For our final session at Chowringhee High, we brought the discussion to India, and specifically to the Gujarat riots of 2002. We referred to an article by the The New York Times, along with the Wikipedia page about the riots to give the students an idea about what happened and the subsequent controversies. We then chose to focus on the aftermath of the riots, as we had tried to do while talking about other incidents of genocide. Using an article by Newsclick as well as videos by NDTV , we discussed how the Muslim communities affected by the riot continue to live in poverty and fear even today.
We offered a rough idea about how these riots continue to play a role in Indian politics even today— some of the students recalled having heard politicians make hatred-filled speeches against Muslims. We encouraged them to share anecdotes about different stereotypes they had heard about different religious, ethnic and linguistic communities, and question whether these had any basis in reality. A few students were able to identify the fact that such stereotypes and prejudices often keep these communities away from each other and create a fear of the unknown, which can ultimately lead to mass violence. Some noted that mob mentality was a common feature of all the genocides they had learned about as part of this module.
We bid goodbye to the students with them promising not to take what they see, read and hear on the media at face value, and to always question, argue and contradict when they feel something is amiss!