Introduction In 2002, the state of Gujarat in western India was rocked by ferocious communal violence, during which Hindu mobs embarked on a well-planned, coordinated campaign of state terrorism, directed against defenceless, Muslim women, men and children; more than 2,000 were massacred in a particularly brutal fashion. A particularly horrifying feature of the violence was the systematic sexual assault of women and girls, which included rape and mutilation, often culminating in murder. A great deal of the responsibility for the communal violence can be attributed to the state’s ruling Hindu nationalist party, the Bharitya Janata Party (BJP) and its Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who initiated, encouraged and condoned it. State agencies, including the police and government officials, participated in the violence either directly by attacking Muslims, organizing attacks on Muslim settlements and providing lists of victims to the mobs or, indirectly, by making no attempt to curb the violence. On the surface at least, Gujarat, a medium-sized state in North West India bordering Pakistan, was a most unlikely candidate to have earned the reputation of being one of India’s most notorious centres of communal violence. It is in one of India’s most prosperous states, embracing modernity and change. In recent years, the state welcomed economic liberalism and globalization, and promoted strong government and business efficiency. Although it has just 5 per cent of India’s total population and 6 per cent of the geographical area, Gujarat contributes 16 per cent of India’s total investment, 10 per cent of expenditure, 16 per cent of exports and 30 per cent of stock market capitalization (Gujarat Government 2007). Its long coastline has from very early times linked Gujarat economically and culturally to the outside world. Many of the most successful Indians living in the West, particularly in the United States, have come from the state. The state is agriculturally rich, particularly in cotton, dairy farming, textiles, rice, wheat and tobacco. Gujarat’s official website, which features the smiling face of the charismatic chief minister, boasts of Gujarat’s dynamic administration, its high annual growth rate of between 10 per cent and 12 per cent, and its position as India’s leading industrialized state (Gujarat Government 2007).