One had only read about Fascism and Nazism in books of history and fiction. But had never experienced living under a Fascist state. One had lived under the constant fear of arrest and police torture during the 19 months of the Emergency. But what the Muslims in Gujarat experienced in 2002 must have been much more dreadful than that.
There were massacres of Muslims, gang rapes of Muslim women and looting and arson of shops and establishments belonging to them.
Armed mobs, led by known Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers, were on a killing spree, targeting Muslims to avenge the burning alive of over 50 VHP volunteers returning from Ayodhya by train on February 27 near the Godhra railway station.
Instead of providing protection to the Muslims, the police aided and abetted the killer mobs. Worse, the police refused to file First Information Reports in several cases and where it became unavoidable to register a case, the FIRs were so doctored as to help the killers, rapists, arsonists and looters escape unpunished.
Gujarat had become unsafe for Muslims. Hundreds of Muslims fled their homeland, Gujarat, after the mayhem. Many enterprising, forward-looking, well-to-do Muslims, like the members of the Chelia clan from north Gujarat, who owned over 400 restaurants, most of them serving only vegetarian food and bearing pronouncedly Hindu names, sold their establishments to move to Hyderabad and Bangalore.
These popular restaurants, other shops and business establishments doing flourishing business in Ahmedabad and elsewhere in central and north Gujarat were singled out, plundered and then set on fire by the Hindu mobs in the aftermath of the Godhra carnage.