The people who stand with me even after one and a half decade are those who add strength to the battle for justice-these are the words of Zakiya Jafri, the widow of Ehsan Jafri, the Congress leader and MP who was brutally killed during the 2002 communal carnage in Gujarat.
She was speaking at a remembrance program organised to mark fifteen years of the Gujarat genocide at the Constitution Club in Delhi on February 28. The Gujarat riots have been a subject in this column many a times. It’s the most painful memory in the history of independent India. There would be no one who haven’t heard of or shared the traumatic incident. That we are still compelled to talk about it, accentuate the gravity of the incident. Today, one who is believed to have ordered the genocide is the country’s Prime Minister and the other person involved is the president of the ruling party. In that case, it could be concluded that our vigilance in the past years with regard to Gujarat, have all went futile. If those who led the most heinous crime in history have been given the reins of the country, then the positive hopes about the nation being shattered is absolutely justified. If entrusting those, who ordered, executed, backed and justified the inhuman and horrific massacre, with the charge of the nation is called democracy, then one is easily compelled to dismiss every effort as pointless. How many poetries, narratives, and articles have we penned? How many movies that shake our conscience have been made on the painful tragedy? How much have the intellectuals, writers and artists spoken at length about it? Despite all this, the unpleasant thought that the nation continues to back the murderers lingers on. But Zakia Jafri, the direct victim-survivor of the genocide, the helpless widow of Ehsan Jafri, says that there is no place for unpleasant thoughts. The nation also belongs to those who raise their voices.
Zakiya’s words has immense depth because we today live in a world where expressing dissent and voicing displeasure even in a rightful manner is a crime. But as far as the extremely helpless people are concerned, the fact, that there are individuals who are capable of standing against the system, alone is what keeps them alive. Had they not existed, these hapless beings would have long perished. In short, democratic India will cease to exist without this bunch of fearless and undaunted personalities. Therefore fifteen years on, to stand relentless with unflinching determination should be our renewed pledge. The smell of painful memories of the Gujarat genocide lingers in the atmosphere, unchanged and unforgotten, even after fifteen years. There is the same whiff in the reports that surface, related to the different universities in Delhi. The trolling of a college student, mocking and threatening her with insensitive comments for raising her voice is immensely terrifying. One keeps doubting whether the nation is on the verge of Gujarat.
But keep spreading positive hopes because divergent voices are being raised from the universities itself. These students are the future of our democracy. They continue to speak aloud with renewed force every time they get threatened. Therefore it’s the responsibility of all those who believe in democracy to ensure that India would be alive, even after Gujarat, even after fifteen years. We need to break free from the stigma of being a victim and take a pledge that India is my country as well, that I too have a lot to do; and I will be doing that.