Conspiracy Against the Conspirator Himself, What an Irony

29 Feb

By Ishaal Zehra

On February 22, 2016 nearly all the media carried the same headlines quoting Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India as saying, “(Some people) could not digest the simple fact as to how a tea vendor went on to become Prime Minister. This has not gone down well with them… their only aim is how to finish Modi, how to destabilise Modi government and how to throw muck on Modi”. Quite interesting, the man who is famous for hatching conspiracies against Muslims in India is complaining about being conspired against.

February is the month where in the year 2002 the Gujarat riots occurred. It was a devastating three-day period of communal violence in Gujarat by extremist Hindus under the guidance and command of Narinder Modi. More than 2,000 Muslims were murdered, and tens of thousands rendered homeless in carefully planned and coordinated attacks of unprecedented savagery. The Guardian reported that the slayers of Muslims were even seen smashing the heads of children against rocks.

 

The riots began after some 60 Hindu pilgrims died when a train carrying them was set on fire. On 27 February 2002, the Sabarmati Express train was stopped outside Godhra station because of the emergency chain being pulled. The train was then attacked and four coaches were burned by a large mob. It has been alleged that the attack was the result of a conspiracy hatched by local Muslims. 58 people, including some Hindu pilgrims who were returning from the holy city of Ayodhya, were said to be trapped and killed in the burning train.

 

Interestingly it took Government of Gujarat only 10 hours to declare that the burning of S6 Coach of Sabarmati Express at Godhra was the result of a pre-planned conspiracy to kill karsevaks but it took them another full year to name the fuel that was used to “burn down” the Coach. From the first charge-sheet to second and third by Noel Parmar, the second Investigation officer the fuel name was changed to petrol from kerosene. Another proof of the SIT being genuine was the guy named Ranjit Singh Patel, the key police witness in the Sabarmati train case, who spilled his beans in a sting operation carried out by Tehelka revealeing that he was paid Rs. 50 thousand to name Salim Panwala and two other accused at the behest of the Investigating Officer Shri Noel Parmer. This admission by Ranjit Patel demolishes his earlier statement before the Police that he had sold 140 litres of Petrol to Salim.

 

This incident is perceived as the trigger for the widespread riots that followed in Godhra as well as the rest of Gujarat in which more than two thousand individuals died, thousands more were rendered homeless and property worth hundreds of crores was lost.

On 21 May 2002 Gujarat government set up a commission to probe the train fire and the riots. That commission exonerated Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi over the deadly religious riots that followed the blaze. He was accused of failing to halt the religious violence and some opponents said he indirectly encouraged some of the Hindu rioters. But the commission dismissed these allegations. Obviously the state commission was set up with the intention of giving a clean chit to its state minister.

The twist came when Justice UC Banerjee submitted his report on 3 March 2006 saying the train fire was an accident. While Justice Nanavati’s report presented on 25 September 2008 described the train burning as a “conspiracy”. “There is absolutely no evidence to show that either the chief minister or any of the ministers in his council or police officers played any role in the Godhra incident,” Justice GT Nanavati had concluded in his report.

BBC News article quoted a senior police officer’s sworn statement to India’s Supreme Court who alleged that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in the state. Sanjiv Bhatt says he attended a meeting at which Mr. Modi is alleged to have said that the Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger.

Sanjiv Bhatt was a senior police officer in the Gujarat intelligence bureau during the 2002 riots.

In a sworn statement to the Supreme Court, he said that his position allowed him to come across large amounts of information and intelligence both before and during the violence, including the actions of senior administrative officials.

He also alleges that, in a meeting in the night before the riots, Mr. Modi told officials that the Muslim community needed to be taught a lesson following an attack on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims.

The Amicus report 2011 also strongly disagrees with the SIT’s view that no case against the Gujarat Chief Minister was made out. It says that only the cross-examination of senior Gujarat police officers, including Sanjiv Bhatt could establish whether the Chief Minister was innocent or guilty.

Significantly, the report also says that Mr. Bhatt’s statement was made probable by the presence of two Ministers in the Ahmedabad Police Control Room (PCR) at the time Muslims were being attacked. The killers may have been in touch with police and politicians.

In a sting carried out in 2007 by the weekly magazine Tehelka, politicians, businessmen, officials and policemen were caught on tape, delightedly recalling how they murdered and raped Muslims with the full imprimatur of their superiors.

That was all probably not enough, the SIT recommended closing the case against Mr. Modi on the grounds that police officer Bhatt, who was vital to fixing blame on the Chief Minister, was a controversial and unreliable witness. The SIT also concluded that there was no material on record to show interference by the two Ministers who were present in the PCR when Muslims were being attacked across Ahmedabad.

Defending himself against accusations over the 2002 riots, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi asserted that his government used its “full strength” to “do the right thing” and he had no guilty feeling.

In an interview to the newswire Reuters later, he said people had the “right to be critical in a democracy,” but he did not have any guilty feeling. He said he was sad about the riots, adding he would be sad even if a “puppy” came under a car…”. “People have a right to be critical. We are a democratic country. Everyone has his own view,” he said.

Pankaj Mishra very well described the situation in the land called India. In his article in ‘The guardian’ he says, “In any case, the non-recurrence of 2002-style killings in India provides little reason to credit its elites with heightened tolerance and compassion. Left behind by economic growth, Muslims are more demoralised and depressed than ever; and the country’s extreme inequalities, often enforced with violence, express themselves in new forms, ranging from suicides by tens of thousands of farmers, to militant insurgencies. Old-style rioting has been replaced by state terrorism, often cheer-led by the elites.

Sad Indeed!

 

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