The Supreme Court verdict on 24 June was a moment of vindication and triumph for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all those who believed in him. After being vilified by critics and opponents for a crime he had not committed, the minimum that Modi deserves after 20 years of pain is a common statement signed by all those who targeted him saying: “We Are Sorry”.
The Supreme Court verdict has clarified that there is nothing left to be discussed. The narrative created by anti-Modi forces was based on fiction and was “politically motivated”. The court gave all the avenues and platforms to them to prove their case, but they failed. Facts stood against insinuations, logic against assumptions and scientific evidence against lies. The doomsayers stand exposed crestfallen and completely maligned. Their narrative has fallen “like a pack of cards” when confronted with reality.
The Supreme Court rejected the appeal against the clean chit given by the SIT to Gujarat administration and then chief minister of Gujarat and final acceptance of the closure report by the Metropolitan Magistrate (2103) and the Gujarat High Court (2017). The Court pointed out that the proceedings were pursued for 16 years, and several applications were filed to “keep the pot boiling, for ulterior design”.
“The argument of the appellant was bordering on undermining the integrity and sincerity of the members of the SIT,” the court observed while pointing out that the SIT was set up specifically by the Supreme Court. The court noted that no new findings had come up and the submissions by Jafri were “far-fetched and an attempt to undo and undermine the integrity of the SIT”.
The issue of the anti-Modi camp, often subsumed in the garb of elites of Lutyens’ Delhi, was not riots. Much worse riots had taken place in Gujarat during the Congress regime as for example in 1969. The broad daylight killing of Sikhs in Delhi by Congress goons after assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 is known to one and all. Compared to the Gujarat riots, the killing of Sikhs was pogrom.
The problem was that they were looking for a villain and wanted to nail someone for the riots. They tried their best to create a narrative to bring down Narendra Modi from the post of the chief minister of Gujarat. They took affront that the man was standing tall and trying to give solution, rather than going to Delhi to save his post. Lutyen’s media have always prided that they are the ones who make or mar governments in Delhi. They had completely failed in the case of Modi.
Nobody denied that riots had taken place in Gujarat in February-March 2002. Nobody denied that both Hindus and Muslims were killed in the riots. This is also true that the riots were an offshoot of the burning of 59 Kar Sevaks in Coach S6 of the ill-fated Sabarmati Express that was returning from Ayodhya. Large mass of people had gathered at Signal Fadia at Godhra and identified and targeted Ram Sewaks and burnt the S6 coach. Even women and children were not allowed to come out of the train by the blood thirsty mob. This happened on 27 February 2002. The next day angry mobs sought to avenge the killings. Police tried to stop rioters, but in most cases here were outnumbered. Record said that more than 200 people were killed in police firing.
One more insinuation was why the dead bodies of those charred to death in S6 coach was taken to Ahmedabad. The Modi-baiters alleged that this was done deliberately to instigate people. The SIT has accepted the government’s contention that the decision to take the bodies to Ahmedabad was unanimous. When a meeting took place on the issue at Godhra, none of the officials suggested any other way and they all suggested ways to facilitate transportation of the dead bodies. There were two considerations: one that the relatives of the deceased would find it tough to come to Godhra and identity the victims; and two, the small town of Godhra had no facility to conduct autopsy on so many bodies.
Narendra Modi never condoned riots. But he was not ready to oblige the media by taking the blame for the riots. He always said if he was guilty he should be punished. “Hang me if I am guilty”, was his challenge. He knew for sure that he was right and tried his best to save the situation. He called for the army within 24 hours which was a record in the country for any riot situation.
The hostile media started digging stories to create a narrative that there was a larger conspiracy at the top (meaning at the level of the chief minister) to allow Hindus to vent their anger on Muslims. The Special Investigation Team (SIT), looking into specific cases during riots, was asked to look into “allegation of larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level resulting in mass violence across the state during the relevant period.”
It was alleged that the chief minister, while chairing an emergency meeting to review the security situation after the Godhra incident on 27 February, had instructed senior officials to allow Hindus to vent their anger. This allegation stood on the testimony of minister of state for revenue Haren Pandya, former ADGP Intelligence R.B. Sreekumar and the DCI Security Sanjiv Bhat. The SIT found out that all the officials present at the meeting denied the presence of Bhat at the meeting. This was not proven even by his phone records. About Sreekumar, the SIT said that he was “a disgruntled officer and his testimony was not reliable”. On Pandya, the SIT observed that the phone record of Pandya did not establish that he was present at the said meeting. It was the chief minister’s meeting with top officials and even cabinet ministers were not present at the meeting.
The Supreme Court it its judgment held: “We find force in the argument of the respondent-State that the testimony of Mr Sanjiv Bhatt, Mr Haren Pandya and also of Mr R.B. Sreekumar was only to sensationalize and politicize the matters in issue, although, replete with falsehood. For, persons not privy to the stated meeting, where utterance were allegedly made by the then Chief Minister, falsely claimed themselves to be eye-witnesses and after thorough investigation by the SIT, it has become clear that their claim of being present in the meeting was itself false to their knowledge. On such false claim, the structure of larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level has been erected. The same stands collapsed like a house of cards, aftermath thorough investigation by the SIT […]”
Giving a clean chit to the Gujarat administration and the investigation conducted by the SIT, the bench noted that there was “no material worth the name to even create a suspicion” of criminal conspiracy. The Supreme Court further endorsed the SIT for collecting materials that indicated the hard work and planning of State functionaries to control the spontaneous evolving situation of mass violence across the State of Gujarat. It noted that the police force was inadequate and the State replenished this with Central Forces/Army, which were called without loss of time. It also noted the SIT’s observation that the then Chief Minister publicly made repeated appeals to maintain peace.
This nails the narrative that the state authorities did not act in time. The fact that the army was called within 24 hours and the country’s then Defence Minister George Fernandes was in Gandhinagar to take care of any eventualities. The state police was grossly outnumbered when mob of 5000-1000 or even more were on the rampage. The state tried to get police force from adjoining Congress-ruled states, but that was not coming. The army was in Gandhinagar on the evening of 28 February 2002.
The third basis for creating the narrative was a report in Times of India that had quoted the chief minister on the action reaction theory. The fact is that the newspaper had not even spoken to the chief minister and had tried to pick up threads from the interview Modi gave to Zee News television channel anchor Sudhir Chaudhary. The story published by Times of India was denied, but it appeared in a non-descript way in a remote corner of the same newspaper.
The Supreme Court has noted Chaudhary’s statement that Modi had rejected violence and did not justify the action-reaction theory. Modi had said that violence cannot be a reply to violence, Modi had said in the interview. The reporter’s attempt to sensationalize could not be taken as a proof of endorsement or complicity by the chief minister. Modi never justified violence.
After the verdict, it appears that a section of intelligentsia, including media, was in cahoots with the Congress and the Left and against the nationalist ideology represented by the RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party that prides of cultural nationalism. They have been the biggest beneficiaries of the government and its system. They had complete monopoly on the country’s narrative whether history or it understanding. The rise of the nationalist forces so strongly would mean a challenge to their narrative.
Modi as an RSS pracharak who joined the BJP had the potential to do extremely well. He had shown his mettle during earthquake rehabilitation in Gujarat even when he was the general secretary of the partyb. As Chief Minister he evolved a model of good governance in the State that could do any chief minister proud.
Sonia Gandhi and her United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government tried their best to fix Modi and Amit Shah raking up Gujarat every now and then. Agencies were let loose,, but they could not do anything. The oppose Modi camp knew, unless they were defamed, nothing could prevent Modi from coming to power at the Centre. The pliant media played handmaiden.
All these could not prevent Modi from becoming the Prime Minister, but they kept on with their smear Modi campaign. Modi kept winning elections one after the other. People of the country never trusted the smear campaign. But the anti-Modi camp had a far greater design; keep defaming him so that he does not become an indisputable world leader.
The issue of the anti-Modi camp, often subsumed in the garb of elites of Lutyens’ Delhi, was not riots. Much worse riots had taken place in Gujarat during the Congress regime as for example in 1969. The broad daylight killing of Sikhs in Delhi by Congress goons after assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 is known to one and all. Compared to the Gujarat riots, the killing of Sikhs was pogrom. The problem was that they were looking for a villain and wanted to nail someone for the riots. They tried their best to create a narrative to bring down Narendra Modi from the post of the Chief Minister of Gujarat. They took affront that the man was standing tall and trying to give solution, rather than going to Delhi to save his post.