Patterns of communal moblisation evident in the western state seem to be recognisable in East Delhi last month and western UP last year.

Photo Credit: IANS
Communalism back in the news, given the riots in western Uttar Pradesh over the past year and more recently in Trilokpuri in Delhi.   It may be useful to remember that we have been here before. Those who have bought into the Gujarat model, peddled so successfully in May Lok Sabha elections, may be surprised to note that not too long ago, Gujarat was a hotbed of the sort of communal violence that UP witnessed last year. Successive governments came to power in Gujarat, particularly from the mid-1980s to late 1990s, promising a “riot-free administration”.Communalism can be defined as the exclusive identification with one’s community, especially one that produces an antagonism towards another group. In the Indian context, a number of scholars have noted that competition for political and economic resources contributes to this religious animosity and violence. An incident that results in tensions, say a dispute over land, need not be communal even if it involves different religious groups. However, if religious identity dominates, that incident should be considered communal.

Gujarat reveals certain patterns that may be recognisable in UP and Delhi, and could hold lessons for us all.

Communalism is political