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Of Godhra and Gujarat – Part II

20 November 2007 307 views 29 Comments

A few days ago I came across this piece by Kishore Asthana which makes a number of important points that form the backdrop to Godhra.

I am reproducing some excerpts below but I would encourage you to read the article in full: Tehelka�s Gujarat Expose and the Deeper Truth

Excerpts (emphasis mine):

“……Look at the progression. Arguments with tea vendors and rumours of kidnapping lead a Muslim mob to burn 60 people alive. The burning of 60 Hindu pilgrims results in carnage all over the state. It is a case of a petty incident leading to gross over-reaction, leading to a grosser over-reaction. It does not need too much intelligence to fix the blame where it belongs.

Babulal Bajrangi was a mere symptom of the disease. The underlying causes are our lopsided politics of division along caste and religion and our skewed perception of the word �secular� since our independence.

…The lessons the mind draws from all this are chilling. They are at many levels:

The Resentments � Lesson no. 1 – It is obvious that there is deep resentment amongst Hindu s at their treatment by Muslims who are emboldened by India �s secular nature and its liberal intelligentsia. Hindus view themselves as the subjugated people of India and are constantly reminded of this by the politicians and the media. I am talking of the �average� Hindu who eventually matter and not the urban Hindu intelligentsia who show remarkable unawareness of their own double standards.

Imagine a group of Muslims returning from the Haj, in Lahore . They are on a train and are chanting Allah O Akbar. The train stops at a station, some of the Hajis fight with a Hindu tea vendor, and a mob of 1,000 Hindus collects and stones and torches the train. Would such a scenario be feasible in Pakistan ? No. But, in India , the reverse is easily accepted and no one appears to question the mindset of the Muslim leaders who encourage this or the Muslim mob which acts in this manner with seeming impunity.

Hindu s are not even permitted to enter Mecca but Muslims lay a claim to Ayodhya, the Mecca of the Ram Bhakts. All this births dissonance in the Hindu mind and the pressure keeps building up.

The Consequences : Lesson no. 2 � When the cork is blown open by an incident like Godhra, people like Babu Bajrangi and his ilk emerge, monster-like, fattened on this resentment. Once the Djinn is out of the bottle, there is no saying what will happen. We must learn to identify and neutralise such Djinns before they emerge from the bottle or, better still, not even give them an opportunity to take birth.

The Deeper Truth: Lesson no. 3 -. The deeper truth is that such resentments are building up all over India. The pressures of modern living, the proliferation of the media and its populist feeding frenzy, the minority- appeasing manipulations of political parties, the subversion of the bureaucracy and other such factors ensure that the detonator is well primed, the fuel is available; the cynical facilitators are all in place and only the trigger is needed.

Emotional Integration: The need, today, is for a quest for Emotional Integration. For this to come about, it is essential to face some unpalatable truths and come to grips with some very important and difficult to implement matters:

a. Primacy to the Indian Constitution over religious laws:

b. Sensitivity towards the feelings of the Hindu faithful: …In 50 years of independence, should our leaders not have ensured this by peaceful, legal means? If they had paid half as much attention to Hindu concerns as they pay to the concerns of minorities, it would have been enough…Instead, Hindu s have been taken for granted and the minorities pampered, with catastrophic results as far as the average Hindu �s mindset is concerned.

c. Ending the Politics of Appeasement: Special privileges � subsidies for pilgrimages, reservations in jobs, scholarships to minority students etc. need to be stopped. A secular state must only give special privileges only to citizens who are in financial need at this time.

d. A more responsible media: This needs no elaboration.

e. A quicker and more effective law enforcement and judicial system: When the citizens start thinking that mobs must do what the state is incapable or unwilling to do, then we have the Gujarat riots, the lynching of criminals in our towns and villages and even encounter deaths. This kind of disproportionate retaliation is a hallmark of frustration of the citizens with the legal machinery.

f. Imposition of minimum qualifications and law-abiding record for our legislators.

g. Improvement in our education system to promote self-esteem and regard for our nation-hood. Our education delivery system is pathetic and does not inculcate desirable values in our young. It does not encourage the feeling of emotional integration with others.

Our education by rote and the politicised, Eurocentric curriculum is playing havoc with national self-esteem. Neglect of teaching as the most important profession in the country has made matters worse.

…In its vigilantism, Tehelka has focused on events, rather than deeper causes. However, all Indians must look deeper, into our own selves and at our politicians, media, judges and bureaucracy, if we have to avoid more bloodshed in the name of religion.

***
A slightly edited version also appeared here.

Comments, thoughts and suggestions welcome as always. I think this is too important a matter to be left for�the media alone.

Related Posts:

Of Godhra and�Gujarat

Join the discussion on Islam, Hindutva, Dr Zakir Naik,�Godhra�and

Perverse secularism and India�s�future

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29 Comments »

  • 1. Ashish said:

    I read the article. Good read.

    Two points:

    1. Continuing the author’s line of thought: the Hindu backlash (and I am not condoning it) was caused by the Mulla/Marxist/Missionary/psec-sponsored bottling up of Hindu feelings under a constant barrage of anti-Hindu propaganda ie:

    a. The parading of exclusivist cult lies as the truth (“there is only one way to God – and that God too we will onlee define. Join us or be an infidel, our enemy”),

    b. The belittling and sweeping-under-the-carpet of Hindu achievements (how many know that Aryabhatta calculated the diameter of the earth – and that to within leass than 1% of the NASA value today- *at least* 1000 yrs before Galileo came around? Why does everybody call the number system “Arabic” when even the *Arabs* call it “Hindsa” ie “from India”: see hinduwisdom, linked in the right margin of this page).

    Man, every ethnic group tries to glorify its smallest achievement. And Hindus are made to think it is some kind of taboo to talk about what ancient Hindus did….

    2. Like I had said somewhere (back in the days right after the Gujarat riots):
    In the late 90s, in Los Angeles a black guy was beaten up (in full view of the camera) by 2 white police officers. Kicked, repeatedly, for a couple minutes. That was the provocation for 2 weeks of massive looting in LA.

    What would have happened if a busload of exclusively black people – 50 of them- were waylaid and burnt alive by a mob of exclusively white people shouting racist slogans?

    ——-

    We need to get the truth about everything out in a businesslike manner, and learn to face it. There will be no reconciliation without that.

    Start with India’s History: that is the most relevant place to start.

  • 2. B Shantanu said:

    Ashish: Thanks for a thought-provoking comment.

    Re. point 2, I have a post that is half-ready on the achievements of ancient Indians in science and mathematics.

    Some of you would also find these links interesting:

    Does no one remember the Indian contribution to Technology?

    Does no one remember the Hindu contribution to Mathematics?

    …and by the way, completely agree with your point re. History.

    Unfortunately, we seemed to have placed truth somewhere lower down in the list of priorities when studying our past.

    See e.g. Lies and half-truths in the name of national integration

    Taj Mahal: The Biggest Whitewash in Indian History?

  • 3. Munish said:

    Being raised in USA (born in India), I am not familiar with all the references in the article. So from “layman’s” point of view, I’ve come to the conclusion over time that the Indian gov’t does not want to serve the best interests of Hindus. There seems to be ample evidence vis-a-vis gov’t laws/actions/rulings, the types of leaders that are in gov’t, and the preferences given to non-Hindu groups over Hindu groups. The media also seems to be dominated by “secularists”, socialists, and atheists.

    I wonder, given these circumstances, what can be done outside of gov’t to celebrate and perpetuate the Hindu religion within India (it’s sad that such a thing needs to be said about India).

    One thing I could think of, is to establish hundreds, thousands of private schools that teach the history of India (not the western-ized history), the religious/spiritual underpinnings of Hinduism, and of course the modern necessities such as science/mathematics/computers/finance. These private schools must have as their audience children from kindergarten to college, people of all castes, and people of all economic classes. There is no untouchable. These schools should inculcate the rich heritage of India leading to pride in one’s self as Hindu. All forms of extreme (either left or right) should be prohibited.

    I freely admit, it is easier said than done (especially opining from here in the USA).

    After a period of time (hopefully not too late), these people will go out into the agricultural, academic, business, and political worlds in India with a “sense of being Hindu”. And thus influence direction of India in such a manner. (As an aside, I argue much the same for any country regarding its own culture.) At no point should there unjust actions by Hindus upon any other groups in India.

    I point to my parents as examples. They are not zealots but deeply religious nonetheless. They can cite verses from Ramayan and Gita for almost any situation. They know all the religious significance (such as rituals, dates). This is the life of the poor farming family but grounded in a solid understanding and practice of Hinduism.

  • 4. Patriot said:

    Curiouser and curiouser:
    The Congress defends the TV ban of the Ahmedabad collector

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Centre_defends_ban_on_Gujarat_riots_expose/rssarticleshow/2580160.cms

    Although, I think this has relevance to the freedom of expression discussion, as well.

  • 5. Indian said:

    Hi Shantanu

    http://www.jaia-bharati.org/nicole-elfi/ni-godhra-ang.htm

    In case if you haven’t came across this link.

  • 6. B Shantanu said:

    Update from SIT – via Swapan Dasgupta.

    Also read, Sandeep’s take on this and finally, some more links here (Thanks to Indian)

  • 7. K. Harapriya said:

    @Shantanu: I read Swapan Dasgupta report on the SIT findings. Teeta does not owe only Gujarat an apology, she owes one to all Hindus.

  • 8. Nanda said:

    Not just to Hindus, she owes it for all Indians worldwide. Her fetus theory is being propagated from alaska to tokyo as one of many such incidents during carnage, defaming image of mother India.

  • 9. Indian said:

    More update on Teesta Setalvad.

    http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=287&page=4

    Above link says: The findings of the SIT have exposed the mischief spread by Setalvad who paraded the so-called Gujarat riot victims before the whole world claiming that the state was not giving them justice.

    Now the evidences have put a question mark on their claims on raping and ripping Kasur Bano’s stomach (Teesta might have picked up the idea from a James Hadley Chase novel The Last Three Digits) killing the foetus.

    It is understandable that the UPA found this lady worthy for the Padma award. The SIT has concluded that the alleged grisly incident of dumping dead bodies into a well in Naroda Patiya and the macabre rape and murder incident about Kasur Bano which hit headlines for many days actually never take place. The SIT further concluded that no corroborative evidence has been found to establish any of the allegations the NGO was propagating with vicious ferocity. Same is the conclusion of the SIT on Gulbarga Society, in which police was accused of complicity. These evidences have clearly besmirched whatever little credibility was left of the notorious NGO and its promoters. But what is immediately needed is to charge these Goebbelsian liars with perjury and more stringent punishments.

    Their cohorts in the media and politics should be asked to apologise to the nation and shut up.

  • 10. Indian said:

    By Salil: Seriously? The guy who could not handle riots and worse, is suspect of actually instigating them?The very fact that riots happened over 100 towns and 900 villages for days killing thousands indicates that the govt. was unable to handle them. I didnt say Modi was responsible, but his reputation & role in the matter isn’t completely spotless. Comparing the riots to 26/11 is futile because that was a completely different issue altogether——

    Oh ya! burning of train boggy by a mob belonging to a one particular community is completely different issue altogether than 26/11 Right!

    By now many have learned by heart the numbers and details of Gujarat riots. You ask them simple question, whole abc of Gujarat riots will come out like a twittering of parrot. As if they were present during riots in Gujarat when things unfolded. But soon shows ignorance if someone point out them Godhra train carnage. .

    Forget about how many got killed in train carnage. Do they know how many innocent got killed in terrorists attack by now? How many jawan sacrificed their life in such attack? How many terror attack in India till now?

    Govt failed, because Gujarat was shocked by what happened at Godhra railway station. Never thought public will be so angry and will take the law and order in their hands.

    Gujarat is in the border and there are no less people in Gujarat working for our neighbour country. If N. Modi is vigilant than its for the people of Gujarat its none of the business other than Gujaratis. Right!

  • 11. Salil said:

    @Indian:

    The original comment of mine was to question a statement “Vote only if Modi becomes PM” which I found rather audacious (which later was clarified as a typo). The second line about the details of the riots was a response to a comment which asked me to clarify why I said that Modi was not able to handle the riots. Other than this I had no intention of discussing Godhra or the riots.

    Oh ya! burning of train boggy by a mob belonging to a one particular community is completely different issue altogether than 26/11 Right!

    By justifying the riots with the burning of the train bogie is replying to a wrong with another wrong. Nowhere in my comment did I mention the train burning at Godhra. But from where did you get the idea that I condone it?

    I called 26/11 a different issue as compared to riots. By bringing in other terrorist attacks you’re simply pushing a straw man argument.

    By now many have learned by heart the numbers and details of Gujarat riots.

    I dont know numbers by heart, I simply looked up the facts online to justify my reply to that comment which asked for clarification.

    Govt failed, because Gujarat was shocked by what happened at Godhra railway station. Never thought public will be so angry and will take the law and order in their hands.

    It was the duty of Modi’s govt to punish those responsible for Godhra train burning AND to prevent the public from taking the law into their hands. My only point was that the govt failed. But you’re providing the justification for that failure.

    If N. Modi is vigilant than its for the people of Gujarat its none of the business other than Gujaratis.

    I’m all for vigilance but I disagree that it is only Gujarat’s business. It is the business of every Indian. Vigilance to me means being able to prevent terrorist attacks or Godhra like incidents but vigilance does not mean dealing with riots the way the govt did.

  • 12. Rohit said:

    It seems that Narendra Modi inherited a perfect world and society where we was given something like Satyuga and then he made it a Kaliyuga. I don’t see the same measured response for Rajeev, Sonia as Secular Congressis butchered people with faith native to this nation in a city which is called as Capital of Nation, fortified with Army, Police, CBI, IB, RAW, CID.

  • 13. Salil said:

    Does every criticism of Modi indicate allegiance to Congress? And does any mention of riots in one part of India *have* to be justified with riots in another part?

  • 14. Rohit said:

    The broader point to be inferred is that there are two issues here, religion and governance.

    Some people do not address the issue involving faith, taking into realities of faith. There is a pent up anger in society due to propaganda/ activities of monolithic religions. This is a fact.

    Some people do not address issues related to governance based on realities of governance. We have created the one of the worst governance machinery of the world. Every political party comes to power based on caste, religion, language politics. This is a fact.

    Gujrat issue needs to be addressed at macro level realities and not micro level realities.

    I as an individual, assess the overall contribution of a person based on realities of our nation, towards the nation, for the nation and Narendra Modi is a great leader.

  • 15. Salil said:

    Some people do not address the issue involving faith, taking into realities of faith. There is a pent up anger in society due to propaganda/ activities of monolithic religions. This is a fact.

    While I agree with you that there is rising anger “due to propaganda of monolithic religions”, there is also anger among the otherwise innocent members of these same religions. Organizations like SIMI and IM recruit their members on the basis of “revenge for Babri demolition and Gujarat riots” and generate anger among people who would normally have nothing to do with religion & politics. Of course, each side will go on a they-started-it-first campaign, but eventually it is only the innocents who die in bomb blasts & riots. So pent up anger is a fact, but it is not an excuse.

  • 16. Indian said:

    @Salil

    —-I’m all for vigilance but I disagree that it is only Gujarat’s business. It is the business of every Indian. Vigilance to me means being able to prevent terrorist attacks or Godhra like incidents but vigilance does not mean dealing with riots the way the govt did.—-

    Good that you recognized every Indian business. Its still not decided how his govt acted during riots. Once it is out and he found guilty you can say as much as you want. But we will defend him till then, anyone scoring points by referring Gujarat and Gujarat riots for every petty reason to undermines his work.

    So we must stop being vigilant if we were unsuccessful once or twice. Is that you mean by Vigilant? and when was last riot happened in Gujarat after Godhara that he was not able to deal with it?

  • 17. Salil said:

    Its still not decided how his govt acted during riots. Once it is out and he found guilty you can say as much as you want.

    True, innocent till proved guilty. However it is a major issue of concern when the govt’s role itself is questioned, not by any opposition party but by the Supreme Court.

    So we must stop being vigilant if we were unsuccessful once or twice. Is that you mean by Vigilant?

    You know I didn’t mean that “we must stop being vigilant if we were unsuccessful once or twice” if I never said so in the first place.

    and when was last riot happened in Gujarat after Godhara that he was not able to deal with it?

    If you are saying that no riots since then have taken place since 2002 because of Modi’s measures, then good for him. But Gujarat 2002 was not a single incident but a series of riots which caused irreparable damage to his reputation as being capable of controlling them.

  • 18. B Shantanu said:

    Do read Uday Mahurkar’s well-written piece in India Today, in particular, the chart at the end of the article.

  • 19. B Shantanu said:

    A brief excerpt from Close aide blows whistle on Teesta by Navin Upadhyay:

    In a letter dated September 1 to SIT chief RK Raghavan, SC judge DK Jain and HS Vora, Judge Special Designated Court (SIT), Ahmedabad, Khan said, “I wish to give a statement to SIT to clarify my position on such baseless allegations and (I am) also willing to disclose how innocent witnesses and victims were misguided by Teesta Setalvad to wrongly testify before many courts.” A copy of the letter is with The Pioneer.

    In the past, Khan had also alleged that the CJP, a Mumbai-based NGO, was instrumental in organising payment of `1 lakh each to as many as 10 witnesses in various post-Godhra riot cases. The money came from the CPI(M) relief fund and was distributed months before the witnesses deposed in the courts, five years after the clashes took place. Four other eyewitnesses received `50,000 each.

    On August 20 this year, the SIT had accused Teesta of interfering with the trial by threatening a public prosecutor (PP).

  • 20. Sid said:

    Shantanu,
    Forget Godhra, try to look at the new trouble brewing in the bay of Bengal –
    KG’s twitter:
    http://twitter.com/KanchanGupta/status/23243132978

    Full details:
    http://hinduexistence.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/deganga-burning-by-the-bengal-jehadi-tension-increased-7-killed-in-military-firing/

    And no news in the secular media.

  • 21. Malavika said:

    Here is another piece of news from Guj.

    “Partisan CBI gunning for Gujarat cops: Johri to SC”

    “The political taint attached to the CBI probe into the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter investigation has got murkier with IPS officer Geetha Johri accusing the agency of selectively targeting cops from the BJP-ruled Gujarat while sparing seven cops from the Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh from the probe ambit. ”

    http://www.dailypioneer.com/281646/Partisan-CBI-gunning-for-Gujarat-cops-Johri-to-SC.html

    This judge Tarun Chaterjee, who ordered CBI probe into Sohrabuddin encounter was himself under CBI scanner for his alleged role in pf scam of Gaziabad.

  • 22. B Shantanu said:

    The news that did not make the headlines:

    New Delhi, October 26
    The Supreme Court today vacated the stay on the delivery of judgments by the trial courts in the cases relating to the 2002 riots in Gujarat even as the Special Investigation Team (SIT) indicated that there was no evidence against Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the killing of former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffrey. The SIT had questioned Modi in two marathon sessions in March this year

  • 23. ashok said:

    Dear Shantanu!! I tried to read the full article Godhra Expose and the Truth following the link above . It lead me to Takshashila but I could not locate the article. Can you help ???

  • 24. Indian said:

    @Ashwin

    Do you know this?

    —-Bharatiya Janata Party has come to power in Gujarat’s Godhra Municipality with the support of as many as seven independent Muslim candidates, who are elected from Muslim areas of Godhra.

    There could be an equation of Congress+independents, as most of the independents are Muslims, and it is traditionally believed that Muslims would support Congress. However the Muslims decided to support BJP.——

    This is fact! not a media story!

  • 25. B Shantanu said:

    Do read Sandeep’s Op-ed in The Pioneer Verdict a blow to bogus activism from which some excerpts:
    But what many missed is the fact that the discourse was perverted ab initio. The coach-burning was blamed on the dead kar sevaks because they ‘invited’ their deaths by chanting “Jai Sri Ram,” which Muslims found “provocative”.
    It is unsurprising then that the subsequent pontification, statements of outrage and calls for justice have been extensions of the same theme, and spawned what has come to be known as the ‘Gujarat Cottage Industry’.

    This context is important because every instance of brazen activism by self-styled vigilantes of societal well-being has relied on two things: Obscuring the Godhra train-burning incident without which the riots would’ve never occurred, and concealing the fact that even Hindus died in the riots that followed.
    In parallel, these selfsame worthies have carried reports of violent clashes between the two communities but for some reason, only one of them has been shown as deserving justice.

    Then there was the Banerjee Report, the brainchild of a desperate-for-electoral-victory Lalu Prasad Yadav was stitched together in a hurry and provided the perfect arsenal to the proponents of lopsided justice. They claimed they had “official proof” that the fire was accidental. This report was cited widely and repeated a la Goebbels even after the courts struck down the very formation of the Banerjee Committee as unconstitutional to begin with. Yet, it continues to be peddled as “authentic”.

    It is nobody’s claim that the perpetrators of violence in Gujarat must go unpunished but what has been done by a certain section of do-gooders in the name of securing justice for the victims of the post-Godhra violence requires critical and thorough scrutiny.
    …The special court’s judgement on February 22 thus deserves credit for convicting the guilty, a rare occurrence in cases of mob violence. The fact that it upheld the Godhra train carnage as a premeditated conspiracy also confirms what Mr Narendra Modi and K Jana Krishnamurthy — the then BJP president — had stated back in 2002 on the basis of intelligence reports.

  • 26. Sid said:

    Read this Godhra report.

    What is happening to the eye-witnesses? One telling examples:

    The same train took her to Ahmedabad where she now lives with her younger sister. She has already got Rs.50,000 as relief and expects more. She told the team that she had heard certain Muslims saying that a lot of trouble was caused to them because of her narration of the Godhra tragedy and that she would be eliminated. A bomb was thrown into the room in which she was sleeping a day before the team met her. Fortunately, it did not explode. The matter was reported to the police who are investigating the case.

    What happened to the fire department?

    The Driver along with the firemen rushed towards the spot but on the way a mob led by Haji Balal, a Congress member of the Godhra Nagarpalika, stopped the vehicle and did not allow it to proceed any further. A tall well built young man stood in front of the vehicle. The mob started pelting stones at the vehicle. A fireman sitting in the front seat had to take shelter behind the driver. The headlights and the windowpanes of the vehicle got damaged. Fearing for his own and his crew’s life, the driver drove the vehicle through the mob, as it was not possible to move backwards. The mob gave in but by that time precious 15-20 minutes had been lost.

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is secularism for you.

  • 27. Julian said:

    <<>>

    Yeah okay there.

    Like they needed a Gujarat or Babri when the Kashmiri Muslims decided to genocide the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in 1989.

    Explain that Salil.

    What made them do that?

    Don’t give crappy excuses for Jihadi fanaticism.

  • 28. Salil said:

    Like they needed a Gujarat or Babri when the Kashmiri Muslims decided to genocide the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in 1989.

    Explain that Salil.

    I wish you could make your question more clear. I don’t know how the Kashmir genocide came in this discussion on Godhra.

  • 29. Moderator (author) said:

    *** COMMENT frm BharatWellWisher ***

    Dear Shantanu.

    My apologies for this OT post.Didn’t know where else it could go so posted it here.

    This is a link to a comprehensive site on Gujarat riots that i wished to share.

    http://www.gujaratriots.com

    Hope it can change public perception on Narendra Modi.

    Thank you

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