Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Rabi-Ul Akhir / Jamadiul Awwal 1423 H
July 2002
Volume 15-07 No:187

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Investigation


Sinister Designs by Modi
Politics and Blackmail- Hand in Hand


Sinister Designs by Modi

Chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi continues to persist with his partisan policies
by denying funds for rebuilding destroyed Muslim shrines because he knows that
the Centre simply does not have the political courage to dismiss him.

By Mohammed Hanif Lakdawala

The Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi's desire to bring changes and reforms in the Madrasas in the state, and be guided by the reforms carried out in countries such as Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, has clearly a sinister design behind it. In a way, the chief minister gave a part of his game away while giving vent to his `reformist' urge, when he mentioned the reported seizure of AK-47 rifles and RDX material from a few madrasas in the state. It is to try and establish a motivational and logistical linkage between madrasas and the Godhra-type massacres, white-washing in the process the subsequent pogroms of the extremist and militants elements, represented by the Sangh Parivar and directed against the minority community. The targeting of madrasas in the name of `reform' is a piece of the unabashedly discriminatory attitude Modi has adopted towards the Muslims, true to his `swayamsevak' mindset, at every stage and in every sphere of the developments, post-Godhra. The communal bias stands out starkly even in the arrest of culprits and in the filing of charge-sheets, with those belonging to the Hindutva outfits such as the VHP and the Bajrang Dal treated with kid gloves or being let off the hook. Shamsuddin Pirzada, a retired judge, felt that special courts and prosecutors had a role to play considering that the prosecutors who were now handling the riot cases were chosen as per the recommendations of the ruling party in the state. "Not only are these prosecutors hand-picked, they are also raw with little experience in handling complex cases," he said. He pointed out that if the government wanted, it could easily set up special courts and appoint impartial prosecutors, as in the Godhra case. A panel of six to seven prosecutors has been appointed to handle the Godhra case, where the main prosecutor is being paid special remuneration, which is twice the normal rate. Another example of such anti-Muslim bias is the brazenly distorted version the police had presented in the charge-sheets related to the Naroda-Patiya and Gulbarg Society cases of massacre - the two major episodes wherein 130 persons were burnt alive - by attributing them to acts of provocation by the minority community.

The charge-sheets filed in two of the most horrifying massacres in Gujarat confirm that it is still a very long road to justice in the state. The charge-sheets the police has filed in the Gulbarg society killings, which left 39 dead, and the Naroda Patiya massacre in which 80 were burnt alive are not the objective presentation of the findings of an unbiased investigation. They read suspiciously like an extension of the 'action-reaction' theory first articulated by chief minister Narendra Modi to rationalise the post-Godhra violence in the state, and later echoed by other BJP notables. Even K P S Gill, the security advisor to the Gujarat chief minister, has criticised the charge-sheets filed in the Naroda-Patia and Gulbarg Society cases, and has expressed hope that the anomalies would be corrected at the time of framing of charges by the court. In both cases, the Crime Branch of the city police, that filed the charge-sheets, accused Muslims of drawing first blood and allegedly provoking the mobs, leading to the killing of nearly 109 people on February 28. With Modi at the helm, it is clear that even as it goes through the formal motions of taking the lawful process forward, the Gujarat police is unable to shake off the prejudice it wore so blatantly on its uniformed sleeve while it allowed the violence to rage in the state. The process of justice in Gujarat appears to begin with the premise that the victims are to blame. Indeed, so blatant has been his practice of discriminating against the minority community that even the Prime Minister has been constrained to specify certain guidelines. Among the areas where Modi has been advised not to act in a biased manner is in assessing the damage caused to Muslim property during the riots. Apparently, Modi's men have been engaged in under-estimating these properties. Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister has also had to urge the state government to ensure that the ex-gratia payments were disbursed in a proper manner. In under-estimating Muslim property or denying funds for rebuilding destroyed Muslim shrines, Modi is simply being mean-minded. For all his sinister designs, Modi is dependent on VHP and the present madness has to be blamed mainly on the VHP, which wields extraordinary clout in the state, thanks to its proximity to the ruling party. The three lakh Ram sevaks, many of them unemployed have succeeded in injecting the communal virus deep into the Gujarat society. For some years, the VHP with the help of the authorities prevented Muslims and Dalits from occupying houses or building flats in the better colonies in Ahmedabad, even when they happened to be the owners. Former Chief Justice Ahmadi's fears that ''they will convert the state into dormitories where those within will not go out and those out will not come in'' is borne out by the near-total divide in Ahmedabad today. Thousands of fearful Muslims, as reported in this publication, have migrated to the predominantly Muslim Juhapura area. Nothing establishes the complicity and guilt of the VHP and its supporters more than the fact that they have somehow linked Gujarati pride (asmita) with covering up and trying to protect those responsible for the pogroms. Surely, Gujarat's asmita demands that the guilty must be brought to book without any further loss of time. Otherwise, suppressed feelings of fear, hatred, ignorance and vengeance will continue to fester and the cycle of violence will renew. What is also clear is that the administration could not have been so biased if the officials were not aware that they enjoyed the blessings of the chief minister. On his part, Modi can persist with his partisan policies because he knows that the Centre simply does not have the political courage to dismiss him. A firebrand leader like Uma Bharti may regret what happened in Gujarat and Union Minister of State for Home, I. D. Swami may say that the riots have tarnished the BJP's reputation. But when it comes to taking action against the man responsible for causing all this damage, no one in the BJP will dare to call him to account.

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Politics and Blackmail- Hand in Hand

The fortnight-long political turmoil in Maharashtra must rank as the most audacious,
immature and downright crass brand of politics the state has ever witnessed.

By A Staff Writer

In this age of coalition politics, a razor thin majority can seal the fate of the mightiest and in the winner-takes-all model of democracy that we have adopted and refined, defectors are not only tolerated, they have attained respectability. Recent events in Maharashtra and Goa bear testimony to the fact that political horse-trading has indeed become a nightmare for millions of hapless Indians. There was a time in the distant past when the Aya Rams and Gaya Rams of Indian politics evoked derision and defectors were considered defective pieces on the political chessboard. Nowadays, they are fawned upon as heroes who come to the rescue of beleaguered governments in states and at the Centre. The fortnight-long political turmoil in Maharashtra may have ended on a positive note for the ruling combine, but it has left every party in the State shaken to its roots. And perhaps things will never be the same again for the political parties in the State. Things did not quite go the BJP-Shiv Sena's way. The Maharashtra Speaker's ruling, dis qualifying the rebels spoilt the game planned by the BJP-Shiv Sena. The Sena-BJP combine has suffered a great ignominy though it is showing a brave face. Besides, the Sena-BJP's alleged tactics - bribery, horse-trading, kidnapping, terrorisation of reluctant MLAs - have not gone down well. Bal Thackeray, quick to discern this, distanced himself from the moves, even making a little speech about the tastelessness of abduction and kidnapping. For the Congress and NCP leaders, close proximity for almost ten days in Bangalore brought home the realisation that they should never have split. NCP men particularly are moreover sore that their future has been sacrificed time and again by party president Sharad Pawar for his gains. What is rotten in the state, of the size of Denmark is what has always been rotten in coalition politics: local power nexus and secret understandings coupled with money power. The erosion began when PWP members withdrew from the cabinet with the re-induction of Sunil Tatkare into it, since Tatkare of the NCP had been accused of conniving with the Shiv Sena-BJP in the Raigad district panchayat elections in order to defeat the PWP there. With the Democratic Front showing its cracks, Narayan Rane of the Shiv Sena and Gopinath Munde of the BJP went into action, escorting individual MLAs, some from the NCP, to the governor to claim greater support in the assembly. The government's race to protect its own and the reported behaviour of the "protected" MLAs in five-star environments have held up the entire system to ridicule. Money and muscle power were both evident. The complaint of the Congress MLA, Padmakar Walvi, that he had been "abducted" by the opposition before he could make a dramatic return to the parent party, adds one more absurd detail to the murky tale.

Padmakar Walvi typifies the new politics in Maharashtra, a Congress MLA, formerly of underworld don Arun Gawli's political party, the Akhil Bharatiya Sena, Walvi lost an election on Akhil Bharatiya Sena ticket and switched to the Congress. He was along with the other `defectors' from the government side, secluded away in the Shiv Sena-controlled Matoshree Health Club. His wife was on national television feebly asserting that he was being held against his will. A cheerful looking Walvi also appeared on television, to contradict his wife and tell the world (and also apparently a police rescue party) that he was perfectly happy at the Matoshree Club. Less than a week later, he came to the Vidhan Sabha for his show-cause hearing before the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker, Arun Gujarathi. He claimed he had not really defected from the ruling Democratic Front (DF) government and had in fact been abducted by the opposition alliance, the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (SS-BJP), and kept at Matoshree Sports Club. Years from now, Padmakar Walvi's story will be repeated, like those of countless other great legends of the ancient Indian tradition of democratic politics. He is the newest entrant to this illustrious list of quick-change artists who do a good job of passing themselves off as our elected representatives. It is not that parties had not split or members of the legislative assembly had not changed loyalties midway through their term. The credit to start the politics of Aya Ram Gaya Ram in Maharastra goes to Sharad Pawar. For it was under his stewardship that many Congressmen rebelled against the official candidates in the 1995 assembly election, fought as independents and won. That assembly had 44 independents, 40 of who were rebel Congressmen. Consequently, the Congress, which went into that election under Pawar's chief ministership, lost the right to rule. The group of 40 supported the Sena-BJP and the saffron alliance got to rule Maharashtra for the first time in its history.

But "Spectacle 2002" must rank as the most audacious, immature and downright crass brand of politics the state has ever witnessed. Impatient opposition leaders trying to unseat the Democratic Front government for the fifth time in two and a half years, merrily poaching on other parties, luring their MLAs with get-rich-quick baits and promises of cabinet berths, MLAs of ruling parties being taken away to friendly states to stem the exodus from party ranks, the drama involving a Congress MLA who flip-flopped so often that both the opposition and the ruling combine were confused - these were some vignettes of Spectacle 2002. The airlifting of 'vulnerable' Congress netas to resorts, the heavy security bandobast to ward off' poachers' from the opposition camp, the cars being swapped mid-route, cell phone cards being changed, professional detectives being hired to spy on rivals, escape from alleged captivity... the art of Aya Ram Gaya Rama - pioneered by former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal in 1977 -is getting more and more refined.

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