New Age Islam
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Current Affairs ( 28 Apr 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Even God's Arm Is Not Long Enough To Catch The Murderers Of Gujarat!

The curious silence around Modi

 

Those who feel that the post-Godhra Gujarat riots of 2002 constitute one of the most shameful episodes in the history of independent India might celebrate the Supreme Court's directive to the Special Investigative Team, headed by ex-CBI director R K Raghavan, to inquire into the role of chief minister Narendra Modi, 15 other Gujarat ministers and MLAs, and saffron leaders such as Praveen Togadia in the organised violence and submit its report in three months. Such celebrations would be premature. 

In response to the SC order, the widow of former Congress MP Ahasan Jafri who was murdered by a mob during the riots has said "Allah ke haath lambe hain" (God's arm is long). Tragically, long as it might be, even God's arm is not long enough to retrieve the miscarriage of justice from the tortuous labyrinths of what passes for India's legal system. -- Jug Suraiya

The campaign to project Narendra Modi as the BJP’s future prime minister has taken some interesting turns. First, the Supreme Court has ordered a probe into Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots. Second, the Congress has been strangely reluctant to raise this issue or to call for Modi’s head.

Third, the Rajnath Singh camp within the BJP has hit back. It recognises that the subtext of the campaign is to denigrate Rajnath’s own position. And finally, more BJP leaders have signalled their support for Modi suggesting that they regard his ascension as inevitable. -- Vir Sanghvi

The question is relevant because the order against Modi, 11 members of his Cabinet, bureaucrats and policemen has the potential of polarising the electorate in the state where communal peace has been tenuous since the 2002 pogrom. Political pundits are already arguing whether the probe that ended the complainant’s seven-year-long wait for judicial redress, could be a blessing in disguise for the CM? -- Vinod Sharma

URL:http://www.newageislam.com/current-affairs/even-god-s-arm-is-not-long-enough-to-catch-the-murderers-of-gujarat!--/d/1367

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Modi as martyr

Jug Suraiya

29 Apr 2009

 

Those who feel that the post-Godhra Gujarat riots of 2002 constitute one of the most shameful episodes in the history of independent India might celebrate the Supreme Court's directive to the Special Investigative Team, headed by ex-CBI director R K Raghavan, to inquire into the role of chief minister Narendra Modi, 15 other Gujarat ministers and MLAs, and saffron leaders such as Praveen Togadia in the organised violence and submit its report in three months. Such celebrations would be premature.

 

In response to the SC order, the widow of former Congress MP Ahasan Jafri who was murdered by a mob during the riots has said "Allah ke haath lambe hain" (God's arm is long). Tragically, long as it might be, even God's arm is not long enough to retrieve the miscarriage of justice from the tortuous labyrinths of what passes for India's legal system.

 

The seven-year saga of trying to get to the truth of what really happened in Gujarat in early 2002 when more than 3,000 people were killed and over 1,40,000 rendered homeless bears all the features of a tragic farce. Despite accusations by organisations like Amnesty International which said that "the same police force that was accused of colluding with the attackers was put in charge of the investigations into the massacres, undermining the process of justice", both the Shah commission, and later the Nanavati commission, by and large exonerated the state government from culpability in the riots and in subsequent attempts to suppress evidence of such complicity. These findings were in stark contradiction to the conclusions of the National Human Rights Commission of 2002 that nothing "rebuts the presumption that the Modi administration failed in its duty to protect the rights of the people of Gujarat".

 

Mass murder became a game of political football. As witnesses turned hostile amidst a storm of accusations and counter-accusations of intimidation and fabrication of evidence, a key case in the Gujarat carnage, relating to the Best Bakery killings, was shifted to Mumbai.

 

Only one clear verdict has emerged from this politico-legal morass. And that is that Narendra Modi has, among his supporters and they extend beyond the borders of Gujarat emerged as a Hindutva hero and a champion of not just Gujarati asmita but of an aggressive saffron nationalism. The SC directive to SIT will, if anything, only help to reinforce this image by turning Modi the hero into Modi the potential martyr, much in the way of Varun Gandhi whose much-reported 'hate speech' and his subsequent detention under the harsh National Security Act earned him fame or notoriety, depending on your point of view much above his stature.

 

In Modi's case, any real or perceived threat of politically motivated persecution even if such persecution is no more, or less, than the prosecution of justice will only magnify his already larger-than-life image as the saffron superhero and the BJP's PM-in-waiting.

 

Jagdish Tytler, one of the accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots whose ringleaders have yet to be brought to book, was unlucky. Thanks to a shoe hurled at P Chidambaram who announced his candidature on the Congress ticket, Tytler was unceremoniously dropped from the party's electoral list. Modi, and the BJP, have both shown they're made of sterner stuff. Far from conceding defeat and by that token admitting to guilt in the face of public condemnation, Modi has mastered the art of turning accusation into assault, the meting of justice into the rite of crucifixion.

 

Indeed, coming as it does in the middle of the poll process, the SC's order to the investigative team regarding Modi couldn't have been better timed if it had been planned by an event manager. Whatever be the findings of the unfortunately acronymed SIT whose performance so far suggests that it has, true to its name, been sitting on the job Modi and his supporters will seek to fashion them into a crown of thorns. Which, as every martyr worth his cross knows, has a way of blooming into the laurel wreath of victory.

secondopinion@timesgroup.com

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi

 

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The curious silence around Modi

Vir Sanghvi, Hindustan Times

New Delhi, April 29, 2009

 

The campaign to project Narendra Modi as the BJP’s future prime minister has taken some interesting turns. First, the Supreme Court has ordered a probe into Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots. Second, the Congress has been strangely reluctant to raise this issue or to call for Modi’s head.

 

Third, the Rajnath Singh camp within the BJP has hit back. It recognises that the subtext of the campaign is to denigrate Rajnath’s own position. And finally, more BJP leaders have signalled their support for Modi suggesting that they regard his ascension as inevitable.

 

The Supreme Court order is significant because it suggests that Modi owes the country an explanation. By naming various officials of the Gujarat Police and administration along with Modi, the court has suggested that the oft-repeated allegation that the Gujarat government deliberately let the mobs run riot also needs to be probed.

 

The court order is not, by any means, a conviction. But at a moral level, and at the level of propriety, it is at least as damning as the charges against Jagdish Tytler.

 

You would expect the Congress to now go for Modi. You would expect it to ask how the BJP feels about a prime ministerial candidate whose role in mass murder is being probed by the Supreme Court. It could even ask for Modi to step aside till the investigations are complete.

 

Instead, the Congress has played down the issue, refusing to ask for Modi’s resignation and not saying much about the court’s order — a startling contrast with the way in which the BJP went for Tytler.

 

The Congress’s argument is that the court order may actually help Modi. He could use it to polarise the electorate, to raise Hindu-Muslim tensions and to project himself again as a Hindutva hardliner. Better therefore to play it down.

 

This is a risky strategy. A chief minister can afford to polarise the electorate. But a prime ministerial contender cannot afford to do so. If Modi adopts his old Muslim-bashing persona, it might actually scare away moderate voters, terrify potential allies, and embarrass the BJP.

 

Besides, Modi has spent the last two years trying to make people forget about the Gujarat riots, and projecting himself as a champion of development. Would he really want to go back to his old communally divisive persona?

 

One indication of how the BJP feels might be its response to the court order. Arun Jaitley offered the standard defence but after that the party tried to play it down. Few BJP leaders wanted to discuss it and the party’s C team of spokesmen was dispatched to TV studios to make the usual noises.

 

Partly, this reflects a division within the BJP. The Rajnath camp, which is paranoid about Arun Jaitley, sees the campaign to promote Modi as a Jaitley ploy facilitated by the former law minister’s vast access in the media.

 

So, Sushma Swaraj — no pal of Jaitley’s and a PM candidate herself — went public with her denunciation of the campaign. Rajnath’s supporters sung their man’s praises. And even Jaitley, in an effort to deflect the criticism, declared that this was ‘a media campaign’ — which, at one level, it certainly was.

 

But within the BJP, the conviction that Modi will be the next leader is growing. Even Yashwant Sinha, one of the BJP’s secular liberals, declared on Monday that, “Modi has all the qualities needed to be PM,” adding, “India would be lucky to have him as prime minister.”

 

So, the Modi juggernaut rolls on, nevertheless.

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What was the hurry?

Vinod Sharma, Hindustan Times

April 29, 2009

 

The Supreme Court’s (SC) order directing a probe into Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots cannot be faulted on grounds of law. The problem is with the timing and the possible impact of the ruling on the April 30 polls in the state.

 

Nobody doubts the punctiliousness of the Bench that directed the Special Investigation Team to inquire into slain Congress MP Ehsan Jaffri’s wife Jakia Nasim Ehsan’s allegations of murder and criminal conspiracy. But couldn’t the judges have deferred the matter till the end of the Lok Sabha elections on May 13, or till April 30?

 

The question is relevant because the order against Modi, 11 members of his Cabinet, bureaucrats and policemen has the potential of polarising the electorate in the state where communal peace has been tenuous since the 2002 pogrom. Political pundits are already arguing whether the probe that ended the complainant’s seven-year-long wait for judicial redress, could be a blessing in disguise for the CM?

 

It’s hard to miss the irony of the situation as most political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, have desisted in the campaign, which closed on Tuesday, from any recollections of the retributive communal violence in the state. The contest is over strong leadership, good governance and an inclusive polity.

 

The probe directive has indeed arisen from a matter pending before the SC and is by no means an indictment or proof of Modi’s complicity in the riots. But such nuances of the law often get lost in the din and bustle of elections. The worry is about the campaign being vitiated in its twilight phase by biased, politically ingenious interpretations of the SIT probe.

 

An identical situation had arisen in the SC, a couple of weeks ago, in the disproportionate assets case against Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav. The judges rejected the plea that the ruling be delayed to obviate electoral implications. They held back their order only on the technical point that a larger Bench of the same court was yet to decide the legality of a CBI probe without the approval of the state government.

 

Article 329(b) of the Constitution talks of “bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.” Election in this case means the entire process starting from the notification to declaration of results of candidates to (the date) of completion (of the process).

 

The order in the Modi case is not the least in violation of this provision. But the court would have been in consonance with its spirit, had it decided to defer the ruling until completion of polling in Gujarat or the election process on the whole.

 

Many legal experts concurred with this view but were unwilling to go on record for the very reasons that they expected the court to reserve its ruling till after the polling date. For his part, former Chief Election Commissioner G.V.G. Krishnamurthy advocated “judicial circumspection” in the interest of free-and-fair polls: “Keeping the spirit of 329(b) in the national interest, the Supreme Court could have deferred its orders till the completion of election, if they could in the absence of urgency in the matter.” On the urgency aspect, it would be pertinent to mention that Ms Jaffri moved her special leave petition before the apex court in December 2007 after failing to get relief from the Gujarat High Court.

 

Krishnamurthy’s call for “judicial circumspection” is akin almost to the ‘judicial statesmanship’ the SC so often demonstrated in the early decades of Independence to transcend controversies and take a holistic, long-term view for strengthening institutions as well as social and institutional harmony. Unlike the executive and the political class, the SC needs no election-time model code. Its conduct is a model for other institutions.

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/current-affairs/even-god-s-arm-is-not-long-enough-to-catch-the-murderers-of-gujarat!--/d/1367

 

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