some pockets of Gujarat were convulsed by violent riots in February 2002, I too
accepted the version presented by the national media as well as our activist friends
and assumed that Modi was complicit in the Gujarat
riots of 2002. Therefore, I too signed statements against Modi, published
articles sent to Manushi indicting Gujarat
government. We also raised funds for riot victims. However, I refrained from
writing anything under my name because I did not get the time to visit Gujarat and experience and assess the situation first
hand. My earlier experience of covering various riots as well as conflict
situations in Kashmir and Punjab had taught me
that media reports cannot be trusted enough to take a definitive stand on such
issues since they are often coloured by the ideological prism used by the
writer. Therefore, I refrained from
making statements on Gujarat.
Having spent a lot of time covering major riots—including
the 1984 massacre of Sikhs, series of riots in Meerut, Malliana in the 1980’s,
Bombay 1993, Jammu 1989 and having closely studied several others like
Biharsharif, Bhiwandi, Jamshedpur, and series of riots in Ahmedabad, Surat,
etc, I knew that barring Delhi 1984 all others were jointly orchestrated by the
BJP and Congress. Even in the communal polarisation due to Babri Masjid
demolition the Congress Party had been an equal partner in crime with the BJP.
This dubious role of the Congress Party –at total variance
with the ideological grounding of the grand old Party crafted by Mahatma
Gandhi—played an important role in marginalizing the Congress in large parts of
Knowledgeable Gujaratis told me that even in 2002 Congressmen avidly joined
Sangh Parivar mobsters in carrying out communal killings, arson and loot. One
also knew from earlier reports and later heard through informal networks that
there was a lot of retaliatory violence by the Muslims which led to thousands
of Hindus also suffering substantial losses and ending up in refugee camps.
Therefore, when BJP in general and Modi in particular, began
to be singled out for attacks and demonised as no other politician before or
after in known history, one felt an instinctive uneasiness about Hate and Oust
Modi campaign. This uneasiness grew as it became obvious over the years that
most of the NGOs, activists, journalists, academics involved in Modi’s
demonisation enjoyed active patronage of the Congress Party and some even got
huge financial support for carrying out a sustained campaign against Modi.
Even during the
anti-Sikh massacre of 1984 in North India the slogan of those of us who
worked with victims and documented the unprecedented massacre was-- “Punish the
Guilty”-- though the complicity of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Home
Minister Narasimha Rao, Lt Governor of Delhi P.G Gavai was brazen. But neither
the PM nor the Home Minister or the Lt Governor were personally demonised. But in the case of Gujarat riots of 2002 the entire discourse came to centre around just
a recent interview with me, film script writer Salim Khan made an interesting
comment: “Does anyone remember who the chief minister of Maharashtra was during
Mumbai riots which were no less deadly than the Gujarat
riots of 2002? Does anyone recall the name of the chief minister of UP during
Malliana and Meerut riots or Bihar CM when the Bhagalpur or Jamshedpur
riots under Congress regimes took place? Do we hear the names of earlier chief
ministers of Gujarat under whose charge hundreds of riots took place in
Some of these riots were far more deadly than the 2002 outburst. The state used to explode into violence every
second month? Does anyone remember who was in-charge of Delhi’s security when the 1984 massacre of
Sikhs took place in the capital of India How come Narendra Modi has been
singled out as Devil Incarnate as if he personally carried out all the killings
during the riots of 2002?”
just distant riots, does anyone remember the fate of hundreds of thousands of
Bodos and Muslims who were uprooted from their villages in July 2012 because their homes were torched and
destroyed? As of 8 August 2012, over
400,000 people had taken shelter in 270 relief camps, after being displaced
from almost 400 villages.The Assam chief minister delayed deployment of
the Army by 4 days even though large number of Army units are stationed right
there Assam. Thousands are still living
under sub human conditions in refugee camps. Why are those riots already
also found it puzzling that almost all of those who have led the Hate Modi
campaign are neither Muslim nor residents of Gujarat.
Three of the most prominent figures of anti Modi Brigade from within Gujarat are not Muslims. Whenever a Gujarati Muslim has
tried to speak in a different voice, he has been attacked viciously and made to
pay such a heavy price that people just shut up in terror. The highly respected
and eminent Muslim scholar, Maulana Vastanvi was forced to resign as Vice
Chancellor of Deobandh simply because he said Gujarati Muslims had benefited
from the inclusive development policies of Modi’s government. Shahid Siddiqui,
the editor of Urdu daily, Nai Duniya was attacked and abused
endlessly for simply doing an interview with Modi in which Modi defends himself against various charges leveled against his government. Siddiqui fell in line within no time and began singing anti Modi songs on
political discourse in India
is so vitiated by Modi phobia that even if you express happiness at the quality
of roads in rural Gujarat or 24x7 power supply in the villages and towns of Gujarat, you are branded a “supporter of fascism.” It is
politically fashionable to defend Kashmiri secessionists, press for peaceful
engagement with the Pakistani establishment which sends terror brigades to India and
project murderous Maoists as saviours of the poor. But to say a word in
appreciation of governance reforms in Gujarat
is to commit political hara-kiri—you are forever tainted and tarred with the
colours of fascism.
intellectual terror created by the anti Modi Brigade pushed me to find out for
myself why this obsessive anxiety about Modi? Why do “secularists” not want to
be reminded that Gujarat has been riot free
since 2002? Why don’t they want to document what made Gujarat—a state that witnessed
hundreds of riots post-Independence leading to deep mutual estrangement between
Hindus and Muslims—experience its first riot free decade after Independence
under Modi’s rule? What do Gujarat Muslims have to say about it? Why they are
not allowed to speak for themselves?
The demonization of Modi is based on
the following charges:
- Modi is Anti-Muslim and anti-Christian;
Modi allowed Muslims to be massacred in order to consolidate
the Hindu vote bank.
- Religious minorities live under terror under Modi’s regime
as second or third class citizens;
Muslims are being ghettoized and impoverished through
discriminatory state action;
- They have begun voting for Modi because of fear of reprisals
by Hindutva forces.
I began my study of Gujarat
riots driven by the following questions:
- What is unique
about Gujarat riots?
- What was Modi’s
personal role during those riots?
- What do Muslims
of Gujarat have to say about those riots?
Modi critics are right about Gujarat being a deeply communalized society with
Muslims living as a terrorized minority, how come the state has witnessed no
riots since 2002?
- Why is the percentage of Muslims voting for Modi increasing with every
election? Is it out of terror?
- How come hundreds of Muslims have won panchayat, zilla parishad and
municipal elections on BJP tickets?
study of Gujarat will also cover an analysis
of Modi’s Development Model which would include studying the nature of
governance reforms, including police reforms since they are supposed to be
intrinsic to his economic development model.
claims his Gujarat development model is “Inclusive” while his critics reject it
as “pro-corporate and anti- poor”, “pro-elite and anti farmer” as well as
“majoritarian and anti minorities”, I will be looking closely at how the
hitherto excluded or marginalized populations – small farmers, tribals, Dalits,
Muslims, Christians – view it. Has it
facilitated inclusion and upward mobility for them or are they being further marginalized?
The accounts I share in the following pages provide very small glimpses of
this. I intend to study them in depth.
began my Gujarat journey by talking to a
section of Gujarati Muslims and visiting their homes and neighbourhoods. This is
a modest beginning in sharing what I learnt from my first visit to Gujarat and studying the court cases against Modi. What I have unravelled thus far is just the
tip of the iceberg. I plan multiple visits to Gujarat
in the coming months to study all this in depth.
I start with an account of 2002 riots
because the stigma of those days has stuck to Modi like a leech casting a dark
shadow over all else he does. It is based on interviews with key people whose
experiences and statements deserve to be taken seriously. I am well aware this
will upset many of those who have convinced themselves or have been persuaded
by others they trust that Modi is the Devil Incarnate. However, my appeal to
those well-meaning people who have caught the anti Modi virus because it is in
the air is simply this: I am sharing with you factual accounts by people who
are widely respected in Gujarat. They are
providing concrete evidence of why they find the demonization of Modi
Please challenge me on
facts instead of countering me with ideological attacks. I am only too willing
to be corrected, if better counter facts are brought to my notice.