While everyone talks about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and 2002 Gujarat riots, people tend to forget the darken part of India’s cultural history, which tarnished the image of the country and destroyed the peace and harmony between Hindus and Muslims. In 1969, Gujarat witnessed its first-ever large-scale communal violence, which was the most deadliest after 1947 partition and remained so till 1989 Bhagalpur riots.
If we believe the official figures, 660 people lost their lives, while 1,074 people were injured. Over 50,000 people lost their houses and property. However, unofficial reports put the death toll at 2000. Congress leader Hitendra Desai was the Chief Minister of Gujarat when the riots took place. He blamed it on the Hindu fundamentalists. Since the media and right groups were not powerful at that time, Mr. Desai and the Congress did not get the tags, which Narendra Modi got after 2002 riots.
The independent columnists at that time, attributed the riots to an attack on a Hindu temple on 18 September 1969. The riots first started in Ahmedabad and spread to other parts of Gujarat. Although the situation was brought under control by 26 September, the casualties were very high.
The Justice Jaganmohan Reddy Commission, questioned the role of police during the riots. The Commission noted that police remained a mute spectator when the religious places of the Muslims were attacked. In total, 37 Mosques, 50 Dargahs, 6 Kabristans and 3 Temples were damaged during the riots.
The communal riots of 1969 also took a political colour after a conspiracy theory alleged that the violence was deliberately planned to defame Gujarat CM Hitendra Desai, who was supporting the Congress (O) leader Morarji Desai instead of Congress (I) leader Indira Gandhi, who was the Prime Minister of India.