Naroda Patiya convictions—a critical insight. Quantum of punishment unheard of, innocents convicted.
The trial court has given its judgement in the infamous Naroda Patiya case of February 28, 2002. BJP MLA Mayaben Kodnani, who was not a Minister at that time, has been convicted and given 28 years’ sentence, and 31 others too have been sentenced, including Babu Bajrangi. The media have reported in a manner as if Maya Kodnani was a Minister at that time and that Bajrangi is still a Bajrang Dal leader. The fact is that Maya Kodnani was just an MLA and Bajrangi left the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal many years ago.
In this case the reporting of media has been incomplete, and inaccurate. It is necessary to understand the true story of Naroda Patiya. Firstly, on February 27, 2002, 59 karsevaks, including 25 women and 15 children, were roasted to death in Godhra by a 2,000-strong mob in a ghastly manner. The great anger and wounds of the masses were rubbed with salt by the media-politician combine, which blamed the dead karsevaks for their deaths by accusing them of ‘provoking’ the incident by leveling baseless charges on the dead women, children, men and old. According to the then Police Inspector of Naroda, KK Mysorewala in his testimony to the Nanavati Commission on August 19, 2004, the Naroda-Patiya attack was a result of the “brutal killing” of a Hindu youth, Ranjit Vanjhara, behind a mosque and the reckless driving of a Muslim truck driver in which a Hindu was killed and two others were injured. The Telegraph also reported this on March 2, 2002.
According to Mysorewala, the mob was around 17,000 strong while the policemen numbered only 80. He asked for reinforcements and was given 24 additional men, but that too was inadequate. Considering the fact that the situation was out of control on Februrary 28, more men could not be given. India Today dated March 28, 2002 reported: “At Naroda Patia, the scene of the worst carnage, there was no police presence worth the name to prevent the mobs from grouping in the morning and going on a rampage. There were at least three mobs of 4,000 to 5,000 each attacking Muslims. Among them were members of a tribe called the Chara, who have a township not very far from Naroda. Till now the Charas were known for thefts and bootlegging. Last Thursday (i.e. February 28), they earned a reputation for rioting too.”
This shows the situation for the police. The Times of India in its online edition on 1st March, 2002 (Friday) reported that there were 1,000 Muslims living in Naroda Patiya and that the police succeeded in dispersing the mob late at night and escorted 400 Muslims to a safe place and gave them accomodation. This shows that the police saved more than 900 Muslims in this episode, despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered by the rioters in a hopeless ratio of 17,000:100 odd. The media have never, after 1st March, 2002, reported this brave act of the police in saving 900+ Muslims in this situation. Of course, it was highly unfortunate that 95 people were killed (after all missing were declared dead with the expiry of the 7-year period, the toll in Naroda Patiya was raised from 83 to 95). But the act of saving 900+ was never mentioned. The Times of India report can be read by opening the link: http://timesofindia, indiatimes.com/india/Mob-burns-to-death-65-at-Naroda-Patia/articleshow/2473565.cms.
As per the reports of all English dailies the next day, such as The Tribune, The Telegraph, The Hindu, etc, the situation was out of control on 28 February despite the deployment of the entire police force of 70,000 on February 27 (as reported by The Hindustan Times and The Telegraph (UK) on February 28), the entire Rapid Action Force (reported by The Indian Express and Mid-Day on February 28), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) units (reported by PTI), appeal by RSS and VHP to Hindus not to retaliate (RSS appeal reported by The Telegraph and The Hindu of February 28, along with Organiser, VHP appeal by The Times of India), appeal by Narendra Modi, and Prime Minister Atal Bihari to maintain peace. 827 preventive arrests were also made on 27 February.
Despite the situation being out of control on February 28 (Thursday), the police fired 1,000 rounds in the state on that day, including 600 in Ahmedabad and burst around 2,000 tear gas shells. 10 Hindus were shot dead by police in Ahmedabad itself (The Hindu reported the next day that at least 10 people were killed in police firing) and 2 in Nadiad and Godhra (as reported by The Telegraph). Curfew was imposed at many places in Ahmedabad and Vadodara since morning, much before the riots began, and at all places by 12:20 pm while the riots began at 11 am, i.e. within 1 and a half hours at all places. (Reports of The Times of India, online edition). Police also arrested 700 people that day (as reported by BBC online on February 28, and The Tribune the next day). According to The Hindu of the next day, the Chief Minister Narendra Modi “frantically called the Army units to Ahmedabad” and that “they have started arriving and will be out latest by Friday (1st March) morning”. This shows that Narendra Modi not only “frantically” called the Army, the Army reached Ahmedabad so quickly on February 28, that The Hindu had time to report its arrival on February 28, itself and publish it on 1st March! Other papers like Indian Express, Telegraph also reported the Army’s arrival, and also the fact that curfew was imposed in 26 towns and cities in Gujarat on February 28, itself.
These were just few of the steps taken by the Gujarat Government. Actually, a total of at least 24,000 Muslims were saved in the post-Godhra riots. To give just a few examples, India Today (April 22, 2002) reported that the police saved 2,500 Muslims in Sanjeli, 5000 in Bodeli and at least 10,000 in Viramgam areas of Gujarat. Hindus were also saved from violent Muslim mobs in areas like Bharuch, Jamalpur area of Ahmedabad, etc.
Now with the conviction of 32 people in Naroda Patiya case, the total convictions in the Godhra and after cases has reached at least 227 in 18 cases. This includes 162 Hindus and 65 Muslims (31 for Godhra and 34 for post-Godhra). The conviction of Muslims in post-Godhra cases proves that Muslims were equally on the offensive. This shows the sincerity of the Government in prosecuting and efficiency in prosecution. The anti-Modi brigade still howls and claims that it was because of SIT that these convictions were possible (while howling against the same SIT for giving Narendra Modi a clean chit). The fact is that the SIT has been given only 9 cases out of which only 5 judgements have been given. Until 2008, much before the SIT was constituted there were 95 convictions, 61 Hindus and 34 Muslims in the post-Godhra cases. Even after the SIT was formed, there have been many cases in which convictions have been given, not seen by the SIT. Even in SIT seen cases, most of the people convicted had already been arrested by the Gujarat police. Let us see 2 examples—Sadarpura case in which 31 were convicted. Here, only 2 out of 31 were arrested by SIT, the remaining 29 had been arrested by the Gujarat Police long ago. On the contrary, out of the 21 arrested by the SIT in this case, only 2 were convicted, 19 were acquitted. In this Naroda Patiya case, 21 out of the 32 convicted were already arrested by the Gujarat Police long before the SIT. Only 11 convicted were arrested by the SIT. The media will not report any of this, and continue to say that the convictions took place ‘despite’ the Modi government and not ‘because’ of the Modi government.
Also, these convictions, whether with SIT or without SIT, are a world record. CNN-IBN channel reported that for the 1984 riots, only 30 people have been convicted in 12 cases in the past 28 years. Actually, this information is also doubtful, since the information given out till now was 16 convictions in 7 cases. CNN-IBN should be asked to submit the list of cases and convictions so as to clear the doubts. For Gujarat’s past riots of 1969 and 1985, which were far far worse than the 2002 riots, under Congress rule, hardly 3 to 4 people each were convicted. Same for the 1990-91-92 riots under Janata Dal. On the contrary, the 2002 riots have seen a massive 227 convictions.
Lastly, the Congress demands Narendra Modi’s resignation because of Maya Kodnani’s conviction and the media see this as a proof of BJP’s involvement (imaginary) in the riots. Now let us look at Congress’ record in this. For the roasting of Hindus in Godhra, when 31 were convicted in February 2011, they included the following:
1. Abdul Rehman Abdul Majid Ghantia: A known Congress worker (according to Indian Express of March 5, 2002, he was a known Congress worker)
2. Faroukh Bhana: Sectretary of the District Congress Committee (according to Indian Express of March 5, 2002, he was holding this position)
Both of them were given life imprisonment.
3. Haji Bilal: A known Congress worker (according to Indian Express of March 5, 2002, he was a known Congress worker) given DEATH PENALTY.
What moral responsibility did the Congress Party or Sonia Gandhi own when this happened? Congressmen have been declared guilty for rioting and attacking and killing Hindus in Vadodara in March 2002 on October 16, 2003. Former Deputy Mayor of Vadodara and Congress leader Nisar Bapu was aquitted, but his son and son-in-law (both Congress members) were convicted. 2 others who were convicted may also have been Congress members This was reported by at least 3 English dailies, including The Times of India on 17 October 2003. This report can be read by opening the link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com//india/Four-get-life-imprisonment/articleshow/236376.cms.
The Times of India dated August 9, 2003 also says that 25 Congress leaders were accused of being involved in attacks on Muslims. This report can be read by opening the link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com//india/Cong-silent-on-cadres-linked-to-Guj-riots/articleshow/122796.cms.
To crown it all, on October 4, 2008 former Congress MINISTER of Gujarat Mohammad Surti was convicted and sentenced to 20 years jail along with 5 others. These 5 others too must have been Congressmen, this can be checked from Gujarat. Total 21 people were convicted, including his son Farooq Surti, former Congress corporator Iqbal Vadiwala, and many others of whom must have been Congressmen. Link for this report:http://www.hindu.com/2008/10/05/stories/2008100555651000.htm.
The Congress, which has jumped on Maya Kodnani conviction to attack Narendra Modi must answer how it can distance itself from the 1993 Surat twin blasts for which at least 3 of its members, including Surti were convicted.
There will be needed a huge effort to expose the lies and bring out the truth. A website www.gujaratriots.com is very useful on this matter. It is for all nationalists and right-thinking people to take this challenge and let the truth triumph.