmatben Kalaniaís house and shop. She is a leading woman figure of the CPI(M). Her family members were saved because of localsí intervention. An atmosphere of terror prevailed here; yet CPI(M) cadres succeeded in getting many of her belongings back.

 

CPI(M) cadres also foiled the desperate efforts to pitch the Kolis of Karchaliapara against the Muslims of Kazivad, thus preventing a major clash. But the goons did attack the DYFIís Rustam Pathan.

 

Unity was initially preserved in Kumbharvada from where the CPI(M)ís Hardevsinh was elected corporator. In Manekvadi area, the partyís Ashok Sompura maintained the balance. Here, Congressmen were also activated by persuation.

         

In Sihor, 35 km from Bhavnagar, VHP goons surrounded the CPI(M)  councillor Mrs Vahidaben Padhiarís house. The police initially refused to rescue her. But the CPI(M)ís strong attitude forced the DGP and DSP to send police force from Bhavnagar. As a result, the area was saved.

 

Despite the continuing attacks by VHP goons, the April 16 strike and May Day rally were massive successes in Bhavnagar, giving the affected people a sense of hope.

 

SABARKANTHA

 

THERE are many examples of Hindu families saving the Muslims in this district. Congress leaders like Sangram Singh, Vadagam sarpanch and many other individuals saved Muslim families. Yet, in some examples, Congress leaders either remained inactive or helped the goons.

 

In Bamna, led by Purushottam Parmar, CPI(M) workers saved some 50 Muslim families. The CPI(M) initiative encouraged some Congress leaders and Hindu families to come forward.

 

In Meghraj taluka, CPI(M) workers led by Mahavirsinh did good work to save the Muslims entrapped in villages. Party workers saved the Muslims in Bhiloda taluka also.

 

Except in Prantij, Dalits saved the Muslims all over Sabarkantha. In Bhiloda taluka headquarters, they saved 500 Muslim men and women. They are therefore facing the Hindu fundamentalistsí anger. The police remained inactive in the district. But some police officers like Chudavat did a good job. He approached a mob in Modasa, explained the situation wisely and sent the crowd back.

 

In Adivasi areas, Muslimsí properties were first looted and then burnt down. Adivasis were instigated in some areas to burn Muslims alive. Though Adivasis are basically non-Hindus, they have been somewhat affected by Hindutva ideas. In tribal areas, CPI(M) cadres failed to prevent the arson because of their extremely small number. 

 

In Lilchha village of Bhiloda taluka, only three CPI(M) members were able to prevent an anti-Muslim carnage.

 

More then 7,000 Muslims are living in camps in Himmatnagar, Modasa, Vadali and Prantij. Here, officials forced Muslim organisations not to start camps on their own. The CPI(M) and others came forward to help them set up camps. Later the officials prevented the Muslims from entering these camps after March 15. In some villages, Hindus offered to shelter in their houses the victims who did not want to go back because of fear.

 

VHP goons told the Muslim shopkeepers that they could come back and live in villages as agricultural workers but not as businessmen. They expect that Muslims will sell their properties to the Hindus and migrate to cities. The victimsí demand is that, as going back to their houses in villages is not safe, the government must give them housing in urban areas and also loans and subsidies for starting businesses.

 

In Sabarkantha district, Muslims have lost properties worth Rs 10,000 crore. They are unemployed; 200 have died; more than 160 are missing. Some 60 mosques, madrasas and dargahs were burnt down, apart from 3,000 houses. Many Muslims are living in Lambadia village of Khedbrahma taluka, a tribal area. Adivasis had taken part in an anti-Muslim riot before the Godhra carnage. But now they are aware of the BJPís game and have protected the Muslims.

 

There was no incident of retaliation by Muslims. In stray incidents, some mischievous youth did throw stones or acid on Hindus.

 

In some cases, mobs who went first looted Muslim shops, but some latecomers looted Hindu shops too.

 

JUNAGADH

 

HERE, VHP goons invaded the minority areas. The CPI(M) district office, situated in a minority area near a mosque, was also attacked. But CPI(M) leaders immediately contacted the DCP and DIG. The local press was also alerted. So the invaders went back. 

 

RAJKOT

 

IN Jangleshvar in ward number 5, huts belonging to the Muslims were attacked in late night. District CPI(M) secretary Ramchandran at once rushed to the police commissioner who intervened. Thus the situation was saved.

 

UPLETA

 

DUE to the CPI(M)ís sustained vigilance, VHP goons could not launch any attacks. The CPI(M) cadresí night-long vigils created an atmosphere of hope. They also organised area meetings and motivated the people to raise the issue of water scarcity that is most pressing in this area. 

 

SIDHPUR

 

THOUGH this is a riot-prone area, no big trouble took place here. CPI(M) leader Kishubhai Thacker and municipal councillor Mahesh Thacker tirelessly worked for harmony. They were also active in arranging for delegationsí visits here. When a big event occurred in Mehsana district, they visited the affected areas and relief camps. People appreciate the CPI(M)ís role here.

 

BARODA

 

FROM the beginning, CPI(M) cadres remained active to maintain peace and unity at Padera and Karjan. Naginbhai Patel, Jalamsinh, Suresh Patel and Bhikhabhai worked hard. These areas remained peaceful due to their constant vigilance.

 

In Baroda city, one of the main centres of communal carnage, the CPI(M) joined the peace campaign, dharna, peace march, etc. Naginbhai Patel, Chatrasinh Rajput, Chotubhai Gohel, Chatrasinh Makwana and others remained active here.

 

In Gujarat, people do want to live in peace but remained inactive due to fear. There is fear in the camps that crowds may attack them. This fear can be removed only if Modi is ousted.

 

The BJP aims to effect a polarisation. In the next assembly elections, it may try to create fear among anti-BJP voters to deter them from voting.

 

But in the recent panchayat elections the BJP failed to benefit from this atmosphere. Its defeat is sure if anti-BJP forces unite.