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Warisha Farasat and Prita Jha, long time human rights activists and legal experts on issues of communal genocides and rehabilitation of survivors, have given us an uncompromising book that details the aftermath of the Gujarat and Bhagalpur massacres of Muslims in independent India, and of the erosion of secularism and minority rights within the ruling establishment and in society. The persistence of so-called communal violence in India is aided by the very terms used to define and analyze it. Most pernicious are such terms as “communal violence”, “hate violence,” etcetera, that mask the deliberate planning that is involved, led by so-called “respectable people.” Of particular concern is the violence that targets local Muslim populations, killing large numbers of men, women, and children. Communal violence is not necessarily or usually something spontaneous, but is rather a “production” staged by these so-called reputable people who, for reasons of their own, pay hoodlums and murderers to carry out the violence. Paul Brass — Drawing on rich narratives and interviews with the survivors of the Bhagalpur and Gujarat anti-Muslim carnage, this book anatomises how systemic impunity for the perpetrators of violence works and how the rights of minorities are trampled upon. This meticulous research work makes a significant and practical contribution to the discussions on impunity, state power and justice in India and provides rich material for a deeper analytical understanding of the Indian State and society. Atul Sood — Few studies have followed up on what happens to the survivors of the communal massacres who, it is assumed, would have ‘moved on’. Here is a book that looks into their lives... the fight for justice, rehabilitation, livelihoods, and above all, dignity. It records their struggles to make sense of their lives, for a ‘closure’ that has eluded them. Nalini Taneja — Mandatory reading. The Bhagalpur carnage – and other collective crimes we commit upon ourselves – are tragedies redoubled. Victims remain victims, perpetrators get away; we have a way of turning amnesiac on past sins. Here is a painstakingly documented reminder to all of us of our criminal commissions and omissions, and of what shouldn’t happen. Sankarshan Thakur
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