Inspired by the "Post Godra Cranage of Gujarat" (28thFab. -10 March 2002 & beyond...), The worst massacre of one community by the other in the history of religious riots in India since its independence in1947...
Is it a Nightmare; Or Is it True?(Exactly 4 years ago, on the fateful day of 28th Fab.2002; A train, Sabarmati Express, passing through the town of Godra, carrying a group of religious extremist Karsevaks, returning from the disputed religious site in the town of Ayodhya, caught fire; The religious community immediately concluded that it was the work of the other religious community; What ensued was the worst carnage in the history of religious riots in the independent India**:)
Is it a Nightmare; Or Is it True?
Birds were chirruping at Dawn
When I woke up to their song
Demons of the nightmares, still
Hovered on my consciousness, like spirits:
Thousands of bloodthirsty men,
Swords & daggers, spears in hands,
Swarmed the streets in frenzied mob-
"Blood!" they cried, red demon-eyed,
Ferocious, beastly, animal like,
"Slash them open! Slice them up!"
"Spare-not-one!" Oh, Vengeful hate!
"Our Brothers we will burn today!"
"Disrobe our Mothers-own in streets!"
" Rape our Sisters indiscreet!
"Burn them alive on funeral-pyre!"
"Set every house and hut on fire!"
"Bloody Holi*, we will play!"
"Dance the frenzied Tandov* today!"
Blood-curdling cries rose sky high!
Like hunted-animals ran,
I, and others of my clan
Helter-skelter, high and low...
Blood-splattered bodies, strewn on the street,
Some were dead, others struggling to breathe...
Terror-stricken, shrieking wild,
Stumbling, tumbling, I ran for life...
The 'Devils', hot in pursuit mine,
When suddenly, my foot was caught,
In something warm, wet and soft,
Unconscious I fell on the ground...
When, I came-to, it was dark,
Still, quiet, not a sound!
Silence of death reigned around...
Heart-in-mouth, with fear I lay!
Scarcely breathing, soiled and frayed...
Perched upon an old Banyan tree,
Vultures four, eyed me with glee,
Waiting for my soul to flee...
Their shrieks woke me up from dream:
Birds were singing the self-same song,
Which is the harbinger of Dawn!
Is it a nightmare?
Or is it true?
Why my soul is troubled so?
Tumult in my bosom brews.
"Almighty!" Cried my anguished heart:
"Will our troubles ever depart?
When will birds sing in a new Dawn?
When will peace & love prevail?
Our gardens would be Paradise!
Oh! When will man be that wise?"
Author: Zoya Zaidi
Aligarh (UP), India
Copyrightę: Zoya Zaidi
*Holi- festival of colours celebrated in India, marking the advent of summer and beginning of harvesting season.
*Tandov-Lord Shiva's, (God incarnate of Destruction and Creation in Vedic mythology), impassioned dance of destruction.
**Thousands of Hindus stormed the houses, shops and religious shrines of Muslims; Killing men, raping women, then burning them alive, looting houses and shops then setting them on fire by releasing liquefied cooking gas, LPG (Low Pressure Gas), from its cylinders they carried; The Masjids, religious shrines of Muslims, were scorched in no time. Ten thousand people were massacred in a matter of few days; 4-7 thousand had to flee, thousands of children became orphans in few hours...
The then extremist (read criminal) Government and police, it is said stood and watched over this worst ethnic cleansing in the history of riots in India after its independence since 1947, it was given the name of Gujarat program, triumphantly by the ruling government, meant to 'teach a lesson' to the, wiped out, minority community. The trauma is still very raw and green.
There was a curfew order clamped all over India to prevent further backlash of rioting in the rest of the country.
Caged within the confines of my flat, all I could do was to helplessly watch scenes of carnage, being flashed 24 hours on the TV screen. The images haunted me all night, visiting me in my dreams, turning them into nightmares of worst kind. This poem was written during that period.
As a result of Narindra Modi's (The then chief minister of Gujarat state) alleged role in abetting the riots, the US government recently revoked his visa (much to his consternation) under section 212(a)(2)(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which makes any foreign government official, who was responsible or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom, ineligible for visa. Their decision was based on the reports of National Human Rights Commission (NHCR) of India. But this minister was never convicted in his own country, despite countrywide protests; On the contrary, Indian Government even officially protested against the US decision to deny him Visa.
Poetry by Zoya Zaidi
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Written on 2006-03-06 at 22:53
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