So, why this extraordinary attachment with Gujarat?
Of all bordering states with Pakistan or Bangladesh - Gujarat and Rajasthan are the only ones that have not been largely affected by the machinations of Pakistan. Islamic population in Rajasthan is not significant. But that is not the case in Gujarat, where there is a critical mass. In comparison, Gujarat is extremely prosperous as well. As practiced and perfected in Punjab, Pakistan just needs to fire the pot of dissatisfaction and lo there is a nice unstable border state. Even one carefully chosen representative - one person with a nice high profile working relentlessly for the right money - can keep that pot stirring once the fire is lit.
Teesta's pressure against the strong Hindu ethos of Gujaratis has been systematic and sustained for over ten years now. This is only against Gujarat and Gujarat alone. Go thru older issues of Communalism Combat. The magazine has been targeting Gujarat since its inaugural issue that is available online. Even prior to Godhra or its aftermath the stories were just as horrendous, the propaganda just as fervent. Sometimes I wonder if Teesta herself had a role in the incineration of the train in Godhra. Her reaction just hours after the carnage published in several international dailies already point to a sinister motive. Despite her best efforts to destabilize Gujarat – a bulwark of a state against Pakistan - none of her innumerable efforts prior to Feb 2002 bore any fruit. But setting a train full of hindutvawadis on fire brought to fore the alchemy of this Hindutva laboratory - a laboratory she had repeatedly constructed in her messages but one that had shown no signs of existence at all. It was that proverbial “I told ya so” moment.
So the carnage set the required fire. Only what remained now was that one kept the pot continuously stirred. Take it up with International organizations of various hues - have the US body on religious freedom castigate Gujarat - run ad campaigns - speak courageously as a guest lecturer all around the world - write letters to world leaders. Teesta already had a head start in the propaganda. Only reinforcement was needed. The construct that Muslims in Gujarat are simply unsafe had to be real. The world needed to believe it fully. The Muslims themselves in Gujarat needed to believe it.
This is what I call setting the stage for discontent. For, tomorrow when we hear of the ad nauseam "indigenous struggle for the aspirations of the Gujarati Muslims" – with man, material and moral support from Pakistan – the world should gulp it hook, line and sinker.
Teesta Setalvad has worked tirelessly to bring this to fruition.