Mapping the mind of the claimant to Delhi Sultanate

The three-day fast from 17 to 19 September, that Narendra Modi has undertaken did not bode well for unity, harmony and peace either for his very own state or the country. Gujarat is his “very own”, yes, because he has a hallucination that Gujarat is he and he is Gujarat. There is no difference between the two. Perhaps his mantra of development has gone to his head. Or else why should he undertake such a huge publicity stunt of a makeover from “the merchant of death” to “the sultan of governance”? Though he castigated the Sultanate of Delhi (Congress-ruled Centre), his overwhelming desire and hidden agenda is to acquire it for him only.

However, the crux of the matter is that the “merchant of death” has realized from day one, February 28, 2002, that the genocide that he was unleashing on the hapless Muslims would have to be defended by subterfuges. Anyone in the 21st century conducting such a course of action, that too in a democracy, knows the fate he will meet at the end. Luckily for him, RSS, the central government and his own cabinet and the anti-Muslim atmosphere in the aftermath of 9/11, played into his hands to execute the diabolic design known as the Hindutva experiment in the Gujarat laboratory, aptly called as the Final Solution. What he realized was the fall off of the deep conspiracy and the follow up was the subterfuge and cover up that would be required. That was also inevitable as he wanted to save his neck. He proved himself to be Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide for his “very own” Gujarat. Therefore, his makeover is in that direction of becoming “the sultan of governance.” Those who saw through this diabolic design were never even once under any delusion.

One of them was RB Sreekumar who kept his diary and other records and used them to show that it was nothing but genocide of Muslims. He even addressed an open letter to Modi on the eve of his fast: “You have rewarded practically, all those govt. officers, who actively participated through their acts of commission and omission, in violation of their oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India, in the planning and execution of anti-minority genocide in 2002, after the most condemnable Godhra train burning incident. This genocide will remain an inerasable sinful blot on our country, particularly to the practitioners of Hinduism of Upanishad and Bhagvad Geeta.” To achieve the real spirit of fasting, Sreekumar advised Modi: “Kindly convert your fast as a yagna to exorcise from your mind the ideas of exclusivism, sectarianism and hatred of certain sections of Indian citizens, indoctrinated by the Sangh Parivar.”

The epithet “merchant of death” was coined and used by Congress president Sonia Gandhi against him for the pogroms of Muslims in Gujarat 2002. That genocide was choreographed and conducted with impunity because the atmosphere of the state was so much vitiated by communalism that there was hardly any place for sanity left. However, there were a good number of people within the state and outside who were not tainted with it and they read the writing on the wall correctly. Among them were his own revenue minister Haren Panya, his chief of intelligence, RB Sreekumar, police officers like Sanjiv Bhatt, Rahul Sharma, social worker Malika Sarabhai and many more like them. They had seen closely what was written all over his face from yore.

In contrast to them, there were lotus-eaters or people who did not wake up from their self-induced slumber of what was really happening in 2002. The then home minister of the central government of India, LK Advani, ministers George Fernandes, Arun Jaitley, Arun Shourie, and many others. They showered praise upon Modi and even invoked his name to threaten and terrorize the Muslims.

This dichotomy persists even today full nine years after the pogroms and so does the double speak of Moditva, his espousal of Hindu rightwing communalism. His hatred for Muslims is unmistakable as he calls them miyan (a derogatory word for Muslims, hum panch hamare pachis (we five our twenty five, his Goebbels-type of repeating lies so often that it becomes truth to the mass of people. Few Muslims can afford five wives and have twenty five children. This saying is also derogatory classification of Muslims despite the contrary nature of truth.) He called the Ghanchi Muslims who live in Godhra as “criminals” and responsible for the fire on the train. There is no credible evidence for this that they were behind the burning of the compartment of Sabarmati Express. He instructed his officers to allow Hindus to take revenge so harshly that the Muslim would never raise their head again. Afterwards, he justified it invoking the Newtonian law of action and reaction. He dared the Muslims to summon rain in their holy month of Ramadan as he had done in the Hindu month of Saravan. Eyesores of his were the greasy dressed Muslim repairers of vehicles on the sides of the roads and highways. The most convincing proof of his hatred is his staunch position of a prachrak of the RSS.  The Sangh is unequivocally the deadliest enemy of the Muslims despite their customary equivocation and façade of cultural nationalism that excludes Muslims and Christians.

The result of the fasting for unity or harmony ironically turned out to be utter denial of moral responsibility. There can be no hope for either unity or harmony because Modi knows that there would be no forgiveness for the crimes he allowed his administration to commit. “What moral responsibility for riots am I being asked to take? My government did its best,” Modi said. And the recurring prevarication of the Hindu right came out further when he referred to September 12 SC verdict: “Who’s celebrating? I’m fasting. What verdict are you talking about? Is there a single FIR against me?” This hubris turned out to be his fatal flaw. He came to believe that no FIR was registered against him. But the truth is that the SC has granted the case to be tried in the trial court and for the first time the allegations against a sitting CM would be tried along with the 62 others. Zakia Jafri wanted FIR registered against Modi and others which the DGP PC Pande refused in 2005 and the HC dismissed out of hand in 2006. She appealed to SC in 2007. In 2011 the SC granted her leave.

The judgment of the SC has come at a time when there is some glimmer of a hope that communalism is fading in Gujarat. The chances of Modi or his party coming to power at the Centre are bleak. The courts are remorselessly following the ten cases in which Modi is clearly involved. At such a juncture Modi has acted in real time to grab public attention lest he lose that any further thanks to the startling discoveries of the pogroms and the fake encounters. It is ironic that the US has been hoodwinked by the excitement of the “development” in Gujarat as has the magazine Society.
There is also no denying the fact that the BJP has come in power due to the communal divide over the Babri mosque momentum of the rath yatra of Advani, the demolition of the mosque and the horrible communal violence that seized the country in its aftermath. Therefore, the more such communally divisive politics the greater the chances of the right wing party returning to power. The Hindutva iconic map of India on the stage at the Gujarat university auditorium and the absence of the posters of the iconic leaders of the party along with party flags there, were tell-tale signs of this. The focus is only on Modi and his development mantra. That is made out to give the message that he is most suitable to lead the country to progress and development. This fanfare is meant to sideline the deeds of “the merchant of death” for the sake of his chances as “the Sultan of governance” to rule the country. The chances of this backfiring are high.

Sanjiv Bhatt dilates on one such when he narrates his experience in his open letter to Modi:

This is my 24th year in the IPS. I was allotted to the Gujarat cadre during a time when the state was passing through the throes of widespread and sporadic communal violence. Having been baptized by fire, I have been since trying to understand and deal with the likes of you, who deal in the divisive politics of hatred. It is my well-founded observation that the polity of Gujarat has now crossed the stage where communal violence can accrue electoral benefits to any political party, as the process of communal polarization is very nearly complete in Gujarat. The experiments in the divisive politics of hatred have been very successful in the Gujarat Laboratory. You and your likes, in the political arena, have been largely successful in creating divides in the hearts and minds of the ‘Six Crore Gujaratis’. The need to resort to any further communal violence in Gujarat is already passé.

In a constitutional democracy like ours, it is incumbent upon the State to act in good faith at all times and under all circumstances. Over the last nine and a half years many friends have fallen prey to the misleading campaign that the Gujarat Carnage of 2002 was a spontaneous reaction to the condemnable action at Godhra on the fateful morning of 27 February 2002. The Newtonian Law was never abused more. You had resorted to your knowledge and understanding of Newtonian physics in March 2002 and had sought to apply it to polity and governance at the peak of the Gujarat Carnage of 2002. But what you might have deliberately missed then, and what many of us seem to be inadvertently missing now, is the universally accepted principle of governance which mandates that in a constitutional democracy, an avowedly secular State cannot be allowed to be partisan. It was the bounden duty of the State to have anticipated and controlled the possible Newtonian reaction, if any; not orchestrate and facilitate systematic targeting of innocent individuals!”

The above quote at length bares the Achilles heels of Dr Jekyll that his credit for governance cannot cover up the murky deeds of Mr Hyde.

On the first day of the fast Modi proved in letter and spirit that his sadbhavna or goodwill was but dushbhavna or enmity. His home department dismissed Sanjiv Bhatt from the job because he had given out the secrets of danseuse Malika Sarabhai’s PIL in which she had accused Modi of ordering secret service fund of ten lakh rupees to be given to her lawyers as a bribe so that they would derail her case of April 2002. She had demanded inquiry into Naroda Patia where more than a hundred Muslims were burnt alive. The exposure came on the second day of the fast and the home department asked Bhatt to remain present for inquiry on the third day of the fast. However, without taking into consideration his views he was dismissed for having remained absent from duty for ten months.

Sanjiv Bhatt, Sreekumar, Teesta Setalvad, Mallika Sarabhai and others, even Jagruti Pandya, make a formidable front opposing Modi on moral and legal grounds. In another way the “regimentation terrorism” (Louis Assange coinage) is opposed by various groups and it helps in throwing up even more dreary details. For example, DG Vanzara as in-charge of Ahmadabad city crime branch, had planted arms in the houses of some Muslims of Dariapur on the 2002 Rath Yatra day. This led to rioting and harassment of the Muslims, their arrest and torture. When Sreekumar reported this illegal act of Vanzara to the Commissioner of Police Ahmadabad, the chief secretary KR Kaushik started an inquiry against him. This could not have come about without the approval of Modi. In a way, his “intrinsic mind is not for goodwill to all”, especially the Muslims and those Hindus who refuse to toe his line of thought. He refused to wear the skull cap the Muslim divine presented to him on the second day though he had been donning the turban of the Sikhs, the flat hat of the Assamese, the cowboy cap, the decorative Himachal Pradesh cap of the Hindu farmers, the colourful tie and die turban of the Rajasthan people, the black cap of his own RSS, etc.

The full import of the refusal to wear the cap offered by Sayed Imam Shahi Sayed could not sink into the mind of Modi because his “intrinsic mind is not for goodwill to all.” The imam is a sufi who lost his brother in 1993 Babri anti-Muslim violence. Even then he travelled to the fast venue persuaded by Yasin Ajmerwala, an activist of Rashtriya Muslim Manch of Indresh Kumar, and was shocked at the refusal. The imam said in an afterthought: “He has been wearing caps, turbans of each community, but declined a Muslim one.” That the sufi Islam is pluralistic in essence as is symbolized by the mausoleum of Ajmer which Aseemanand wanted to target for bombing because even Hindus go there. This fact could not be lost on Modi. Even this accommodative Satpanthi sect has no place in the kind of India that the extremists among Hindus like Pracharak Modi envisage. The maulana made it even more explicit: “The refusal to accept the cap is not an insult to me but an insult to Islam.”

Modi acted again in real time when Sreekumar submitted his affidavit in response to Mallika Sarabhai’s demand that he do so in the matter of the “secret services” money to bribe her lawyers. Sreekumar had given his affidavit on the matter on Friday, the day when Modi’s home department dismissed Bhatt from his job for his deposition of this matter before Nanavati-Shah Commission in May 2011. All this adds up to how the Commission must have leaked the crucial details in real time like the SIT who was wont to do in the investigation of the Sohrabuddin case and the pogrom cases. After the arrest of Amit Shah, it was Modi who was solely running the department along with his tainted Home Secretary Antani.

Let alone the PILs in the SC and the corroborative facts narrated by Modi’s DGP (intelligence) and his assistant, the media were very much there on the scene of the genocide. Like the chief minister of UP Kalyan Singh who did not order the police and military force at his command to stop the demolition of the Babri mosque, Modi also did not use the nine columns of army at his disposal as reports indicated on 3 March 2002 that “Fernandes tried to insist on adequate army deployment…but the state government’s uncooperative attitude ensured that lives that could have been saved were, in fact, lost. The government failed logistical information, for instance, on areas around Ahmedabad - Naroda, Bapunagar, etc. - and the police refused to help the army…As a result, the nine army columns made available to the state government were deployed only around noon on Friday. Flag marches began only in the evening” (Hindustan Times 3 March 2002). If this is not complicity on the part of Modi what else is it? How long will Modi and his party deny all this, albeit, give him certificate of being honest and most efficient? This makes the claim hollow that the police were outnumbered by the mobs. The police were themselves leading the attacks on Muslims. Even in demolition of the grave of a Muslim poet held in high esteem by even the Hindus was being demolished and the strike force of the police passing there by indicated the mobs to do a thorough and quick job of it!

What will be the fate of democracy in India if Modi were the Prime Minister one day? The past experience will help us to peep into the future as the media reports in the context of the genocide on March 3, 2002. “Opp MPs not allowed to tour Ahmedabad: A team of MPs comprising Sitaram Yechuri, Shabana Azmi, Raj Babbar and Amar Singh were today denied permission by police to visit the riot-affected areas of Ahmedabad. The team that returned to Delhi, criticised the Gujarat government for the way it is handling the situation. After waiting for over three hours at the Ahmedabad police commissioner’s office last night, an outraged Shabana said city police gave the absurd excuse that their presence would incite more violence. Speaking to mediapersons in New Delhi today, Samajwadi leader Amar Singh said: “We tried to visit some of the worst-hit areas of the city but we were asked for permits. Then we were told that if we wanted to go to any of those areas we should do it at our own risk,” he said. He has already shot off a letter to Narendra Modi charging him of having let loose a “jungle raj” in the city. “We have been getting repeated calls from people stuck in trouble-torn areas for help but police are not allowing us into the city (Indian Express, 3 March 2002).

Those who ruled from Delhi in 2002 included a man who visited Gujarat full six days after the calamity that struck the state and the capital from which he has won elections successively till today. “Advani skirted most sensitive areas, including Naroda, Chamanpura and Bapunagar, and at the press meeting, he looked like he had yet to come to grips with the situation. Though he rapped the state administration over the mounting death toll, he seemed to buy the official claims of “tapering tensions” and effective administrative action.” Given this mindset of the rulers who came to power in Delhi for the first time and the experience of their protégé in Gujarat the road looks metalled and well paved.

But Modi is not exactly a fool. And this is also his subterfuge. He knows that a potential contender for the post of PM would never say what he said at the time of 2007 election. He had dared the central government to hang him for the killing of Sohrabuddin. He repeated it on the second day of the fast “fasad ke liye kusurwar hun to phansi do” (“Hang me if found guilty of the riots”. That is how the Urdu heading of the paper goes.) At times he does not realize that he is not speaking tongue in cheek.

Euphemism and innuendoes have brought him to this fame. But can all this make the poster boy of Hindutva a suitable match for the Delhi sultanate?

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 October 2011 on page no. 1

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