Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bye-elections in AP: Details of the seats

16 MLAs from the Congress party and1 MLA from the erstwhile Praja Rajyam Party voted against their party whips against the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh, way back in December 2011. The Speaker took his own sweet time to disqualify these 17 MLAs (he disqualified 16 and accepted the resignation of the lone (erstwhile) PRP MLA). 

These 17 MLAs were supporting YSR's son, Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy. 

Cine actor, Chiranjeevi resigned from his Tirupati assembly seat because he got "promoted" to Rajya Sabha by the Congress party. 

One member of Lok Sabha from the Congress party also resigned in support of Jagan. 

That makes it 18 Assembly seats and 1 Lok Sabha seat that will be going to the bye-polls on the 12th of June. 

Following is the list of the constituencies and the top 5 vote winners in each constituency in the 2009 general election. I will put up the list of candidates for this election as soon as they are available on the Election Commission site. 

This post will be a primer for readers to understand how people voted in the 2009 elections. Except for the Tirupati seat, winners from all the other seats are now contesting under the aegis of YSRCP. 

The Parkal and Tirupati seat results are also being keenly watched. Parkal result will show if the sentiment for Telangana runs stronger than the sentiment for YSRCP. The fight here might be a tight contest between TRS, BJP and YSRCP. The number of votes BJP got might be very less in 2009, but the recent election victory in Mahbubnagar (BJP got ~2000 votes in 2009 in the same seat) tells a different story. 

The Tirupati seat is being watched keenly because this will be seen as a verdict of the people on Chiranjeevi's decision to merge his party into the Congress. It is widely expected that the Congress party will lose here and a mere confirmation is awaited on June 15th. 

The contest in majority of the other 16 seats will mostly be one-sided. YSRCP is expected to win a majority (or even maybe a clean sweep) of these seats. These election results will alter the course of AP politics for sure. We will discuss more in upcoming posts.

For now, here's a look of the top five performers in each constituencies in 2009. Please click on the image for better viewing :). 

The Legend is this:

104. Parkal (2009 result)

127. Narsannapeta (2009 result)

152. Payakraopet (2009 result)

161. Ramachandrapuram (2009 result)

177. Narsapuram (2009 result)

186. Polavaram (2009 result) 

212. Prathipadu (2009 result)

220. Macherla (2009 result) 

227. Ongole (2009 result)

242. Udayagiri (2009 result)

244. Rajampet (2009 result) 

246. Kodur (2009 result) 

247. Rayachoti (2009 result) 

253. Allagadda (2009 result) 

263. Yemmiganur (2009 result) 

267. Rayadurg (2009 result) 

272. Ananthapur Urban (2009 result) 

286. Tirupati (2009 result) 

1 Lok Sabha constituecy is also going to polls. 

39. Nellore

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2002 & Narendra Modi - All parts

What happened in 2002? What happened in Gujarat before and after 2002?Why is the media behind Gujarat 2002 as if it is the only riot that ever happened? Who were the victms? What about the justice to the families of the victims? How has the internet helped in making people better informed? What is the role of the media in all this? 

These and many more questions/thoughts have been floating in my mind since a very long time. The only way to seek clarity was to read as much as possible and form informed opinions. I have written six blog posts to discuss these thoughts and how they have evolved. 

Part-1 (Introduction) is here
Part-2 (What happened in 2002) is here
Part-3 (The allegations) is here
Part-4 (The allegations) is here
Part-5 (Justice to victims) is here
Part-6 (What happened since 2002) is here

And to make is easier, am pasting all the articles below. 

Part- 1

The Supreme Court appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate a complaint filed by Ms. Zakia Jafri and Ms.Teesta Setalvad (who has been using Ms. Zakia as her front). Amongst other things, Ms. Zakia also accuses the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi of being responsible for killing her husband. An IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt also joins the petition and says he was at the meeting where Mr. Modi said illegal stuff.

TV media has a field day inviting these folks and telecasting their views/screams over and over again. Any small event related to this, full hour long debates and pages worth material were published. A couple of months ago, the SIT report was "leaked". And again these people went into a tizzy.

So what is this SIT report? What is this Amicus Curiae report? What exactly were they investigating? What happened in 2002? What happened in Gujarat before and after 2002?Why is the media behind Gujarat 2002 as if it is the only riot that ever happened? Who were the victms? What about the justice to the families of the victims? How has the internet helped in making people better informed? What is the role of the media in all this? 

These and many more questions/thoughts have been floating in my mind since a very long time. The only way to seek clarity was to read as much as possible and form informed opinions. In the next few blog posts, I want to discuss these and many more such thoughts. 

For about 6-8 years since 2002, my primary source of information opinion on these riots was the mainstream media. Therefore, in the posts that I plan,  the narrative will revolve around these various shades of media opinion that were imposed on readers/viewers like me. 

In the first post today, we will discuss the latest media coverage on the final SIT report submitted to the Supreme Court. 

The above snapshot is of a tweet Padmashri Barkha Dutt sent out almost immediately after that statement was out. She also re-tweeted a couple of other tweets sent by fans.

Those were the days when she was being hounded by all and sundry as guilty (of scam, of lobbying, of unethical journalism etc). And then this statement by Radia to the CBI came out. And Padmashri Barkha Dutt was very happy that this statement did not include her name. And more importantly, she wondered "why some sections of the media are now silent".

Now isn't that a logical question? Wouldn't you expect the media houses that screamed judged someone "guilty", scream at the same volume when that someone is found "not guilty" (mind you, the statement still does not absolve her of dishonest journalism!).

Nevertheless, isn't it common sense that the media give the exact same coverage to both the "guitly" and the "not guilty" scenarios? Since Padmashri Barkha Dutt is the group editor of NDTV, so you'd expect the same objectivity from NDTV when dealing with other cases too.

When the SIT report was "leaked",  NDTV even had a "Big Fight" on "what the various versions of what the report apparently contains".

And this week, the SIT report was out. Officially. You want to take a guess at the airtime for this? 33 minutes. Yep, just 33 minutes. And what do they debate on?

See the headline. You would assume that Narendra Modi gave an illegal order and the SIT still said it was not an offence. And don't miss the outrage too - "Really, SIT?" Oh, where would we have been if not for this torchbearer of the law!

And they didn't do it once, they did that twice. Another snapshot below.

You see that? - They continue to say "Modi's illegal orders not an offence?". The headline continues to the imply the same - Mr. Modi gave an illegal order

Now read the fine print - "The panel concludes that even if Modi gave illegal verbal orders...". Read it again - "even if"

So what exactly did the SIT conclude? It concluded that Narendra Modi gave no illegal orders. That too, after detailing in an exhaustive manner as to how it arrived at this conclusion. Not once, but twice.

 In it's preliminary report:

In it's final report:

And it also "concluded" this -

 This report by Kartikeya Tanna clarifies the "conclusion" for you in better detail.

So now you see the game? Editor of NDTV will question the "silence" when it comes to uneven coverage on her, but when it comes to the most high profile case, will keep mum (not a single tweet on this report by the Padmashri), will not debate the final report. The CEO who had a "Big Fight" on the "apparent versions" hasn't yet bothered to have a debate when the only version has been submitted. NDTV even took credit for the early stopping of the riots, but when it comes to the final report that nails their claims, they are mum.

Instead, they hung on to one line in the report, twisted it to the max possible extent and went into radio silence ever since!

Other news media went a step further, and started to discredit Raghavan personally (a clarification of this report was published in a remote corner of Page 10). Some dished out "analysis" - these would lose out badly if submitted in an essay writing competition for 6th class students! 

Like a fellow tweeter commented, "The SIT report should not be confused with a movie which did not end like you wanted"

In the subsequent posts, let's discuss more in detail these investigations and the actual happenings. 


The above tweet by Sonia Singh (currently, Editorial Director, NDTV) was sent a day after the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi refused to give an interview only to NDTV on the first day of his Sadbhavana, whilst he spoke to all other TV channels (all interviews can be seen here). Those at NDTV were proud of that fact that he didn't talk to them and went about telling us stuff like the above tweet. Sample this too

So far, so good. 

Now let's see what the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team and the Amicus Curiae had to say on the media. 

Please note, the above marked comment is not made by some troll or "stalkers". 

Now, if NDTV was the "only private news channel" at that time, is the above recommended action also against NDTV? If so, can we go to town (like these people often do) and scream our voices out? Even if not, shall we do multiple shows and debates on how media, in general, helped in fanning the riots (by "publishing communally inciting reports"). 

Update: I have to apologize for some slack here :( A fellow tweeter alerted me that the complaint was specifically against some print publications and not NDTV or media in general. He is right - the allegation was against "print media". Since Amicus said "media", I jumped the gun. Hence deleting a couple of lines above. 

So what is this riot that has an entire industry clinging on to it? 

On the morning of Feb.27, 2002, a coach carrying "kar sevaks" or "ram sevaks" was set on fire just outside the Godhra railway station in Gujarat. 57 people died in that horrifying attack, 43 were injured. About 40 of them were women and children. These people were returning from Ayodhya. 

But why were they murdered? 

According to The Hindu's editorial then:

The Hindu which has been severely critical of an "action-reaction" comment (more on that later) by the Chief Minister just choose different words in it's editorial to explain to us why 57 innocent people (40 of them women and children) had to be murdered. 

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) was campaigning that they will start the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, from March 15th that year. The BJP-led NDA government was not inclined to give permission to the VHP for the same (not my words - read The Hindu's Feb 28th edition). A sample

Amidst such a mood, this attack took place on the kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya. 

Sadly and unfortunately, this incident led to a very large scale violence and killings in the state, for about 2-3 days. From the morning of Feb.28, reports started tickling in about mobs going on the rampage in many areas in the Ahmedabad city limits. Some media folks sounded weird (or maybe they wanted to) that the relatively peaceful atmosphere went for a "six".

On March 1st, more reports started tickling in about retaliatory violence by the offended groups. 

This despicable cycle of killing and counter-killing and further counter-killing was happening despite a curfew being clamped and despite the army being present too and despite coverage by NDTV. Hundreds of innocent people were further massacred by rage mobs. Poignant stories about how people were chased and killed; horrifying stories about how innocents were dragged out and killed made very very sad reading. 

Irrespective of what and who started it, the killings of so many innocent people is undesirable in any civil society. Each life is important and anyone guilty of such murders needs to be brought to book - there is no ambiguity and doubt about it. 

And since so many innocent lives were lost, the clamour of Narendra Modi's resignation began. Within the ruling party too, there were different voices on whether Narendra Modi should stay or go. Ultimately it was decided that the BJP will directly go to the people - the assembly was suspended and elections were called for. Elections were held the same year, and the BJP, led by Narendra Modi won the mandate of the people. 

Perhaps it is this victory in the people's court that was not acceptable to the "riot industry" and that's when they started coming up with all kind of weird stories. While investigations were almost reaching decisive stages in 2006, these people (led by Teesta Setalvad) suddenly approached the High Court (and upon rejection, the Supreme Court), demanding that fresh investigations be made based on new information the people who filed cases have. 

And as a result, the Supreme Court appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to go into the details of  the 8 cases and numerous "allegations" that Teesta and co. raised. This blog post by Vijay details well, the chronology of how Teesta and co. delayed the proceedings (including seeking the appointment of an Amicus Curiae). 

And after about 4 years, that report was finally done and submitted to the court. And because that report exonerates many people the riot industry dislikes, the media is agog with discontent. Their self sanctimonius action of bringing "the truth of riots to India" sounds so hollow when we compare their coverage/views on other riots. 

What are these allegations? What does the report say? What did the government do while the riots were happening? How have young impressionable minds been taken for a ride? These and many more points to be discussed in the next post. This post was primarily to summarize what happened in 2002 in Gujarat, coupled with some media reports on the same. 


Proceed against Modi for Gujarat Riots: Amicus screamed a headline on the Front Page of The Hindu. 

First, who is an Amicus Curiae (referred to as AC hereafter)? According to Wikipedia, "someone, not a party to a case, who volunteers to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it... The phrase amicus curiae is legal Latin and literally means "friend of the court"".

Essentially, the court appointed an AC to go over the SIT report that was submitted in 2010. The AC in his interim report suggested further enquiry to establish guilt/no guilt in 2 allegations. The SIT did a further investigation and filed a closure report. AC gave his opinion on that report too, and submitted to the court. That is his final report

Now let's get back to the headline and the report. The report claims that the AC recommended to proceed against Narendra Modi and cites the AC:

In my opinion, the offences which can be made out against Shri Modi, at this prima facie stage, are offences, inter alia, under Sections 153 A (1) (a) & (b) (statements promoting enmity between communities), 153B(1) (c) (imputations and assertions prejudicial to national interest), 166 (public servant disobeying a direction of the law with intent to cause injury) and 505 (2) (statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC"

Nothing wrong in that claim, for it just copied what the AC wrote. It's just that The Hindu has been up to some mischief and very conveniently does not tell the reader how the AC arrived at that opinion. Here are a few snapshots from the report below:

"IF" the statement is to be believed. "IF".

One more sample:

"IF" Shri Sanjiv Bhatt is to be believed. "IF".

Earlier Sample:

"IF" there is some material. "IF".

Final sample:

"IF" Shri Bhatt stands the test of cross-examination. "IF". 

Now, isn't it elementary? It's like saying, "IF" you cheat, you will be booked under Section 420; "IF" you kill, you will be booked under Section 302 (I know these two sections from movies ;)!). Or when as a kid you were told, "If you don't behave, police will come and take you"!! Why do we need a front page report to tell us that "IF" a person did something wrong he can be prosecuted? 

So what is this statement that "Shri" Sanjiv Bhatt attributes to Mr. Narendra Modi? What are the different allegations made by Teesta and co.? 

One of the biggest allegation (which I believed was true for a very long time) was this: 

I believed that to be true. I have heard in various shows and forums that the dead bodies were paraded in Ahmedabad with a view to incite clashes. I found that thought and action very sickening. It just was not comprehensible to me that someone can take advantage of dead bodies in this gruesome manner. Then I got to read blogs, news etc on the net and found conflicting versions of this allegation. The conflicting version was that these bodies were transported to Ahmedabad in the dead of the night and no parading happened.

The Special Investigation team, in its detailed report explains clearly and precisely (pages 59-64) the entire timeline of how and why the bodies were transported (including the truck numbers) to Ahmedabad. The report concludes that the bodies were NOT paraded. And the AC agreed with the extensive investigation of  the SIT.

Even after this is out, some Dave guy on NDTV's recent outing says "The fact of the matter is that the bodies were paraded". Now, how on earth are we supposed to even argue with such gossip mongers?

When I first read reports of the bodies not being paraded, was also the first time I started getting skeptical about any claim made by these "riot industry" folks. I started viewing everything with suspicion but never had enough data/reports to confirm my suspicions. The SIT report cleared so many of those confusions for me (and hopefully many like me).

Let's now discuss about what allegation this Sanjiv Bhatt makes. Actually it is an allegation by Teesta and co. Sanjiv Bhatt mysteriously turns up after 9 years to say he is proof that the allegation is correct.

The summary of this allegation (by a couple of officers, teesta etc) is that the Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi issued instructions to the police asking them to allow Hindus to vent anger on Muslims. This alleged instruction was given in a meeting with senior officers on the night of 27th February, 2002 (same day when the train coaches was burnt in Godhra). This claim was made by two police officers (Sanjiv Bhatt and R.B.Sreekumar) and a minister, Haren Pandya (the wording of their claims deferred though, but let's just look at the "larger/big picture").

The initial report of SIT itself debunked these claims, but the AC report recommended further investigation and the SIT ran another investigation.  

In the pages 20-58 of their final report, the SIT explains in great detail how Sanjiv Bhatt lied about his attending more than one meeting at the CM's residence; how he forced his driver to tell the SIT that he infact was at CM's residence at the said times; how he has been inconsistent with his answers etc. Sample the below conclusion by the SIT:

You must read all those 38 pages, to understand how Sanjiv Bhatt was hell bent on misleading the SIT and trying to project himself as the lone torch bearer of truth. 

What about Shri R.B.Sreekumar's claim then? He claimed that the DGP told him that the Chief Minister told something! That's way too vague, isn't it? After decent investigation, the SIT thus concludes:

And finally what about the minister? All the participants of the meeting have categorically denied the presence of both Sanjiv Bhatt and late Haren Pandya. ALL of them. Haren Pandya claimed this:

The SIT, after a good investigation of his whereabouts finally concludes: 

Make a note - "Established beyond doubt. "

Now the AC agrees with the findings of SIT with respect to both Sreekumar and Haren Pandya. 

Then what about Sanjiv Bhatt's claim and the SIT's conclusion then? The AC says this: 

The AC is left with no doubt that there are people who would "gain mileage" out of this testimony? Who would want to "gain mileage" out of this? Why would anyone want to "gain mileage" out of this? Not a single media organisation asked that question. 

And do you know with whom he was "strategizing"? With the leaders of opposition. With journalists. With Teesta and others.

Have you ever seen a headline that said, "Is Sanjiv Bhatt playing politics over the riots?" No, you won't. 

The AC also bases his arguments on two other points. He believes a serving officer would not make such serious allegations. And AC also says there is no documentary proof that Bhatt was present/absent at the meeting. Hence, "IF" his allegations are true, a case can be filed against Mr. Narendra Modi. 

Legally speaking, what the AC says makes sense. There is infact no clinching documentary proof that Bhatt was present/not present at the meeting. That's what he opined too. He very clearly states that only "IF" the allegation by Bhatt can stand the "test of cross examination", then a case can be made against Modi. Like I said earlier, that's common sense - obviously if he stands the test of cross examination a case can be made out. IF. The SIT disagrees though that a case can be made out. 

SIT has shown to us how Sanjiv Bhatt has lied about attending other meetings; and also forced his driver to give statements. Leaked e-mails have shown to us how Sanjiv Bhatt was strategizing. Even the AC tells us that Bhatt was strategizing. SIT report also details cases existing against Bhatt since 1990. Amidst this background, why should one be inclined to believe Mr. Bhatt at all? I, for sure, wouldn't attach any value to his incoherent statements, specially after going through pages 20-58 of the SIT report. 

In the next part, we will discuss about more allegations. 

PS: Sorry for all those snapshots - the uploaded pdf doc of the SIT report is a scanned report. So it's difficult to copy and paste :) 


Teesta Setalvad is an oft maligned personality for various reasons. But I'd say, we should be eternally thankful to her. For, if she had not resorted to such complaints legally, we would have never got to know what the truth actually is. It's another story that the truth turned out to be that she was peddling lies, but then.... atleast we got to know the truth!

Another allegation that first made rounds and then became the gospel truth - Not enough was done to stop the riots. Infact some used to say nothing was done to stop them. Teesta complained to the Supreme Court that:

From pages 135 to 138, the SIT report details the entire timeline of how the army was deployed from the midnight of 28thFeb/1st March. The gist is that the army was alerted on the 27th itself, but those were the days of heightened tension at the borders (the army was deployed at the border after the attack on Parliament in Dec. 2001), so army units were not present in Gujarat. After violence escalated on the morning on 28th Feb, it was decided to call in the army. A request was sent to the centre, and army started arriving on the midnight of 28th Feb. I am not sure what more should have been done to bring in the army.

And it's not just the SIT - media reports at that time itself indicated the same (a snapshot from The Hindu below):

ok fine, the army was called on time but what about the state police action then?

Sadly for us, Teesta did not complain on the general police actions during the riots. Nor did she complain about how the law and order was maintained. Hence I don't think SIT went into those details (Am yet to finish up the report though).

The AC has also agreed with the SIT on:

A good reference on what was done to control the raging mobs can be found here. When we say mobs, what is the number we are talking about here?

A mob of 10,000 people!! Just at one area! Newspaper reports at that time are good references too - preventive arrests were made, rapid action forces were deployed, help was sought from neighbouring states (that refused);

Reports also specify many instances of police firing on the raging mobs, killing those out to kill; shoot at sight orders were issued as and when situation got out of hand; the CM was addressing the media etc. One of the biggest grouses that media people have was that Modi made no appeal for peace. I believed that for a very long time and wondered why he never bothered to even appeal for peace.

 Here's the youtube video where he does so, on the morning of 28th Feb, 2002 (a day after the Godhra incident). My cynicism of these rumour mongers deepened after seeing this video. I came to know about this video just about last year. A couple of snapshots below:

And then they complained he has not done on subsequent days! Media reports at that time clearly tell us that he had press interactions on almost a daily basis. What more should he do?

The "action-reaction" comment.

Till about atleast 5 years, I never knew what the actual comment was! All I kept hearing was that the Chief Minister made an "action-reaction" comment. They even said that he said "For every action, there will be an equal and opposite reaction". They went ahead and equated this to the actual Rajiv Gandhi's statement -"when a big tree falls, the earth is bound to shake". I always felt that Narendra Modi should not have said so (that is, until I believed that he actually said so). The SIT report shatters that myth too.

The complaint was:

His exact quote was:

You see the difference? He said - "There is a chain of action-reaction going on. We want that neither action happens nor reaction happens". This is just so different from analysing the situation as "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Times of India apparently even claimed he said the same but it turned out to be a big lie. As always, their correction was published in a remote corner.

The "kirya-pratikriya" comment was made in an interview to Zee TV. The guy who took the interview says he does not have the CD with him. In a subsequent interview at a later point of time too, the CM said there would have been no post-Godhra riots, if there was no Godhra train burning incident.

Wasn't that a fact? Post-Godhra riots happened because a train was burnt in Godhra. How does that possibly amount to justifying the macabre killings over the 2-3 days? Now, we are exempt from even analysing why the riots happened?

The SIT has concluded that the "kriya-pratikriya" statement was made with reference to the killing of ex-MP Ahesan Jafri. The SIT also felt that because the late MP fired his gun first, the mob got more violent and killed him. Now, how does this amount to justifying it? Merely stating facts amounts to justifying events? The mob would have anyway got violent, but since a sequence of events occurred, doesn't it become the SIT's responsibility to state them?

The call by Ahesan Jafri

Another major point I have been listening to for years was that the ex-MP, Mr.Ahesan Jafri made a call to the Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi to save him but Mr. Modi didn't oblige. Then they said, Mr. Modi even abused Mr. Jafri. I believed them, for I wondered why would anyone make such serious charges. I wondered why Mr. Modi behaved the way he was alleged to have behaved.

Sadly, Mr. Ahesan Jafri was killed in the riots, but those who took up cudgels on their behalf made sure the lie was repeated multiple times. That it was a lie is what the SIT concluded. Prior to arriving at this conclusion, SIT gives us a detailed explanation of the call records etc.

And then there was this fancy article by Arundhati Roy where she puts her writing skills to proper use - only that the "facts" mentioned there are complete lies. But imagine the impression it would have created to those who read it? Kamal Hassan used this incident as an example in one of his movies (a remake of A Wednesday) years later too! More importantly, when her bluff was called, she just chickened out. 

The allegations discussed in part-3 and here form the crux of the arguments that have shaped my opinion so far.

Ok fine - all this "I learnt so much" bunkum is ok - what about the victims? What about justice to those who actually suffered? We will discuss that in the next part. 



The above gentleman believes that Narendra Modi is guilty for the riots we discussed in the last 4 parts. I guess it would be safe to assume that he (and his ilk) assume they are holding Narendra Modi guilty of murder or atleast an accomplice to murder (because of perceived inaction of the state government). 

And what is that they want him to do? Say sorry. Yep, that's right. Just say sorry. Just say sorry and we will not hound you. They keep asking him, "arre, atleast he should should some regret?". How strange is it that all you seek from a person you think is guilty of murder is a mere sorry? 

Recently Indian Express reported this:

Congress general secretary B.K. Hari Prasad told reporters: "The fact that around 3,000 people died in the communal riots needs no proof.

If that is how these people want the law to function, I have nothing else to add! So what is the correct number?

On May 11, 2005, the central government informed Rajya Sabha that 1044 people were killed in the Godhra and post-Godhra violence. 790 of them were Muslims and 254 were Hindus. 223 people were reported missing and 2548 people were injured. In 2008, six years after being reported missing, the 223 people were also declared dead. Wikipedia also says that about 20,000 preventive arrests were made too. 

On November 9th, 2011, a special court convicted 31 people for murdering 33 Muslims in a village.

Below is a snapshot from Nov. 10, 2011

I was genuinely surprised when I first read the news item. "First case in which a large number of people were convicted" - Till that point of time, I was generally assuming that people have been punished for umpteen number of riots that happened in our country since Independence. It was truly depressing to note that this was "first case in which a large number of people were convicted". Also please note that the above convictions are not the first in these particular riots.  Some instances of earlier convictions are here (some go back to 2003 too).

I tried digging up information on how many people were convicted during the 1990 Hyderabad riots (specifically looked for these because I am from Hyderabad. Vividly remember the curfew for days together in the entire city, and 300 people were killed). Couldn't find any. Many such riots like these never saw a good conviction rate, which is sad and reflects the poor state of our justice delivery system. 

And then, something else caught my eye in another report based on the same verdict. 

In this particular case, there was such a big delay because the Supreme Court ordered stopping of investigation in 2003 only to resume it in 2008. And in about 3 years, we have had 31 people convicted of murder. I had mentioned in one of the earlier posts in this series - This blog post by Vijay details well, the chronology of how Teesta and co. delayed the proceedings (including seeking the appointment of an Amicus Curiae). 

According to the same report -

Some survivors of the 2002 Sardarpura carnage in Mehsana district of Gujarat said they were “happy” with the verdict by a special court given on Wednesday (awarding life term for 31 accused), but would have appreciated it if more accused had been convicted.

I don't know why The Hindu chose to put happy in quotes though. The victims were content with the verdict.

The verdicts did not stop there. On April 9, 2012

The reports also detail how police were trying their best to control a 1500 strong mob (by firing, and even getting injured).

More convictions followed in the same case later in May.

Earlier too, there were convictions on the Godhra train burning case.

Which brings us to a curious question - if 31 were convicted here, then why is the other verdict hailed as landmark? Anyways, that's not the main point we wish to discuss here too.

My point is very simple- those who are guilty needs to be punished. And for that their guilt needs to be proved in a court of law. Narendra Modi himself has said (in a TV interview to Headlines today during 2009 elections) "punish me if I am guilty, why are you merely asking for an apology". Rajdeep Sardesai recently wondered why no big politician was arrested in 1984 and 2002 riots cases (it's another matter that only 13 people have been convicted in the entire Sikh massacre. Just 13).

Fair question - but where is the proof? NDTV tom toms about bringing the truth of the riots to the country - have they bothered to submit their video recordings to a court of law? Do the recordings contain evidence of "big politicians" leading the mobs and resorting to murder? Planning murder? If so, please place them in the court. Let natural justice be meted out. 

Let's not spare anybody if we have the evidence. But please do not sugar coat your fight against Narendra Modi with a "justice for victims" tag. And if there is proof of Narendra Modi's guilt too - please punish him (he himself has said this).

Justice for the victims would mean the perpetrators of the ghastly crimes be punished. The wheels of justice for the victims of riots in 2002 have finally begun to move - evident from the recent court rulings. If the likes of Teesta don't put further spokes, we might see more convictions soon. It has obviously not been a smooth ride to get this justice too, but unfortunately so is the plight of the umpteen number of riot victims over the years across the country. 

Let's not get carried away by the "secular lokbudhi" of demanding an apology. That amounts to doing injustice to the victims, not justice. 

So far, we have discussed about 2002. What has happened since 2002? We will discuss that in the next (and the last in this series) post. 


Harish Khare emphatically wrote that statement on March 1, 2002. Even as the riots were on, the then senior correspondent of The Hindu (who later went on to become PM's media advisor in UPA) told us that attracting foriegn investment can be forgotten. While the riots were on, Harish Khare thought about foreign investments (whatever the context is).

And at the end of his article, he asks:

Gujarat was in quotes because he wondered if the riots would happen again? He also wondered that if riots will repeated "all over North India".

I want to meet Mr. Khare now and ask him - now that Gujarat attracts perhaps the maximum foreign investment; now that 'Gujarat' was not repeated; now that it not "allowed to be repeated" - will he write another article mentioning these points?

Every single time a discussion on Narendra Modi came up, I was always stuck at the point of trying to seek answers to the 2002 riddle. "But there has been a lot of development" argument didn't sound convincing enough to myself. What use of development when there is no security? - was what I always thought. The election victories of Mr. Modi in 2002 and 2007 told a totally different story. A story that made little sense to me earlier.

And as we approach another election in Gujarat this year, one of the most striking aspect of the last 10 years has been both development and security. Now, we have states wanting to emulate the Gujarat success stories. A state that is known for its gory history of communal clashes hasn't seen as much as even a curfew in the past 9-10 years - shouldn't that be counted as an achievement in itself?

The victims are still seeking justice, no doubt about that. Some of them have already received justice. Others  hopefully will, but an administration cannot be seen as not wanting the state to move on. I know "move on" is easier said than done, but my intention here is to not advise the victims to move on. The riot industry expects the state of Gujarat to remain mired in these controversies and any attempt by the government to make the people more secure (through jobs, schemes, visions, programs etc) is unfortunately (or understandably?) downplayed. 

Over the years, we have also heard of many innovative programs on the agriculture front in Gujarat, thereby achieving a growth that is way above the national average. Disgruntled media outlets also could not escape this fact and had to do stories on this growth. 

And then we heard of 24 hour power supply to villages in the state. To ALL of the villages in the state, through Jyoti Gram yojana. I don't think it is necessary to discuss how big a factor this 24 hour power supply.

And the scheme where we learnt that the entire state machinery will go to town every single year, trying to enroll children, convince parents etc. The result - dropout rates are amongst the least in the country. 

And lest Mr. Khare brings up "foreign investment", a Vibrant Gujarat summit that is held once every two years (this is the only event that the entire "national" media focusses on). In the latest summit in 2011, a mere 7,936 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed for just Rs. 20,83,000 ($ 450 billion) crore. Even if 25% of these materialize, that's significant. 

The above schemes/programs are just a few that I am writing about here. There's the focus on solar energy; there's focus on infrastructure; there's focus on irrigation; there's focus on law and order etc. 

All the above development schemes would mean little if there was no security. But now we have seen how there is security and development. On a personal front, many of my doubts have been cleared on Narendra Modi ( and also BJP in general). Take a look at the discourse in most of the BJP (and NDA) ruled states - it's primarily about development (perhaps we will discuss more on that some other day). 

The choice is to trust the courts, the investigation agencies and lawyers (appointed by SC), the police and the elections; or to trust the "riot industry". I have finally made my choice. 

And with that, I end this six-part series on "2002 & Narendra Modi".