New Delhi: Good thing about democracy is that often its ‘test’ is time taking. Now that the ruling has come from the highest court of the land, a large section of sickulars, political protagonists, intellectuals and media ought to tender an apology for pursuing their wrong narratives for years.
Perhaps that’s not possible as high-pedestal egos are already hurt badly, and seeking any apology would be like adding ‘salt to the injuries’ to use a commonly used desi phrase.
Even media persons in the past believed that things were overdone ‘overboard’ and the media have passed the judgement rather harshly on the Hindus, especially for the Godhra station inferno.
A general but strong refrain was created that while the Godhra station fire was bad, equally or ‘worse’ was the Hindu retaliation. But the ‘worst’ narrative was that the “Kar Sevaks or the Ram Bhakts perhaps deserved all that”.
Stories were circulated about some quarrel in Ujjain station between Muslims and Hindu passengers. All these were found to be untrue.
Even ‘The Hindustan Times’ run by a well-known pro-Congress group and an article by senior journalist and no sympathiser of the right-wing, Vir Sanghvi had written way back in 2002 itself that – “There is something profoundly worrying in the response of of what might be called the secular establishment in the massacre in Godhra”, – is that “the sub-text of all secular commentary is the same – the Kar Sevaks had it coming”.
“…Basically, they condemn the crime, but blame the victims”. Vir Sanghvi wrote. (Reference available – https://virsanghvi.com/Article-Details.aspx?key=611) In fact, the public anguish was gauged by many stakeholders.
VHP International Vice-President Acharya Giriraj Kishore had told reporters in Ahmedabad (Feb 28, 2002) at the Sola Civil Hospital, that – “Hindus should maintain calm and keep patience. I appeal to Muslim brethren to condemn the attack (Godhra) and ask them not to test Hindus’ patience”.
He had cautioned too, ” …there can be a counter-reaction which may be uncontrollable”.
To a question, he had even shot back — “Do I have to say for every action there is a reaction”?
A few days later this quote basically based on Newton’s Third Law of Motion was attributed to Chief Minister Narendra Modi — and the Chief Minister during his visit to Mumbai about a month later at a press conference at the BJP office had denied having said so.
In fact, Modi even said, “As an art student, I hardly understood what the statement actually meant”.
The editorial in ‘The Tribune’ almost passed a judgement on the then Modi government in the state.
“When the beast in man comes to the surface, he goes beyond the pale of the canons of civilised society. Unfortunately, the Gujarat government has not handled the outbreak with as firm a hand as it was expected to do.
Because of the party affiliations, this is going to be perceived not as an error of omission but that of commission”.
It also advised Hindus to be tolerant of what went on in Godhra – “Hinduism has a glorious tradition of remaining unruffled even amidst gravest adversities. At times like this, the ultimate sign of bravery is not to repay in kind but to bear the hurt with equanimity.”
This journalist had landed in Ahmedabad in the early morning of Feb 28, 2002 – a day after the Godhra train was burnt. Needless to say, the TV debates and media articles made local Hindus ‘more angry’.
In many places, they cited these commentaries from political leaders of ‘sickular lot’ and experts away in communists-ruled Bengal lecturing Hindus to accept the violence and Godhra carnage as something as part of life.
The condemnation against Muslims was not to that extent even as local civil and police officials had complained even otherwise Godhra was ‘notorious’ for crime and typical ani-Hindu incidents of violence.
And some well known TV anchors sounded more like activists for Muslim organisations and said, any government either in Delhi or Gandhinagar “should not be seen to be working in a partisan manner”.
All these made local Hindus get angry and annoyed further. The police firing claiming several Hindu arsonists were hardly mentioned or reported and so called human interest stories generally focused on minorities only.
It was often mobocracy working. Reporters like me got specific instructions from Delhi to focus on ‘Muslim victims’ and after things settled for a while and little semblance of normalcy ensured the setting up of relief camps – again the stories in media both print and electronic generally narrated only Muslim agony. This used to be the vocal complaints from a large number of Hindu residents of Ahmedabad in Navrangpura, Maninagar and other Hindu-stronghold localities.
The VHP had circulated a pamphlet in 2002 and raised vital questions for the ‘sickular’ establishment – “Why did you not visit Godhra the day Hindus were burnt?” and “By descending on Gujarat and visiting only Muslim minorities areas only, are you not insulting Hindus and those burnt brutally alive in Godhra”?
These questions have not been answered yet.