ANTI-HINDU brigade comprising of pseudo-liberals, sections of media and professional propagandists masquerading as human rights activists never let go even half a chance to demonize Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. No one is, therefore surprised, that they have gone to town demanding Modi’s resignation and prosecution on the funny premise that the summons issued by Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) amounted to his “indictment’ in the Gulbarg Society case in which former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri was killed along with 49 others during the post Godhra riots in 2002. Legally speaking, summoning some one mentioned in a complaint filed by a citizen – the widow of the deceased in this case – doesn’t amount to indictment.
This strong legal term can be used only if a court has found one guilty. Moreover, the SIT has itself explained that it had issued the summons to hear the Chief Minister’s version of the story. Supreme Court’s observation that it may reconsider its earlier order to probe the role of the Gujarat Chief Minister and 62 others, including social and political workers and civil servants, after hearing all the parties concerned has further weakened “Demonize Modi” brigade’ case.
Justice D K Jain-headed bench made this significant observation while hearing a petition filed by Kalubhai Maliwad, a former legislator, whose name figures in the list of 62 “others” accused of “conspiring to allow the massacre of Muslims” in the post-Godra riots.
A veteran of many a high profile legal battle, Ram Jethamalani, who appeared in the apex court on behalf of Kalubhai, challenged the Apex court orders of April 27, 2009 on the ground that it was issued without hearing those being probed. To hand over the case to SIT without hearing the accused was against settled principles of law, he argued and went on to launch a blistering attack on the SIT for its methodology and questioned its authority to summon the accused.
Pointing out that the impugned order had merely tasked SIT to look into complaints and not to investigate. The summoning of any of the accused amounted to conducting investigations that couldn’t be sustained in the light of the said order. He put the entire case in the correct perspective by informing the court that the real target of the case was not his client – a small fry – but the accused No. 1, namely Narendra Modi. The bench agreed that SIT was set up to look into complaints and not to investigate them and fixed April 5, 2010 for further hearing.
The SIT is under attack not only from the accused in the case and Hindu groups but also from Muslim groups and the “Hate Modi” gang.
While the former is aggrieved that the SIT is under tremendous pressure from the highly vocal pseudo-liberal groups, the latter accuse members of the SIT to be partial to the accused under the influence of the establishment. While one doesn’t want to go into the merits of the case as it is sub judice, one won’t be surprised if the Apex Court finally dissolve the SIT and let the law take its own course. True, the Supreme Court had been in the past harshly critical of the police and judiciary in Gujarat in dealing with the riot cases.
While it is no one’s case that the guilty shouldn’t be brought to justice, one can’t ignore the stark reality that barring hurling abuses at Modi and maligning him as “mass murderer”, no one, not even cash-rich NGOs, have produced any credible evidence of negligence or complicity on the part of the Chief Minister. One can’t rule out some partiality on the part of lower rungs of the police force handling the rioters in view of the communally charged atmosphere in the wake of the criminal attack on Sabarmati Express at Ghodra by a gang of Islamists on February 27, 2002 in which 59 Hindu pilgrims were burned alive. Trial by media is no substitute for a fair investigation.
Sections of media that are now demanding Modi’s head had themselves reported in February-March 2002 that the entire police force had been summoned to maintain law and order and that the Chief Minister had requested the Union Government within an hour of the riots breaking out in Ahmedabad to send in the army to help the civil administration in maintaining law and order. Those who are guilty of negligence or complicity need to be punished but the tendency to make politically motivated allegations against the Chief Minister and the State Government would not serve the cause of justice. It would only further polarise the society and will hinder the state’s economy which has been put on a rapid and inclusive growth path by the Government led by Narendra Modi.
Congress leaders have no moral right to talk about “moral responsibility” of the Chief Minister for his “failure” to curb riots. They should do well to do some introspection and recall the role played by Rajiv Gandhi during the anti-Sikh pogrom in the wake Indira Gandhi’s assassination. It was during his initial days as Prime Minister that thousands of innocent Sikhs were slaughtered and burned alive in the national capital while the police looked the other way.
Senior Congress leaders led the mobs carried in trucks from slums to attack Sikhs and the Prime Minister justified the gory happenings “innocently” telling a public rally that the earth shakes when a big tree falls. Did anyone demand Rajiv Gandhi’s resignation on “moral grounds”? Rajiv Gandhi’s massive victory in the general elections that followed was projected by the Congress party as a vindication of his role completely ignoring the fact that ruling party swung the polls in its favours by slandering the entire Sikh community as “terrorists”. Obviously, mainstream media has different standards for ordinary citizens and members of the dynasty.
“Hate Modi” campaign has failed to undermine his growing popularity in Gujarat and outside. Even his detractors admit that he is a strong administrator, is development-oriented and has a clear vision. Gujarat is perceived by captains of industry and business as a model of good governance. He is undoubtedly a leader with a mass following that is not confined to his home state. He may have made enemies in the “secular-liberal” brigade but has won the hearts of nationalists by his transparent honesty, integrity and commitment to our cultural values. His detractors are a confused lot. They demand his resignation and prosecution in riot cases but publicly confess that their attempts to corner Modi may give him yet another opportunity to gain greater public support by projecting himself as a victim of a hate campaign.
There will be no stopping him if and when the BJP projects him as its prime ministerial candidate.