How not to sting Modi

Maverick: How not to sting Modi
by Farzana Versey
The Asian Age, Op-ed, Oct. 30, 2007

If I were Narendra Modi, I would be distributing laddus and gathiya. He has got me weeping into my lace handkerchief over the utter naiveté of his police officers and partymen. Some reporter posing as “sympathetic to the Hindutva cause” approaches them and they open up. For free.

The website, magazine and television channel are all gung-ho because they got these guys to “brag” about killing Muslims in Gujarat. They said that it was the chief minister who gave them three days, which is in fact extremely charitable.

Come December and Modi will win the elections with a huge margin because as one newspaper headline rightly stated, “Expose on Role in Godhra Killings Likely to Revive Image as Hindutva Poster Boy”. Somewhere in all this development of the state nonsense, he had become just another guy talking aata-daal ka bhaav. Now he can reclaim culture. He can even claim to fight Islamic terrorism because the politics of vigilantism buffers this very image.

The veracity of the Tehelka probe notwithstanding, what is worrying is that there is nothing new in it. The National Human Rights Commission had already talked about it. Of course, the question remains: why did this exposure come after all these years? It began six months ago. What prompted it?

The soap opera of violence is being played out all over again as you switch on the TV set; there is a disclaimer that images may not be fit for viewing. This is whetting the appetite and catering to those who in fact get their thrills by these horrific scenes.

Do you want to know again about how someone pierced the womb of a pregnant woman and threw out the foetus? Do you want to know about the chopped arms and legs, and of charred bodies?

Is this the first time you have heard anyone accuse the state government of sponsoring terrorism? Many of us have always written about the collusion of the Establishment. It was stated by none other than the CM himself when he spoke about the “action-reaction” theory.

Did not the then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee express his fidelity when he said, “I am his (Modi’s) advocate and it is my duty to plead his case”?

Weren’t 78 Muslims arrested after the Godhra accident under POTA when the police made up false cases against them? Did not the state government give away cheques amounting to Rs 1 crore as compensation after the incident to the immediate kin of 25 victims?

Weren’t pictures of the damaged train circulated in Gujarat during the polls then? Weren’t pamphlets in Gujarati telling people “Desh ane dharam bachao” (save the country and religion) distributed? Wasn’t there a call for an economic boycott of Muslims, their business establishments, eating joints and even films starring them?

Did we get this news through an expose?

Therefore, what has this disclosure done? Can someone please explain why the Election Commission’s fact-finding group suddenly transferred eight top Gujarat police and civil officers, including the director-general of police P.C. Pande as recently as on October 15? Babu Bajrangi, a Bajrang Dal activist, has named him as the person who ordered that the 700-800 dead bodies at Naroda Patiya be picked up and dumped all over Ahmedabad.

Was the expose information leaked out?

It is right to blame the police and the VHP activists, but the role of the common man cannot be ignored. Don’t we recall scenes of people getting out of their cars and looting Muslim-owned shops? These were not even the poor common people; they were rich and middle-class educated individuals. They are the ones who vote and they vote for Modi. Such unofficial probes only complicate matters because a Babu Bajrangi can tell someone ‘sympathetic to the Hindutva cause’, “After killing them, I felt like Maharana Pratap...We killed at will, turned the place into Haldighati.”

The person who goes to office in his little car, spends the day in a shop and watches some boring tele-serial will get excited. Ahmedabad’s ennui has been elevated to the level of a battleground. This is working on the psyche of a people who don’t need to be told India is shining; they want to boast about “Gujarati asmita” – their self-respect and very identity rests on their connection with the land.

Why do you think a rather non-descript NRI called Praveen Togadia talked about going to war with Pakistan? Such was the feeling of joy echoed then by Modi who said, “The day there are Hindu terrorists you would not see Pakistan on the world map.”

If this expose has done a whole lot for the muscle-flexing Gujarat government, then the image of the Muslims in the state has taken a beating. This operation, under the pretence of being activist in nature, has ended up making a mockery of Muslims who have always said in no uncertain terms that they will go by the court verdict for every event in post-Independence India. No Muslim organisation has interfered in judicial probes, unlike the mahants who sit and confabulate on national issues.

Worse, the photograph of the tailor Qutubuddin Ansari folding his hands, begging for mercy, is said to “symbolise the grief and despair of the victims of the genocide”. The message that goes out to those who look at the picture again is: The poor defeated Mussalman; at last, we are making him eat crow. When Islamic fundamentalism is getting to everyone, this is truly the picture-perfect moment. Even I, who have been termed a pinko jihadi, am reminded about our “cowardice”.

Modi’s men brandish trishuls. The hidden enemies aim poisonous paper darts.


  1. FV:

    Do you really believe that Tarun Tejpal & Tehelka are hidden enemies of 'Muslims'in Gujarat? Maybe they have just compounded the misery by their overzealousness to unearth a scoop? About Aaj tak & Headlines Today, no comments.

    Angst is fine and I genuinely share your anger at the community being humiliated all over again. What is the solution to this?

    Maybe Modi will lose due to Patel, Togadia and RSS (I hope so) and Tehelka can then take credit. The other political parties and the mainstream media can trumpet it as the victory of secularism. Wishful thinking, hah!

  2. I think 'hidden enemies' are just tough to see...well, not an inventive way of putting it. But their strategy is covert. Do you know the NHRC has not yet commented asked to see the tapes?

    I am against extra-constitutional stings...wrote about it too...somewhere down below...heck, before the army took over this place it was all so simple :)

    Modi will win. Trust me. And the media will have more to write about things like "Whither secularism?"

  3. I think this episode will help modi only,

  4. Please stop this type of jounalism,
    this will affect muslim only,

  5. We like modi,cos of his srong image

  6. Just wanted to say few things:
    1.) The events of murdering a foetus: Babu Bajrangi was telling what is written in FIR. He never said that he did that. Tehelka had asked him what was mentioned in the FIR. And with clever editing Tehelka was able to potray as if Babu Bajrangi was implicating himself.
    2.) Action - Reaction has already been proved false. Modi never made that statment. Times of India already withdrew that piece. But liars like to use it all the time.

    Killing was wrong but I think rather than Blaming BJP, Hindus, RSS & VHP, police should try to find out the real culprit.


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