MASSACRES - Hazards of Being a Minority in Modern India

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Dedication

To victims of prejudice everywhere - regardless of creed, color, national origin, gender or any other marker of difference or presumed deficit or inferiority - temporary or permanent, natural or artificially constructed.

Victims of human beings' inhumanity to humans! May your suffering bring a shred of shame to humans!

If not to the point of contrition, redemption and atonement for the past, and of renouncing all injustice, cruelty and inhumanity in the future, at least to a point where they would feel compelled to communicate the truth of your suffering and pain in a clear, forceful and timely manner.

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Communication, Prejudice and Crime

What follows are some reflections on how communication creates prejudice; how prejudice spawns violence; how violence creates innocent victims; and how, then, communication rationalizes, euphemizes and covers up crime; consoles perpetrators; and consolidates intergroup domination and subordination structures - resulting, ultimately, in a life of privilege and perquisites for some and of misery and deprivation for others, including loss of life and liberty.

Results include social, economic and cultural transformation for entire populations and pathological violence and near-genocidal conditions imposed on large subgroups.

Repetitive massacres of the Muslim minority in India over the past half century illustrate this fact as clearly as any other similar set of events in human history. For example, the Nazi atrocities against Jews, the massacre of the Tutsis by the Hutus in Africa and the genocidal ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims by Serbs in former Yugoslavia.

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Author's Note

Using a personalized, staccato and reflective style, The Massacres seeks to provide clearer understanding of the repetitive massacres of Muslims in India that pass by the euphemism of communal riots.

In following this method, the book seeks to capture not merely the impersonal reality of these repetitive massacres and pogroms - the so-called riots - but also their intensely human and personal dimension.

It then takes this issue beyond the Indian Muslim context and frames it in broader human terms. This provides an illustration of the author's theory that being human can be a fairly dangerous enterprise. It can be quite hazardous to one's health.

How else can we explain centuries of pogroms against Jews in Europe? Or the horrors that the Germans perpetrated on them and others during World War II?

Or the merciless murders, evictions, land confiscations and home demolitions that the state of Israel is visiting upon generation after generation of Palestinians, reducing them to a life of perpetual terror and slavery in concentration camps on their own native soil?

Or what the Hutus in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Congo did to their fellow-African black Tutsis, not so long ago?

Or what the Serbs in former Yugoslavia did to their fellow-Yugoslavian Croats and Bosnian Muslims?

Or what many European nations did earlier - for centuries - getting rich by trading in African slaves - when generations of slaves were subjected to some of the worst atrocities known to humans, and when the average working life of a mine slave is reported to be seven years?

Or what we in the Americas did to the nations and peoples who populated this beautiful land in their teeming millions - and to their cultures and languages - not knowing to this day by what name even to call them?

How else do we explain these and many other equally diabolical deeds of our fellow-humans throughout history if not by saying that being human is a fairly hazardous enterprise, not only to humans but also to the rest of planet earth - to its environment and multitudes of inhabitants.

The object is not to dismiss human cruelty and savagery lightly, whether in India or elsewhere, as part of a universal human condition - as part of what people call human nature - but to come to terms with the hazards of being human and to press into service the other powerful human characteristic - communication - to combat and reduce human errancy and diabolicity and make this world a more just, fair, equitable, kind, caring and compassionate place for all.

As humans, with a limited time span on this earth, what other choice do we have?

And does it matter whether we use exclusive academic idiom to explicate and articulate this construct - and painstakingly document these occurrences - or resort, as does this book, to broken and staccato bursts of anguished speech, that is neither prose nor poetry, but which, nevertheless, is an attempt to capture not just the reality and range of these horrors, but also the reality and depth of the pain that they cause - a pain that often defies our powers and skills to communicate; a pain that damages, mutilates and haunts the psyche of the survivors for decades?

It is hoped that this publication would put in proper perspective the repetitive massacres of Muslims in India - what even the bemused Indian Muslims simply refer to as communal riots. Hopefully, it will also bring greater clarity, awareness and sensitivity in a world increasingly troubled by cultural confusion and strife.

It is quite evident that while area after area, people after people, nation after nation and culture after culture, is damaged and devastated by prejudice, and resultant violence and atrocities, communication plays a powerful role in the service of prejudice either as a seemingly helpless bystander or as a willing and potent accomplice and co-conspirator and accessory. Whether this book will deter would-be perpetrators from future violence and prejudice, we can only hope.

The book would serve a useful purpose if it has a cathartic and therapeutic effect on the survivors of these pogroms and their relatives, friends and fellow-religionists, -ethnics and -nationals - Muslims, Dalits, Hindus, Jews, Christians, Palestinians, Israelis. Arabs, Tutsis and others. And if it contributes to the easing of the psychological pain and damage, so common among survivors of violence around the world - not the least the Muslims of India, both at home and abroad.

The book is written without malice or hate - or, surprisingly, even anger - toward any individual, group, society, nation, country or culture - certainly not against the Hindu community either in India or abroad. Nor should it be construed as an attempt to insult or attack or ruin the reputation of India - a matter on which the people of India are always so extremely sensitive.

What the book really does is proceed from the assumption that the best way to serve any individual, group, community, nation, society, cause, culture or country is to speak the truth and let facts speak for themselves. On that score I am quite satisfied that even though the book is highly impressionistic, its basic premises and facts are horrifyingly true - only too horrifyingly true.

However, the responsibility for the views and ideas expressed in this book is limited to the author, and he purports to represent or speak for no individual, organization, association, institution, country, society, culture, civilization or people.

Syed Pasha
April 2003

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