February 24, 2012

Ten years

Coming up to ten years since what I think is one of the worst crimes in Indian history; as also one of the worst breakdowns in law and order in our history. The massacres across Gujarat, of course.

There's so much that's already been said about those godawful weeks and months, so much that I don't even want to try finding something new to say. But these few points:

* To those who say there should be an end to "raking" up the past, there's just this to say: If there had been some kind of justice for everything that happened then, nobody would be raking up anything. Since there hasn't been that kind of justice, please don't expect silence. The country you live in is itself a testament to the spirit of folks who would not keep silent and who kept raking up injustice.

* To those who say we should "move on", there's just this to say: I'm set to meet someone who lost, say, a young son to the violence, who will say "It's true, we should move on." On the contrary: some of these people are the most dogged I've ever knowm, in their pursuit of justice.

* To those who speak easily and angrily about the "demonization" of the CM of Gujarat, there's just this to say: This man presided over a collapse of law and order across his state on a nearly unprecedented scale. If it had been any other state, this man's own party would have been leading the calls, and rightly so, for that state's CM to own moral responsibility for this collapse and resign. (Consider, after all, that the CM of Maharashtra lost his job after the terror attacks of November 26, 2008). But in this case, any criticism at all is immediately painted as an insult to a state, the demonization of a man. Both of which charges are nonsense. Understandable nonsense from those who want to sweep a massacre under a carpet, but nonsense nevertheless.

* To those who talk of "development" and the "efficiency" of Gujarat's government, there's just this to say: How do those things change the reality that 1000+ people were slaughtered in 2002? But more than that, what is the "efficiency" in failing to prevent those 1000+ being killed?

* To those who say "but are you aware of the ground realities in that state, then and now?", there's just this to say: I travelled Gujarat while some of the violence was still happening. I got a pretty good sense of some ground reality, thank you. It was this: 1000+ people had been slaughtered, and those wounds were still raw. That reality has not changed, and does not change because of other claims.

* To those who say "but why does nobody speak about these other horrific massacres in state X, under leader Y of party Z?", there's just this to say: Plenty of people speak about those other massacres too; if you choose not to listen for your own reasons, that's nobody's fault but yours. More important, the fact that you make these equations/comparisons is an admission that you know just how horrific Gujarat was, that you know there's been no accounting for it. Face up to yourself, for once.

* Finally, to those who say of Gujarat that it was "unfortunate", or "shit happens", or the like, there's just this to say: when a thousand and more Indians are killed, that's not unfortunate shit happening, that's a massacre. Equivocation doesn't change that.

Ten years on, I want justice for Indians slaughtered in Godhra, Ahmedabad, Dehlol, Halol, Baroda, and plenty of other places across Gujarat. I think you do too.


Hash Patel said...

Is there anything you trust except your own rhetoric?

Here's what the facts are:

1. After the riots, the assembly was dissolved and fresh mandate called for. The people of Gujarat have voted him to power twice and in favour of BJP in many other elections (local, national etc). So as per your logic, majority of Gujaratis are either stupid or fascists.(on another note, MMS is presiding over such a big loot of the country but still you guys keep referring to MMS's personal integrity & honesty - if you can distinguish between him & the other members of his govt, why not give Modi the same courtesy? yes, riots happened when he was in power, but he might not have been involved)

2. Supreme court/investigation team/commissions - countless commissions and special investigation teams supervised by Supreme Court itself have not found anything. So again as per your logic, the Supreme Court/SIT is either stupid or incompetent or fascist.

The people and the Supreme Court do not think he's guilty. Are we to believe Modi is guilty just because you say so? Where is the evidence? and if there is evidence, why is the Supreme Court not accepting it?

Will there be any point where you will say: yes, all evidence has been analyzed and Modi is not guilty. What court or what authority will you believe to accept that your allegations are baseless?

Dilip D'Souza said...

I have no idea whether Modi was involved or guilty. The constant attempt of guys like you to keep shifting the argument to that -- whether he is involved -- suggests to me that you yourself think he is involved and want to find some way to get him off the hook in your mind.

Do try to understand what I am saying. What happened in Gujarat in 2002 counts, in my book, as among the worst breakdowns in law and order in our history. The CM is ultimately responsible for that collapse (completely apart from whether he is himself involved, which is irrelevant). It's exactly the same reasoning that saw the Maharashtra CM and HM losing their jobs after 26/11, even though they clearly were not involved in that crime.

Like I said, if 2002 had happened in any other state under another party's rule, the BJP itself would have been calling for that CM's resignation. Here, they did nothing of the sort. Far from it, they actually want this man to become PM.

None of this has anything to do with what elections have turned up, or what the SC says. There is such a thing as accountability. Modi failed in his duty as CM in 2002. He should have resigned.

Suresh said...

After the riots, the assembly was dissolved and fresh mandate called for. The people of Gujarat have voted him to power twice and in favour of BJP in many other elections (local, national etc). So as per your logic, majority of Gujaratis are either stupid or fascists.

Firstly, not all Gujaratis voted in the elections. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections for instance, only around 48% of those eligible voted. So at most we can draw conclusions about those who voted.

Secondly, with our first-past-the-post system, we cannot even say anything about the majority of those who voted. Due to the splitting of votes in multi-cornered elections, it is possible to win elections with less than 50% of the votes polled. Certainly, some Gujaratis are fascists. Are they the majority? I don't know.

Thirdly, you seem to have a great belief that if someone is voted in an election, then they can't be wrong. So presumably Hitler was not wrong: after all, he did get elected, no?

But more importantly, why do guys like you disavow the election principle when it comes to cases like Kashmir?

Hash Patel said...

He has resigned and dissolved the whole assembly, but the people selected him again as their leader. So what is supposed to do...wait till you accept that he is not guilty???

Dilip D'Souza said...

HP, one last time: the Guj CM failed in his duty in 2002. That's all. That he won an election after that doesn't change that failure.

HP said...

DD: One last time from me too: what is the price for failure? permanent exile from politics? jail? DEATH???

Dilip D'Souza said...

I have no idea what the price is, nor do I much care. I think there is such a thing as moral responsibility (at a minimum). In the case of a CM, it's a public responsibility.

Ahmer said...

Hi Dilip,

Having been a first person witness of the riots, I could not agree more with what you have put down.

Everytime, I come across somebody trying to say one of these things, will refer them to your post.

Thank You!

Sumedha said...

I completely agree - I don't know whether Modi was complicit or involved in the riots, but at the very least, he is completely ineffective as a leader and at the worst, he's a mass murderer. A CM has to be held responsible when the law breaks down in such a horrific manner and riots last for days.

I am really curious about how he won the next elections though - how could he possible have been voted in? Is it simply the FPTP system and lack of voters, as Suresh has commented above?

And, on an unrelated note, I'm glad you're back to updating this blog! :)

Suresh said...

So what is supposed to do...wait till you accept that he is not guilty???

Since you don't understand, let me start with Judge Khosla said about Nathuram Godse's final statement to the court:

The audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs. The silence was accentuated and made deeper by the sound of an occasional subdued sniff or a muffled cough…

I have however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ by an overwhelming majority.

I have taken this anecdote from Wikipedia, which in turn, has taken it from Judge Khosla's book Murder of the Mahatma and Other Cases from a Judge's Notebook.

I give this anecdote for a reason...

Is it too much to expect from you to understand that what happened in Gujarat ten years was a crime? A crime which must shame all of us, Gujaratis or not. And just as we would not judge Godse's guilt or innocence by what the majority of the court audience thinks, neither can we say anything about Modi's guilt based on what the majority of Gujaratis (who vote) think.

Get that? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is that the people of Gujarat elected Modi back. Everyone is trying to be too politically correct in not pointing towards "Gujarati" society in general. I am sorry, in my eyes, the Gujarati people are equally to blame and just blaming Modi is a cop-out.

After World-war 2, the German society accepted the blame for holocaust. Not everyone went to jail. But their constitution was changed. The country as a whole had to payback.

In the US, civil war was fought and millions died until the south lost the war and accepted abolition of slavery.

More recently (in the 1960s) appropriate laws were passed and US society was forced to change. Anti-discrimination laws were passed and enforced.

In Today's Gujarat an IIT Professor can not find a house just because he is a Muslim. See http://www.ahmedabadmirror.com/article/3/201202272012022700394019540491ac2/Developed-A%E2%80%99bad-denies-Muslim-prof-a-homecoming.html
and http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Gujarat/Senior-Muslim-IIT-professor-denied-flat-in-Gandhinagar/Article1-817595.aspx
If Gujarati society and government that allows such discrimination is not to blame, who is to blame.

Now lets look at other states in India.

Few years back, many people in Odisha were killed in the Kandhamal district when Christians were targeted after a swami was killed. The Sangh Parivaar outfits were again suspected to be main force behind the killings. Guess what the people do in the next elections.

BJP was wiped out in Odisha.

That is the difference between people of a state who have conscience and people of a state where a majority still supports its killers.

Sorry, its not just Modi or BJP, the Gujarati society as a whole needs to accept that it did a huge wrong in 2002 and apologize for it.

It needs to kick anybody and everybody who has any relation with the 2002 events and start anew.

Anonymous said...

Continuing with the last message:

South Africa was boycotted by a majority of the world and ultimately the apartheid regime had to crumble.

After Arizona refused to have a holiday for Martin Luther King, it was boycotted by many organizations (such as NFL) until it agreed.

Similarly, perhaps time has come for selective boycott of Gujarat until the silent majority in Gujarat forces the minority that supports killers (using whatever logic) to back down and make amends for 2002; Make amends such that an IIT professor is not refused accommodation because he is a Muslim.

As a start everyone at IIT Gandhinagar who is shocked by the treatment to the incoming professor should resign and join one of the other 14 IITs. There are enough vacancies in the other IITs. Unless Gujarati society sees the ridicule and faces pain it does not look like it is in the mood to repent.

It is time the media stopped its focus on Modi (the symptom) and goes after the cause, the Gujarati society at large that has accepted the events of 2002 with very little or no remorse.

Sorry, a spade has to be called a spade.

Anonymous said...

Once the focus shifts from Modi to the Gujarati society at large then one does not need to talk about commissions and courts.

The people who died in 2002 did not commit suicide. They were killed.

The society that allowed that killing; the society that allowed mobs to go and kill people because of their religious beliefs is GUILTY.

No judge, jury or commission is necessary.

The society that refuses to atone for these killings needs to be ridiculed and despised until they realize what they did was wrong and make ammends.

Chandru K said...

Would posters stop the nonsense equating Modi/Gujarat to Nazis, American slavery or the years of apartheid. Yes, Modi and his party were voted in. But they can also be voted out, something the Nazis would not countenance. Oh, and there's the matter of the scale. Genocide and pogroms, military conquest and expansion.

Anonymous said...

Is not it the religion version of apartheid that an IIT professor can not find a house to live (with the only option to stay in a ghetto) in because he is a muslim.

The problem with Gujarat is that good people are either afraid or spineless or don't care to come out in numbers to oppose the religious apartheid there.

The article http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-every-eden-has-a-serpent-in-gujarat-its-antipathy-to-muslims/20120228.htm has a similar theme.

Also, Gujarat's population is 60,38,3628 which is 20% more than South Africa's population of 49,991,300.

So the scale is there.

Anonymous said...

Following are some relevant (to the discussion here) quotes from



The paradox [is] of the otherwise mild, gentle Gujarati, characterised by his pursuit of commerce to the exclusion of all else, displaying strong, almost rabid, prejudices against Muslims… The Gujarati has … never accepted Muslims as a part of his society…


To get on with development, the past has to be put behind. That does not mean hiding it in a dark cupboard, but rather acknowledging it and expressing remorse for the patently unjustifiable acts. But just as the development scenario has continued to unfold in a continuum, so does this aberration of the collective Gujarati consciousness. In 2012, there is no more a sign of regret for the post-Godhra riots in everyday Gujarat than there was in its immediate aftermath in 2002. Modi’s role in these events needs to be seen in this light. He is a product of the evolving Gujarati culture and not the devil incarnate that has made it malignant, as his vociferous critics would have us believe.


Its time the modern Gujarati society lets go of the above legacy.

But to do that first they have to look within themselves and realize it.

Anonymous said...

Shreekant Sambrani's other article (from 2007) at http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/shreekant-sambraniashesgujarats-burning-train/466031/ makes many additional points. In it he says:

Britta Ohm describes this in a dispassionate manner in Economic and Political Weekly of December 8, 2007, concluding that “Post-democracy, in interaction with a liberalised economy, is thus able to legitimise exclusion more effectively than a mere authoritarian regime.” Damning words, but they should hold up a mirror to even those who would bask in the afterglow of a not-so-famous electoral victory.


Anonymous said...

The first page of Britta Ohm's article is at http://www.jstor.org/pss/40277019 . Very relevant.

Chandru K said...

It would also help if Moslems identified themselves fully with the Indic/Hindu culture and heritage of India, rather than adopting the stand-offish approach of 'we have a separate religion and culture'. That can't endear itself to Gujaratis, or to any other Indians. We saw the horrific consequence of this separatist mentality in 1947, and we have been seeing it again for the last 20 years in Kashmir. That's the spade that should be called.

Anonymous said...

Chandru: What you say very much resonates with what was said about the jews before the holocaust. So now you can go and introspect. If you need i can dig out exact references.

Anonymous said...

You may also go and read the Indian constitution. There is no requirement for Indian citizens to "identify themselves fully with the Indic/Hindu culture".

Chandru K said...

Britta Ohm is yet another one of these extremely arrogant, pompous, judgemental jerks, who hold forth at great length on India. Other notaries are Paul Brass and Martha Nussbaum. She has no clue or empathy for the great diversity of India, having come from a country which is used to mono-culture and mono-religion. The right approach is to identify a country which has India's similar problems and similar diversity, and then compare how the two( or whatever numbers) countries compare in managing diversity. All the while being mindful of history including specific events like partition, Kashmir separatism and the reality of neighbouring countries that are anti-democratic and anti-plural( Pakistan, China ). Without this empathy and awareness, articles like Ohm's become excercises in gassing and belching.

Anonymous said...

We are talking about Gujarat and the intolerance and religious apartheid practiced by Gujurati society at large.

Whatever be the reason, do you deny that Gujurati society at large practices religious apartheid?

If so explain, why an IIT professor can not get a decent place to live just because he is Muslim?

Expain why the Gujurati society at large is accepting such state of affair?

Explain why the Gujarat government has not done anything about it?

As I said before, Gujarat needs some strong medicine from some of the good people there. Good people at NID, IIM, IIT, etc, should just resign and join other more accepting places in India. Only after such actions Gujarat and the Gujarati society at large will learn that its intolerance will not be accepted by rest of India.

Chandru K said...

Fine, we can recognise that Gujarat has problems, as does every state in India. And these have to be dealt with. But someone like Britta Ohm, with no great insight or empathy for India should not be rambling on about Indian issues. Incidentally, her larger article( which you provided the link for) is practically unreadable!

Suresh said...

I think the problem is that the people of Gujarat elected Modi back. Everyone is trying to be too politically correct in not pointing towards "Gujarati" society in general. I am sorry, in my eyes, the Gujarati people are equally to blame and just blaming Modi is a cop-out.
In the Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence that we follow, responsibility for criminal acts is individual. We do not "blame" collectives or groups. Not even in the Nuremberg trials were the German people collectively blamed for the holocaust. The responsibility for that was pinned squarely on individuals. (Note, however, how the resident troll shamelessly blames Muslims as a whole, not only for the riots but also a whole range of other "crimes.")

Having said that, we also have to acknowledge that leaders do not emerge in a vacuum. They emerge from the society in which they live. So, we do have to ask why Gujarati society allows for the emergence of a leader like Narendrabhai Modi. And to be fair, such questions have been asked: see here for instance.

Chandru K said...

And let's also remember that leaders like Jinnah, Bhutto, Musharraf , Yahya Khan and Chou-En-Lai do not emerge out of a vacuum, that their rise and eventual power owes at least something to the character of the people that give them a degree of legitimacy( more with the likes of Jinnah, less with Chou). And that character involves a general love of demagoguery and appeals to violence and fanaticism, more than to a rational,calm, measured approach to politics and economics.

Chandru K said...

Winston Churchill should be added to the above group of awful 'leaders'. This is a character who had absolutely despicable, loathsome racist views, and moreover, was responsible for a terrible famine in Bengal in 1943( see Madushree Mukherjee's book). Yet he was, and is, still popular as a folk hero. What does that say about the people who voted him in, in the UK, or those that praise him for his leadership during WW2. In the context of what is being said about Modi, character of the Gujarati people etc.

Jai_C said...

While I feel some of what anonymous is trying to say here, and he/she has some good links and quotes, that I come back occasionally to read, I have to say that this:

"...The society that allowed that killing; the society that allowed mobs to go and kill people because of their religious beliefs is GUILTY.

No judge, jury or commission is necessary...."

looks more and more disturbing each time I read it. It doesnt help that is his/her opener.

I hope they are different anonymice.

On the topic, it should somehow be possible to create an L&O system insulated from who and what party is in power. Just imagine it not mattering how you know the CM or even how twisted his/her priorities are; if you commit a crime, the system gets you booked and tried and convicted.

Then it wouldnt matter who your voters put in power. This could probably lead to people voting in better parties/ leaders!

Or do I have that backwards.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for putting into words what is in the minds of thousands, but who are unable/unwilling to do so.

You, sir, in my view are a hero for being willing to stand up for this unpopular cause and opening yourself to criticism and brickbats on this public forum.

I could not agree more with what you say.

-- Sarah