Ram Puniyani


There was a massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at that time. Yet there are agencies in India which find that Modi is not responsible for open brutality against the citizens of a minority community in his state.


After the Special Investigation Team appointed by Supreme Court submitted its report in December 2010, a front page headline in a leading daily announced that SIT gives a clean chit to Modi. This was picked up by a large section of the media to hail Modi being the man for progress of Gujarat. The industrialist’s chorus for Modi the potential Prime minster is on from last quite some time. This news of ‘clean chit’ to Modi gladdened the hearts of communal forces.  The social activists could not believe what they read. Number of Citizens inquiry Committee reports has already worked overtime to bring forward the truth of Gujarat carnage. It has been called as a state sponsored carnage by social activists for no reason. The ground work of activists, interacting with the hapless victims already had given the precise picture of what took place in Gujarat. There are scores of Citizens committee reports, and also the report of Peoples tribunal, led by the leading legal luminary who had concluded that the carnage went on the way it did due to the pro active involvement of Modi Government which gave it the horrific character.


Despite all the reports a substantial section of the popular perception looked at Modi in a favorable light. The way truth is undermined when it pertains to the minorities and weaker sections of society was clear in the case of Gujarat carnage. Though ‘social consciousness’ had some doubts that the carnage was not handled well, the major focus was shifted to Godhra carnage and the alleged role of Muslims was highlighted. This projected role of Muslims seemed to be giving justification to Hindus retaliating. Despite the Bannerjee Commissions report, saying that Godhra tragedy was not preplanned act by Muslims, in popular perceptions it could not make a dent as already the media and other propaganda machinery led by Modi had created the image of  aggressive Muslims burning the train.


Now with SIT coming to investigate some aspects of the carnage there was a hope amongst victims and social activists that the truth of Gujarat, the truth of the state sponsored carnage will finally come out and the guilty will be punished and victims will get justice. With this hope in the background when the perceptions were manufactured that SIT has given a clean chit to Modi, it was a fake and bitter pill for the victims and social activists doing their best to fight for the cause of justice. With so called news of SIT giving clean chit many further lost the faith in the system, with the feeling that probably this is end of the road for justice in this country.


Fortunately that is not the case. The Tehelka scoop (5th February 2011) clearly shows that the newspaper headline was a concoction. The scoop shows that the report has squarely put the blame of carnage on Modi. All the charges against him stand vindicated in the SIT investigation report. The report practically confirms all the findings of the people’s tribunal and other Citizens committees who painstakingly investigated the Gujarat violence and called it a pogrom. The SIT report submitted to the Supreme Court tells that Modi had tried to alter the situation in the Gulbarg society by saying, by now most infamous, ‘every action has equal and opposite reaction’. SIT report confirms that Gujarat Government had deputed ministers in the police control room, a move which gave the management of violence in the political hands making it more horrific and motivated act. It was a common knowledge that few honest police officers, who had stood by the call of their duty and prevented the aggravation of violence, were transferred to insignificant postings.


 With this scoop now it stands confirmed that the Gujarat Government had destroyed the records of wireless communication of the period of the violence. Modi did display a discriminatory attitude towards the victim minorities and he did not visit the riot affected areas or minority camps till quiet late during the carnage. Government appointed RSS affiliated lawyers in the sensitive riot cases. Modi did not take any steps to stop the Bandh call given by VHP and supported by BJP on 28th February, this move of VHP gave a big start to the massacre and the attitude of state to the bandh gave a signal to the rioters for doing what they did. SIT confirms that the officials tried to mislead the election commission in the wake of forth coming elections by projecting that there is peace and atmosphere is conducive for elections while the truth was that the violence was simmering in the society. Police has carried out extremely shoddy investigation of Naroda Patia and Gulbarg society cases.


There are diverse reactions to the report. The social activists are demanding that this is the sufficient ground for lodging FIR against Modi. The BJP on the contrary is more worried about investigating as to how the leak took place. Interestingly while today this party is demanding probe into the scoop, BJP and no one else raised the question when the news ‘SIT gives clean chit to Modi’ was highlighted! Nobody in their best wisdom asked a question as to when the report is confidential how come this headline in the newspapers? In a classic display of double standards BJP never questioned the first ‘leak’, as that suited its political purpose. Now when the boot is in the other foot the legality of scoop etc is being raised.


Meanwhile what is happening to the victim community? They have been browbeaten in to second class citizenship, ghettoization is going up by leaps and bounds, and the process of justice to victims of violence is prominent by its absence, the efforts of human rights activists succeeding in few cases, notwithstanding.


That raises the larger issue of how the popular perceptions are modulated, how the mass consciousness is manufactured in the society. Right since the Godhra train burning a particular view of events put across by the murderers is dominating the media world. Any doubts about the major erosion of the story have been treated with contempt by large sections of media. In the case of headline ‘SIT gives a clean chit to Modi’, the same perception was boosted that it is the minorities and social activists who are the cause of trouble. The social perceptions are very crucial in making the criminals of the of the ilk of Modi to rule with iron hand to and to keep getting re-elected despite having a huge stock of skeletons in the cupboard, despite there being blood on his hands.


In this battle for the minds of society the communal elements are having the major manipulating power at present. Goebbels is being outplayed in Gujarat. This whole episode should make us do the introspection as to how to ensure that ‘truth shall prevail’ in present circumstance. Also which are these forces, politics-media alliance which can manipulate the mass thinking at will by publishing that ‘SIT has given clean chit to Modi’? If we cannot wake up to this stark fact of our society, such popular perceptions  will be laying the ground for the mass murderers to keep ruling with the great appreciation form the communal forces and captains of industry and they can also manipulate the opinion of masses in their favor. 

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