Museum of resistance
memorial to the victims of communal violence
On February 28, 2002 as Gujarat was scarred, profoundly
and irrevocably, through well-planned and meticulously executed acts of
violence, one space in the heart of Ahmedabad, Gulberg Society, saw 70
persons massacred. For over six years, we have together resisted the sale
of this once living housing society to hawks from among the
criminals. Today the space lies vacant but is crowded with battered
Through deeply depressing moments, made worse by
excruciating legal delays, we needed something positive, something
energising and lasting to focus on. This idea of resistance emerged out of
tragedy and gloom, but more particularly, it was born of the close
emotional bonds with each of the victim survivors, our family. On February
28 each year we meet for prayers and remembrances. We now want to do
We know that there will be bumps and roadblocks on
the road ahead as a vindictive state tries to thwart us at every juncture.
We also know that this idea, one of a kind, must be located in
Gujarat. (There is only one such resistance museum on the Indian
subcontinent, in Bangladesh.) We know too that this idea will
become a reality. Part of the battle against the state will be the
building of a movement for the Gulberg Society Museum of Resistance with
support from each and every one of you.
We need you. We need your ideas. For the victim survivors
of Gujarat 2002, for those of us at Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice
and Peace (CJP) who have devoted the better part of two and a half decades
to battling the forces of communalism, hatred and division, this will be a
unique effort, the first of its kind. All the documentation, the posters
and the films that we have accessed and archived, including our own, will
be housed in the Gulberg Society Museum of Resistance. Narratives
of survivors, of victim communities, will enjoy a special focus here.
As a people, we need to have the courage to look the
causes and effects of hatred and violence in the face.
A vigil will be held at Gulberg Society on February 28,
2008 to commemorate six years of the Gujarat genocide of 2002 and to
formally inaugurate this idea and movement.
For nearly six years now, more than a hundred thousand
survivors of independent India’s state-sponsored carnage in the western
Indian state of Gujarat have been denied dignified acknowledgement of, or
reparation for, the magnitude of indignity and violence they suffered.
With the BJP’s recent electoral victory in the state, the pain and
humiliation of the victim survivors has been further exacerbated. A quiet
yet dignified and firm resistance to this state callousness and impunity
lies at the heart of this idea of resistance.
Located in the heart of Ahmedabad city, Gulberg Society,
Meghaninagar, the scene of a daylong massacre in which 70 persons were
killed, offers the site for this resistance. Waiting for justice, for six
long years the survivors have withstood selling out to hawkish buyers who
would be happy to obliterate any visible public memory of the carnage.
This idea offers us all, private citizens, foundations and entrepreneurs,
the opportunity to build a professional institution that energises the
survivors and human rights defenders who have stood by them.
The Gulberg Museum of Resistance project will be
undertaken by Sabrang Trust and CJP and will include survivors on the
advisory board. Rooted in 2002, the project will cover the many instances
of mass crimes that have dogged us as a nation. The genocidal violence of
Gujarat 2002 will be extensively mapped: the Godhra train burning, Naroda
Gaon and Patiya, Odh, Sardarpura, Vadodara, Panchmahal, Dahod…
Located in Gujarat, this museum of resistance will map the
many and varied instances of communal violence and victimisation over the
decades – be it the Kashmiri Pandits in the valley or the Muslims of Jammu
& Kashmir, the Sikh survivors of 1984, the voices of survivors from Meerut
or Bhagalpur – all victims of violence, regardless of community, will find
a space and a voice here.
Be it Gulberg Society, Meghaninagar, Ahmedabad, Naroda,
Sardarpura or Odh, these locations, which saw orgies of violence, stand as
ghostlike relics even today. In their damaged and scarred walls cracked by
ravaging flames, the tiny blocks, apartments and homes within Gulberg
Society show evidence of the depth and scale of the violence unleashed
therein. Room after room and home after home in this society will be
sombre reminders to us all, supporters of the resistance, of the horrors
unleashed by communal violence. From the ashes of these bitter memories
will emerge a deeper understanding, along with programmes and activities
that will themselves give shape to the resistance that we are trying to
The Gulberg Museum of Resistance will be a professionally
built institution of resistance to acknowledge the horror and scale of
intercommunity conflict that has plagued independent India and will house
detailed documentation of the same. Victim survivors will be the soul and
centre of this museum of resistance and will, on February 28 each year,
commemorate the day with prayers and remembrances. Films, documents, art
and literature on the subject will be available on the site, which will
become a live centre of activities for the anti-communal movement in the
country. Once the project is complete, no one will be able to visit
Ahmedabad city without revisiting what transpired here in 2002.
The task ahead
For this to happen and to ensure safe passage of sale to
the survivors, we are inviting contributions to help make this vision a
reality. Contributions should be made to Sabrang Trust, Mumbai. These will
be publicly displayed in a scroll of honour. We invite you to donate
generously towards this idea.
Gujarat 2002 – Before and after
Hailing from India’s largest religious minority, Gujarat’s
survivors today live in hope of justice that has, in most cases, been
delayed if not denied. Nineteen of Gujarat’s 25 districts were torn apart
by bitter targeted violence that left 2,500 dead. To date, of the total of
413 ‘missing’ persons, the remains of 228 have not been found. Four
hundred girls and women were victims of sexual violence. More than
1,68,000 persons were turned overnight into internally displaced persons
by a remorseless administration. In all, 23,873 homes were seriously
damaged or totally destroyed. A total of 14,330 shops and informal
businesses and 1,100 hotels were irretrievably damaged. Six years later,
the victim survivors face a denial of justice and pathetic compensation.
Of the 566 mosques, dargahs, madrassas and churches specifically targeted
in the violence, 167 have still not been repaired. Few were repaired
through state funds, a vast majority through community funding.
Residents of Gulberg Society
(Email your responses to: [email protected])