Seven years after the 2002 riots,Gujarati theatre activist and poet Swarup Dhruv has pointed out the real life experiences of the mayhem in her book,Umeed Hogi Koi.
The writer has pointed out the widening of the divide between the two communities over time,while highlighting the positive stories or struggles of brotherhood and endurance.
Dhruv,also known as the Ismat Chugtai of Gujarati literature,says,The book was first planned to highlight the conditions of the Muslim victims of the Gujarat riots,five years after the episode to highlight the spirit,rehabilitation and living conditions of the survivors.
Except for the narrator and the names of two characters,the book captures only real-life accounts without any element of fiction. Umeed Hogi Koi took two years of fieldwork starting in April 2006,wherein 600 families,groups and individuals,Muslims/non-Muslims,and Dalits were interviewed from across Banaskantha,Sabarkantha,Panchmahals,Dahod,Kheda,Anand and Ahmedabad districts. The total 35 representations were later condensed in the book.
The book has also been written in Hindi to reach a larger reader base.
Dhruv says: In the past,poems and books written in Gujarati had not been well received by the audience,probably because I believe Gujarat is a kind of place where this kind of literature will suffocate. This place gives no space for such literature,and in fact,I would have written the book in English were I more comfortable with the language.
The book,however,took more than the expected time for completion,as it was held up in procedural delays in Delhi for a little over two years.
She says: While we went to villages to convince people to take in the Muslim families they had driven away,the non-Muslims reasoned that since the Muslims have levelled cases against the villagers,they dont want them back. Even Muslims do not intend to return. They have clearly lost confidence; the rift has widened,leaving behind a permanent scar on the psyche.
Members of both the warring communities failed to understand the point of targeting innocent people and outstretching the carnage,when only a few were at fault,says Dhruv. Another observation the writer makes is that while non-Muslims largely avoided talking of the episode and have already forgotten it,the Muslim community was divided on whether to speak or not.
Mostly,they were scared. Only a few spoke fearlessly even though both communities seemed to know the governments involvement, says Dhruv.
The book was launched in the city on Saturday after its launch in Delhi. Gujarati author Ramesh Dave,sociologist Ghanshyam Shah,progressive writer Sultan Ahmed and social scientist Tridip Sruhud critiqued the book at the Mehndi Nawaz Jung Hall.