- By Sajjad Shaukat
The 2002 Gujarat riots were a three-day period of communal violence in the Indian state of Gujarat by extremist Hindus under the guidance and command of the Indian Prime Minister Narinder Modi who was chief minister of Gujarat and mastermind the massacre of the Muslims.
Besides previous massacre of Muslims, more than 2500 Muslims were killed in the BJP-ruled Indian state of Gujarat where horrible scenes of arson, mutation and rape were perpetrated by the Hindu extremists against the unarmed Muslims.
Regarding that massive genocide, both Human Rights Watch in 2002 and Amnesty International in 2003 charged the “Gujarat state administration” for involvement in “a massive cover-up of the state’s role in that massacres” and pointed out numerous police officials—specifically ministers, high officials and leaders of the fundamentalist outfits such as VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal as participants.
While, Modi’s involvement in Gujarat riots is without any doubt. In this regard, Rana Ayub in his book, “Gujarat files- Anatomy of A Cover-up” and Manoj Mitha in his book, “The Fiction of Fact Finding”, and Sreekumar in his Book “Gujarat behind the Curtain” have proved Modi’s involvement in the genocide of the Muslims in Gujarat.
In this context, in an open letter published in “the Guardian” on April 10, 2014, even most well-respected international intellectuals of India held Modi as the main culprit behind the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat.
According to Ashish Nandy, “The Gujarat pogrommes were not just about the number of helpless victims killed (over 3000) and rendered homeless (several hundred thousand). It was about the sheer planning, the brutality, the maniacal genocide that was perpetrated over a population for days on end…Narendra Modi did not only shamelessly preside over the riots and act as the chief patron of rioting gangs, the vulgarities of his utterances have been a slur on civilised public life. His justifications of the riots, too, sound uncannily like that of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president and mass murderer…facing trial for his crimes against humanity. I often wonder these days why those active in human rights groups in India and abroad have not yet tried to get international summons issued against Modi for colluding with the murder of hundreds and for attempted ethnic cleansing. If Modi’s behavior till now is not a crime against humanity, what is?”
In this connection, following Gujarat riots in 2002 and State collusion, a US Commission for international religious freedom (USCIRF) established that the then Gujarat Chief Minister Modi was linked to communal riots in a significant way. It also pointed that Modi’s ministerial colleague Maya Kodnani was fully involved in the massacre of Muslims. Following its findings, the Commission recommended a US visa ban for Modi.
And the Chairperson of the Commission Katrina Lantos Swett went further to recommend India to be placed in Tier 2 countries on religious freedom. Tier 2 countries are those countries where religious persecution and other violations of religious freedom are either promoted with State connivance or tolerated by the government in-charge
Notably, a report of the British High Commission in India said that the pogrommes in Gujarat in 2002 “had all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing and reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims is impossible, while the Chief Minister Modi remains in power.” The report also said, “Far from being spontaneous…this massacre was planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by extremist Hindu organisations with the support of the state government headed by Modi.”
Meanwhile, various investigations failed in indicating the real culprits of Hindu terrorism in Gujarat as they were high officials or police officers of the Indian government. Therefore, the Supreme Court of India had ordered a fresh probe on March 25, 2008, but the same also remains inconclusive due to concealment of evidence against the culprits who are members of the dominating political parties of the country. Since the BJP-led Mod became Indian prime minister, covert interference of his government and those of the fundamentalist parties—BJP and RSS in the investigations of Gujarat riots have kept the case under carpet.
Despite eye witness testimony, implicating the highest elected political officials, justice continues to evade the victims. In a recent development, 70 accused persons of Gujrat pogrom were set free by the court.
It is mentionable that the US government had denied visa to Modi on the basis of his involvement in Gujarat progromme, however, after his election as Indian prime minister, the stance of American government changed to his favour. It shows double standard of America. Washington which also prefers India over Pakistan is providing New Delhi with latest arms and equipments at the cost of Pakistan.
US has set aside the facts that India has broken all the records of violence, genocide and massacre perpetrated on various ethnic and religious groups entailing the community of its own lower castes. Apparently, India claims to be the largest democracy, acting upon the principles of liberalism and secularism, yet in practice, all political, economic and social fields of the country are controlled by the BJP government which itself is under the influence of the RSS, and is fulfilling extremist agenda of the later.
It is surprising that theoretically, Indian Constitution safeguards the rights of minorities, but in practice, ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) prevails. Hindu majority led by the BJP has shown complete disregard to it, and commit excesses and cruelties against Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits with impunity.
Hindu politics and culture, dominated by the fundamentalist parties such as BJP, VHP, Shiv Sena and RSS including other extremist outfits have been propagating Hindutva.
Nonetheless, Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat who masterminded and led the Muslim massacre has, reportedly, destroyed all the documents related to the 2002 genocide of the Muslims. Keeping his past record, it can be forecasted easily that minorities in India will face further persecution and barbarity at the hands of Hindu extremists and more incident of Gurat-like riots will take place as Modi is in power saddles.