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India

Rise in Incidents Targeting Minorities in Gujarat in 2022: Report

A report by the Minority Coordination Committee (MCC) reveals how minorities have experienced targeted attacks, by listing a staggering 55 unsettling incidents in 2022. 

Gujarat minorities have witnessed multiple targeted attacks on their communities in different parts of the state, 55 of whom are documented in the report. 53 assaults are directed towards Muslims while the other two incidents targeted Christians. 

A closer examination of the challenges faced by the minority groups in the state by MCC revealed that the nature of violence has changed right now.

“Earlier the violence was prominently in big cities which has now reached the villages. In particular, religious festivals, which are occasions of social harmony, were also used by communal organisations as opportunities for violence against minorities,” convener of the MCC, Mujahid Nafees said. 

The report titled, ‘Targeted: Documenting Incidents Affecting Minorities In Gujarat’, aims to highlight particular incidents that occurred in 2022, with the intention of fostering a deeper understanding of the destructive patterns. MCC hopes to collaborate more effectively to promote communal harmony and peace by examining these events, according to Nafees.

“In broad daylight, Hanumanderi in West Extension of Nadiad was stone pelted. Muslims were accused of the incidents with an attempt to create an atmosphere of tension among communities. The swift action by the local police resulted in the arrest of all the stone pelters who turned out to be Hindus. It was an attempt to start the communal riots and was part of a larger conspiracy of riots in the district by Hindu Fringe Organizations.”

The incident mentioned in the report by MCC is of April 23, 2022.

Multiple incidents of communal clashes or attacks are included in the report, wherein oftentimes, the victims belonging to the minority community refuse to file a case fearing the possible consequences, across the state. 

The incident dated March 9, 2022, read, “In an unsuccessful attempt to disrupt the communal harmony, the minaret, dome and inner courtyard of the Alishah Baba’s Dargah near Velan village in Kodinar Taluka was destroyed by Hindu fringe elements.”

The report observed several incidents that targeted religious sites of minorities. While some incidents are at the hands of Hindutva fringe elements to disrupt the communal harmony, some incidents were by the administration and the police officials. 

“In Gosabara village of Porbandar, 600 Muslim fishermen, fed up with continuous government harassment, filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court demanding euthanasia.”

The abovementioned incident is of May 5, 2022. In addition to that, a similar incident on December 7, 2022, said, “Fed up with the harassment by local administration in Gosabara of Porbandar, 5 Muslim girls attempted suicide by drinking poison.”

“The factories of 18 Muslims in front of the sub-jail of Radhari Extension of Khambhat were demolished with bulldozers within 24 hours of serving the encroachment notice; they were not even given a chance to present their case. This action rendered 200 people working in such factories unemployed.”

Mentioned above is just one of the demolition drives undertaken by the authorities, dated, April 28, 2022. 

The following two incidents show assault, inaction and negligence of the police towards the minorities and their dignity as the citizens of India.

June 1, 2022.

“Three Christian boys of New Shahibaug were brutally beaten by the traffic police at Tapovan Circle. The victims have filed an FIR, the news is published in Ahmedabad Mirror.”

On October 4, 2022, “In Undhela village of Kheda district, the police tied Muslim boys to a pole and beat them up and asked the people present there to make a video of it.”

The minorities were attacked over their attire, food, and business, for doing their work, and even for simply entering an area that is allegedly “restricted” for a particular community.

Just days before Christmas, on December 21, 2022, “Hindu fringe elements attacked a house of Christian community in Makarpura extension of Vadodara and killed a person dressed as Santa Claus.”

A Muslim landowner reportedly faced threats from encroachers, who said that he was spared during the infamous 2002 Gujarat riots but unequivocally declared that he will not be spared now.

“When attempting to stop the people who were encroaching on the land in Pavijetpur, Vadodara, the Muslim landowner was threatened. The encroacher has said that earlier he [Muslim land owner] was spared during the Godhra incident but now he will not be spared”. 

Along with the Hindutva organisations’ involvement in the atrocities against minorities, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader had also publicly threatened the Muslim minorities demanding votes. “In Junagadh, BJP leader Raman Vora openly stated that those Muslims who will not vote for BJP, their water and electricity connections will be cut and demolition will be done in their areas.”

The basic purpose of MCC is to empower the minority society that is being pushed on the margins and bring them to the mainstream of society. Moreover, it aims to “To promote and protect the rights of minority communities and advance social justice, equity, and inclusion for all”

The organisation was formed in 2016 to acknowledge the discrimination, lack of basic facilities and the questions of protection when it comes to minorities. The objective of the organisation is to understand and analyze existing inequality, discrimination, and untouchability against minorities.

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