The research project from 2002 on Communal Violence - Institute Of - DOC

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					The research project from 2002 on Communal Violence & Conflict Resolutions -- A Study of
Coimbatore Riots in 1990s, studied the reasons behind the communal violence between the
Hindus and the Muslims in the city so as to evolve ways and means by which we could
prevent and resolve such conflicts.
Approach of the study
The approach we ised in the research was proactive approach. This approach views study on
communal violence should be concerned with everyday experiences that nuture and helps
promote enmity and animosity. This is called routine violence.1 Many studies of communal
violence look at incidences only after they have taken place and have caused destruction. But
the approach in the IDCR study looks at the everyday happenings in the locus in which
there is constant animosity between religious groups. This could be slogans, public speeches,
hoardings, daily conversations and dalily behaviour of different groups during the course of
daily routine. For that study looked at what different religious groups think and feel about
other groups, their ideas about the other. This closely looks at the attitude with which a
person from religious group views a person from one religious group views a person from
another religious group. The assumption here is that these daily activities and ordinary
experiences only contribute to spectacular events of violence causing damange to lives and
properties. In this sense, studying this routine violence can provide us better view of the
production of communal violence.
The methodology used in this study was multi-sited contrastive approach. We chose many
locations and sities in Coimbatore city and beyond from which we could gain knowledge and
understanding of the violence: Victims, Players, Spectators, political parties, religious
organisations, NGOs, government officials and police. If we want to have a fair idea of the
factors contribute communal situation we felt that we should compare and constast data
gathered from these sities. This in another sense could be seen as snowballing technique,
data from one place leading the search of other palces and vice-versa. Such contrastive
technique would provide a tool to clear or at least reduce inconsitency and incoherence in
the analysis of the data and the conclusions drawn from them.

1 This is similar to the concept of routine violence proposed by Gyanendra Pandey. He sees comminal
violce as construction of naturalized nations, of natural communities and histories, majorities and
minorities. See Gyanendra Pandey Routine Violence (delhi: Permanent Black, 2006, p.8)
We had three phases in the study. First, we gathered secondary data from reports and
documents that helped in gaining some idea about what happened and how the incidences in
the city of Coimbatore were projected in the media. In addition, the secondary datd
(newspaper reports, the Gokulakrishnan report, books and Internet sources) were situated in
the context of India. This phase was useful to formulate questionnaires and choose focuses
of research for the second phase.
The second phase of the research was concerned with qualitative study of the issue. We
collected data from the victims, players and spectators of communal riots in the city. The
main questions three groups answered were: what were the factors that contributed to the
violence? were there any mechanisam capacble of preventing the conflicts and violence? If
so, why didn’t they prevent the violence? ; What are the ways in their view by which we
could resolve and prevent conflicts between religious communities? The data gathered from
the qualitative study were interpreted from the three different perspectives – perpetators,
victims and spectators. The overall objective of the project was to evolve ways on which we
could prevent and resolve conflicts.
This executive summary is to provide some idea about the whole process of the project and
about the major findings. First, a brief history of communal violence in TN, Major findings
of the Project, the Report of the Events and the major reasons for the violence as see by the
reports from the newspapers and Reasons as found in IDCR field research

1. A Brief history of communal violence in TN
This section recounts the context of communal violence in Tamil Nadu in particular. The
roots of communal tension, in the State date back to the early 1980s, when more than 1,200
Dalits of Meenakshipuram, a village in Kanyakumari district, embraced Islam on February
19, 1981. The name of the village was changed to ‘Rehmatnagar’. Since then, there was a
wave of conversions in many places, including Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram and Thanjavur,
Madurai, Chennai and North Arcot districts.
The Dalits saw the conversion as a means to social empowerment. However, the Hindu
activists wanted to stop these conversions. They visited ‘Rehmatnagar’ and other areas in
order to ‘bring back’ the converted Dalits into the Hindu fold. These incidents of conversion
ignited tensions between the two religious groups in Tamil Nadu – The Hindus and The
In March 1982, the first communal riots broke out at Mandaikadu, Kanyakumari district,
between the Hindus and Christians, due to the alleged conversion by Christian missionaries.
Gradually, the growing religious tensions was manifested in violence all over the state, when,
Islamist fundamentalists assaulted Tirukovilur Sundaram, a Hindu Munnani leader, at R. S.
Puram in Coimbatore, after he was accused of delivering speeches against Islam and the
Prophet Mohammed. Soon afterwards, radical elements of the Hindu Munnani are said to
have publicly abused and reviled Islam.
During this period, the political parties made efforts to win the ote bank of majority and
minority communities; AIADMK tried to secure more Hindu votes, while, the DMK
employed the strategy of appeasing the Muslims. This furthered polarization between the
two communities.
By the early 90s, disharmony was intensified after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, at
Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on December 6, 1992. Muslim fundamentalist and extremist
organizations mushroomed all over India, and Tamil Nadu was no exception. Muslim
organizations such the Al-Umma, the All India Jihad Committee (AIJC), Al Mujahideen,
Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), Islamic Defence Force (IDF), Jamaithul
Ahlul Quran-o-Hadis (JAQH), Sunnat Jamaat Peravai, Sunnat Jamaat Ilaingnar Peravai and
the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were formed. They claimed to defend the
Muslim community.
Kottaimedu (Coimbatore) as is its headquarters. Enforcement agencies erected check posts
in certain areas to curtail underground activities and the movement of terrorists to other
parts of the state.
By 1997 Al-Umma became influential all over Tamil Nadu with the support of Muslim
businessmen. The growth of this organisation can be attributed to its founder - President,
Syed Ahmad Basha’s, a timber merchant in Coimbatore, whose prime motive was to ‘protect
Muslim interests’ and to strike against those who spoke against Islam. He masterminded the
attack at Coimbatore in 1984 on Jana Krishnamurthy, a State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
leader, who later became national President of the party and a Union Minister in the late
1990s. He also attacked the Hindu Munnani leader Rama Gopalan at the Madurai Railway
Station in 1987. However, in both the cases he was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
The organization eventually came under the national spotlight after the bomb blast at the
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) office in Chennai on August 8, 1993, in which 11
persons were killed. Basha and 15 others were arrested, however, after the DMK ascent to
power in the 1996 election, they were released in January 1997, as the regime did not want to
‘hurt the sentiments’ of the Muslim minority and dilute its ‘vote bank’. The result was a
sudden revival of Islamist fundamentalist activities. Thereafter, attacks on police personnel
and police check posts by these fundamentalist groups increased in Coimbatore, with the
objective of looting arms and ammunitions.
In 1996, a series of bomb blasts were carried out in many hotels owned by liberal Muslims in
Chennai. While, this was happening, Hindu Munnani activists were also murdered in
Melapalayam, which is predominantly populated by Muslims – five were killed in August
1997, one in 1998, and another on January 11, 2002. Islamist terrorists also planted bombs in
three trains: the Pandyan Express at Trichy, the Cheran Express at Erode and the Alleppey
Express at Thrissur, on the fifth anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition on December 6,
Nevertheless, the IDF of Kerala and the AIJC, claimed responsibility and said that these
were carried out to protest the Government’s failure to punish those responsible for the
demolition of the Babri Masjid. On January 31, 2000, police arrested ten terrorists belonging
to the IDF and the AIJC. On the same day, there was a bomb blast at Anna flyover in
Chennai to condemn the arrests.
Al Ummah members also made plans to launch massive attacks in Coimbatore to avenge the
death of 18 Muslims in the riots in the city during Nov-Dec 1997, in which the RSS, the
Hindu Munnani and the Hindu Makkal Kathchi are alleged to have played a prominent role.
Subsequent to the murder of a police constable, violence erupted on a large scale,
accompanied by looting and arson. Al Ummah chief Basha and his cadres also plotted to
assassinate prominent BJP leader L. K. Advani, who was on an election campaign in Tamil
Nadu. However, due to a delay in his flight, Advani escaped the assassination bid, although
subsequent events created unrest among the masses.
In addition to these incidents, fundamentalists also sparked trouble in 1998 through various
incidents like the grenade attack on police personnel in Trichy (1998); the petrol bomb
attack on the Coimbatore Ukkadam police station (December 11, 2000); the seizure of
explosives at suburban areas of Veppery and Tambaram in Chennai (1998); the parcel bomb
blast in Nagore; and the lacing of sweets sent to the police station in Coimbatore with
cyanide (August 5, 2000). The seizure of a large cache of arms and ammunition from the
Mohammadiya Mill at Saliyamangalam near Thanjavur on February 8, 1998, a week before
the Coimbatore blasts, was a warning of series of blast to come. There were, in fact, 34
important cases of fundamentalist violence in districts and cities other than Coimbatore
between 1990 and February 14, 1998, which constitute the back-drop of the serial bomb
blasts that occurred at Coimbatore.
Apart from the religious disharmony, economic rivalry between Hindu and Muslim traders is
another major reason. Since 1991, Coimbatore, a city with a substantial high-tech industrial
infrastructure has seen a drift from economic competition into fundamentalist
confrontation. A considerable textile industry in the city is organised along communal lines,
and there is little cooperation between Hindu and Muslim textile traders.
The intense competition between Hindu and Muslim traders has often exploited ‘misguided
youth’ of each community to unleash hooliganism against each other. Moreover, the rich
element in both these communities found it easy to have their own control on the misguided
youths in both the communities to unleash hooliganism against each other. Indeed, after the
formation of fundamentalist organizations, businessmen of both the community financially
support these organizations, while the extremist gangs engaged in extortion and petty crimes,
landlords, traders and merchants, also channelled funds. Further, Muslim businessmen felt
threatened when Hindu Munnani speakers appealed to Hindus not to patronise Muslim-
owned shops. And as the city grew, wealthy Hindu and Muslim traders in textiles developed
business rivalry. This led to hatred.
Another contributing factor is the influx of Kerala Muslims into Tamil Nadu. Police records
reveal, out of the 168 accused in the Coimbatore bomb blast case, 13 were arrested from
Kerala and most of the other accused were also found to be original inhabitants of Kerala.
Further, ten accused from Andhra Pradesh, two from Karnataka and one from Kolkata
emphasized the inter-State linkages of the perpetrator groups.
Muslims from Mallapuram, Thrissur and Palakkad in Kerala were found to be involved in
the fundamentalist activities. These three districts border with Tamil Nadu, and have high
rates of population growth, particularly among the Muslim community. High levels of
unemployment force people across the border into Tamil Nadu, where they often secure
menial jobs for very low remuneration, in various towns in the State, particularly in
Coimbatore. The Gokulakrishnan Commission mentioned that the influx helped Muslims
living at Kottaimedu in Coimbatore to develop strong links with Kerala.
The Coimbatore City: The Prime Locus of Communal Violence
Coimbatore or Kovai, the Manchester of South India is situated in the western part of the
State. The district is filled with naturally diverse eco-system such as hills, plains, forests,
evergreen fields, etc. Coimbatore is the district head quarters and comprises major towns of
Tirupur, Mettupalayam, Pollachi, Udumalpet, and Palladam.
The city is called 'Manchester of South India' as it is well known for its textile industries and
due to the salubrious climate the city is also known as poor man's Ooty.
Coimbatore district is one of the biggest districts in Tamil Nadu and is divided into three
Revenue Divisions and Nine Taluks consisting of 482 Revenue villages. Out of three
Revenue Divisions, Coimbatore Division is industrially developed, Pollachi is predominantly
agriculture and Tirupur partly agriculture and partly rich in hosiery manufacturing. It is
numero uno Revenue District in Tamil Nadu with revenues crossing more than Rs. 6,000
The third largest city in Tamil Nadu is one of the top 10 fastest growing cities of India and
has excellent potentials for industrial growth. There are more than 25,000 small, medium,
large scale industries and textile mills.
The growing knitwear exports from nearby town Tirupur and home textiles exports from
Karur (Tiruchy District) and handlooms from Erode has contributed to tremendous growth
and demand for spinning and weaving mills in and around Coimbatore. The yarns are
supplied to local market as well as exported to other countries, which are famous for quality
and pricing. Many textile mills has upgraded their textile machinery and increased the
capacity to the growing needs of the textile market.
Coimbatore is also famous for motor pumps, industrial goods, cotton, tea, and software. The
city makes over 60 per cent of the water pumps and 45 per cent of the motors used in India.
The city supplies over 30 per cent of all the automotive components used in the country;
several companies also cater to the international market.
The city is a hub for educational institutions. The district has an excellent academic
infrastructure, which churns out over 20,000 engineering and 28,000 non-engineering
graduates every year, is poised to emerge as one of the largest knowledgeable human
resource power house by 2008.
Recently, Price Waterhouse Coopers conducted a study on the feasibility of setting up an
Information Technology (IT) park in Coimbatore, pointed that the city the potential for
wider growth in all fields. Based on this, the State Government has chosen Coimbatore as
one of the major IT destination in the State after Chennai. Companies like CTS, Wipro, and
TCS have already started their operations here. The city also has some world class hospitals
which attracts people from other parts of the world for cheap and quality treatment.
Coimbatore has also proved that it can take on competition, domestic, national and
international levels.
Major findings of the Project
Report of the Events
The reports of the events are drawn from the newspapers and Gokulakrishnan reports.
The reports from the newspapers claimed that, after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on
December 6, 1992, violence broke out in Kottaimedu, Coimbatore and other Muslim
dominated areas in Southern parts of the country. Temples were burnt. Tea stalls run by
Hindus were targeted. This brought into the light the existence of the Al-Umma, a Muslim
The conflict broke out as violence, in August 1993, when a bomb was set off in the RSS
office in Chennai and 11 persons were killed. One among the accused in the blast was Al-
Umma founder S.A. Basha, who was arrested under TADA and a member of Al-Umma,
Ansari was arrested on charges of possessing gelatine sticks.
Subsequently, Kottaimedu was fast turning into a trouble-spot. The police erected five check
posts in and around Kottaimedu, and all Muslim dominated areas -- Iqbal Thidal, N.H. Road
and Vincent Road. According to the police, the check posts had two purposes: to isolate
these trouble-prone areas and to protect Muslims. These places were at which the police
frisked Muslim ‘suspects’, and Muslims perceived these check posts to be an affront to their
The resentment built up against the then CM of the TN, J Jayalaithaa (AIADMK), even as
the results of the elections to the TN Assembly was being announced. Muslims in
Kottaimedu and other areas smashed the check posts. Police constable Jothikrishnan was
stabbed at Kottaimedu. Towards the end of 1996, G. Bhoopalan, a warder at Coimbatore
Central Prison, was killed in a petrol bomb attack. Till date, no arrests have been made.
The situation took a turn for the worse with the murder of Palani Baba, founder of the Jihad
Committee, who is know for his inflammatory speeches against Hinduism and Hindus in
public speeches. On January 28th, 1997, he was murdered at Pollachi, near Coimbatore. This
further sparked off violence in the city. On January 30th, there was a bandh and on the
following day members of the TMMK took out a procession and the Collectorate was
stoned. Three Hindus were murdered. However, the situation came under control with
police intervention.
On September 1997, violence broke out again, where an altercation regarding a speeding
motorcycle. Police sources revealed that four Hindus were killed on September 1st and 2nd.
However, the situation was brought under control again.
Consequently, an assistant jailer at the Madurai Central Prison, S. Jayaprakash, was murdered
when he was on his way to the prison from his home on his bicycle. Jayaprakash apparently
used to monitor mail addressed to Shahul Hameed, who had been detained under TADA for
his alleged involvement in the RSS office blast.
Violence and disharmony between Hindus and Muslims in the city gradually stimulated to a
serial blast in Coimbatore. On February 8th 1998, police said four Muslim militants were
killed when the bombs they were making, exploded. They were members of a Muslim
fundamentalist group which is calling for a boycott of the parliamentary elections. These
incidents culminated to the blast on Feb 14th 1998.
At least 33 people -- including eight women and one child -- died and 153 others were
injured in a series of 12 bomb blasts in Coimbatore. The explosions coincided with a
scheduled visit in the city by BJP leader, L K Advani, as part of the election campaigning for
the first phase of polling in Lok Sabha election. They were followed by outbreak of arson
and looting.
Forty-six persons - 35 men, 10 women and one child - were killed and over 200 injured in 13
bomb attacks in 11 places, all of them within a 12-km radius. Ten more persons were killed
in the next few days: six suspected Muslim fundamentalists died following a police raid on
their hideout in Tirumal Street on February 15, and four teenaged Muslim boys died
following a stray blast in Al-Ameen Colony on February 17.
The first of the serial bombs on Feb 14th exploded at 3.50 p.m. on Shanmugham Road in
R.S. Puram, barely 100 meters from the venue of an election meeting that was to be
addressed by BJP leader L.K. Advani.
Over the next 40 minutes, blasts were reported on West Sambandam Road, Gani Rowther
Street at Ukkadam, at a textile showroom on Big Bazaar Street, a shopping complex near the
main bus stand at Gandhipuram, the vehicle parking lot at the Coimbatore Junction railway
station, the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH), a travel agency on V.K.K.
Menon Road, a jewellery shop on Oppanakara Street, a BJP election office at Ratnapuri near
Sivananda Colony and a temple at Kurichikulam. The blasts occurred despite the elaborate
security measures, including the deployment of paramilitary forces.
Mobs ran amuck soon after the blasts, looting and burning Muslim shops in scenes
reminiscent of last December's riots. Muslim establishments -- including the well-known
Shobha shopping centre -- across the city were then attacked by marauding mobs, angered
by the slaying of traffic policemen, allegedly by activists of the Al-Umma group.
The attack blamed on Muslim fundamentalist groups, came barely three months after 18
Muslims were killed in the city in November-December 1997 in a pogrom unleashed by a
section of the police in concert with Hindu militants following the killing of a police
constable, allegedly by three Muslim youth. The bombings were an act of reprisal for the
death of 18 Muslims in the communal riots and police firing in November-December 1997.
Within hours of the explosions, Hindu communalists set fire to shops and establishments
owned by Muslims.
To inquire into the causes of the conflict that led to the serial bomb blasts in Coimbatore on February 14,
1998, the State Government appointed a one-man commission consisting of the former Chief Justice of the
Gujarat High Court, P.R. Gokulakrishnan, --- Justice P.R. Gokulakrishnan Commission of Inquiry.
The Gokulakrishnan report
The Gokulakrishnan report perceived the conflict as, "it is definite... the lapse on the part of
the police personnel, deputed for surveillance and checks, in discharging their duties more
vigorously, vigilantly and intelligently" enabled the Al-Umma "terrorists to execute their
dastardly plan of planting bombs" that killed 50 persons and injured 200. The report, in brief
was a stinging indictment of the Coimbatore police.
The commission had concluded that if the police personnel in Coimbatore town and rural
district deputed ‘for surveillance and checks, had been more vigilant before the bomb blasts,
the tragic incidents could have been averted’. State and Central agencies had sent several
messages alerting the Coimbatore city police about the moves by the Muslim fundamentalist
groups, particularly Al-Umma, which would target either police personnel or Hindu leaders
during the month of Ramzan. The blasts coincided with the visit of BJP leader L.K. Advani
visiting Coimbatore as part of his election campaign.
According to the commission, three human bombs were planned- Amanuallah, Melapalayam
Amjath Ali and Rafique alias Shanmugam - at the venue of a public meeting that Advani was
scheduled to address. As they could not penetrate the police cordon, they left the venue
without exploding the bombs. However, bombs exploded at several other places, striking
terror. The bomb exploded before Advani arrived at the venue.
The reported also stated that it has been "categorically established" that Muslim
fundamentalist organisations, especially Al-Umma, had hatched "a deep-seated conspiracy"
to explode the bombs. The organisation, headed by S.A. Basha, was out "to wreak
vengeance" for the death of 18 Muslims killed in police firing and related incidents on
November 30 and December 1, 1997, following the murder of a traffic constable, R.
Selvaraj, by three Al-Umma members in Coimbatore.
It has recommended that since communal clashes erupted frequently in Coimbatore and in
the southern districts of the State, a separate intelligence wing should be set up to keep tabs
on the communal forces and the revival of the check posts. It pointed out that the town
witnessed two communal upheavals within three months. "In sensitive areas and in areas
where it is suspected that the terrorist groups and anti-social elements will have clandestine
activities, it is necessary that check posts to be erected to check both infiltration of anti-
social elements and the movement of arms and ammunition," it said.
Justice Gokulakrishnan report said that on November 29, 1997, three youths belonging to
Al-Umma murdered Selvaraj, and this led to a revolt by police personnel, police firings on
"ferocious" and "violent" Muslim mobs, and large-scale rioting and looting of business
establishments owned by Muslims. These events culminated in the serial blasts at 17 spots in
Coimbatore on February 14, 1998.

Major Reasons for the Violence as Seen By the Reports2

The main reasons for the outbreak:
 The religious fanaticism of the Islamic and Hindu fundamentalist groups
 With the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the sentiments of the Muslims across the
country. The repercussions were felt in Tamil Nadu.

2   Newspapers : The Hindu, The New Indian Express and Times of India.
 The polarisation of the political party – DMK and AIADMK--- DMK, the regime did
not want to ‘hurt the sentiments’ of the Muslim and dilute its ‘vote bank’.
 The nexus between police, politician and the fundamentalist groups were responsible for
the brutality against Muslims, at large.
 The palpable anti-Muslim mind set of a section of the police force and the unjustifiable
one sidedness in their normal discourse and exercise of authority and action, led to extreme
brutality against Muslims.
 Police was seems to be indulging in a senseless killing. They repeatedly adopt the illegal
method of attacking and destroying the family, relatives and even the people of the locality
instead of apprehending the criminal.
 Religion playing a major role in the politics and mushrooming of religion based political
 Incomplete and partial coverage of events of Hindus and Muslims in media.
 A lopsided attitude of the political parties in tackling and countering, trigger the Muslims
to fight for justice.
 A new method of using the poor and vulnerable especially the Dalits perpetrators of
loot, carnage and attack on the Muslims has been enacted this time by the police and the
Sangh Parivar. This is an insidious attempt not only to use Dalits as a shield or as soldiers in
their `holy war and purge' against Muslims.
Reasons for the conflict as found in IDCR field research
In general, the research found out that from the data gathered from the victims, players and
spectators that the outbreak of the violence was due to political forces, conflicts of business
interests (politics and business), that used religious sentiments to settle scores. Symbols
(Babri Masjid), slogans (Muslims as terrorists), rumours (killings), festivals (Vinayaka
Chaturthi) were emotional teasers that helped to create boundaries of US and THEM.
More sharply, the animosity was played again and again in the daily discourses in markets,
shops, and streets. Instruction such as do not buy from the shops owned by Muslims’, ‘
Muslims should be sent to Pakistan’, ‘ All Muslims are hardcore terroists’ kep alive the
enimity between the communities. This is demonstated spectacularly in daily associations.
There has been constant suspicion and anxiety in the social climate about the other. Every
one was asked to be conscious of boundares and limits that defined who we are and who are
against us.
Every time they were targeted the Muslim organisations indulged in violence to avenge
violence. And they say that they are only defending Muslims. The Hindu organisations
(Players) say that violent treatment is the only was way to handle the Mulsim, who are
terrorists. In the process, victims are the ordinary Muslims and Dalits who were used as tools
in the hands of fundamentalists and politicians, Communal violence in Coimbatore city
remained as a theatre in which religius fundamentalism staged a play that enhanced their
position of power in the negotiations to promote its interests.
The socio-political mechanisms – police, government officials and political parties – that
could have prevented the eruption of violence played into the hands of the powerful people
who aimed at achieving their ends in and through the violence. In this sense, communal
violenc was ised to acquire power to develop business, enhancing the identity of religious
organisations and political parties. As a result, there was a complete break down of social
cohensivenss between the two communities and absence of civic engagements.
Victims perceived as

 It is the problem between business people who envy the progress of each other but we
bear the brunt.
 Most of the Muslims victims say that they are always seen with suspicion.
 Involvement of outside terrorist oufits in the city that helped to settle score of business
 Hindu Munnani members and some anti-Muslim outfits spoke disrespectfully of the
Holy Quran and Prophet Mohammed Ali.
 Mamool collection in the business enterprises by dominant groups. Rivalry in Mamool
collection between two communities snowballed into communal problems. There are about
1200 platforms shops in and around Ukkadam, Big bazar and Kotaimedu mostly owned by
Muslims. The pliec has been collecting mamool approximatelt Rs 25 to Rs 50 per day from
each shop. After the elections, these traders got themselves organised under various
organisations like TMML, AITUC and Al-Umma. It is to be noted that Al-Umma and
TMMK have played a crucial and effective role in curbing the mamool collections by the
police. This loss of revenue also seems to be at the back ground of the conflicts between
Muslims community and the police.
 Myths and Slogans: Hindu Munnai also posted posters calling December 6th as victorious
day fro the Hindus; a day of destruction of the symbol of slavery (Indhukkalin vetri Naal;
Adimai chinnam agatria naal; viaivil Kasi Mathura) and soon it will be Mathura and Kasi.
This poster of Hindu Munnai affected the sentiments of the Muslims and also instilled a
sense of insecurity among the Muslims. A poster, claimed to be put up by Indian, appeared
calling that day as the day on which Bharat Matha was raped. (Bharatha Matha
 Communalised police officers who stand spectators to violence and facilitators of
violence. When we went to file cases they refused to register them.
 The Hindu fundamentalists’ forces supported by some North Indian businessmen
converted what ought to have passed off as a peacefull expressop of condolence into a
determined cold-blooded and inhuman massacre of innocent Muslims and premeditated
destruction of the economic self-reliance andentreprises of the Muslims.
 Neutral victims say there was rumour that a large number of Muslims were coming to
destroy the Hindu business enterprises and houses.
 Many say they want to live peacefully. But they see no hope as things stand.

Players perceived as

 The Muslims are angry that the state promotes one particular religion and official
mechanisms support this.
 The Muslim organisations feel that their violent activities are only to defend their people:
 The Hindus say Muslims are naturally violent people and they do not have sense of
belonging to India
 The Hindu organisation says the Muslim terrorists store arims and ammunition inside
mosuques and dargas.
 Persons from Muslim organisations say that men from Hindu organisations constantly
sow the seed of disharmony and spread the myth about minority communities.
 Influx of Muslims from the neighbouring state of Kerala and AP is the main reason for
the violence.
 Muslim youth feel that they are not given jobs in enterprises owned by Hindus. This
strengthened the already existing enmity.

Spectators perceived as

 Involvement of unemployed Muslim youths in the anti social activities
 The nexus between police, politician and the fundamentalist groups were responsible for
the brutality against Muslims, at large.
 The removal of check post resulted in the violence
 The polarisation of the political party – DMK and AIADMK--- DMK, the regime did
not want to ‘hurt the sentiments’ of the Muslim and dilute its ‘vote bank’.
 An act of retaliation.
 The lethargic attitude of the police personnel to protect the people.
 Mushrooming of religion based political parties
 Terrorist activities by outsiders (Pakistan and Kerala) were the main reason for the
 misunderstanding between the two communities were propagated through daily
 The reason for the blast is unemployment, police attitude towards the Muslim youths
and corruption within the Police Department.
 The Hindus feel that the Muslims deserve this treatement.
 There was spontaneous but discreet help given by Hindu neighbour to the agonised
 The poorer sections among Hindus and Muslims occupied puramboke lands and became
pavement hawkers and cooliers in the bus stands. As the city grew, wealthy Hindu and
Muslim traders in textiles developed business rivalry. This led to hatred. The rich elements in
both thses communities to unleash hooliganism against each other, the report says. There
were a number of murders and counter-murders.
 Religious fanaticism was whipped up by the Sangh Parivar and the frenzied raction by
the few Muslim organisations.
Concluding Remarks
Violence is seen here in three forms: direct violence (personal injury), structural violence
(social structures that discrimate one group), and cultural violence (language, religion and
ideology). Keeping im mind this definitionof violence we should see the violence in
Coimbatore City. AS Bipan Chandra notes3 construction of communalism has threee steps :
creation of exlusive community based on common political, economic, social, cultural
interest; articulation if irreconcilability of interest of two exclusive communities, the interests
of the two communities not only become exclusive and irreconcible but also mutually
hostile. This exclusive divison in Coimbatore city is seen in special organisation: Kottaimedu
versus R S Puram. After the riots, the Hindus and Muslims re-located their houses in places
they would be protected by their community.
The main question we ask os how to understand the display of communal power. How do
we explain the processes of religion mobilisation that produce intolerant constituency among
the ordinary middle class people and role of the state not only as spectators bit also as
facilitators of violence? From the research we find collective violence against a community
serves as a form of social control by dominant groups. Anti-minority violence produces
social isolation and reconfirms boundaries that define communities. Economic boycott by
the majority community in terms of preventing people from buying things from minority-
owned shops and refusing to employ the youth from minority communities further
strengthens the communal divide. Eruption of violence is not just spontaneous and sudden
act such as the murder of the constable. But sustained and systematic mobilisation in
everyday actions and discourses – myths, sysmbols, rituals and slogans – nurture communal
enmity and animosity that erupts into spectacular scale of violence. This violence is in some
sense a levelling mechanism that helps the rioters to bring down the growth of one
community and regain spatio-cultural dominance. In this sense, communal violence persists
because it serves as part of armoury of weapons, used by fundamentalists for personal, local,
and political interest to gain power. Slums and ghettos are the locus of violence production
since one could find disgruntled and anti-social elements.
Religion is perceived as a political signifier. Secondly, fundamentals emphasise the
significance of rituals to consolidate a given religious community. This gives agency to a

3   Bipan Chandra 1994. Ideology and Politics in Modern India. Delhi.
group that help define identity. Here identity is power in the negotiation of power relations.
Religion is seen as power.
In the violence, there is functional utility. People use it for earning money and other material
benefits. Criminals, avaricious local businessmen and local politicians gain political
advantage. Businessmen gain advantage by seeing their rivals’ businesses destroyed. Poltical
gain and commercial advantage are two main uses of violence.
The role of state is to be blamed. It failed to prevent and control riots. The police force is
communalised and thery have no proper inter-religious understanding and apperication.
There are three kinds of riots systems: communcalist mobilisers (Al-Umma, Hindu Munnai);
intermediary (paid criminal); mobilised mobs (by standers); police (who are partial to one
We can not find one single reason fpr violence and for the persistence of violence. We need
to contextualise each in its place and time: Contextualisation of communal violence. Before
the mobilisations around the Ayodhya Issue, many riots did not have concrete basis, instead
they were born out of local criminal acts. The context of Coimbatore is different from the
context of Gujarat although one could perceive a pattern.