A tale of riots investigation
Congress has much to explain
By Amba Charan Vashishth
Had the (human/civil right) activists, said Gujarat government spokesperson and Health Minister Jai Narain Vyas, not created obstructions in the legal process, the victims of the 2002 riots would have got justice long back. He was commenting on the Supreme Court verdict on September 12, 2011. “There was no evidence of criminal conspiracy against the Chief Minister in the post-Godhra riots,” he claimed. Certainly, there is merit in what Shri Vyas said.
There are people who have been for the last nine years crying hoarse for the head of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for a crime he did not commit and no court has, so far, raised even a finger of suspicion on him.
Justice is always justice but it is the subjective outlook which makes it look otherwise. When Afzal was sentenced to death for Parliament House attack case, it was as much justice to him for the crime he committed as for the bereaved families of about eight officials who laid down their lives protecting the temple of democracy. But, for the lives of Arundhati Roy and others, it was denial of justice.
The widow of slain MP, Zakia Jafri, expressed “disappointment” with the SC ruling. She said, “What can I expect from the lower court in Gujarat if I don’t get it from the Supreme Court?” In a democracy with a rule of law, one cannot have one’s own scale and standard of justice. In a way, she expressed her lack of faith in the judiciary.
If one goes by the conduct and words of the so-called ‘secular and liberal’ human rights and social rights activists and organisations in the Gujarat riot cases, one discovers that they are less concerned with getting justice for the victims and more anxious in using their crusade to, somehow or the other, make it appear as if Chief Minister Modi did personally commit every crime of arson, looting and murder in every locality, in every town and every district of the State at the same time. Therefore, he must be handed out the severest possible punishment for his ‘heinous crimes’.
Surprisingly, these sublime souls speak only of the post-Godhra riots and ignore the killing of 59 innocent karsevaks who were mercilessly burnt alive in a train.
About two years back when some industrialists put forward Shri Narendra Modi’s name as Prime Ministerial candidate, an important English daily from Delhi painted him as “a deeply divisive figure, the real motivator of the orgy of anti-Muslim violence that rocked Gujarat in 2002 while he was the Chief Minister…”
One can but pity the hypocrisy of the ‘liberal, secular’ intelligentsia and the ‘human rights’ activists who behave, no exaggeration to say, with a one eyed, self-righteous, unfair, partial, irrational, unjust, biased and prejudiced mind. If they are not so, how come they turn blind, deaf and dumb to the plight of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots? Why do they not feel the same intensity of pain for the plight of the sufferers of both the two riots?
Both riots share many similarities. While these sublime souls are ready to do anything and go to any length to get justice for Gujarat riot victims; they bloat over the anti-Sikh riot sufferers. They forget that persons afflicted with 1984 and 2002 riots are both human beings.
Both the riots were trigged by a provocation — anti-Sikh riots following the unfortunate killing of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, by two of her own security guards who happened to be Sikhs and Gujarat riots by the burning alive of 59 karsevaks at Godhra railway station. In Delhi and elsewhere hundreds of Sikhs were butchered in cold blood. Women widowed, children orphaned and bread-earners were snatched before the eyes of their families. Their only crime was that they too belonged to the Sikh community from which the two Indira killers came from.
The Sikhs are as much a minority community as are the Muslims, the latter commanding a greater percentage of the country’s population
The anti-Sikh riots were confined only to the Congress ruled States, including the centrally administered Union Territory of Delhi directly under the Congress government at the Centre. In non-Congress ruled states, the Sikhs were spared of the bloody ordeal.
The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is on record having justified the riots saying: “When a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes.”
But no one in the NDA or BJP ruling at the Centre in 2002, and not even Shri Narendra Modi, ever justified the riots.
In the anti-Sikh violence the persons who lost their lives were the Sikhs and Sikhs alone. In Gujarat the sufferers, besides Muslims, were Hindus also, though in comparison less in number.
More people died in anti-Sikh riots than in Gujarat. In 1984 riots more than 4,000 Sikhs – about 3,000 in Delhi alone – were mercilessly butchered.
In Gujarat, unofficial estimates put the death toll closer to 2,000. According to an official estimate, 1,044 people were killed in the violence — 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus including those killed in the Godhra train fire. Another 223 people were reported missing, 2,548 injured, 919 women widowed and 606 children orphaned.
The various Commissions of inquiry instituted following the anti-Sikh riots have confirmed that the Police in Delhi stood as a silent spectator to the dastardly Sikh killings. No cases were registered against the culprits for many days. When some cases had to be registered under pressure, except perhaps for one, no other case has so far been taken to its logical conclusion even after over 27 years.
Finger of suspicion was raised against many Delhi Congress stalwarts, HKL Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and many others by various commissions. Yet, no cases were registered. When registered, these were not pursued seriously.
In the case of Gujarat riots, CBI acts as a prosecutor, in the case of Sikh riots it is the reverse: defending the accused. On the eve of 2009 the Lok Sabha elections, instead of leaving the matter to the judgement of the court, CBI went to the extent of seeking from the court closure of cases against Tytler and Sajjan Kumar.
No SIT or CBI has behaved in anti-Sikh riot cases the way it does in Gujarat riots cases. None of them had the guts to interrogate any high-up in the ruling party. No Special Investigating Teams were constituted to inquire into anti-Sikh crimes. Unfortunately, even courts had not been that condescending for 1984 victims as these had been towards Gujarat riot cases to monitor the progress of investigations.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and other human rights organisations have never taken that much interest in anti-Sikh riots to get justice to the bereaved families as they are anxious in the case of Gujarat riots.
No fast-track courts were established to try cases against those involved in anti-Sikh riots as was done in the case of Gujarat riots.
In just four years, 4,252 criminal cases were pending in courts in Gujarat, 13 cases had been sent outside Gujarat for trial, in 2,037 cases charge-sheets had been filed, and in 13 cases convictions had taken place. (Source: The Milli Gazette, 1-15 January 2008)
But the same cannot be said about anti-Sikh massacre. Despite Supreme Court strictures and orders, and after the reports of commissions after commissions and despite pointed fingers and indictment by Nanawati Commission, no worthwhile headway has been made into pursuing the cases against those involved and administering justice to the bereaved families. Many of the Congress leaders, who were named as having instigated crowds for riots, were given party nominations for the Parliament and State Assembly elections that followed the 1984 riots. Many were made ministers and favoured with other plum posts.
In spite of all the similarities — and dissimilarities — in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 Godhra and post-Godhra riots in Gujarat, the ‘secular, liberal’ media and intelligentsia have never used the language they do in the case of Shri Narendra Modi — to describe the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (or his party) who was equally “a deeply divisive figure, the real motivator” of the orgy of anti-Sikh “violence that rocked” only the Congress-ruled states in 1984 “while he was” the Prime Minister.
Sonia Gandhi used the words maut ka saudagar (merchant of death) for Shri Modi. From the day one these ‘secular’ idealists have issued the fatwa of “guilty” against Shri Modi although there had been no evidence of his involvement in any way and no court of the country has, so far, even pointed a needle of suspicion. They consider themselves to be superior in judgement to the judgement of the judiciary. Yet, for them Rajiv Gandhi continues to be the icon of ‘secularism’ ignoring the fact that the accusations against him stick more securely against the wall as do against Shri Modi. Above all, Shri Rajiv Gandhi is the Bharat Ratna.
Those killed in Gujarat riots and anti-Sikh riots were all human beings. The quantum of relief and compensation granted by the Central Government in both the cases should have been – but is not — exactly the same. Why this discrimination between one set of human beings and the other and between one minority community and the other? Were those who died in Gujarat riots more innocent than those who died in anti-Sikh riots?