But read on...
Among the books I own is a smartly produced paperback that often gets double-takes from friends. "Why do you have this?" they ask in wonder. I keep it as evidence of a quiet, but remarkably successful campaign.
The book is called Sir Manohar Joshi, and is about the Shiv Sena politician who became Maharashtra's Chief Minister in 1995. It's written by an old friend of Joshi's, Dr Vijay Dhavale of Ottawa, Canada. The "editing and English transliteration" is by a Dr Ramesh Waghmare. It was published in February 1997.
Being frank, this is not literature. But it is eloquent about Joshi's achievements, and extols his soft-spoken virtues. (The "Sir" is a reference to Joshi's past as a teacher). Which is just fine; what are old friends for anyway?
For convenient versions of history, it would seem. On page 206, in a chapter titled "Cricket", I found this paragraph:
After the heinous bomb blasts in Mumbai by some agents of the underworld in 1993, the Pakistani cricket team was scheduled to play a game in the city. When later evidence proved that the saboteurs were aided by Pakistan's International Security Intelligence [sic], an incensed [Shiv Sena chief Bal] Thackeray issued a call to cancel the game. Some newspapers argued that it was unfair to penalize the players and fans who were looking forward to see the traditionally close encounters between the two teams. Manohar Joshi, though himself seething with fury at the blatant attempt by the neighbouring country to destabilize India's industrial hub, thought that the game should go on. He tried to mediate the disagreement. He was on the verge of succeeding when some youngsters destroyed the pitch. The match had to be abandoned.
Anything unusual there? Try this: the bomb blasts the writer refers to happened in March 1993. And when did "some youngsters" destroy the pitch at Bombay's Wankhede Stadium, forcing a scheduled match with Pakistan to be abandoned?
Nothing unusual, except that Dr Dhavale wants you to believe that the bomb blasts led to the pitch vandalisation that happened one-and-a-half years earlier. Nothing unusual, except that it's an inept lie.
Encouraged by this, I searched through "Sir Manohar Joshi" for references to the Bombay riots of 1992-93. Hard, but I found one on page 99. Here it is:
The bomb blast at the Mumbai Stock Exchange and some other prominent buildings in early 1993 not only took several lives, it turned the politics of the state upside down. The news that the prime suspects were Ibrahim Dawood [sic] and his gang, many of whom had fled to destinations outside India, touched off communal riots in several parts of the metropolis. Chief Minister Sudhakarrao Naik was judged to have failed to control them and Prime Minister Rao asked Sharad Pawar to take over the reins of power from Naik. ... Pawar became Chief Minister of Maharashtra in March 1993.
Anything unusual there? Try this: the bomb blasts happened, as I mentioned, in March 1993. And when did those riots happen?
December 1992 and January 1993.
What's more, Pawar did not become CM as a consequence of the bombs as the paragraph implies; he was already CM when they went off on March 12.
Nothing unusual, except that Dr Dhavale wants you to believe that the bomb blasts "touched off" the riots that happened three months earlier. Nothing unusual, except it's another inept lie.
So why would Dr Dhavale spread such lies? Why did English transliterator Dr Waghmare not see fit to correct them? Why did Sir Joshi himself not correct them?
Simple: the lies work well to cover up the Shiv Sena's own misdeeds.
After all, it was not just "some youngsters" who dug up that cricket pitch in 1991, it was a gang of Shiv Sena activists. As for the riots, here's Justice BN Srikrishna, writing of them after his five-year inquiry in the constant presence of Sena lawyers:
[L]arge scale rioting and violence was ... taken over by Shiv Sena and its leaders who continued to whip up communal frenzy by their statements and acts and writing and directives issued by the Shiv Sena Pramukh Bal Thackeray.
What's more, Justice Srikrishna wrote this about the bomb blasts:
One common link between the riots ... and bomb blasts of 12th March 1993 appears to be that the former appear to have been a causative factor for the latter. ... [T]he serial bomb blasts were a reaction to the totality of events at Ayodhya and Bombay in December 1992 and January 1993.
So how do you evade censure for your vandalization and rioting and killing? Easy: you begin diligently spreading the impression that the bomb blasts pushed you into them. Sure, they are crimes, but you were only retaliating, see? Never mind the little detail that you committed your crimes before the blasts. Months and years before. Never mind, because you know that if you tell the lie often enough, it becomes the truth. Becomes the accepted version of history in people's minds.
And it's worked beautifully. I've lost count of the number of people who have written to me in this vein, and I quote: "While I am in no way a supporter of the Bombay riots ... you should realise these are emotional reactions to the bomb explosion carried out by misguided Muslims." Pavan Verma, in his recent Being Indian, writes of how the 1993 blasts "triggered" the riots. And my blogging friend repeats the same thing.
All because the likes of Dr Dhavale got to work -- only three years after the blasts! -- quietly turning history upside down. Not so inept after all.