In a refreshing op-ed in the Indian Express, JS Bandukwalla, retired Professor of Physics, MS University, Baroda, writing on the 2002 Gujarat riots has proposed this

 it is time for Muslims to consider unilateral forgiveness

as a Muslim I feel deeply grateful to civil rights groups for their fight on our behalf under the most adverse circumstances. But the Muslims of Gujarat cannot live indefinitely on pity and victimhood. It hurts our self-respect and dignity. We have to move beyond the pain and suffering of 2002. Our energies must be channelled into quality education, business and social reform within the parameters of Islam.

Forgiveness will release Muslims from the trauma of the past. It may also touch the conscience of Hindus, since the crimes were committed by a few fanatics in the name of Ram. Most important, it may give Gujarat a chance to close the tragic chapter of 2002 and move on with confidence, into the future.

It takes great courage and conviction to defy conventional wisdom and popular sentiment to consider moving on. Mr. Bandukwala must be commended and supported for his proposal. It may not bring immideate justice to all the affected but it should atleast begin the process of emotional closure on this sordid episode.

The politics will not go away easily as Mr. Bandukwalla rightly points out. But the sharpened rhetoric can make way for reconciliation and collaborative efforts on the social issues Mr. Bandukwalla rightly identifies – quality education, business and social reform.

Gujarat has already demonstrated that it has delivered more justice for the 2002 riot affected than for any of the previous riot affected elsewhere in the country. While commendable it is not enough. Justice delayed is justice denied. If the Leadership within the Muslim Community of Gujarat can demonstrate Statesmanship to not make the 2002 riots a political issue in 2007, the political leadership of Gujarat, the Chief Minister Narendra Modi included, must reciprocate with a commitment to do all within its power to ensure speedy justice in the remaining riot cases by bringing them to trial.

Mr. Bandukwalla has made the first move, it is now time for Mr. Modi to reciprocate.

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