Continued from Previous Page
Many Faces of Falsehood - II
As the wizened old proverb has it, ‘a lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on’. In our case the lie has already done many a round of the earth as the truth is yet tying up the laces of its boots. And even when it’s ready, our print and electronic media won’t let it have its say simply because a plethora of lies has completely engulfed it.
‘A lie told often enough becomes the truth’ – an aphorism generally attributed to Vladimir Lenin - was an earlier day incarnation of this new art of political manipulation of minds so widely practiced in our times.
And the repetition of a lie day in and day out assumes for the gullible as evidence of its truth. This device – intrinsically fallacious – is a hot favorite of politicians. In our case, the Congress spokesmen Digvijay Singh and Kapil Sibal are its preeminent practitioners. American politicians have developed a very special strain of political debate out of it, called filibuster. Brainwashing is another refinement of it in wide use.
Hence, the repetition on the drop of a hat of the authorized version of secularism enunciated by the First Family in which the minority overrides majority and the rules of game favor are overwhelmingly tilted in the favor of the supposed underdog.
And above all, Narendra Modi, the Gujarat Chief Minister, is the villain of peace. In fact, Modi has become an object of derision for assorted left-leaning activists. The Left’s virulent campaign against Modi was meant to satiate the collective conscience of Nehruvian apologists who had felt slighted at being thrown out of power in New Delhi when, for the first time, a BJP-led NDA ousted the Congress.
For the motley defenders of our cherished secular faith, the 2002 Gujarat riots provided the perfect alibi to conclusively establish the ‘communal’ credentials of the BJP, that some had till then some reservations about. The 2002 riots are, today, being called the worst in independent India, in which thousands of Muslims were killed and no justice is ever possible as long as the cases remain in Gujarat.
Truth, fortunately, has, as Mundaka Upanishad reiterated, strange ways of surfacing when you try to suppress it. None of the above assertions by our well-meaning activists – so close to the Congress – are true. Let us evaluate each of these assertions in detail. Here are some well-established facts about 2002. However, facts in isolation convey little and they must be contextualized with data from similar environments. To this end, we will also look at some of the devastating riots India saw prior to Gujarat 2002, under the ‘secular’ Congress.
Counting the dead is dreadfully painful but truth must be told.
Riots, under any regime and irrespective of the extent of death and destruction they brought about, are a national shame. No civilized society can accept such violent form of expressing disagreements. Nevertheless, violence and riots are as old as our ‘civilized society.’ The only thing we can do to fully understand them and mitigate their impact, is to study them impartially and not be selective in our condemnation.
Assertion 1: Gujarat riots were worst in Independent India.
Let’s look at the facts:
1969 – Gujarat: Total dead 660 of which 430 were Muslims;
1983 – Nellie, Assam: All 2,191 killed were Muslims;
1984 – 4,000+ Sikhs were butchered in cold blood by Congress thugs.
1989 – Bhagalpur: Of the 1,070 who died, 876 were Muslims;
1992 – Mumbai: 575 of those dead out of 900 were Muslims.
Compare this to the Godhra riots of 2002, wherein of the 1,169 killed, 781 were Muslims and the rest Hindus. Police action led to killing of Hindus too, unlike in the riots listed above which saw no police intervention. Far worse, Indira Gandhi even justified riots. Rajiv Gandhi’s fatuous comment – “when a big tree falls, the earth shakes” – cannot ever whitewash the worst post-Independence communal riot.
Anyone with a head on his shoulders except purblind Congress votaries can see that neither was the Gujarat riot the first in independent India nor was it the worst. It is important to note that no one orchestrated it, neither has anyone justified it.
Assertion 2: Thousands of Muslims were killed
Facts: Thousands? Total number of deaths in Gujarat riots was 1,169 of which Muslims killed were 781, and not thousands as those who have little regard for facts would like us to believe. Yet it is important not to look at just the numbers but also to understand the effort the state government of Gujarat made in those crucial hours after the riots broke out.
Modi had been Chief Minister for less than six months and had been elected to the Assembly less than a fortnight before the riots broke out. In the given situation, the CM did his best as evidenced by the newspaper coverage then –repeat then and not now. Let me quote some of the reports in media during that period.
First, Sheela Bhatt wrote for Rediff on the morning of 28th February, 2002.
A state home ministry official speaking to rediff.com said that the situation in Ahmedabad and Baroda is tense, but under control.
He said, “There are reports of angry people gathering in the streets of Baroda and Ahmedabad. But we have enough policemen deployed to prevent any untoward incident.”
He said that fears of a communal clash between the Hindus and Muslims have forced the administration to impose curfew in seven areas of Baroda.
At 6pm IST on 28th February, 2002, the Army was on stand-by. Here’s an Indian Express report
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Thursday called a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security, which decided that Army will stand by in the disturbed areas of Gujarat.
Earlier in the evening, addressing a crowded press conference, Chief Minister Narendra Modi put the death count at 20, said curfew was imposed on 26 areas and over 700 were arrested in the state, including 80 in Godhra, the place of Sabarmati Express carnage. The Army has been asked to stand by, and the Rapid Action Force and Central Industrial Security Force have also been deployed in sensitive areas, he added. “If possible, the Army may be air-lifted from the border,” Modi added.
Following large-scale arson in Ahmedabad, indefinite curfew was clamped in Kalupur, Dariapur, Rakhial, Karanj, Bapunagar, Naroda, Vatwa and Sherkotda areas.
Neither Rediff nor Indian Express are BJP’s mouthpieces.
Today, one of the sharpest critics of Modi is the The Hindu, with immaculate secular credentials. Here’s what it reported on 1st March, 2002,
AHMEDABAD, MARCH 1. The Army began flag marches in the worst-affected areas of Ahmedabad, Baroda, Rajkot and Godhra cities and the `shoot at sight’ order was extended to all 34 curfew-bound cities and towns in Gujarat as the orgy of violence in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage continued unabated for the second day today.
But unlike Thursday when one community was entirely at the receiving end, the minority backlash caused further worsening of the situation.
Sequence of Events
There is the oft-repeated charge against Modi of not acting fast to control the situation. First and foremost, let’s not lose track of dates. Here’s the record:
On 27th February, 2002, the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express carrying karsevaks was set on fire. 58 people were burnt alive and 43 injured.
Riots broke out next day i.e., on 28th February, 2002. A massive paramilitary force was deployed on the same day and the Army began flag marches on 1st March, 2002 – all this in a matter of 48 hours!
For those who are distressed by the fact that innocent Muslims were killed on February 28 2002 and the Army appeared on the scene only on March 1, 2002, it would be useful to remember that as per the Gregorian calendar that we follow the month of February in 2002 had only 28 days, and not 29.
All the sources cited above have appeared in publications that are no friends of Modi. Therefore, one can satisfactorily conclude that these are genuine and clearly show that Modi’s administration did all it could to ensure that the violence was contained at the earliest.
If only it were so simple! It is not easy to please the anti-Modi cottage industry, not because they do not see the facts but because they do not want to. To drive home the point, however, let us compare how other elected governments reacted when riots broke out under their administration.
1969 Gujarat Riots
The Reddy Commission appointed by the Government to enquire into the 1969 Gujarat riots concluded that despite available manpower, sufficient force was not used by the Police in the initial stages [24.41]. Discussing a particular incident it observes how the minority community had to fend for itself with not a single instance of police firing or arrest [13.8]
The Army was deployed only on the 3rd day of the riots. The Reddy Commission concluded that deployment was delayed.
1983 Nellie, Assam Riot
The Congress state government set up only an administrative and not judicial inquiry to probe the riots; the report has not been made public till date. Like the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat Report it is a strictly confidential document locked up in the Home Ministry.
The Nanavati Commission that enquired into the 1984 Delhi Riots concluded that there was a colossal failure of maintenance of law and order in Delhi, and holds the head of the police force responsible [p. 178]. It adds that if the police had been prompt and effective, it is very likely that the loss of life and property would have been lesser [p. 182]. The Police Commissioner of Delhi, as you know, takes his orders directly from the Union Home Ministry.
The Commission observed that despite curfew being imposed, mobs indulging in violence were moving freely and committing acts of looting and killing [p. 178]
The Mishra Commission also found that the police was either indifferent or negligent, and at times also connived and participated with rioters [p. 2]. Mittal Report indicted 72 police officials, recommending departmental action.
Though 5,000 army men were available on the very day the riots began, the Army was deployed only on the 3rd day, and only on the 4th day did it become effective and that too in some areas. The Mishra Commission concluded there was a delay in calling Army [p. 183], and blames it on the Delhi Administration [p. 2]
1989 Bhagalpur Riots
The Sinha-Hasan Commission categorically concludes that the then SP, Bhagalpur (Dwivedi) was wholly responsible for the riots . It also observed that other officers belonging to the police and civil administration, barring a few, not only failed to prevent violent incidents, but in places even facilitated in and joined them  – listing out specific names of those who were directly responsible [597-598]. The Commission ends by recommending to the Government to take drastic steps against those indicated by it .
1992 Bombay Riots
The Srikrishna Commission reported that the police mishandled the situation, and with their aggressive posture, actually turned the initial peaceful protests into violent demonstrations [Ch.2, 1.3. A. ii.]. It further noted that there was evidence of police bias against Muslims – with police personnel found even actively participating in riots, communal incidents or incidents of looting, arson, and so on. The Commission thus strongly recommended that the government take strict action against the 31 accused it identified [Chapter 5, 1.30]
The Commission found that curfew enforcement was not taken seriously, turning it into a farce [Ch.4, 1.3]
In contrast, the Gujarat Government took reasonably proactive steps to control the riots. Also, in March 2008, the Supreme Court (SC) appointed the Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation Director R.K. Raghavan, to reinvestigate nine major cases in the Gujarat riots of 2002.
As the SIT went about task, more and more evidence surfaced that the human rights lobby had, in many cases, spun macabre stories of rape and brutal killings by tutoring witnesses before the SC. In the process, it might have played a significant role in misleading the SC to suit its political objectives against Modi and his government.
It is no secret who these human rights activists and do-gooders are. They have now become a permanent fixture in the political firmament of the ruling coalition in Delhi. They have been rewarded with important assignments and made to sit at the high table. That no one has seen a conflict of interest in the hobnobbing of these activists with the party in power is, in itself, intriguingly interesting. It also makes one wonder about their non-partisanship and concern for the riots victims!
A word or two about the speed of the delivery of justice in Gujarat and put them in context.
The first convictions in the 1993 Mumbai blasts came after nearly 14 years; the first convictions in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom came a full 13 years later. The Bhagalpur riots which saw about 1070 deaths in 1989, mostly Muslim, had the first convictions only in 2007, after a full 18 years. No such luck for the victims in Nellie yet.
This should be a resounding response to those who doubted the quality and speed of justice in Gujarat. Those who delayed justice to riot victims by asking the Supreme Court to intervene and monitor the investigations must now gracefully accept the SIT’s clean chit to Modi.
It is perhaps for the first time in India that a democratically elected Chief Minister has upheld the law of the land, cooperating with law enforcement by deposing before every commission and inquiry. Modi’s deposition is in the public domain for everyone to see.
There is indeed a concerted effort by a group of Congress-sponsored activists, media and NGOs to discredit the SIT. Let’s not forget that Raghavan is no friend of Modi either. His investigative efforts have led to the arrest of a woman minister in the Gujarat state government. After a thorough and professional investigation lasting about two years, the SIT found no evidence to support Zakia Jaffri’s complaint of a conspiracy to organize riots. Many amicus curiae briefs have agreed with the SIT.
A Lie is A Lie
There were indeed riots in Gujarat in 2002. Everyone killed in them was an Indian before he was a Hindu or a Muslim, and, above all, a human being. Some thing led to them, howsoever regrettable. And certainly these riots were not the only ones after 1947, and most certainly not the ones in which the maximum number of Muslims were killed. That distinction – the correct word is disgrace – belongs to Nellie riots that the Congress Party wants to wish out of existence.
Must we vitiate our thinking and debase the tone of our electioneering by parrot-like, idiotic repetition of a lie. Let’s not forget as human beings endowed with the faculty to think and reason, that a lie is a lie, and will forever remain a lie, even if repeated a million times.
Will you recall the celebrated public debate that took place over a century and a half ago? It was at Clinton, Illinois on September 2, 1858, when the American Republic was in turmoil over the issue of slavery. Addressing his opponent, Abraham Lincoln made the celebrated remark:
“Judge Douglas, you can fool all the people some of the time, some of the people all the time, but not all the people all the time.”
Isn’t distressing that some self-serving, vociferous critics of Modi are trying to get away by fooling all the people all the time?
Continued to "Politics as Puppetry"