Journalists Lead Indians
To Redeem Their Values
By Mirza A. Beg
02 November, 2007
the intrepid news magazine did what the Indian government should have
done in the past five years. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to
the editor of Tahelka, Tarun Tejpal and reporter Ashish Khetan who took
enormous risk to procure evidence on video tapes about the planning
of the genocide perpetrated by the fascistic Gujarat state government
in February – March 2002. The tapes also record admissions of
suppression of evidence and bribery by the public prosecutors to protect
The culpable Gujarat state
government (still in power), got away with it, because at the time their
party (BJP) was also in power at the center in Delhi. In 2004 elections
for the central Parliament, the Indian electorate exhibited maturity
by defeating the fascistic coalition in favor of a secular coalition
dominated by the Congress party. However the Congress has been reticent
to bring the Gujarat government to the bar of justice. It is afraid
of being falsely tarred by the fascists, as anti–Hindu.
That may not come to pass.
In the past, when the Congress party was a large undefeatable behemoth,
many in its cadre were extremist sectarians who had joined in pursuit
of power and weakened the secularist principles from within. To the
extent that in early 1990s, Narsimha Rao became the Congress Prime Minister,
who by his calculated inaction allowed the demolition of the Babari
Masjid, unleashing the demon of naked violence, aided and abated by
the guardians of law and order.
Those chauvinists have left
the Congress and joined the BJP. The Congress after a long time is again
a secularist party and has garnered the votes in 2004 based on secularist
values. There is always political danger in taking a principled stand.
With the strong evidence provided by the Tahelka reporters, there is
more political danger in not following the principles.
Indian newspapers have reported
for years that minorities, Muslims and Christians have been harassed
in Gujarat since the BJP – a fascistic party came to power. What
was not well known is that BJP and its allies were prepared to unleash
a state supported pogrom of death, burning and looting on the Muslims.
They just needed an excuse. The burning of a train carriage at Godhra
on February 28, 2002 provided the pretext. Local Godhra Muslims were
accused of setting the carriage afire from outside.
Instead of taking time to
bring the culprits to justice, Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of
Gujarat gave verbal license of unrestrained pogrom for three days. It
has been known for years, the Tahelka reporter have provided the corroboration
on the video tape.
In 2003 a forensic report
from the Capital of Gujarat, Ahmadabad came to the conclusion that the
fire was set from inside the carriage. In March 2006, a commission appointed
by the Ministry of Railways, under the chairmanship of retired Supreme
Court Justice Banerjee came to the same conclusion.
The Gujarat state Police
and judiciary under pressure from the Modi government have stymied the
investigation for years; so much so that the Supreme Court of India
passed strong strictures and ordered a proper investigation in the only
case filed, because the government could not stop it.
The Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court, V. N. Khare, referring to the Best Bakery Burning case,
wrote on September 13, 2003, “Your rajdharma (governing principle)
is to punish offenders and bring the guilty to book. If you can’t,
In the final judgment, the
Justices Raju Doraiswamy and Arijit Pasayat, April 12, 2004 wrote,”
The modern day “Neros” were looking elsewhere when Best
Bakery and innocent children and women were burning, and were probably
deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected.”
The Supreme Court can only
pass strictures on the cases brought before the court. The court has
provided the strongest directive to the government of India to take
the rights of the oppressed minorities with utmost seriousness.
It is the duty of the state
government to follow. In this case the state government is the chief
culprit. This puts the onus on the Union (Central) government. The constitution
provides for the Union government to intervene when the state government
is the oppressor and the state police and judiciary are badly compromised.
The investigations that the
Gujarat government suppressed and the Central Bureau of Investigation
should have carried out long time ago, were done by Ashish Khetan of
the Tahelka magazine at enormous risk. Now the evidence is on the tape
and can not be ignored.
For the editorials and articles
in the Tahelka Magazine go to-http://www.tehelka.com/story_main35.
For the Spy-cam video of
the culprits boasting of their heinous deeds go to. http://www.tehelka.com/story_main35.asp?
Independent observers have
widely reported the brutal killing of about 2000 Muslims and the burning
and looting of more than 100,000 Muslim homes .The government is the
culprit so its figures are suspect. Many of the looters were photographed
while the police were looking on. Many social workers, most of them
from the Hindu community have taken enormous risk in helping the helpless
in preparation of cases and have become voices of the voiceless.
This is not a struggle among
the Hindus and Muslims as the bigots would like to propagandize. It
is a struggle of decent humane Hindus and Muslims against the oppressive
wing of the religion gone astray within Hinduism and Islam.
The greatness of the progressive
Indian democracy is evident in that Muslims have done better in India
than in many Muslim countries. The struggle against the state sponsored
pogroms by the Gujarat government controlled by a fascistic Hindu party
is led overwhelmingly by the secularist as well as deeply religious
humane citizens, rooted in the Hindu ethos. The Supreme Court Judges,
the brave community activists such as Tista Setalvad, Ram Punyani, V.
K. Tripathi, and thousands others come from the Hindu tradition. Editor
and brave reporters of the Tahelka Magazine and many other national
publications such as “The Hindu” have an overwhelmingly
While India is making great
strides, some sectarian criminals in the provincial legislators have
become an impediment to peace. Bal Thakary in the name of Hinduism has
held the whole state of Maharashtra and its great city Mumbai hostage
as his fiefdom. He has engineered riots where hundreds of people have
been killed. Narendra Modi is still the chief minister of Gujarat and
has used the levers of power to kill and deprive minorities of their
Last week the Indian government
awarded a well deserved national integration award to Professors Punyani
and Banduklwala for giving voices to the oppressed. These well deserved
awards are not a substitute for justice.
The appointments of judicial inquiry commissions are used as sop. The
retired judges do a meticulous job. The inquiry takes a few years to
complete. In time passions cool and the national memories fade. The
government ignores the recommendations. The guilty not only go free,
but also find encouragement to become even more brazen and bold in their
evil deeds. It is time to bring cases before the courts to be pursued
assiduously against all culprits, particularly those who have used power
to spread mayhem and injustice.
Decent citizens of all religions
and creeds should raise their voices against the terrorism by misguided
individuals. The struggle for the soul of the nation becomes the highest
duty when the state itself engages in planned terrorism, in our collective
name. The religion we hold dear is besmirched when it is used to justify
heinous atrocities. To raise our collective voices to bring the culprits
in power to justice becomes imperative and the utmost duty. Those who
keep quiet, or find excuses become supporters of the tyranny.
Brave reporters of the Tahelka
Magazine have blown the lid off a very well known secret. They have
provided the evidence. If the government does not follow through, it
will be terribly injurious to the foundational values of Indian democracy.
Mirza A. Beg
can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, Read his articles
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