“IT was a well planned ?genocide??, ?it was a ?pogrom??, ?it was state sponsored ?terrorism??, is what they had said in screaming headlines day-after-day in 2002 in Delhi based ?secular? English dailies and the ?secular? electronic media. So complete was the Goebbelsian propaganda and so effective was the concealment of truth, that even the Supreme Court lost its judicial balance and without verifying what steps the Government of Gujarat had taken, it went on to write on page 72 of its judgement in the Best Bakery Case that, ?The modern day Neros were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning ………..?.
It was media power at its worst that caused this unwarranted outburst from the Supreme Court. All the Gujarat language dailies were giving truthful accounts which were at complete variance with the Delhi based media.
The Hindu, the leading-most South India daily reported on March 1, 2002 : ?The Chief Minister Modi frantically asked for the Army units to be called in.? On March 2, 2002 The Hindu reported : ?Unlike February 28 when one community was entirely at the receiving end, the minority backlash on 1st March has further worsened the situation ………. and the Army staged a flag march in Ahmedabad on March 1, 2002 at 9.00 A.M.?
It was therefore truly shocking that on 25.8.2007, Aaj Tak harped on the same old refrain that ?Modi did not call the army until three days had passed?. Even more outrageous was their insistance on this point. When Aaj Tak contacted me on phone to get my response, I told the anchor that the Godhra carnage took place on February 27, 2002, that the Hindu backlash commenced on February 28th and the Army was doing flag march on the forenoon of March 1st ………… He cut me short by saying that ?this is exactly what we had said, no action was taken by Modi on 29th, 30th and 31st thus giving three clear days to the murderers ……..? I had to cut him short by reminding him that the date 28th was 28th of February, 2002 and there was no 29th, 30th or 31st in that month. The phono was of course disconnected. However, it has to be said to the credit of Aaj Tak and Headlines Today that they called me for a full length studio debate from 9.15 P.M. 11.45 P.M. next day. But the details of that debate shall have to wait. For the present, however, it is imperative that certain facts are stated to prevent perpetuation of the lies propagated in 2002.
Fact 1: That ?shoot at sight orders? had been given by the Government on 28th itself.
Being a former DGP and also a Member of Parliament at that time, I was personally in touch with the office of DGP Gujarat and the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad. I was keen to tell them, (a) to call in the Army at once and (b) to issue ?shoot at sight? orders, to all officers of the rank of Sub-Inspectors and above. It was very comforting to learn that the Government of Gujarat had already taken both those steps by 2.30 P.M. on 28th February itself. In fact the State Government had also requested for Armed Police reinforcement from neighbouring states, besides calling for the Army.
Fact 2: On the 28th February itself 10 Hindus had been shot dead and 16 had been wounded by police bullets.
Fact 3: On the next day i.e., 1st March an additional 24 Hindus were shot dead and 40 Hindus wounded by police bullets.
Fact 4: In the entire period of riots total Hindu casualties were 80 shot dead and 207 wounded by police bullets alone. (But no Delhi-based media showed any interest in giving coverage to these casualties.)
Fact 5: The Muslim counter attack, which commenced from March 1, 2002 was no less ferocious. In the first three days alone, out of a total 611 deaths, 101 were caused by police firing. Of these, 61 were Hindus and 40 were Muslims.
Fact 6: As on 5th of March, as many as 40,000 Hindus had to be given shelter in Relief Camps. (There was plenty of media coverage given to the plight of Muslims in relief camps but no Delhi-based media covered any Hindu relief camp.)
Fact 7: In answer to the Parliament questions, the present Union Government gave the figures of casualties during Post Godhra riots in 2002. There were Muslims killed 790, Hindus killed 254, wounded 2500, in all missing 223. Thus this shows that based on Godhra riots one Hindu was killed for every three Muslims killed as such it was a riot and not a genocide or any pogrom.
Such heavy casualties in riot control are unprecedented in the entire history of Indian Police. The figures of casualties caused by Police firing in the first three days alone indicate the ferocity of Police action. (And the ?secular? parties and their media cohorts even to this day proclaim unabashedly that Modi ordered the Police ?to look the other way? to give a free hand to murderers for three days). If they have any respect for truth, they can cross-check the casualties with the records of the concerned hospitals. The Police is duty bound to carry the dead or the wounded in Police firings to the concerned Government hospitals.
With the Muslim counter attack commencing from 1st March onwards till the riots were quelled altogether, what took place in Gujarat was a full-fledged Hindu-Muslim riot. It was no genocide, or pogrom, or state terrorism against the Muslims of Gujarat. ?No modern day ?Nero? was looking elsewhere?. The modern day Chief Minister was dealing with the situation as best as was possible with the highly limited forces at his command.
Because of the spontaneous conflagration at scores and scores of locations, it is entirely possible that the Police or Fire brigade may have failed to reach a scene for hours, or, having been spread so thin, the posse of Police that did reach the scene was deterred from intervening by the sheer ferocity of violence at that point in time. But to say that Police was restrained as a measure of Government policy is completely belied by the sheer immensity of casualties caused by Police firings.
The insane ferocity and brutality with which Ram bhaktas including ?innocent children and helpless women? were roasted alive at Godhra set the benchmark for the equally insane ferocity of the Hindu backlash and the ferocity of the Hindu backlash was followed by an equally insanely ferocious counter attack by the Muslims.
The Delhi-based media made out as though the whole of Gujarat was in flames. It concealed the fact that out of 18,600 villages, 240 municipal towns and 25 districts, the number of locations that were affected by riots was just 60. Not a single man-day was lost in the 200 odd industrial townships by any industry in Gujarat because of the riots. The examinations in schools, colleges and universities were conducted as per schedule during the period of riots.
Irrefutable confirmation that it was a communal riot and not a genocide or pogrom came from the verdicts of Courts in post-Godhra riots cases.
All the Goebbelsian propaganda had to bite the dust when the BJP was not only returned to serve Gujarat for a second term by an overwhelming majority in the legislature, in the Post-Godhra-Post-Gujarat elections, but also continued to win the Corporation, the Municipal and the village panchayat elections with overwhelming margins.
Tehelka and its sponsors have once again tried to vitiate communal harmony not only of Gujarat but of the entire country. People overwhelmingly believe that the Tehelka ?sting operation? was sponsored by the Congress. If it is so, then, this would be the third major attempt of the ?secular? Congress to stoke the communal flames in the country. The first major attempt was made through the Sachar Commission who ordered a headcount of Muslims in India'sDefence Forces. Thanks to the Army Chief who firmly put his foot down to prevent the communal virus from infecting the Army. The second attempt was made when the Government of India filed the affidavit in the Supreme Court in the Sethusamudram case wherein it questioned the very existence of Sri Ram. Now by sponsoring Tehelka ?sting operation? it made a despicable third attempt to communalise the Indian polity. What Tehelka ?sting operation? has done, clearly attracts Section 153A of the IPC and if Congress has not sponsored this ?sting operation? then it should not hesitate to prosecute Tehelka u/s 153A IPC. As Tehelka as well as the T.V. channels who aired those tapes are headquartered at Delhi, it is the Delhi Police and consequently the Government of India to take the legal action against them u/s 153A IPC.
Nobody could have had any grouse if Tehelka and the TV channels had passed on those tapes to the Supreme Court, for suitable action, or even telecasted the so-called confessions of VHP activists or the BJP MLA for the information of the people. And, if indeed, those confessions are genuine and have any evidentiary value in them, then the law must take its course against those whose guilt is established. The real mischief that attracts Section 153A IPC is the juxtaposition and interspersion of rising flames and bellowing smoke with the earlier recorded bytes of the Gujarat riots, accompanied with crashing cymbals, beats of drums, screaming voices and the highly provocative comments of the ?anchors? of the channels that aired those tapes.
There is a clear intention to inflame communal passions through what all was telecast in the name of Gujarat ka Sach and it would be dangerous for the future of the country if such a nefarious act goes unpunished by default of the UPA Government.
(The writer is IPS (Retd.) and former Rajya Sabha MP and can be contacted at C-001, Stellar Kings Court, F-32, Sector-50, NOIDA-201 305.) Being a former DGP and also a Member of Parliament at that time, I was personally in touch with the office of DGP Gujarat and the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad.