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EDITORIAL: 1-15 August 2002

This Milosevic too has to be brought to justice

As we are going to the press, the national media and parliament are busy discussing the propriety of Narendra (Milosevic) Modiís dissolution of Gujarat assembly and attempts to hold assembly election in coming months, preferably sooner than later.

The RSS volunteer SS Bhandari, discredited for his ill-conceived efforts to sack RJD government in Bihar, is the governor of Gujarat, backing each move of Modi.

Yet another RSS volunteer, who graces the office of Deputy Prime Minister of India (which requires impartiality in the incumbent), told members of parliament on July 23 that Modi would prove his popularity among people by winning the proposed election.

RSS volunteers and fellow travellers aside, nobody wants an election in Gujarat at this point of time when people are still languishing in relief camps, when the burning rage fanned by the Sanghís myriad organisations is still to cool, when mutual distrust and animosity is still palpable all over Gujarat.

The first priority in Gujarat is relief, restitution and rehabilitation. The state government has failed on all three fronts. Killers are still at large.

The second priority is bringing the guilty to justice (or justice to the guilty, as the case might be). Only justice would ensure that such pogrom would not happen again. Only justice would assuage the hurt of those who have seen their loved ones raped, hacked to death, and burnt.

That justice has been denied so far is evident from the general drift of talk among camp dewellers. Children have developed a fascination for guns and imitating the games they have seen adults play in the riots in Modiís raj.

There are yet others who have been so thoroughly broken, their lives so shattered, that they have lost all hope. And with it, sanity. Nobody knows how to pull them out of the abysmal depths of despair.

Modiís government has seen to it that these unfortunate victims of the pogrom donít get adequate compensation. Property documents have been destroyed, police reports fudged. People who have lost property worth lakhs of rupees have got the princely sum of Rs 2000 in compensation. At least one man died of shock when he received this travesty of a compensation. Others too might have met a similar fate. Nobody knows as too many things go unreported.

Of late BJP has been thinking about imposing President's rule in J&K before assembly polls. Far more people have been killed in Gujarat in March-May than were killed in Kashmir in a year, but BJP has been opposing Presidentís rule in Gujarat.

The fact remains that an election is the last thing a sane person would want in Gujarat at this moment. The only people who are interested in it are those who are in a hurry to encash the death and misery of Gujarat Muslims. If anything is needed today to restore the dignity and credibility of Indian democracy it is the urgent trial of Modi a la Slobodan Milosevic for crimes against humanity.

Modi has an uncanny resemblance with Milosevic -- the same blood lust, the same ghoulish quality of thriving on human corpses, the same dereliction of duty towards citizens, the same unrepentant arrogance. All that shows that he should also be treated the way Milosevic is.

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