We have entered a period of re-emergence of communalism, which has been afflicting the Indian social fabric with great severity and cannot be dismissed as sporadic outbreaks of localised tensions between communities. Early November 1998 saw a spate of attacks on Christian Minorities in different parts of Gujarat. The events ranged from burning of Bibles in Rajkot, to digging up of graves in Nadiad leading to a situation of national concern.
The build-up of violence in the Dang’s district from Christmas eve (’98) onwards and its continuation till New Year caused deep anguish to Christians all over the country. It further increased the sense of insecurity and alienation that several minorities had been feeling in the face of growing fundamentalism.
Instead of bringing the situation under control, the government began dismissing these occurances as ‘sporadic & localised’ events, and further enhancing the sense of anguish by saying that huts & not churches were being burnt in Gujarat.
This refusal of the authorities in recognising the magnitude of the violence and its hidden agenda, is condemnable by any standard. It therefore did not come as a surprise when suddenly the focus of the problem was diverted and a national debate on ‘conversions’ was felt necessary to resolve the issue.
The continuing denial of the Gujarat Government of the seriousness of the communal situation prevailing in the State and the persistent confrontationist posture of the VHP, Hindu Jagran Manch and other associate groups, necessitated the setting up of a national level citizen’s commission, to visit these areas and conduct an independent inquiry into the matter.