Thanks, Justice Liberhan, but no thanks

I understand these things take time. That is not my grouse against the M. S. Liberhan Report into the 1992-93 riots following the demolition of the Babri Masjid that has finally been handed over to the Prime Minister. I dislike the attitude of secrecy. Some of us had already questioned the lies of these leaders as recently as two months ago. (Those who are waiting for the report to be made public, please do take a look at the link.)

The report is not public and there are only titbits being shared with the people – people who are still waiting for justice for what happened 17 years ago, people who lost homes, families, dignity. People who became ‘others’. If it is being kept under wraps, then how are newspapers mentioning who has been indicted and for what? Here is the rogue’s gallery:

  • L K Advani: For the rath yatra he took out to mobilise support to build a Ram temple where the masjid stood, and, on the fateful day, for failing to control the crowds he had helped mobilise
  • Murli Manohar Joshi: Was present on the platform near Babri with Advani
  • Uma Bharti: At the site, had reportedly expressed joy when the mosque was pulled down
  • Sadhvi Rithambara: Allegedly incited mob
  • Ashok Singhal: Was present, allegedly incited the frenzied mob
  • Kalyan Singh: Was CM of UP, failed to control BJP’s kar sevaks
  • Faizabad district officials: Severely indicted for their role during the demolition.
  • P V Narasimha Rao: The PM of the Congress government at the Centre who allegedly failed to act in time and prevent demolition

It took 17 years, 399 sittings, 100 witnesses, 48 extensions and Rs 9 crore, most of this money was spent on staff salaries.

I am also angry that newspapers are making it into a Muslim issue. It is a Muslim issue in as much as the community was targeted during the riots, but the onus of justice is on the government, the judiciary, and the country. Indians, every Indian, must be involved in the process.

There were several people affected and many activists who worked to get justice. Now one of the reports in the TOI has a headline that has the gall to state: “Delay robs Liberhan report of fizz”. This is not some cola we are talking about. Did they talk about losing the fizz when the saffron fellows went hammering at the mosque? Did they mention that raking up an old Mughal era ‘wrong’ took away the fizz? No. In those days TOI had stopped covering the Srikrishna Committee hearings. This is a matter of national interest and national justice. You want your Response Department to get cola ads, try some other trick.

The judge says he is now free.

No, he is not. He has a responsibility since he has mentioned that the report got delayed due to the non-cooperation of some people. He will have to see it through. That is what the judiciary is about. It is not there to warm some benches in court. Should the government fail to act or act selectively, then he must be in the forefront to question it. This is not some private gupshup session where you can allege things but not give a damn about making those alleged culpable.

Has anyone noticed how the Times of India that flashes “Let truth prevail” on its masthead has started writing alleged in every report?

Worse, the 'alleged' is in italics. Is a newspaper not supposed to have the courage when it reports something? Does it only want to save itself from legal action should the situation arise? It alleges even for civic cases. I wonder how the reporters feel about their hard work and investigative skills going to waste. This is doubting your own women and men doing the legwork and making you the big newspaper you claim you are.

I have also seen columns with this execrable word. Don’t the columnists have any convictions? Aren’t their opinions important enough to them? Of course, there are some lightweights who become turncoats all too easily, but even so after all claims to be frank and fearless I cannot understand why they don’t protest.

A Times of India gem from the main front page report: “Incidentally, half of India’s T-20 squad was in primary school when Justice Liberhan was tasked with the probe.” What has it got to do with the Commission? Was any member of their families affected or part of the brigade that engineered the riots? There were several young people in this country who were children then, most have never been to primary school.

Another TOI nugget: Its Times Global page has a little homily over it: ‘Love all nations alike’! I think Karan Johar is their subconscious guest editor…


  1. I Like your commentry on the Babri Masjid report.You would be more effective if you spent equal space to treatment of non muslim minorities(I am aware you are minority in a minority)not just atrocities by hindu hoodlums.It would be appropriate treatment of minorities in Pakistan.IDP's from Kashmir(Kashmiri Pandits),Treatment of religious minorites in Saudi Arabia.Minorities in Iran and Afganistan.
    Then again i understand you can not fight all the battles.
    kul bhushan

  2. Bush here, can you explain effectively why you want FV to write about atrocities on non-Muslim religious minorities in Pak, Af, Saudi, Iran, Timbuktu etc.? what is the correlation between Babri demolition and mistreatment of minorities elsewhere? Babri is in India. She is writing about something which left a wound on many Indians. She is clearly spelling out the names of those responsible in the rogues gallery ( and not blaming it all on a community). Though everyone already knows these names, still it helps to keep reminding us from time to time, so that we don't succumb to their hate sermons again. And this is not just a minority issue or atrocities by a few Hindu hoodlums. This is something that deeply divided the country. It's time now to put some effort at least to book the culprits

  3. As a TOI reader, I don't see a problem with use of the word fizz. It does not in any way ridicule the issue. It's probably just a wordplay meant to attract attention.
    Regarding use of the word alleged, I believe the newspaper cannot do away with it unless the court finds anyone guilty.. After all, we are a democracy and the due process of law must be respected (however biased and incompetent it might seem to some).
    Use of the word for civil cases is a mistake on the part of individual sub-editors whom TOI must pull up. I am told the paper's policy on the word is with regard to using the word only for crimes...
    If the word is being incorporated into columns, it is wrong.
    The Times Global thing... I don't think the paper claims to be intellectual fodder.. Johar is quite popular and so is TOI.. A tragedy?

  4. A second-last para has been added at 5.30 PM IST. It seemed to have disappeared from the copy.

    Will reply later to the comments.

  5. Attrocities against one is against all mankind.If i talk about only one group i would be considered a partisan.May be we all are.There are not many Muslim voices when atrocities are done by them against even other muslim minorities.They are silenced by radicals using verses and even bullets.Modernity in Islam can only come from with in .Pakistan is fighting for its soul.China has almost eliminated all religous affiliation by promoting religion of patriotism and communism.None of the City youth Under 35 have ever prayed ,Old shrines have been torn down for modernisation.It seems that attrocities of Communism(as relgion) may exceed short comings of other religions.Most of us like to criticise America for the follies of the world.We even blamed US for lack of rain as they were seeding the clouds in such a way as to harm India.I do not believe that any more.We are responsible for all of our flaws.Only we members of human race can corect it.I have not challenged F.V views on the subject ,just added a context.
    I just hope right to speak freely is protected in all nations.Apart from courts people of India are divided about the happenings of Babari and victory of congress alliance has proved that who is winning.Democracy is for sure a messy thing.
    kul bhushan

  6. RBaruah:

    Thank you. I was planning to give the benefit of doubt to the comment, but after reading the second one, I need to give a proper reply.

    However, I do not refer to it as much as possible as the 'Babri issue'. It was the riots that followed that are the real issue, the time when the Establishment did nothing and participated in jingoism and worse.

    Kul Bhushan:

    The point is not whether one can or cannot fight all battles, but whether fighting one or two or three battles makes those battles any less or more. There is nothing like ‘equal space’ because I have strong opinions on some issues and not on others. I am upfront about what affects me and what I have knowledge of. I am not tarnishing a whole community anywhere or any society, but the 92 riots I have first-hand knowledge of and which affected me. If you had been to those areas during the time, you might have been moved as well. I will also not deny that it was the first time my religion was thrust in my face, a religion I knew little about.

    You say: "If i talk about only one group i would be considered a partisan.May be we all are.There are not many Muslim voices when atrocities are done by them against even other muslim minorities.They are silenced by radicals using verses and even bullets.Modernity in Islam can only come from with in."

    I am partisan, in as much as I don’t shield my sword. I take the side I want to take. This bullshit about giving a balanced perspective is needed in reportage, not opinions. You scrape people's so-called 'all are one' attitude and you will find what they really mean. Some of us, on the other hand, may openly 'fight' for one opinion, but in our lives we lead more cosmopolitan lives that not many would even dare to.

    And why is it only Muslims who are made answerable about minorities within minorities? Why is modernity only expected from them? And are bullets only used by them?

    You nailed it right when you say it is not just courts but even people who are divided over the 'Babri' issue, and I assume you mean the mosque. Let me tell you they are also divided over the riots, which is why the middle-class has become so communal. I don’t see the Congress victory as a decision by the people regarding this particular matter.

    About other minorities elsewhere, perhaps my opinion will differ from what is expected because I see things differently from A, B, C…when I have said something I have said so publicly and not reneged on any of those positions.

    Thank you for providing another context, but you must understand that if I engage in such rebuttals I find it necessary to stand by my words.

  7. Atul:

    The word fizz may sound catchy, but however sensational a headline wishes to be, there has to be some context within. By flashing, “Delay robs Liberhan report of fizz”, the paper is demeaning the validity of the report and of those who have fought for justice for years. It will be THIS report that will decide the fate of a couple of thousand people who died, several injured and many homeless. Those who need such attention-getting devices while reading on an important issue are more likely not interested in it or if they are ‘caught’ by the catchy headline then I do not assume they will be any more educated about the issue or might, worse, believe that the fizz has been robbed so who the hell cares.

    If you are a regular reader, I am surprised you did not notice that ‘alleged’ is now being used for almost every report and in italics. It isn’t about this one report. The TOI is not trying to help the courts or respecting the courts because they have been carrying the most sensational reports on rape cases and even bling issues. I have been in the business long enough to know that sub-editors in the TOI, or in most newspapers, do not have an individual say.

    No newspaper or media group or academician can claim to be intellectual fodder. Readers and the audience choose to define it/them or see it as they deem fit. The tag line ‘Love all nations alike’ is ridiculous in a national newspaper. This is not their Sacred Space column. As regards popularity, in some parts of the country rakes and goons are popular too. I might add that Karan Johar is at least indulging in fantasy; a newspaper is registered as such to convey news and opinions. The day it says it is fantasy, then you won’t read me dissing out at such unabashed use of their space. If one is vigilant about politicians, then the media is to be held equally culpable. Any media.

  8. "...don't have an individual say..."
    In what? In use of the word alleged? In its italicization? May be the times have changed or are changing? Or may be that too is a fantasy, karan johar style... :)

  9. More and more people must gather to make sure this report is studied in parliament and culprits booked.Too much time is wasted.Times is most biased paper famous only for page 3

  10. And the award for the most loyal TOI reader goes to Atul V :)

    They don't have an individual say in making decisions about how to 'allege', whether in italics or plain font. Will hold forth at some later date on these things. Yeah, things will change even more but some things never change, especially if you have sturdy genes!


    Yes, it thrives on Page 3 and even makes money from it...as for the Liberhan report, I think there are people who will not lie still. Count me in.


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