ABOUT THE SITE
This 18th century painting from North India gives you an absolutely accurate picture of why this site exists. Violence has always been terrifyingly fascinating. From the earliest cave paintings to Darth Vader in Star Wars, it makes for the best storytelling and pictures. But there are very few stories that actually tell you what it feels like to be the person who cuts someone to pieces. This site makes an attempt. The idea stems from a book the author of this site is working on, that explores the minds of three people that were once part of a genocidal mob in India. You will find blog posts on their journey here. And you will also find writing from other parts of the world that deal with mass violence and ways to explain, understand and move away from it. Go ahead…lose yourself here…
ABOUT THE BOOK – `THE ANATOMY OF HATE’
Violence in its extreme, is the most terrifying and perplexing part of who we are as people. When a whole group of people commit extreme violence together, it’s even more bewildering. What makes a large group of people collectively take part in the killing and raping of another group? Who are these individuals that can rape a pregnant woman and dash her half formed foetus to the ground on one day and then go back to `life as usual’ after the anger is spent? These are the questions I am trying to answer as I write `The Anatomy Of Hate.’ This is a book based on the lives of people who were part of a lynch mob in India, in the state of Gujarat. They were angry Hindus baying for the blood of Muslims in the year 2002.
So much has been written of the violence that took place then, in which 2,000 Muslims were killed by Hindu mobs that formed almost instantly across the state of Gujarat. There are reams describing the politics of hate, the religious divide, the caste and tribal components of the people in those mobs. But so far, we haven’t tried to look closely at what turned these individuals that way. The Anatomy Of Hate takes you there. It describes the lives of members of the mob to really understand what it feels like to be one of them.
The attempt is to make us look long and hard and unsparingly at our darkest selves. And discover that the most terrifying truth about a mob is not that we can’t understand how they operate, but that we can.
WANT MORE? HERE’S THE BACKGROUND
Our democracy in India is both robust and fragile. It was born in 1947, of a non-violent and Gandhian struggle for independence from the British. However, violence was equally a part of its birth as two nations – India and Pakistan were carved from rivers of blood, half a million people killed over religion. Ever since, the religious fault-line – Hindus versus Muslim in particular, has been the biggest threat to our democratic fabric. Any pull towards fanaticism – by the Hindu majority that makes up 80% of our population or by the Muslims – that make up 15% of India; causes an earthquake like rupture in our fragile secular fabric.
In the last few years in particular, this schism has opened up again and the origin of this new wound goes back to the year 2002. The year when in the Indian state of Gujarat, 2,000 Muslims were lynched by Hindu mobs across the state. The violence began after the compartment of a train carrying right wing Hindu activists was burnt, killing 59 of them. The incident took place in a part of Gujarat that has a strong and politically dominant Muslim population. Rumours spread almost immediately, that the Hindus were burnt down by Muslims. Soon after, mobs of Hindus got together to annihilate Muslims across Gujarat. Once the violence abated, people went back to “business as usual,” as if nothing had happened.
This is typical of hate crimes whenever they have taken place in India and indeed the world over. However, in many other parts of the world, from Kosovo to Rwanda, from Indonesia to South Africa; people have found that it is not possible to live with amnesia. And they have made various attempts to reconcile with the hate crimes by acknowledging that they did happen and that they took place with the tacit approval of the people of those countries. In India on the other hand, right from the partition onwards, we have buried our heads in the sand. Like ostriches, we have told ourselves that if we don’t talk about what we’ve done, the pain and anger will disappear. But of course that never happens. This book is an attempt to make us face our demons. Almost in the same way that we bury our evil in ritual forms during festivals like Dussehra and Durga puja, this book is a way of exorcising demons by making us face them.
NAVIGATING THIS SITE
Posts – This tab on the top of the page contains within it some of the best writing on genocides and mass violence, which includes an essay by the best known historian on medieval Indian history – Richard Eaton; and another by someone who is virtually the last word on genocides – political scientist Mahmood Mamdani. You will find many other compelling reads here on the dilemmas in mediating between two sides in a conflict to the predicament of the seller of incense sticks who lost her family to the genocide against Sikhs in India in 1984.
You can look for these essays by scrolling down the list of Recent Posts on the right side of the page or look for them by Authors or Categories – both lists are also on the right half of the Home Page.
Why This Site – This tab contains only one essay that describes my predicament in creating this site and the anguish I have carried with me all these years that I am hoping to extinguish in this karmic writing process.
The rest of the tabs are self explanatory and simple to navigate. There is one other very precious feature, right here, at the bottom of this Home Page. That is the tab – Photo Stories. Click on each picture and it will open up to a story – the story behind the taking of that picture. Needless to say, the journeys these absolutely gifted photographers have to offer cannot but leave you shaken, in a good way.
THE PEOPLE WITHOUT WHOM THIS SITE WOULD NOT EXIST
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! AND A GINORMOUS THANK YOU TO:
Flamingo Films for shooting my crowdfunding pitch video – (on the Fund This Project tab on this page)
And a friendly ghost who shot the film but didn’t want to be named!
Splat studio for editing and re-shaping the video
Kalakar for helping me create this site and
Webcurry for hand-holding me through many a crisis
These are the best go to people if you’re neanderthal, nuts, stupidly ambitious and in need of brilliant minds!