NEW DELHI: A new book looks at the 2002 Gujarat riots using the accounts of some perpetrators of the violence.
Author Revati Laul says it may seem profoundly foolish in the end to try and tell the story of a mob through the lives of only three random individuals.
"However, as I met between 50 and 100 people accused variously of participating in the crimes of 2002, I realised that a larger canvas of stories was impossible. Most people were not open to telling their stories of hate, guilt and complicity. They were fighting court cases, or had simply decided this is not what they wanted," she says.
'The Anatomy of Hate' is built on a decade of research and interviews.
It took 10 years for Laul to convince the first of the three people in the book to let her tell his story.
"Even then, the interviews were spread out over three years with significantly long gaps in the middle where he would not speak because it was too traumatic to go over that time again.
"The three stories I have confined this book to in the end are the three that revealed themselves to me in all their layers and complexity. So they are neither geographically nor demographically representative of the whole," she writes.
Laul, an independent journalist and a filmmaker, says getting up close is unsettling because one has to step into the shoes of the mob and feel what it's like to be one of them.
"That's when these stories transform and are no longer just about those people out there doing things that are incomprehensible. They might allow us to have conversations that cut through the amnesia, the denial around 2002 and its actors. A denial that has engulfed us all," she says.
According to Karthika V K, publisher at Context and Westland, "This is a book that looks at the reality and the repercussions of violence on individual lives. It is not about assigning guilt or shame, but about understanding the grey zones within which humans operate."
Laul says at the heart of 'The Anatomy of Hate' is one central idea - that "we can only change the politics of hate by starting to look at it".