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PM ‘ashamed’ but his ilk is proud

Anti-Muslim statements made by some leaders in the Sangh Parivar on the Gujarat situation show that no lessons have been learnt, says PM Damodaran

Lucknow: The Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, has said that he was ashamed at what happened in Gujarat. Mr. Vajpayee has also said that the train carnage at Godhra was to be condemned but the incidents which followed were equally condemnable. But many leaders in his Sangh Parivar think otherwise. They never expressed anguish or shame over the violence. On the other hand, their sympathies were with the perpetrators of the post-Godhra violence.

First take the statements of the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi himself. His immediate reaction to the post-Godhra violence was "every action has an equal and opposite reaction." By this statement Mr. Modi was virtually defending the perpetrators of the post-Godhra violence. Mr. Modi also made some anti-Muslim statements, including that "if two communities clash, the purpose of Pakistan is served." The apparent hint was that all Muslims are pro-Pakistan. The Chief Minister also alleged that the violence was provoked by the speeches made by the members in Parliament and once the Parliament session ends, peace would return to Gujarat. But his convictions proved wrong.

Two of his ministers also did not lag behind him in making irresponsible statements. A senior cabinet minister in Modi Government, Mr. Fakirbhai Vaghela, while making a statement in the state Assembly directly blamed the minorities for the post-Godhra violence. Another Gujarat minister, Mr. Karsanbhai Patel, went a step ahead in alleging that there was an anti-Indian thinking among the majority of the Muslims. Both the ministers in the Modi government had virtually defended the actions of the perpetrators of the violence.

The Shankaracharya of Kanchi Jayendra Saraswati, who had initiated peace talks between the central government and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad when the latter tried to begin construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya flouting court orders in March this year, had virtually corroborated the statement made by Mr. Modi that "there is a reaction for every action." On the other hand, Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha of the RSS, maintained that though the violence in Gujarat after the post-Godhra incident was 'unfortunate', the reaction of the Hindus was "natural and spontaneous". Almost the same reaction had come from the President of the Gujarat unit of the BJP, Mr. Hareshbhai Bhatt.

The RSS spokesman, Mr. M.G. Vaidya, felt that the post-Godhra violence in Gujarat was a "natural reaction of the Hindus" and that no government could have controlled the upsurge. In Mr. Vaidya's view "Hindu society irrespective of caste, creed and political affiliations reacted violently against what had happened at Godhra." His statement was the corroboration of the RSS ideology that the safety of the minorities lied in the hands of the majority community.

The Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das, a leading figure in the Ram Janambhoomi movement, had the following to say on the post-Godhra violence. "The Muslims roasted alive 57 kar sewaks. It is a matter of shame that the government is protesting Muslims' death while Hindus are unprotected in their own country even by a BJP government. Do you think there would be no reaction to a bloody action?" The comments of the nonagenarian Mahant had not come as a surprise as he is known for his minority bashing.

Significantly, the BJP President, Mr. Jana Krishnamurthi, had given a clean chit to the Gujarat Chief Minister Mr. Modi for his handling of the post-Godhra violence. In his reaction to the happenings in Gujarat, Mr. Krishnamurthi remarked "I am sure that no other government in Modi's place could have handled (the situation) better than this." He added, "I have not joined the ranks of the Opposition parties who have been critical of Modi. 

In any communal riot, the business is affected. But the business community did not make caustic comments against the chief minister." How untrue his comment was could be known from the fact that several in the business community had come out against the government handling of the situation in Gujarat.

On the other hand, two national commissions, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) have come out heavily on the Modi government on its handling of the violence after the Godhra carnage. The Chairman of the NHRC, Mr. J.S. Verma bluntly said that he was "disturbed and shocked" at the persisting sense of fear and insecurity among the people. The Chairman had also criticised the partisan role of the administration in dealing with the situation.

The NCM has pulled up the Gujarat government for its handling of the situation. The transfer policy of the Modi government had particularly come in for criticism from the NCM when the Commission Chairman, Mr. Mohammad Shamim alleged that certain police officials were transferred instead of rewarding them for containing the riots. It demanded punitive action against those officials who were partial during the communal violence. The NCM underlined the need for recruiting people from linguistic and religious minorities in the police force to ensure impartial handling of the riots. Significance is also attached to the remark of the Union Home Ministry that the police and the administration had failed to act successfully to contain the riots in Gujarat.
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