What the BJP is trying to tell Muslims in Gujarat

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They say that time heals all wounds. But in Gujarat state, election time is opening up the wounds of 2002 and letting them bleed again.

This election season has seen the BJP rub salt on the wounds of the victims of the horrific riots with impunity.

First, the BJP governments in the State and Center agreed to release the 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano rape case in 2002. These men were found guilty of raping a pregnant woman and of having killed, in a single night, nine members of his family, including his three-year-old daughter whose head was smashed with a stone.

After their release, the men were given garlands and offered sweets in the most immoral way. Despite widespread outrage at the evilness of the whole episode, the BJP took it on. The rapist-killers continue to roam freely and are valued, while Bilkis Bano lives in fear and frustration at renewed injustice from the state and the ruling party.

A BJP MP went on to describe the rape and murder convicts as “Sanskari Brahmins”. He was rewarded with another nomination as the BJP’s candidate for the seat of Godhra in next month’s elections in Gujarat.

Next comes the most egregious assault on the psyche of Muslims by the BJP. The party has nominated the daughter of a convict from the Naroda Patiya massacre as a candidate in the Gujarat elections.

Naroda’s BJP candidate Payal Kukrani is the daughter of Manoj Kukrani, who was convicted in one of the worst massacres in independent India’s history.

As if that weren’t bad optics, this man is openly campaigning for his daughter in elections in the same region where he and his gang of rioters committed some of the most horrific crimes against Muslims in 2002.

Ninety-seven people were killed by a mob of rioters on February 28, 2002 in Naroda Patiya. The incident was later described as “the biggest case of mass murder” during the riots. Several witnesses said that women and girls were gang-raped before being killed and that children were burned alive. Manoj Kukrani was one of 32 convicted in the Naroda Patiya case.

In September 2016, the Gujarat High Court granted bail to Kukrani after his lawyers told the court that he was “totally bedridden and unable to carry out his daily activities”, and that his condition was improving. was deteriorating day by day. .

And here he is, campaigning for his daughter and the BJP, as my colleague Tanushree Pandey reports.

What is the message the BJP is sending to Muslims in Gujarat and across the country? That the crimes against them don’t matter. That criminals will be worshiped and rewarded. That Muslims must come to terms with the fact that under BJP watch there is little hope for lasting justice. Even if the courts belatedly deliver justice to the victims of horrific crimes, the BJP will do everything in its power to undo it and spare no chance to derive political profit from the humiliation and targeting of Muslims.

What does such a glorification of criminals by the BJP say about its government in Gujarat? That after leading the state for nearly three decades, he still believes the violence of 2002 is its greatest showpiece. And the party is doing all it can to refresh the electorate’s memory of the bloodbath of 20 years ago. He wants voters to remember and celebrate the riots – and how they put Muslims in their place.

What does he say about voters in Gujarat? That they will have no qualms about celebrating the criminals, as long as the victims are Muslims. Men wearing garlands today in the streets of Naroda and Dahod, where Bilkis was raped, have been found guilty of some of the most heinous crimes. How can people be comfortable with such men among them? Does hatred of Muslims transcend any moral compass?

What do these developments tell us about the BJP’s opponents in Gujarat? The AAP is silent on these egregious cases and the Gujarat Congress has only made muted comments.

This is the BJP’s greatest triumph. He has made majoritarianism so common that even his opponents play it safe by taking the soft line of Hindutva rather than a principled or moral stance. They fear losing the votes of the majority. They too see majority community voters through the eyes of the BJP. That all they really care about is the humiliation and ignominy of Muslims. More than real problems.

It’s a chilling insight into our politics and how far it can go down the rabbit hole.

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