Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


The recent victory by the BJP in Maharashtra’s civic polls provides an unfortunate bookend to the commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the Gujarat pogrom. Maharashtra is of course adjacent to Gujarat, and has had its share of BJP-led assaults on a variety of minority communities, including Dalits and Muslims, but also women, secular activists and those protesting against pro-capitalist policies. Yet, the electoral calculus continues to favor the perpetrators of violence and intimidation. It is perhaps accurate to say that within the mainstream discourse in India, the role played by the BJP and in particular the current Prime Minister of India in the horrific massacre of a decade and a half ago, when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, has been relegated to the past and is in danger of being forgotten.


The reality of course is different. The victims of the Gujarat massacres and their families continue to be denied justice, but their struggle continues, spearheaded by determined activists like Father Cedric Prakash, Teesta Setalvad and host of grassroots organizers. Some of the perpetrators of the worst massacres were sentenced to life imprisonment by a courageous judge some years ago. But such is the social climate in Gujarat that many of the convicted killers have been released on bail while the judge herself has had to seek protection from the threats to her life!


It is a time of disappointment, of course, but also of hope and creative visualization. Would that the oppressed, including the Dalits, Muslims, women, secular activists, and democratic activists and the marginalized found ways to speak to and energize each other and build a movement that takes on the powerful and the violent. Otherwise, memory of even the horrific act of bloodshedding in 2002 Gujarat, will disappear without a trace.


Blood continues to be spilt by the right wing, be it of the devotees at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan Sharif in Sindh, Pakistan, or in villages in Myanmar against the Rohingyas. It is time to take a stance, and not be afraid of the goons that are arrayed against the powerless. To that end, the students and teachers of Delhi University, in particular Ramjas College, and of JNU with their #IamnotafraidofABVP movement, provide a fleeting moment of optimism.


We close this editorial with a poem by Faiz cautioning against the move to forget spilt blood. So appropriate as we remember Gujarat!


Lahu ka suraagh


kahiñ nahiñ hai kahiñ bhi nahiñ lahu ka suraagh

na dast-o naakhun-e qaatil, na aasteeñ pe nishaañ

na surkhi-e lab-e khanjar, na rang-e nok-e sinaañ

na khaak par koi dhabba, na baam par koi daagh

kahiñ nahiñ hai kahiñ bhi nahiñ lahu ka suraagh


na sarf-e khidmat-e shaahaañ ke khooñ-baha dete

na deeñ ki nazr ke bayaana-e jaza dete

na razmgaah meiñ barsa ke mo’atabar hota

kisi alam pe raqam hoke mushtahar hota


pukaarta raha be-aasra yateem lahu

kisi to bahr-e sama’at na waqt tha na dimaagh

na mudda’i na shahaadat hisaab paak hua

ye khoon-e khaak-nasheenaañ tha rizq-e khaak hua


Trace of Blood


Nowhere, nowhere at all, is any trace of the blood

Not on the murderer’s hands, fingernails or sleeve

No blood reddens the tongue of the blade nor brightens the tip of the spear

No blood marks the soil or stains the rooftop

Nowhere, nowhere at all, is any trace of the blood


This blood wasn’t shed in the services of kings that it could receive recompense

Nor was it sacrificed at the altar of religion that it could be rewarded

Neither did it spill on the battlefield that it could be honored

Or memorialized on a battle standard


It cried out, this helpless, orphaned blood

But none had the ability to listen, nor the time, nor the patience

No plaintiff stepped forward, no one bore witness and so the account was closed

While the blood of the dirt-dwellers seeped silently into the dirt

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