NBA Press Release
  09 April 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Attack at Sabarmati Ashram: Result of a Nexus of Communal-Capitalist forces: VAJPAYEE AND BJP MUST INSTANTLY REMOVE NARENDRA MODI

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The violent incident at the Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad on April 7, was an outcome of and continuation of the prevailing intolerance and communalism and intolerance in Gujarat. It again revealed the nexus of the capitalist, communal and unethical political elements flouting all democratic and processes of discussion and understanding.

Be it the peoples struggle like Narmada or the issue of the religious fundamentalism, these forces have always shown the propensity to resort to violence and to physically eliminate the dissenting voices. The attack on me and the bloody assault on the journalists have to be countered by secular, non-violent forces through a concerted action and strategy.

The Peace Meeting at Sabarmati Ashram was organized by number of organizations, who were concerned about the growing communal violence and divide, and who were anxious to restore peace and harmony in Gujarat. I received the invitation of the meeting, which was sent to many persons and organizations concerned for peace and secularism. I attended the meeting as a representative of concerned organization.

At lunch hour, some people there tried to loudly confront me about Narmada issue with little information. I made it clear that we better discuss these issues in detail in a separate meeting I was there on a different mission- of peace and communal harmony. However, they threatened me not to participate in that meeting, which I could not agree with. After that there was attack on me by the persons belonging to BJP Youth Wing, some Congressmen and the outfit paradoxically named as National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL).

For last many years I have been involved in the various activities and organizations in Gujarat, including the tribal areas in Sabarkantha, Dangs, Panchmahal, Banaskantha and of course, in the Narmada valley. I had been a part of the relief teams in Morbi disaster, previous riots or last year's earthquake. During the recent violence, the villages in the Narmada valley have sent the relief assistance for the riot affected victims.

It was obvious that, I was attacked by the same vested interests, who have been responsible for the exploitation and injustice on our poor and depressed sections, and who have been fanning the communal orgy in the state. The capitalism and communalism in Gujarat are interchangeable. They have been suppressing the voices of dissent and rights, by their muscle power and lawlessness.

It was often mentioned that the tribals in Gujarat have participated in the carnage and loot of the Muslims in large scale. We have been working in the tribal areas for last many years and know the reality. The tribals shopkeepers-moneylenders among the Muslims was used by the fundamentalists for the communal frenzy. In many instances, we found that the tribals were threatened with the dire consequences if they did not participate in the anti-Muslim programme.

They were made to act as the lumpen elements in the mob, led by the communal elements. However, there are many instances, when the tribals have protected the Muslims and have given them shelter.

The Sabarmati episode should not be looked in isolation. It is the continuation of what the communalists under various denominations of Sangha Parivar have started as a part of Gujarat Progrom. All this could not happen without the overt or tacit connivance of the state government (?) led by the Narendra Modi. It is imperative that Modi must be removed, in order to start the process of restoring sanity in Gujarat. The Prime Minister Vajpayee and the Bharatiya Janata Party must act. They should remove Modi as an initial mark of their respect for democracy and rule of law.

We express our determination to confront the fascist forces of communalism and capitalism, despite their attempts to threaten and terrorize the people and organizations. We are confident that a strong and long-term peoples' solidarity will emerge in Gujarat and all over the nation to safeguard the democracy, secularism and harmony in this nation.

Medha Patkar