BJP and Congress in the Dock for Communal Violence

By Ram Puniyani,

The interrogation of Narendra Modi by SIT, appointed by Supreme Court was a major landmark in the investigation of Gujarat carnage. Over a period of years the gradual erosion of democratic values has led the situation to a sorry pass where the Gujarat related cases had to be shifted out of Gujarat, and finally even Supreme Court had to step in, to take charge of investigation of the brutal killing of Congress MP Ahsan Jafri, who was brutally massacred by a mob. Jafri had made multiple calls, and the top police official Pandey had visited the place few hours before the tragedy took place. Congress was totally helpless as the total chain of command from local level to the central level was controlled by the BJP.

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Modi did try to create some more haloes around his head by appearing for being questioned. There were reports that he was to appear in front of SIT on 21st March, SIT Chief R K Raghavan stated on March 11 that Modi was summoned to appear before SIT for questioning on March 21. The SIT office was kept open the whole day but the chief minister did not turn up. Contrary to this fact Modi lashed out on the media and ‘vested interests’ saying they are trying to defame Gujarat (for Modi, Gujarat is Modi and Vice versa). Now those demanding the justice for the victims of Gujarat carnage are presented as vested interests. This statement of his was hardly challenged by anyone. SIT kept quiet about it and it sounded as if he carried the day. Truth is the contrary, the SIT office was kept open for him. And who has vested interests in Gujarat, those using religion to come to power or those human rights activists who are struggling for the rights of minorities which are being reduced to second class citizenship?

Modi presented himself to SIT in grand style and this was pronounced as a political victory for him. It was claimed that the faith of BJP workers went up in his leadership. Now what does one say to this? Does fulfilling a legal obligation tantamount to political victory? This formulation was deliberately floated to hide the ignominy of a Chief Minister having to appear before an investigating agency for the first time in India. A matter of shame projected as political victory! Only the followers of Gobbels can do it for sure.

Whenever BJP is caught with blood on its hands or doing partiality or discrimination the first thing it does is to deflect the issue by citing other cases with some parallels. If one talks of rehabilitation for victims of communal violence, the rhetoric is what about Kashmiri Pundits? As if two wrongs make a right! The comparison of Gujarat carnage is immediately done with the anti Sikh pogrom of 1984. Of course there are lot of similarities between the anti Sikh pogrom and the anti Muslim Gujarat carnage, but there are many a differences also. By all accounts it seems the anti Sikh pogrom; equally tragic was a spontaneous one while Gujarat carnage in all probability was a preplanned one, using the train burning of Godhra as a pretext for the violence. The dead bodies of victims of train burning were deliberately paraded on the streets of Ahmedabad, under full glare of TV cameras, top level meetings were held instructing officers concerned to let the Hindus vent their anger and the rest is too well known to be recounted.

Congress can never be exonerated from the cruel role it played in the anti Sikh pogrom. There is an interesting sidelight to the tragic pogrom also. What was BJP doing when the pogrom was underway? About this some inference can be drawn from the article by the then veteran RSS worker Nanaji Deshmukh. In his article in Hindi magazine Pratipaksh ‘Moments of Soul searching’, which was written in 1984, in the wake of Anti Sikh pogrom, Deshmukh blames the Sikh community for the murder of Indira Gandhi and advices Sikhs to keep patience and tolerance while they were being butchered. One can draw one’s own inference about the role of followers of this ideology.

All said and done, Congress workers played pro active to passive role during this pogrom for three full days after which military took over and brought this insanity to a halt. Babu Bajrangi and others involved in the massacres in Gujarat told Tehelka, sting operation, that they had been given three days to complete the retaliation. But here the processes were so complex that the violence went on and on for a painfully long period.

Tavleen Singh a senior journalist, points out that if Rajiv would have to face SIT, the Gujarat violence would not have taken place. There is some truth in that as by now the section of political groups have known the rewards of unleashing these murders, Rajiv came back to power with largest majority ever for Congress and Modi has returned to power twice after the carnage. As a matter of fact, culprits of most of the acts of communal violence have generally not been punished. The chain of command culpability is not there and while most of the perpetrators of communal violence get away with the crime, the top one’s who are really behind the violence are hardly touched as their culpability is not direct.

A demand is coming up from a section of Sikh community that a similar SIT should be formed for the anti Sikh pogrom also. The demand has all the merit, despite the lapse of long years after the pogrom. While one does not hope BJP can keep aloof from communal politics, one hopes Congress gets over its crime of 1984 in an honest way. Congress, despite its serious fallacies, is not a child of organization like RSS, which is opposed to Indian Democracy and Constitution and wants a Hindu nation. Congress needs to get over such tendencies lurking within its massive umbrella, those who are there despite no faith in the values of freedom movement. This needs to be sorted out and Congress needs to come out clean from this murky past. Justice must be done to all irrespective of whose victims they had been.

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