This book is not going to help heal the wounds of Godhra
Swami Agnivesh is a respected figure in India, known for having saved countless children from bonded labour. His just published book, in collaboration with Reverend Valson Thampu, “Harvest of Hate, Gujurat under siege”, is a deserving attempt at recording in exacting details the plight of Muslims at the hands of raging Hindus during the Gujurat riots.
Unfortunately, this essay, which could have done so much to bridge the widening gap between the two communities, is all about hate, as its opening statement illustrates: “Even if we forget the Mahatma’s ideals, we should never forget who killed the Mahatma”. He rants against the the Sangh Parivar: “It is a medical analogy that explains the prevent convulsions (of the Sangh Parivar) best – that of de-worming –when the worms in their final twitch of desperation release their poison”. But the first mention of the burning of the Sabarmati Express only comes at page 37, merely giving the Muslim version of the story: “the so-called kar-sevaks would order tea from the Muslim vendors and force them to shout ‘Jai Shri Ram’, before serving the tea; and those who refused to oblige would be roughed-up”. Why does the good Swami not mention that in 1991, in a Godhra madrasa, all the Hindu teachers who were voluntarily tutoring the children, were massacred. Or that today the Electricity Board is afraid to go in the Muslim area of Godhra, where 80% of the electricity is illegally tapped ? The Bhajrang Dal might have created hate by the power of the sword, but this book will create more hatred by the power of the pen !
It is true that during these riots horrible things, which no human being should condone, happened. But Swami Agnivesh and the Reverend forget to mention that that 25% of the people killed during riots were Hindus; or that, according to police records, the 157 subsequent riots which happened in Gujurat were all started by Muslims. He is also unable to explain to us how 125.000 Hindus, many of them Dalits, tribals, or even upper middle class, came out on the streets of Ahmedabad with such anger after the Sabamarri burning. While condemning their terrible acts; one has to at least understand the cause of their deep-rooted rage, as Hindus throughout the ages have shown that they are patient and tolerant of others. There is also not a single mention of Hindus reaching out to Muslims after the riots, such as this Hindu business man who built ninety houses in Ahmedabad for Muslims whose homes had been destroyed by fire.
Swami Agnivesh seems to have taken blindly the cause of the Muslims: “it is incredibly sad, how the Muslim community seems almost wholly abandoned by the rest of the country”. Or: “Can we really blame the Muslims of Gujurat if they come to prefer Dawood Ibrahim to Narendra Modi” ? Ultimately, this book will only strengthen the Muslims extremists, incite moderate Muslims to become Jihadis, and is so anti-Hindu, that it might even prompt moderate Hindus to support the Bhajrang Dal, a most counterproductive result, which we are sure, the Swami did not intend at all when he set upon writing the book .
“Harvest of Hate, Gujurat under siege”,
Swami Agnivesh / Valson Thampu
Rupa & C°