Does this society have the nerve nerve to confront the beast exposed by the Tehelka expose ?
by Prashant Bhushan
The recent Tehelka expose of the "Gujarat riots" of 2002, demonstrate very starkly that these were neither "spontaneous" nor "riots", but were in fact mass murder, loot and mayhem orchestrated and organized by the top echelons of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and the BJP with the full connivance and complicity of the Gujarat government headed by Narendra Modi. The Tehelka tapes show senior functionaries of these organizations and the government bragging and confessing to their having committed and participated in committing heinous crimes like brutal mass murder, rape, burning, looting etc. Many of them claim and boast about how Narendra Modi explicitly encouraged the carnage and told the killers and rioters that they were being given a free rein of three days.
These people also claim how several senior police officials not only abetted these killers by their actions and inaction, but in many cases, themselves participated in the carnage. They also claim how Modi provided shelter to these people and even got inconvenient judges changed to ensure that these mass murderers got out on bail. They also claim that the integrity of the Nanavati commission has been subverted.
What is even more disturbing is that none of these people display the slightest remorse for the horrific and inhuman violence that they perpetrated on innocent human beings, on women and children, on an entire community. In fact they continue to take pride and boast about their barbaric actions. They go about in Gujarat, supremely confident that they will enjoy total impunity and will not be brought to book. In his brilliant edit on this expose titled Read and be afraid", Tarun Tejpal has written how the expose shows that Gujarat seems to be losing the very notion that India was created as a secular country where its many ethnic and linguistic communities would enjoy equal rights.
In short, the tapes reveal a frightening state of affairs in Gujarat, which seems to have gone beyond the pale of the rule of law, and the most basic norms of humanity. It shows most clearly that it has become a state where the government cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution.
All this has happened in Gujarat primarily because for the last 10 years, it has had a government which is openly and brazenly communal and fascist, which has methodically stoked communal feelings and encouraged and eulogized violence against minorities as being a sign of manliness and indeed heroism. That is why Modi's men repeatedly say in their interviews while boasting about the Muslims that they have killed, that they are also macho men who do not eat "khichri". This eulogizing of violence against minorities has been systematically done, not merely by using all instrumentalities of the state to perpetrate violence against them, to protect and harbour those who do it, but also by using the education system, the media and all instrumentalities of propoganda. The closing down of the broadcast by Aaj Tak, CNN-IBN etc. in Gujarat who were showing the Tehelka expose is another example of how Modi's government has systematically used state power to subvert the media for its communal fascist purposes. Similarly the education system has been used to poison young minds with hate propaganda against the minorities. Modi thus takes great pride in having accomplished in Gujarat what Hitler had accomplished in Nazi Germany. Modi's VHP goons like Hitler's "storm troopers" enjoy total protection from the State when they go about their carnage against Minorities.
There are many ordinary and decent Hindus in Gujarat and elsewhere who have been influenced by Modi's propaganda and who believe that there is nothing wrong in killing Muslims, who they have been taught to believe are essentially terrorists.
Such a cavalier contempt for the basic norms of humanity, for every principle held dear by our Constitution, is bound to lead to a dehumanized, lawless and violent society. It will eventually lead to a complete breakdown of civilization and the creation of a monstrous and sick society.
In order to get Gujarat back within the pale of law and the Constitution, it has become imperative to dismiss the Modi government and bring Gujarat under President's rule. All the institutions of the ruling establishment in Gujarat must be purged of those who have allowed the systematic subversion of the rule of law in Gujarat. This might require the postponement of elections in Gujarat. But this would be a small price to pay for healing the still open wounds that have tormented Gujarat for the last 5 years, for delivering justice to an entire community which have been denied to it in Gujarat. This must be done not merely for their sake, but for the sake of humanity itself and all the values that we hold dear.
Certain other things need to be done. A special investigating team must be immediately constituted to investigate the involvement of Narendra Modi and other senior functionaries in his government and the police in the killings and their abetment. This SIT can be constituted by the Supreme Court and should be monitored on a regular basis and asked to compete their investigation within a few months. This would be one of the most important investigations ever undertaken in this country.
But most immediately, the persons shown on tape confessing to having committed crimes must be immediately arrested and those of them who are serving officials, must be placed under suspension. If the State government shows any hesitation in doing this, that will only reinforce the overwhelming evidence of their complicity in the Carnage.
Again we stand at a crossroad of history. Gujarat, which Modi has made the laboratory of Hindutva, is the leading edge of the onslaught of communal fascism in this country. If we as a society do not show the nerve to confront, contain and exorcise this beast, history and future generations will remember us as cowards who caved in and squandered away a nation which had been so painstakingly built by the struggle of many led by the Mahatma.