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.