Clean chit to Modi

Kashmir Times. Dated: 12/16/2019 4:07:05 PM

Gujarat riots cannot be described as spontaneous and clean chit to Narendra Modi is not surprising

Making report of the Justice G T Nanavati-A H Mehta Commission report public at this juncture, when whole of India is up in arms against the passage of Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 (CAA) by both Houses of the Parliament, amounts to changing public perception about the lapses on the part of the state. This report again comes at a time when protest demonstrations having turned violent and spreading to other parts of the country is a bolt out of the sky. Moreover, it is worth noting most of the people, who matter among the common masses will not even notice its release. It is also well known fact that such Commissions of Inquiry are seen as tools to change public perception about the riots that claimed thousands of precious lives in Gujarat in 2002 when state failed to prevent such incidents. It is unfortunate that such reports are rarely submitted in time, many of which are not made public, a few of them stray from the 'clean chit' route charted out for them by the regimes that made their appointments. It is not surprising that this Commission also gave a clean chit to person, who was accused of engineering those riots. The Commission constituted to probe the horrific burning of the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra in 2002, and the deadly communal carnage that followed, fits this profile of a judicial commission to a tee. Narendra Modi has already been absolved by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team in this case. A judicial magistrate had accepted the team's report. There were allegations that Narendra Modi had instructed the police to 'allow Hindus to vent their anger against another community' and that he had placed two ministers in the Police Control Room, but except for some oral testimony, there was no material evidence to back them. The SC did not accept the views of a legal luminary Raju Ramachandran that there was prima facie material to proceed against the then chief minister Narendra Modi for 'promoting enmity between different groups' and 'instigations prejudicial to national integration'. After those incidents, Narendra Modi has led his party to victory in two general elections since 2014. The issue was never about direct involvement or instigation, but rather about culpable inaction, and his moral and political failure to take responsibility for the lawlessness that consumed the lives of thousands of people and the mayhem supported by workers of the ruling party under his watch.
It would unrealistic to accept that fact the fresh probe would unearth or expose any evidence that could establish a conspiracy at the highest level of the state government in 2002.
It is disconcerting that the Commission says there was no organised violence anywhere, and that no organisation or party was involved in them. This is a contradiction of the convictions obtained in trial courts against political functionaries of the ruling party, including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani. The Commission's only important finding on administrative failure pertains to Joint Commissioner of Police M K Tandon, under whose jurisdiction 177 people were killed in incidents at Gulbarg Society, Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam. He is indicted for failing to appreciate the gravity of the situation. It is sad that the report goes with the official explanation that the riots were spontaneous and that the police did their best to contain it. It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the panel dismisses the testimony of three IPS officers on police complicity or inaction, as false, and questions the work of NGOs working for the victims. Apart from this, it is also no surprise that this report will also be consigned to piles of records of the official documents for the years to come. The previous findings of various investigations conducted on the issue have also disappeared from the public domain. The exoneration will also be dumped like previous reports and allow other ruling parties to follow the suite in a democratic set up that is under threat.



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