9.2.12

Trial and Terror of the Gujarat Riots Verdict


There are no victors here. From the circle of inquiries into the Gujarat riots what comes out is that there are too many straw martyr-heroes. And they are not the ones who have died.

The neo-shaheeds are those responsible for their deaths as well as those who have used the victims. I have been reading ridiculous ‘generous’ statements that this whole episode should be forgotten; it will be good for Muslims. The internet warriors and peaceniks have no business to talk on behalf of those who have suffered. By the same token, I would be wary of those who will use the shoulders of prominent petitioners to fire their agendas from.

How can there be any triumph when there is many a slip between the Special Investigations Team (SIT) cup and the Gujarat High Court lip? It is a case of good cop, bad cop and I think both are part of the same game plan.

The ‘clean’ chit:

The Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) on Wednesday gave a clean chit to chief minister Narendra Modi on allegations of his involvement in the 2002 riots. In its final report submitted to the metropolitan court, the SIT has filed a closure summary against Modi and 62 others accused by Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri.

The SC had asked SIT to probe Jafris allegation that the Gulbarg Society massacre in which 67 people were killed, was the result of a larger conspiracy. But the probe agency, headed by former CBI chief R K Raghavan, concluded it could not find any prosecutable evidence against the accused.

This effectively means that if the government was not involved, then someone else was. Why has that angle not been investigated? Will the Modi government and the honourable Supreme Court order a probe, for the report does mention that people were burnt alive? How did it happen? Or did it not happen? Did Gulberg Society just disappear? There has to be other “prosecutable evidence”. Whose job is it to find out – the victims, the NGOs or the intelligence agencies?

On what basis is the government gloating? This shows the utter lack of any ethics. I am not big on the politics of remorse and of demanding apologies, for it is the easy way out. However, will Narendra Modi even consider stepping down as chief minister?


The ‘dirty’ trick:

I am appalled that anyone would find the High Court order an indictment of the Modi government. If you read between the lines, it is a wholly disruptive document that merely raps the CM on the knuckles and prophesises a worse scenario by the victims:

"Even if we for the sake of argument accept the defence of the State that the cause of riot was the general reaction from the incident of Sabarmati Express, the failure on part of the police intelligence to gather such general reaction (after the Godhra train burning incident) in time and to take appropriate timely action definitely come within expression 'negligence of the State'. Similarly, the fact remain that the anarchy continued unabated for days ... The state cannot shirk from its responsibilities."

I would like to know why the court is using a hypothetical line of reasoning. This gives the state the necessary ammunition to further play the aggrieved party. One has seen this pussy-footing even by so-called liberal commentators; it is as though they are trying to justify it in a roundabout way. Why were senior police officers transferred? Why is no one paying attention to the reports on the Godhra train burning U.C.Banerji report? Unless this aspect continues to loom over the head of the Gujarat riots, no conclusive action and indictment will be possible. The action-reaction theory will be replayed in every single forum from now on.



Why go that far. It is embedded in the High Court judgment itself.

"The policy of the state government taken in defence is one of evading the constitutional responsibility and will bring anarchy in the society, and thus, is detrimental to the establishment of the principles and the tenets of our Constitution.”

This sounds good. But, it puts the onus on the citizens that if the state government evades responsibility there will be anarchy. It implies that the people are an unruly lot who will go on a rampage, maybe even burn their own buildings, only because the establishment was fiddling and dithering.

There is also an undue emphasis on “destruction of more than 500 places of religious worship throughout the state belonging only to the one religious community". Does the court not know the name of that community? Can it not clearly state M-U-S-L-I-M?

Worse is to come:

“The court also said that the policy would give a wrong signal to the citizens that religious places should take up arms in their own hand because in the event of destruction of those places, no financial help would come from government."

This is disgusting, and it is being hailed as a great verdict? The court is not rapping the government but clearing the decks for it. It is saying that if the government does not shell out some loose change, then those blokes will get the guns and the bombs and let loose terror.

There is much forked-tongue talk:

"It will also encourage the religious bigots to destroy religious and other places of worship of the economically weaker section for the purpose of establishing their superiority over the others.”

Now the tone becomes sadistic. It assumes that there is a superior narrative. That is the reason I have maintained time and again that we must not make Modi into another Hitler; it just buffers the idea of protecting a superior race. We know who the economically weaker section is here. But economics is one step of proving other kinds of dominance, of ancestry and heritage, and the baggage of alignment by default with colonisers.

The NGO attitude is superficial:

“This judgement surely comes as a relief to the victims, survivors and for those fighting for justice and for those who cherish the secular fabric and the diversity of our country and wish to preserve it."

The heroes:

In the next few days, we will have a whole gallery of them. For now, Narendra Modi – the perennial hero, even when villain. The court – for acting as stern school master passing on a toffee as reward. The SIT – for apparently not falling for the bait. Activists – for believing that ‘justice has prevailed’ but leaving enough room for gathering more moss. Zakia Jafri –for standing tenaciously and fighting the system. Unfortunately, she is being made a hero because people supporting her only like to fight the heroic war.

This war was lost when the riots took place. Every fight after that is just a skirmish to cover the debris.

(c) Farzana Versey

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Published in Countercurrents

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Also from the archives:

Modi fast 'undo' death:Gujarat's shame
Godhra verdict and selective amnesia

13 comments:

  1. >>And they are not the ones who have died.

    Well said !

    >>The internet warriors and peaceniks have no business to talk on behalf of those who have suffered.

    Indeed. But, everyone should speak out for the "rule-of-law", purely as a matter of self-interest,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came%E2%80%A6

    >>How can there be any triumph when there is many a slip between the Special Investigations Team (SIT) cup and the Gujarat High Court lip?

    Nanavati Commission, Banerji Commision, SIT, Gujarat HC, one after another ....

    It is pretty clear that Gujarat Judiciary and Personnel can not be trusted with this matter. SIT also seemed to have toed the line.

    Facts of riot and murder are noncontroversial. Modi is most certainly culpable as a Chief Administrator if not personally. Unfortunate truth is that this is one more incident in a long series of such incidents.

    >> However, will Narendra Modi even consider stepping down as chief minister?

    It is not a matter of voluntary penance. If he is guilty (which I believe he is), then he has to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and appropriately punished.

    >>One has seen this pussy-footing even by so-called liberal commentators; it is as though they are trying to justify it in a roundabout way.

    If you are implying that there are no spontaneous outbreaks of communal violence esp in Gujarat, I beg to differ. I do believe in this particular case, there was active encouragement (and possible participation) by the state machinery.

    >>we must not make Modi into another Hitler

    Agree. Although, there are some parallels, we should beware of Godwin's Law:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

    >>Zakia Jafri –for standing tenaciously and fighting the system.

    I doubt she is doing this out of heroism but to see the perpetrators walk about with impunity and holding "sadbhavna" meetings; is hard to accept even for bystanders.

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  2. FV,
    Picking on beloved Modi(PBUH) are we ?
    Hell hath no fury like the hindu troll scorned !

    The only worrying trend I see is the massive support NaMo(SAW) has among the Majority.

    Not closet sympathizers, but ardent admirers.

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  3. Ever since the Guj riots of 2002, most media outlets/commentators/NGOs etc, instead of fighting for justice to be done, have been pointedly baying for Narendra Modi's blood. The whole assumption is that once Modi resigns/convicted justice would be served. 2002 riot was one of the first riot under the glare of electronic media. At times, rioting was even reported live. I do not understand this, instead of concentrating only on Modi, why don't we prosecute people who were captured on tape first? Every media outlet has gone to town declaring Narendra Modi a killer, Nazi or what not. Each rioting incident should have been probed and people responsible for that incident should have been convicted by now. That is how justice is served. But no, that would not be a news so we go after someone that would make a news (guilty or not-guilty is not important). And, all this just because we do not like the person/his ideology/his association with a particular party. This is just amazing and disgusting. You really are insulting all the people who died in the riots.

    I am no supporter of Modi and if (and when) he is found guilty of even fraction of what is being claimed, he should be jailed for life or better hanged. But until that time can we respect a basic "innocent until proven guilty" dictum please.

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  4. FV,

    I think the sekulaars are in greater need of sympathy and moral (not to mention financial!) support than the riot victims themselves!

    Delicious! I am saying this without remorse.

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  5. Hi Ms.Versey! I just read your book on Pakistan, A Journey Interrupted and would like to share my opinion on it. (I hope this place is appropriate enough, as I could not find a discussion forum on that book.) First of all, the book was a pleasure to read, you language has great flow, very crisp and I read it in 4-5 hours - picked it up from the local library at 12, finished it (just 10 minutes before) at 5. It was classic non-fiction and it is great that you use very simple language, nothing that would compel one to refer to a dictionary and yet make your book sophisticated. Your book should be read as a companion volume to Aatish Taseer's equally excellent account on Pakistan "A Stranger to History". I would say your book is more emotional and more on a personal note.

    Now, I am a hardcore Modi admiring BJP supporter, so obviously I do not share your political views - which I believe are pretty much anti-Modi, anti-BJP, anti-hindutwa. That is alright, we all have the right to our own views on things.

    What really held my attention in your book were the bits on how Pakistanis talk about India. They were brutal and , says more about them than it says about India or Indians. But the reason I am writing this post is because, you seem to drive a contrast between Indian muslims and Pakistani muslims - Indian muslims - secular, accepting of hindus and their culture, broadminded.... while Pakistanis - fundamentalist, inward looking, insecure, even hateful - especially a couple of guys you feature. Any problem in India is because of hindu fundamentalists, likes of Bal Thackray and Advani, while no blame at all goes to Indian muslims. Indian muslims are proud Indians, secure in their relationship with their country, and have little or no attachment towards Pakistan. They are even okay with muslim women marrying hindu men - which is something that shocks some of the Pakistanis.

    I think you are probably confusing yourself, your own family, and probably some of your secular-society type muslim Indian friends as being representative of the Indian muslim community as a whole.

    Although I cannot claim personal knowledge of many muslims, from what I have observed, whether from internet or mainstream media, or just the muslims walking on the street, majority of Indian muslims are not very different from their Pakistani cousins. They share the same contempt if not hatred for hindus and hinduism, they share the same fundamentalism - especially if one notices the ever increasing proportion of muslim men wearing beards and women fully clad in burqha with just slits open for the eyes, same sense of permanent anger against the world - the kufr world, live in imagined glories of a pure Islamic past and daydream of bringing it back....insecurities about their daughters marrying kufr hindu men, a fear which results in majority of young (even urban, middle class) muslim women being locked up in their homes, not working and only going out fully clad in black veils.

    continued...

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  6. (part 2 of the comment)

    So basically, there is not much difference between the average Pakistani and the average Indian muslim, even in the way they look at India. Look at the issues parties like Congress use to woo muslim votes - glorification of terrorists killed in Batla, raising the bogey of "hindu terror" , just to divert attention from the real problem - which is the very effective anti-India Islamic terrorism which is today overwhelmingly dominated by "homegrown elements" - read Indian muslims.

    Do read this article from rediff on the "hindu terror" bogey :

    http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-is-hindu-terror-as-big-as-its-made-out-to-be/20120209.htm


    My point is, the reaction of Indian muslims to terrorism is very revealing - one, they are not responsible, two, it is hindu RSS/BJP's fault. And after being presented irrevocable facts to the contrary, they justify it as being a result of persecution of muslims in India, bring up (the manipulated) Sacchar Committe report and so on. Indian Urdu newspapers and muslim news websites are full of Brahmin-RSS-Mossad-CIA conspiracies, aimed at defaming muslims - not a hint of acceptance that at least some Indian muslims may be involved in anti-India activities. You cannot have a treatment without an acceptance of illness.

    Many Indian muslims, I am sure, are good people, and are proud, patriotic Indians. But the general behaviour of most leads one to think Jinnah was right, and we - hindus and the muslims left behind in India - are two separate nations, forced to live together. So far we have lived in relative peace, in spite of many riots and clashes, big and small, which occur every year. But one only has to notice the under current of tension both communities have when it comes to the other to realize that this "Unity in Diversity" thing we talk about in India, is very fake.

    It has to be, because as Pervez Musharaf said (you quote him in the book) : one worhips the cow, other kills and eats it. Heroes for one are villains for the other - and vice-versa.

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  7. I have not read Ms Versey's book yet but from my recent viewing of the movie "Silent Waters", occasional reading of Pakistani MSM, and meeting few Indian and Pakistani Muslims by chance, I think I am also entitled to my opinions and Krishna-willing able to impose on few hundred million in the sub-continent.

    I think you are probably confusing yourself, your own family, and probably some of your Modi-Youth type hindu Indian friends as being representative of the Indian hindu community as a whole.

    In my judgement, we should first work on assimilating the so-called impure hindus (they make up about 80% of the hindus) before we go after the real burqa wearing, beard-sporting kafirs.

    ...insecurities about their daughters marrying other hindu men, a fear which results in majority of young (even urban, middle class) hindu women being lynched by Khap Panchayat-type mobs ...

    So basically, there is not much difference between the average muslim fundamentalist and the average hindu fundamentalist, even in the way they look at other Indians.

    You can not treat your cousin for the illness you have ...

    >>Many Indian muslims, I am sure, are good people, and are proud, patriotic Indians.

    It is a statistical possibility, but who really knows ...

    >>are two separate nations, forced to live together.

    We are actually many nations forced to live together (like an extended joint hindu family with a really pissed-off Matriarch)

    >>"Unity in Diversity" thing we talk about in India, is very fake.

    Well, Tamil Tigers to Telangana, Marathi Manus to Khalistan, we are going to be busy with this "Diversity in Diversity" business for a while ...

    >>one worhips the cow, other kills and eats it.

    Now I know why we don't get along with Anglo-Americans.

    Sorry to hijack your simple book review ...

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  8. Hitesh:

    My problem with internet warriors is that it gets limited to what is visible. In that sense, "self interest" has an element of arrogance(and arrogating rights of protection to themselves)and does not arise out of genuine self-preservation.

    I am all for rule-of-law, but that is precisely what has not happened.

    Most of us agree that it is Modi's role as CM that makes his at least answerable, if not culpable. I don't see why that is so difficult to understand? I am not questioning you, but this is the general attitude.

    It is not a matter of voluntary penance. If he is guilty (which I believe he is), then he has to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and appropriately punished.

    I mentioned resignation as a thought with the background of other demands for resignations. I do not believe in this form of letting someone of,anyway.


    >>One has seen this pussy-footing even by so-called liberal commentators; it is as though they are trying to justify it in a roundabout way.

    If you are implying that there are no spontaneous outbreaks of communal violence esp in Gujarat, I beg to differ. I do believe in this particular case, there was active encouragement (and possible participation) by the state machinery.


    I don't see any disagreement. I am talking about commentators. Have I missed something?

    I have explained why I would not wish Modi to be 'Hitlerised'. The parallels can work at the academic level. You bring it into the public discourse and the heroism gets a tag.

    >>Zakia Jafri –for standing tenaciously and fighting the system.

    I doubt she is doing this out of heroism but to see the perpetrators walk about with impunity and holding "sadbhavna" meetings; is hard to accept even for bystanders.


    I am not holding her suspect at all. I admire her tenacity; it is those who use her - ad they used and discarded Zahira Sheikh - that bother me.

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  9. CandidSpade:

    Hell hath no fury like the hindu troll scorned !

    Are you? And are you?

    The only worrying trend I see is the massive support NaMo(SAW) has among the Majority. Not closet sympathizers, but ardent admirers.

    I know. Your presence is clear indication. Are you worried for yourself?

    F&F:

    If I were in a mood more fowl, I'd have called you a headless chicken.

    I think the sekulaars are in greater need of sympathy and moral (not to mention financial!) support than the riot victims themselves!

    How is it a this or that situation? Why do they need more financial support? I have talked about certain groups and how they use tragedies, but what is this general brush-stroke about the secular?

    Should I put up a collection box for secular jihad or something?

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  10. Anon:

    I agree with you that Modi has become a symbol, but he is also the person responsible. What do you mean baying for his blood? Do we not expect leaders to resign for scams? Heck, even fro railway accidents. So, why is this not important?

    People have been fighting for justice for the victims, but if they System tries and messes with evidence, who do you blame? Abracadabra?

    I do not believe live reporting can bring about change. And I have emphasised the need to address earlier riots in Bombay too. It was called Bombay riots, before someone reminds me of it. There is too much voyeurism in electronic reportage that I dislike.

    The cases are in court, but one has to question the courts and commissions of inquiry. I am afraid you think poorly that Modi is at the centre of interest because "we do not like the person/his ideology/his association with a particular party. This is just amazing and disgusting. You really are insulting all the people who died in the riots".

    Do you understand that it is this person and his ideology that brought about this situation? Just as it was Advani and company watching from the dais as the Babri masjid was demolished, and Sadhvi Rithambara and Uma Bharti were egging the kar sevaks on? That it was the government that stayed silent as people were shot at, houses burned, a community was selectively targeted? These were people in positions of some authority, they professed a certain ideology. If we do not question them, then what do we get?

    I am at a loss for words that you don;t find THIS insulting. Seriously, WTF.

    But until that time can we respect a basic "innocent until proven guilty" dictum please.

    Of course. Would you like to tell that to the families of those who have been killed? Perhaps they will understand how this is not insulting, because I don't.

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  11. Ranger:

    Thank you for reading the book and the detailed review, and your thoughts. I shall respond later.

    Hitesh:

    I have not read Ms Versey's book yet...

    Wanna break the muhurat coconut?

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  12. FV,

    Call me headless chicken if it pleases you, but then will I become halal for you?

    I have repeatedly commented upon how the singling out of Modi is a prejudiced act when nothing that happened in Gujarat was unique or out of the ordinary. This may give the sekulaars an opportunity to call me names, but isn't it the truth? What exactly was it that we saw FOR THE FIRST TIME in 2002 or thereafter in Gujarat? Train burning? Communal strife? Islamic fundamentalism? Provocative speeches? Police firing? Economic liberalisation? Industry friendly policies? Instances of corruption? Encounters? Political patronage of police? Commissions of inquiries? What exactly?

    What is it that makes these people go so doggedly in pursuit of Modi and Modi alone when each of these acts have precedents in (post-1947, if you care!) Indian history? What incites the Sekulaar cabal so much that they call Modi foul names?

    My answer is that he has exposed and trashed their fake, cowardly sekulaarism which ridicules Hindu religion at every chance but trembles at the sight of a bearded Mullah screaming murder at the infidel. Modi has seriously endangered their wet-in-the-pants sekulaar ideology. This has seriously threatened to put the sekulaar mob out of thier flourishing hitman "business" (pun intended).

    Money talks. Even when it is not halal!

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  13. Since Sanjiv Bhatt is back in the news, I wonder if the liberals would have supported him had his name been Salman Khurshid....

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