Modi’s Gujarat defies Gandhi’s India

Modi’s Gujarat defies Gandhi’s India

The past is never dead, wrote William Faulkner, in fact it’s not even past. The past lives on and smoulders in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat. Ten years after the worst communal massacre in the 21st century India under the watchful eyes of the state, the ghosts of Gujarat are yet to be put to rest. Even if the victims of the 2002 pogrom wanted to move on, Modi has seen to it they do not. As India marks the tenth anniversary of the anti-Muslim massacre, justice still remains elusive for the families of more than 2000 victims. The wounds have turned into festering ulcers.


After a decade of endless investigations, testimonies of top cops and the supreme court interventions and above all substantial evidence, those who presided over the slaughter haven’t just managed to evade the long arm of the law, they continue in power as defiant and far from repentant as ever.


While India has had a long history of recurring communal violence, Gujarat 2002 remains unique in many ways. The obscene dance of death that went on for weeks in full media glare wasn’t spontaneous. It was carefully calibrated and executed with surgical precision with those high in power enabling, overseeing and encouraging it.


The state didn’t merely watch the madness for weeks on end; it joined in the fun with all the power and resources at its disposal. The findings of the three judicial commissions and special investigative team, not to mention numerous eyewitness accounts, including those by courageous policemen like Rahul Sharma, Sanjiv Bhatt and Sreekumar and investigations by independent media prove the collusion of the state government beyond doubt.


You had senior cabinet ministers like Maya Kodnani, in jail now, personally monitoring the ‘punishment’ meted out to Muslims on the streets of Ahmadabad. Two ministers, Ashok Bhatt and I K Jadeja, took over Ahmadabad and the state police control rooms to ensure no help reached the victims, desperately begging for it even as they were raped, hacked to death or set on fire within their homes.


Mobs armed with swords, trishuls and kerosene and acid bottles went around with voter lists in their hands, systematically identifying and eliminating Muslim families. One such mob surrounded the Gulbarg Society, a largely Muslim gated community. Ehsan Jafri, a former MP and prominent Congress politician, who lived in Gulbarg, made hundreds of desperate calls to senior officials, including to chief minister Modi, even as the mob blasted its way through his apartment block. Help of course never arrived and Jafri – along with 68 others – was hacked to pieces and burnt right before his septuagenarian wife who’s now running from pillar to post for justice.


Which isn’t surprising since the chief minister had issued clear instructions to the top police and administration officials the night before at a meeting at his residence to shut their eyes and ears and allow “Hindus to vent their anger” over the Sabarmati Express blaze, promptly blamed on Muslims without any probe or proof even as many experts discounted the possibility of a running train being torched from the outside.


But then who said this had anything to do with Godhra? It was an excuse for Modi and his party to penalise the minority community, burnishing their own credentials as the protectors of Hindus and the motherland. The love of all things Muslim is the raison d’être of the BJP-RSS-VHP combine. Gujarat 2002 was no aberration. Given an opportunity, they would do it again and again.


The question is, how long will the rest of India tolerate this worldview and treat the bloodthirsty killers with kid gloves? If the 2002 bloodbath in the land of Gandhi’s birth and failure to prevent and stop it was disgraceful, even more scandalous has been the state’s inability to bring the perpetrators to justice. Words like rule of law, fair play and human rights remain just that – mere words. Except in one case, the Sardarpura massacre where 33 people were burnt alive, there has been no conviction.


Let alone finding justice, Muslims are facing continuous witch-hunt at the hands of a vindictive state administration. Locked in their ghettos and deprived of basic amenities, they find themselves totally marginalised and ostracised – politically, economically and socially. They can’t even sell their homes and business to move to safer neighbourhoods for a fresh start, thanks to the new laws.


During a much sobering visit in 2009, one experienced, almost physically, the palpable pall of fear and gloom that has enveloped Gujarat’s Muslims since February 2002. Scores of young Muslims have been bumped off in staged police encounters. Hundreds have been languishing in prisons as ‘terrorists’ and ‘Pakistani spies.’ No wonder thousands of Muslim families have fled to neighbouring states.


What’s most disturbing is the fact that no one seems able or willing to confront Modi or the mindset that he represents. Instead of confronting him on his crimes, the increasingly shrill, TRP-driven media has been lionising the chief minister and portraying him as a market-savvy and forward-looking CEO, committed to good governance.


Indeed, whitewashing his bloody past and numerous cases pending in courts, Modi is increasingly being projected as the prime minister-in-waiting and the hope and future of the billion plus nation. The Congress-led UPA coalition too has failed to rein him in. Ever mindful of its electoral calculations and majoritarian sensibilities, the party has gone to great lengths to avoid a confrontation with the Gujarat satrap.


But is this just the problem of one party or community? The fascist worldview that is at the heart of what is going on in Gujarat, often described as the Hindutva’s lab, has emerged as a challenge to Gandhi’s India and all that it stands for – pluralism, democracy and social justice.


As CPM leader Sitaram Yechury warned this week, ten years after the pogrom, the RSS and BJP have sharpened communal polarisation all across the country, weakening the foundations of India’s secular polity. The creeping saffronisation isn’t limited to Gujarat or other BJP-ruled states. It’s a national project, with thousands of RSS schools and shakhas and saffronised textbooks driving it. With the terror attacks on the Samjhauta Express, Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and Ajmer shrine now being traced to Hindutva groups, it seems this war for India’s soul is being waged on all fronts.


Where will all this end? I do not know but it’s not going to be pretty. And we will all pay for it. If anyone could defeat these fascist designs, it is the Hindu majority of the country which is peace-loving, reasonable and incredibly tolerant. They have demonstrated the generosity of their spirit time and again, which was seen in the tenacity with which cops like Sharma and Bhatt have confronted the chief minister at great cost to their careers. Let’s hope that spirit will prevail in the end.


The article is printed in today’s newspaper February 28, 2012

Aijaz Zaka Syed

A Dubai-based writer & op-ed contribtuor for The News. He can be reached at [email protected]

  • Raj Chouhan

    Your comments appears absolutely prejudice and reflects hatred towards India and particularly against Hindus. Acts of few misguided people do not represents the whole nation. Secularism prevailing here do not require certificate from any educated fanatic. I am a regular reader in this blog and read near about all of your comments on different subjects and understand your mind set very well. We agree that incident was a black spot for us but you must see the positive side also that we have learned lesson fro it and our Govt has never allowed to happen it again anywhere in India in the last 10 yrs. Regarding not allowing to Muslims from selling and shifting their properties to any other place as per their wish is as true as of separate tea stalls for Muslims and Hindus on Indian railway stations and washing of kitchen by Hindus by Cow dung and piss if by accident any Muslim enters in Hindus kitchens. This is shear NONSENSE. I do not know any such law prevails here in India.

    Regarding Modi, due to that specific incident I do not have any love for him but as a CM he has done a lot for the development of the Gujarat state , as on today the state and its people including Muslims are considered most prosperous in India. He has won his last two elections with absolute majority and about 15% Muslims of Gujarat voted for him in the elections. The case of Modi is before our SC and if he is found guilty he would be punished as per our law. This is sure.

  • Narain Rana

    Total Muslims killed in riots in India since our Independence are killed in just one month in different sectarian killings in Pakistan . How many sias are killed daily there? Take care of your own country men first then think about Gujaratis.

  • Manoj Tiwari

    Mr. Aijaz Zaka Syed, you have deliberately hide the reasons for such riots in Gujarat. Though I am not advocating such sins but unfortunately that was wild reaction for burning alive about 60 Hindu Pilgrims in Godhara. Had you started your article highlighting the start of the game I would have considered your article unbiased. Any how, still rule of law exists here but what about on that side Mr. Syed? Perpetrators of 170 innocent people killed in Mumbai which included around 80 Muslims are roaming freely there , do you have courage to ask your Govt to take action against Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim as you are asking for Mr. Modi. It is very easy to raise finger on others remember four of your remaining fingers points towards you.

    Manoj Tiwari (Vadodara/ Gujarat)

  • Anonymous

    No doubt we shall see more mindless violence as long as we continue to see a Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Christian before seeing a human being – a creation of the Almighty varying just in the manner chosen to acknowledge the Almighty. There is no moral high ground for any party here….

  • Gan

    Today 22 shias are bombed, the author is silent. When arabs beat the asian muslims, he is quiet. Because when a muslim kills another muslim that is halal. If a muslim gets killed in India, that is haraam. Typical fanatic, intolerant muslim mindset.

  • Timudgin_1

    Mr.Modi didn’t do anything . Did he ask Brainwashed Muslims to burn 60 innocent Hindu pilgrims along with the train ? No…..Those Muslims were ignorant, couldn’t see the future consequence . Still thanks to Mr.Modi ,Muslims are there in the most developed state of Gujuart and flourish ….Otherwise….

  • Sajeed

    I am a Gujarati Muslim and very surprised to read an article on Gujarat riots with some distorted facts. We have been living here with our Hindu brothers very peacefully since centuries. Please do not worry for us we would solve the issue ourselves. Accidents do happens in life, it is better to forget the past to save the future. It was a blunder from both sides. Some misguided youths killed some pilgrims without anticipation its consequences. That was created by Political leaders of both sides to gain the political mileage from it. Any how , we have full confidence on our judicial system which is handling the case.
    Regarding Mr. Modi, I think outsiders are taking more interest in him than us. As an administrator is genius. My dear friends being a Gujarati I do not any restrictions are here for us to sell our properties may be you while in Pakistan know better than us. It is better to do the homework before becoming a laughing stock…….

    Sajeed Patel, (Ahmadabad)

    • Hari Singh

      Thanks Sajeed bahee for pointing towards the crocodile tears being shed in favor of Indian Muslims.You are a true Indian. Hats off to you.

  • M.Saeed

    Although the confidential report of Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Indian Supreme Court on Gujarat Riots had not indicted Narendra Modi for the riots due to lack of evidence, but had noted with concern his lassitude and attempt to water down the seriousness of the situation.
    According to “The Hindu”, Modi implicitly justified the killings of Muslims, and failed to condemn the attacks on them.
    The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had demanded an investigation into the publication of the report, claiming the leak was politically motivated.

    The SIT report failed to find answers to many intriguing questions relating to Ehsan Jafri case, saying that the Team had found no evidence against Narendra Modi. It would be remembered that, Ehsan Jafri was an ex-Parliamentarian, who was burnt to death in his own home by a group of unknown rioters during the Gujarat riots of 2002. He had been a respected trade unionist, and one of the top officials of the Congress Party, in Gujarat.

    • Hari Singh

      Riots are riots whether it happens in KARACHI or in Gujarat. Mr. Saeed could you please tell us how many in Pakistan have been punished for the riots in Karachi where 1000s of innocent are killed every year? Please do not go on the sensational stories of News Papers. Court of law believes in evidences only.

  • Some

    Very typical article . All same – Modi, Ayodhya, BJP, Fasict Hindu

  • Atique

    Modi is in effect “Hitler” of the 21st century.

  • Atique

    I respect your comments as a baloch. I sincerely hope Kayani, new ISI chief and the rulers make every effort to win the hearts and minds of our baloch brothers. We need to change our attitude and realise that we are pakistani first.

    • Hari singh

      First you decide among yourselves who is HITLER. Whose his own house is not in order should not raise fingers on others. Just read below the comments of one Mr. Sajeed from Gujarat , he says ” Regarding Mr. Modi, I think outsiders are taking more interest in him than us”. Is it not sincere advice from Indian Muslims to other …….

      • Sheraz

        Interesting comment, but if we talk about the facts things will go wrong way and that no one wants. But Indian hindus and for sure Sikh community’s influence in Pakistan is a major cause of the unrest majorly in NWFP and Baluchistan even in Sindh. We have evidence but when ever it comes to India’s throat your PM travels to US to get help and to pressurise Pakistan. Way to Go Indians but I bet even in this situation Pakistan is much better in all respect than India.

  • truth is bitter

    Locked in their ghettos and deprived of basic amenities, they find themselves totally marginalised and ostracised – politically, economically and socially….

    This ghetto is created by the muslims themselves. Even in UK, where there is no Modi, muslims are the most backward people. They are most without jobs and living on the state handouts. They also live in poor areas.
    Will you also blame the hindus and jews for the poverty of the muslims here in UK?