Major Projects

Anatomy and Geography of Riots: Gujarat 2002

This study sought to map the changing patterns of communal riots in Gujarat, especially within the larger context of the rise of Hindutva and other communal forces. The study aimed at (1) plotting the locations of communal riots over the state, in its urban and rural areas, at two points of time, 1992 and 2002; (2) mapping the changing patterns of the riots and their intensity in terms of damages; (3) working out the causatives of the varying patterns; and (4) suggested some pointing to the trend of communal conflicts apprehended in the future.

The study indicates the following set of definite patterns and trajectories that the political processes in Gujarat experienced, especially during the last one and a half decades.

The identities based on primordial relations and the corresponding divisions in Gujarat society, while deep-rooted, could still accommodate articulation of an apparent unity under a broad umbrella of ‘Hindutva’, mainly due to the pronounced absence of any radical or progressive cultural or political front.

The rising aspirations of the middle classes, the failure of the Congress party to effectively respond to them, and the changing political equations of the upper and middle castes vis-à-vis other groups – especially after the anti-reservation riots of 1985 - facilitated the growth of ‘Hindutva’ and associated organisations in the state. As a result, the combined strength of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar could penetrate the social base of the OBCs, the middle classes, and the marginally placed social groups like the tribes, through different forms and modalities.

The consolidation of a regional-political discourse, mediated through social mobilisation on 'Hindutva' lines, facilitated – especially since the early nineties – erosion of whatever secular forces the state might have had. Such a process and the associated factors continued to nurture and sustain a communally divisive environment, particularly over the last ten years. This study was carried out by Lancy Lobo with close support from Biswaroop Das. Most of the findings have been published in the book edited by both of them entitled as Communal Violence and Minorities: Gujarat Society in Ferment, Jaipur: Rawat, 2006.