Did Modi get a clean chit from the SIT team?  The answer is both YES and NO.

It depends on which side of the secular fence you belong, who do you want to believe and whose half-truth you trust more. 

In India, the ‘seculars’ even judge the court’s verdict and unfortunately the court often responds to their demand shamefully.

And in India, you can be guilty just because the ‘seculars’ say so.


A witness for the persecution

Ravi Shankar Etteth

In the early 14th century, Bertrand de Goth, the archbishop of Bordeaux informed Pope Clement V that the Knights Templars — a religious order of warriors formed in 1119 AD to protect Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem from Muslim marauders — were guilty of blasphemy and sacrilege. Though no proof existed to support the charges apart from confessions obtained through torture — including that of grand master Jacques de Molay — the Templars were found guilty and hundreds of knights were burned at the stake. Narendra Modi has, perhaps, become the modern de Molay. The 600-page SIT report indicts Modi for complicity in the Gujarat riots. But in a bizarre denouement, the SIT also confessed it had no proof to prosecute him.

In democratic India, the partition riots of 1947 baptised the ancient rivalry between Hindus and Muslims with blood; an enmity that began in the decade starting 1010, when Ghazni massacred thousands of non-Muslims.

Post-1947 communal obituaries tell their own story — more than 8,000 recorded deaths between 1953 and 1990 of which 964 occurred in Gujarat alone, according to an Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies report. The majority of these happened during Congress rule: 183 in Ranchi in 1967; 512 in Ahmedabad in 1969; 2,000 in Moradabad in 1980; 146 in Maharashtra in 1984. The biggest ever pogrom in India after 1947 was during 1984 when 2,733 Sikhs were killed by Congress-led mobs. Rajiv Gandhi reportedly explained, “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes.”  

According to a Citizens for Democracy document, “On October 31, Congress party officials provided assailants with voter lists, school registration forms, and ration lists.” So, in retrospect, does this make Rajiv the Modi of 1984? And the Congress, the VHP of the Nineteen Fifties to the Eighties? In the end, it is all politics, stupid. And politics is economics. After Nano found sanctuary in Gujarat, a beaming Ratan Tata embraced Modi in public. Anil Ambani has pledged Rs 50,000 crore as investment in Gujarat. Vibrant Gujarat netted Rs 20.83 lakh crore in MoUs.

It is Gujarat’s economic power that prompted Darul Uloom vice-chancellor, Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, to declare that “all communities” are prospering in Modi’s Gujarat and there was “no discrimination against the minorities in the state as far as development was concerned.”

In a trial by TV, pop-secularist Javed Akhtar yelled that “everyone” knows what a religious fanatic Modi is. By this yardstick, is corporate India non-secular?

Narendra Modi is the man everyone loves to hate. He is also the man everyone hates to love.

The Hindutva of Development is the Rupee-yatra of late 2000 — Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal follow Gujarat — and aids the development of modern Hindutva. Modinomics threatens Manmohanomics; in this age of scams, spiralling prices and coalition pressures, the Congress party is returning to minority politics as its survival strategy for the next decade.

Analyse this — the minority vote is the heart of India’s secularism; Marxist historian Bipan Chandra, in his book Communalism in Modern India, writes; “Communal tension and riots… did not occur in India on any significant scale till 1946 (472). A clear relationship between communal riots and politics was established for the first time in 1946, when the Muslim League gave its direct action call on August 16, 1946.”

In 2011, the SIT has not been able to establish a clear relationship between Modi and the genocide of 2002, though he has been declared guilty. But Narendra Modi is indeed responsible for the deaths of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus—morally — because they happened on his watch. The responsibility for 58 deaths of Hindu karsevaks in Godhra also lies with him. The morality of secularism is being put to a macabre test by the politics of opportunism. Meanwhile, the ghosts of Godhra haunt the political subconscious, unpartisan and unavenged.

The author is Executive Editor of this newspaper.