By Maya Palit
It’s been just a few weeks since Bilkis Bano’s case was back in the news, after the Bombay High Court reversed the acquittal of police officers and doctors and secured the convictions of 11 people associated with her rape and the murder of her family members.
In the aftermath of the court victory, several illuminating reports have emerged looking closely at Bilkis’ long battle for justice, which involved fighting with the Gujarat police as well as fobbing off people from her community trying to tell her husband that she would have been safe if she had been a ‘better Muslim’.
One thing most people wouldn’t even pause to question is that the root of the violent crimes against Bilkis and other Muslim women lay in communal hatred. It was one of the most severe incidents of communal violence since Independence, and also resulted in mass arson and 2002 scores of children being orphaned (there is no official count of how many). Is that about to change?
According to news reports, the 2002 riots will go from being called “anti-Muslim riots” to just “Gujarat riots” in NCERT political science textbooks for Class 12 students. (Back in 2006, when NCERT decided to include the riots in the textbook, it was considered a controversial move.)
This was decided during a review meeting, with CBSE and NCERT representatives present. It might sound insignificant, as only the subtitle of the passage about the Godhra anti-Muslim violence will be altered as of now, but it still might be the start of a slippery slope towards erasing and diluting the extent of the anti-Muslim violence that took place after the Sabarmati train incident.