People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 04, 2007
GUJARAT GENOCIDE 2002:
THE tehelka sting operation on the Gujarat communal massacres has, once again, shocked the nation. It reconfirmed, if ever such a reconfirmation was necessary, that what happened in Gujarat in 2002 was, indeed, a State-sponsored communal genocide. The 14 main characters in the sting operation have, in graphic detail, explained how they executed cold-blooded massacres and killings and how the State machinery, particularly the State police, not only supported them but, on occasions, actively participated in these communal pogroms.
Those who boastfully spoke of their accomplishments, on camera, narrated the inhuman barbarity that the communal forces are capable of. One of the main accused in the Naroda Patiya massacre, in which officially 89 people were killed, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi (now with the Shiv Sena) describes in chilling detail how he slit open a pregnant woman and destroyed the foetous. Another, Madan Chawal, accused in the Gulbarg society massacre where officially 39 were killed describes revoltingly of how a former Congress MP, Ehsan Jaffri, was chopped to pieces before being set on fire. All this happened in broad daylight with the police remaining mere spectators! Another, Dhimant Bhatt, presently the Chief Auditor of MS University, Baroda, revealed that at a meeting in the presence of the BJP, RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and other communal organisations, chief minister Modi gave them three days to do whatever they wanted to `avenge’ the deaths in the Godhra train fire.
These blood-curling revelations, once again, reconfirmed what many of us saw first hand in 2002. Even constitutional bodies like National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Election Commission had then gone on record indicting the state administration. The NHRC Report of May 2002 concludes by stating that, “There was a comprehensive failure of the State to protect the constitutional rights of the people of Gujarat”.
On the night of February 28, 2002, a People’s Front delegation consisting of Shabana Azmi, Raj Babbar, Amar Singh and myself had rushed to Ahmedabad. Our experience that night was, indeed, horrifying. The drive from the airport to the city was like travelling in a war zone. The massacre at Naroda Patiya was just about to begin. We spent much of the time in hearing terrible experiences and woes of the people at the state guest house. They bemoaned the total lack of intervention by the police. We went to the Police Commissioner’s office only to find it deserted. The Police Commissioner never came to the office the whole night despite having the knowledge of a delegation of MPs waiting for him. Mercifully, the Election Commission has now shifted him from his responsibilities for the forthcoming assembly elections.
The impression gathered by the delegation was that under instructions 'some people' were being 'taught a lesson' to avenge the Godhra deaths. Indeed, that was what was happening in the genocide in Gujarat. Further, we were informed that since people were familiar with our views and recognise us, it would be prudent not to move around the city. When enquired if this was a warning being issued, we were informed that we were being acquainted with the 'ground realities'! This, however, did not prevent the delegation in doing whatever little that was possible under these circumstances. This narration confirms the fact that not only did the state administration fail to comprehensively protect the rights of the people, as NHRC concluded, but it actually connived in sponsoring the communal massacre.
Today, five years later, the cases of these crimes continue to languish in the courts. This is turning out to be a severe indictment on the efficacy of our justice delivery system. In fact, Babu Bajrangi is, on record, stating that the CM got him out of jail and kept on changing judges to protect him. Justice Nanavati who, alongwith Justice Shah, is still probing this massacre told the media that he was unable to watch the sting broadcast on the Aaj Tak channel as it was mysteriously taken off air. The same was echoed by many across the state. In Ahmedabad, the district collector issued written orders asking the cable operators to stop broadcast of the channels showing the sting videos. However, Justice Nanavati said that, “Prima facie, it appears we can take cognisance of what those caught on camera were saying”.
This must be done as all the incidents described in the sting operation are pending before the courts for justice. These details must be admitted as evidence and deliverance of justice must be expedited. It is high time that the central government should intervene to ensure that justice is delivered. After all the UPA was formed to protect and strengthen the secular foundations of modern India. It is impermissible to allow the perpetrators of such ghastly crimes to go unpunished even five years after the crimes were committed.
The graphic details of the sting operation, once again, drives home the fact that the communal forces have no scruples for basic human values. Sharpening communal polarisation for political benefit at the expense of death, destruction and misery is their staple diet. Not only is their methodology mercilessly inhuman but their agenda is diabolic. This agenda is to seek the transformation of modern secular democratic Indian republic into a rabidly intolerant fascistic `Hindu Rashtra’. It is this diabolic agenda that needs to be defeated which is the primary prerequisite for the building of a prosperous and vibrant modern India.