ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Paul D SouzaSubscribe to Paul D Souza

SURAT RIOTS-II-Images of Violence

elements were nabbed in Surat on December 6 under PASA and TADA. Bootlegging and the spread of underground activities and the parallel economy had made the city a haven for the police. When P K Datta took over as Police Com- missioner in October 1992, he came down heavily on bootlegging and other illegal activities. 'Hafta' dried up. The police force became sullen. Builders became unhappy with an administration trying to enforce rules and regulations. The stage was set for Datta's transfer from Surat.4 The December 6 developments in Ayodhya came in handy for the vested interests to try to break this inconvenient impasse. When the minority over-reacted on the night of the 6th, the majority backlash was predictable as almost a reflex action. In 1991 tempers had run high when the Khetrapal temple had been tampered with by some Muslim hotheads. Thereafter the vituperative speeches of top BJP and VHP leaders in the city had rendered the at nosphcre communally surcharged. The OBCs and the Kanbis, who constitute the mainstream of the lumpens in Udhna, Vaxachha Road and Ved Road, sprang into action, attacking the minority community. Families were burnt alive and women were raped or made to strip with video cameras covering the dastardly acts.5 Surat lost about Rs 500 crore. Its 2,50,000 powerlooms, producing goods worth Rs 25 crore per day, remained closed during the period of curfew. The 4 lakh workers in the powerloom factories lost Rs 2 crore a day in wages. The dyeing houses, the processing units dealing with dyeing, warping and texturising and the textile mills too remained closed Inquiries revealed that about 1,75,000 tickets had been sold at the Surat station and ST bus stand up to December 17.6 Others leaving the city by other routes or for not-too- distant centres on foot were estimated to be about 50,000. This suggests an exodus of about 2 lakh migrant labour
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