Godhra Verdict a blow to bogus activism

published on March 1, 2011

Sandeep B – Daily Pioneer

For nine years jholawallahs have been running a malicious campaign of calumny to distort the truth about the carnage in Godhra and overstating the facts of the violence that followed. The special court’s judgement has exposed the lot

To slightly modify an adage, delayed justice is better than no justice at all. This rings really true, loud and clear in light of the February 22, 2011 verdict by the special court on the Godhra train-burning episode of February 27, 2002. Almost exactly nine years after those 59 innocent kar sevaks were roasted alive in coach S6 of Sabarmati Express. It is hard to say whether they have gotten justice not only because they aren’t alive today but because of what has transpired since: The toxic climate of public discourse has been progressively poisoned by defacing even the memory of these innocent pilgrims.

It is, therefore, important to recap and trace the progression of the events of 2002 until now — given how fast we forget even the worst of horrors — both in the interest of decency and to guard ourselves against similar perversions recurring in future.

In retrospect, ‘defacing’ does not adequately capture the impact of what has occurred post-Godhra. The 59 murdered kar sevaks have been used as edifices to play out a twisted political game first on the national and then the international stage. The actors include the usual suspects of self-proclaimed secularists and their fellow-travellers in the media. At the time the bogie was burnt, most media houses more or less were faithful in reporting the tragedy. In its immediate aftermath — the violence that followed — the media mostly presented an accurate assessment: That they were a spontaneous reprisal for the unprovoked killing.

But what many missed is the fact that the discourse was perverted ab initio. The coach-burning was blamed on the dead kar sevaks because they ‘invited’ their deaths by chanting “Jai Sri Ram,” which Muslims found “provocative”. It is unsurprising then that the subsequent pontification, statements of outrage and calls for justice have been extensions of the same theme, and spawned what has come to be known as the ‘Gujarat Cottage Industry’. It is not entirely incorrect to say that no other human tragedy in recent times has been scavenged upon on a scale as the Gujarat violence of 2002. Whether justice has been done or not is a question that pales before the kind of cynical careerism and wealth that it has generated for those who chose to exploit it.

This context is important because every instance of brazen activism by self-styled vigilantes of societal well-being has relied on two things: Obscuring the Godhra train-burning incident without which the riots would’ve never occurred, and concealing the fact that even Hindus died in the riots that followed. In parallel, these selfsame worthies have carried reports of violent clashes between the two communities but for some reason, only one of them has been shown as deserving justice.

Then there was the Banerjee Report, the brainchild of a desperate-for-electoral-victory Lalu Prasad Yadav was stitched together in a hurry and provided the perfect arsenal to the proponents of lopsided justice. They claimed they had “official proof” that the fire was accidental. This report was cited widely and repeated a la Goebbels even after the courts struck down the very formation of the Banerjee Committee as unconstitutional to begin with. Yet, it continues to be peddled as “authentic”.

The vigilantes, undeterred in their quest for justice went on a case-filing spree. They called upon the law to take its course but did everything in their power to exert pressure on the judicial process: Either the courts weren’t doing enough or were delaying things. Trial by media became — and remains — the order of the day. These pressure tactics have ensured that the focus remains on the post-Gujarat violence and keeps the jholawallahs in clover. As subsequent events have revealed, we know how, for instance, Teesta Setalvad has consistently tried to manipulate the judicial proces and now stands accused of forgery and perjury.

It is nobody’s claim that the perpetrators of violence in Gujarat must go unpunished but what has been done by a certain section of do-gooders in the name of securing justice for the victims of the post-Godhra violence requires critical and thorough scrutiny. The question that is rarely asked is what apart from lip service have these do-gooders done to secure justice for the kar sevaks charred to death in coach S6.

The special court’s judgement on February 22 thus deserves credit for convicting the guilty, a rare occurrence in cases of mob violence. The fact that it upheld the Godhra train carnage as a premeditated conspiracy also confirms what Mr Narendra Modi and K Jana Krishnamurthy — the then BJP president — had stated back in 2002 on the basis of intelligence reports.

The judgement is also the latest blow to the ‘Gujarat Cottage Industry’, which has suffered yet another setback after the Zahira Sheikh affair and damaging revelations by Raees Khan, Teesta Setalvad’s former aide. It is also laudable on the part of Mr Modi to let the law take its course —unlike the proponents of trial-by-media.

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