Soon after becoming the Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, Adolf Hilter called for fresh elections to the Reichstag - the German Parliament. On the evening of February 27, 1933 – six days before elections -- a massive fire broke out at the Reichstag. The next day, the Reichstag Fire Decree was signed which effectively suspended most of the civil liberties -- freedom of the person, expression, press, the right of free association and public assembly, the secrecy of the post and telephone, as well as the protection of property and the home.
Much in the same way that the Reichstag fire gave Hitler the opening to tighten his stranglehold and paved the way for the creation of Nazi Germany, the Sabarmati Express fire gave Modi (Chief Minister of Gujarat) the opening to revive the BJP's floundering electoral fortunes in Gujarat and legitimised the advent of the saffronazi.
The parallels do not end here. Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) and the 2002 Gujarat carnage seem eerily similar. Considered a turning point in Nazi history, the organized anti-Jewish riots in Germany and Austria were a forerunner of Endlosung or the Final Solution. Reinhard Heydrich (whose office oversaw the Gestapo, police and intelligence operations) sent a secret telegram to "all headquarters and stations of the State Police" with instructions for the immediate coordination of police and political activities in inciting the riots. "...the demonstrations are not to be prevented by the police... they are only to supervise the observance of the guidelines." The toll -- 36 Jews killed (some put this figures to 91), over 25,000 deported to concentration camps, 267 synagogues destroyed and nearly 7,000 Jewish shops, businesses and homes vandalized !
Closer home, survivors of the Naroda-Patiya massacre of Feb 28, 2002 recount the police reaction was far more direct, " Behnch**d, we have no orders to save you today." The Gujarat DGP P C Pande suffered memory losses while appearing before the Nanavati Commission, but an independent analysis of PCR wireless transcripts and cell phone records will confirm a chilling story of state complicity. Journalists and activists have repeatedly spoken of ministers leading mobs and supervising police operations. Hindutva mobs razed 270 mosques and dargahs, burnt and destroyed hundreds of Muslim homes and specifically targeted Muslim businesses like restaurants and timber marts in cities and petty businesses including Bohra traders' shops in villages. A Bajrang Dal activist succinctly sums it all: "The idea was to finish them financially, so that they are not able to rebuild their lives." Coincidence?
The womb-that-produces-the-enemy was repeatedly defiled, in a well-orchestrated campaign of sexual violence against Muslim women that saw similar modus operandi in Ahmedabad and Baroda, the tribal Panchmahals belt and in other remote villages of Gujarat. The carnage left in its wake 2,000 people brutally killed or "missing". (Some of them are now being found, through DNA analysis of hurriedly buried remains, like in Lunavada last week). Nearly 200,000 people were displaced, forced into relief camps and according to the Concerned Citizens' Tribunal report, the state denied them "even basic rights like water, sanitation and food supplies." Remarkable coincidence?
On March 23, 1933, the newly elected German parliament Reichstag met in Berlin and passed Hitler's Enabling Act, fortifying his position as the Führer. Formally called the Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich, it ratified restrictions on freedom of speech, press and demonstration, setting the stage for further revocation of rights. The Nazi Gleichschaltung now began a massive coordination of all aspects of life under the swastika. A week later, a national boycott of Jewish shops and department stores was ordered by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.
However, in Modi's Gujarat, you don't need to create new, formal laws to do any of this. Just read pamphlets or hear speeches calling for an economic boycott of Muslims. Or talk to school children forced to leave the Don Bosco school in Ahmedabad. Just visit Hindu and Muslim ghettos in Ahmedabad. Or accompany Muslim villagers back to their villages. Or try to find them a job under the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme. Or help them get a new ration card or treatment at a government hospital. Or attempt restoration of their homes and property taken over by the very people who killed and raped their families and friends.
The Supreme Court might be monitoring "riot cases" directly, but the saffron juggernaut rolls on in Gujarat. While upright police officers twiddle their thumbs in punishment postings, other bureaucrats like P C Pande and R B Sreekumar who have made peace with the saffronazis survive and flourish. All critical voices are threatened, boycotted or labeled. Activist Teesta Setalvad and advocate Mihir Desai are labeled "enemies of Gujarat", Mallika Sarabhai braves harassment for speaking out and High Courts do not hesitate to formally make adverse comments, mercifully expunged by the Supreme Court.
Golwalkar, the RSS ideologue once said: "The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e. of the Hindu nation, and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race; or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment -- not even citizen's rights."
So, no rights for non-Hindus? Are Muslims, Christians and Parsis reduced to second class citizens? And what about the rights of anyone speaking out against injustice? Or hate and bloodshed? Do they become "enemies of Hindutva or Gujarat"? Enjoy them while they last - you may soon have such rights in history textbooks, and that too, only till the saffronazis revise them!
But, till they do so, lets pay heed to Julius Caesar:"Beware the leader who bangs the drum of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded patriotism will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."