Readers’ responses to the expose ‘Gujarat 2002: The Truth’ in Tehelka weekly of 3 Nov. 2007
As I write this, I feel some part of my existence has gone numb. How can people take pride in nothing less than cannibalism?
Danish Iqbal (USA)
Can a country where police, judiciary and politicians collude to kill thousands of its citizens ever call itself developed? Do you really want your children to live in a society where the police can brutalize common citizens and go unpunished? Today you might belong to the right religion, but tomorrow it may be your/mine or our kids' turn.
I sit here with my head down in shame, crying. When will this change? Is there any hope for India?
The country hangs its head in shame.
If after this expose, the perpetrators still swagger around, how do we look at Islamic fundamentalists and feel any different? If an entire state turns against the values that define the nation, what is to be done? Less than 150 years ago, the US faced a choice between the universal right to liberty and equality and the right of 11 states to practice slavery. In this instance the US chose to go to war to defend its values and in doing so struck a blow against barbarity. India faces a similar choice. Not to act on this evidence of genocide is to begin our Nazification.
If Gujarat were an independent country, Modi and his men would have faced the same international military action which Milosevic faced in Yugoslavia for the genocide of minorities.
What more evidence do we need? Do we want the dead to rise from their graves and tell us who hacked and burned them?
For the past 75 years, the RSS/VHP have been silently at work through schools that teach the young to hate the 'other'. It is from these kids that bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, journalists and politicians emerge. One had earlier thought that with the spread of education, awareness among people would rise, but that proved false during Gujarat 2002. In a democracy that's turned into a mobocracy, it is very hard to stand up and say, "So what if you are 80 per cent, you do not have the right to kill the rest."
When the Babri masjid was demolished by the Hindu fundamentalists, we failed to launch an all-out campaign against the perpetrators. Ten years later, they struck again, killing thousands. If we fail once again, we do not know what awaits us in 2012.
All I am asking of the BJP biggies is that, as human beings, you watch those tapes and read the transcripts and then tell me with a straight face that you don't suspect the Gujarat government people from your party of being involved in this.
Muslims should take a very cautious approach to the whole situation, for it is the intention of the RSS/VHP to provoke them. Instead of becoming vengeful and adopting violence, they should approach the peaceful path shown by Mahatma Gandhi. Think a while, think of Punjab, Kashmir, Palestine, Sri Lanka and the many instances where violent resistance generated more violence from the other side. There is no end to it.
This leaves me speechless. The rot that we live amidst. Have we really descended into hell? Can it be possible that these men roam free and wild in our midst?
If we become the barbarians we despise, what is the difference between us and them? Do you think we will be wiped out by the actions of a few Jihadists? No, we are in danger of becoming one of them and losing our identity.
I used to pin a BJP flag on my soft-board and supported the party in college politics. But 2002 changed that. I feel shame that I have never felt before. I feel guilty that because we kept quiet, this could happen.
The VHP/BJP and Pakistan have an identical agenda. They both believe in the one-nation theory. Pakistan believes India is no place for Muslims and so does the VHP.
If we cannot work to get justice for the genocidal killers in India, it will inevitably be dismantled, as were the USSR, Yugoslavia etc.
I feel like hiding my face in the mud; for the first time in my life, I feel ashamed to call myself an Indian.
Make no mistakes about it, Modi's Gujarat is the germinal of Hindu Rashtra. Its ideology is sectarian supremacy, its postulates are hatred and bigotry, violence is its key directive principle. It's a bewilderment how such a state has come to prosper in our midst. That's where the essential ideas of India needed to be fought for, rescued. The Congress [is] running scared from confronting Modi head-on. Why? It's the fear of losing the Hindu vote. The Congress cannot espouse secularism on paper and practice soft Hindutva on the street.
Tehelka makes out a formidable prima facie case for prosecuting Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the others of the Sangh Parivar who, by their own admission, were privy to the pogrom. If former British prime minister Tony Blair could be interrogated by the police in the Cash-for-Honours scandal, there's no reason why a man like Narendra Modi should be placed beyond the pale of law.
When such an expose is made it is the state government that must act since law and order is a state subject. The Central government cannot initiate action. With evidence from the Tehelka tapes, one can file a case against Modi after seeking permission from the governor. The Supreme Court could order a CBI inquiry.
(Former Supreme Court judge)
The UPA government at the Centre did not take any action against those responsible for the Gujarat massacre because the main coalition member, the Congress party, would have had to account for the 1984 massacre of Sikhs. What we call terrorism is a fallout of our system’s failure to ensure justice to the minorities. The expose calls for action against the Gujarat government. Failure to act even now would mean that we are not governed by the Constitution.
Following the Tehelka expose, the police has no choice but to file FIRs and take action. It would be right for the state government to refer it to the CBI, else the High Court or SC should be moved for a direction to that effect.
(Supreme Court lawyer)
In 1985, unruly students at Columbia University, Cornell and Syracuse set up shantytowns on their campuses that resembled poor black settlements in South Africa, and demanded their universities divest funds from companies that did business with the apartheid regime. Companies like Pepsi, General Motors, Nestle, Citibank, Mobil and Union Carbide. Within a month, ordinary citizens, faith leaders and unions echoed the divestment cry. It was the single biggest push, Desmond Tutu said later, that was needed to topple the white regime. More than 100 companies were forced by their shareholders and customers to leave and the capital flight was estimated to be around $ 10 billion.
Just as the companies were forced to leave South Africa, it’s time to hold them culpable for their presence in Gujarat – both Indian and foreign firms.
Gujarat is the leading edge of the onslaught of communal fascism in this country. If we as a society do not show the nerve to confront this beast, future generations will remember us as cowards who caved in and squandered away a nation painstakingly built by the struggle of many led by the Mahatma.
(Supreme Court lawyer)
I visited Gujarat between April 1 and 5, 2002 as part of a group. This genocide, and the state’s total complicity…we had sensed all this. But after the ‘Tehelka’ report, I am beginning to feel that Godhara itself was staged. We realized this entire party is debased. We filed a case in the High Court seeking BJP’s de-recognition as a political party under the Representation of People Act. Our contention was that the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and BJP are all one. These different names are just for show; their identity is one. If all of them are violent, communal and have participated in genocide, the BJP as the political wing of the Sangh Parivar should be de-recognized under the RP Act. The judgement on the case is not yet out.
A lot of Muslims were killed; but the real murder happening here is that of Hinduism, of the liberal face of Hinduism.
The real crisis of Gujarat is the factor that seems to have paralysed everybody, that has muffled the media and emasculated the Congress, the real crisis is the fear of the ‘Hindu vote’. People would have us believe this is ‘Hindu sentiment’ today. But this is a lie. This is mere cowardice. The fact is that nations are built by the words men use to describe it. This strain of rabid Hindu thought – the RSS and its fascist thinkers – was in our bloodstream even when our nation was birthed out of the chaos of Partition. But the eloquent visionary men who led us then pulled the country away from the madness of the Hindu fanatic and gifted us a nation that was sane and inclusive. We could have gone another route. We could have been Pakistan.
The inquiries and commissions and reports that we have piled for ourselves is a route of escape. A talkative society talking endlessly. About who and how. About cause and consequence. About crime and the absence of punishment. Never once do we dare look ourselves in the mirror. Never do we stop pointing fingers at others.
There are a myriad contemporary Indian stories we have forgotten. They are all true stories. They have pegs and dead people hanging by them. And there are, among us, the many hands that hung them there, that have since been washed in collective forgetting. The truth about mass murder in this country we haven’t learnt to tell. Even less to confront. Which is why, someday, when that diabolical sloganeer appears again with a manic prescription and a surcharged bloodcry, we will again turn upon each other and consume, and call it someone else’s ugly conspiracy. And someone will win an election.
(Executive Editor: ‘Tehelka’)
The tragedy of Gujarat today – the tragedy of India altogether – is that perversion is becoming the norm. The men on the ‘Tehelka’ tapes do not represent Hindu sentiment. They are its distortion. The fact that Modi won the election in 2002 is not a true index of Hindu sentiment: it is the face of what happens when a communal experiment goes uncontested. Modi has not failed Gujarat, the Congress has. They have abandoned the people to their basest instincts. They have let the rabid strain flower unchecked. They have not erected any alternative rhetoric that people can cleave to. We need words that remind us of humanity and love. Words that force us not to succumb to the beast. India is not just about the Gujarat election of 2007, there is the longer road ahead. A higher truth at stake. To se that requires courage and intelligence.
The real crisis today is not between Hindus and Muslims. It is between Hindus and Hindus. For too long now, Hinduism, like Islam has been hijacked by its ugliest and most virulent face. Hindus have to reclaim what being Hindu means. It is not just the Muslim that the Hindu fanatic hates. It’s you and me and everyone who doesn’t subscribe to their narrow world. They hate lovers who hold hands, they black out channels, burn galleries, hostage films, destroy books, ransack institutions.
The truth about Gujarat 2002 is not just about 2500 Muslims killed, it’s also about a State that has turned its back on democracy. The perversion so quickly can become the norm. We are all in for a long fight, and there are many impediments along the way. There is none more dangerous and disheartening, however, than India’s glassy-eyed elite. And defunct political parties.
(Condensed by Mahendra Meghani from Tehelka of 17 Nov. 2007)