Analysis

Judicial hammer for Modi!

Irrespective of whether the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi may or may not appear for questioning by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in conection with the 2002 carnage, legally, he may exercise all available options to clear himself from allegations held against him regarding his role and that of others, including members of his government, senior bureaucrats and police officers.

Yes, even though the judicial process is playing its part in not sparing Modi for his role in exciting the communal frenzy, which targeted thousands of Muslims in 2002, prospects of his actually facing any punishment remain as non-existent today as they were eight years ago. Indeed, it is not surprising, rather than display any repentance for Gujarat-carnage, Modi has tried his hand at distracting people's attention from his role in 2002 riots. He was supposed to appear before SIT on March 21, but he did not. As the Indian media questioned his failure to face SIT and the Congress leaders criticized him for escaping law, Modi clarified his stand the following day. Saying that he was a victim of "conspiracy" and that SIT had not fixed March 21 as day for his appearance, Modi said that he fully respected law and dignity of the body (SIT), appointed by Supreme Court and would cooperate with it.

The irony of the situation is in Modi talking about his respect for the country's legal and judicial process. What provoked him and his government to encourage those violating the country's law and order process, virtually permitting aggressive mob to go around targeting Muslims? Why was he not able to display respect for secular spirit of the country's constitution? Why did he and his associates instigate communal frenzy?

These questions have been deliberately raised as now Modi and his political friends are seeking cover to escape punishment as per legal provisions of the same constitution, they appeared to have no regard for eight years ago. In this context, Modi and his partymen's argument that Gujarat-carnage was a reaction to the Godhra-incident, in which a few dozen Hindu pilgrims were burnt alive in Sabarmati Express train, simply falls flat – the view that a Muslim mob attack on the train provoked communal reaction from Hindu mobs across the state.

Well, taking into view the reports of the train-fire being an accident, the "news" about a Muslim mob having attacked the train was a concocted one. It was apparently concocted as a part, of probably, Modi and his political friends' conspiracy to deliberately arouse communal frenzy targeting Muslims. Why did they indulge in such horrendous activities then? Irrespective of what had caused the fire, it was not for the government and/or the mob to be guided by the "news" fed to them. But violating and abusing the legal, political and social norms and ethics, they attacked and killed Muslims across the state, even though the ones targeted weren't even present in Godhra when the accident took place.

Remorseless
If Modi and his government willed, the Godhra-accident would not have been exploited and there would not have been any Gujarat-carnage. Even if a select group of people were pronounced guilty for having caused the train-fire, their punishment would have been decided by the due process of law. It was not Modi, his government or the mob's job/duty to "decide" who were guilty and also "punish" them as they willed. No. Where was Modi's "respect" for the country's law and order, which he claims today of.

Without doubt, Modi has his constitutional right to seek legal protection from being pronounced as guilty for having failed to check communal riots in 2002 and provide due protection to Muslims being targeted. Even if Modi failed to exercise his constitutional duty then, he still has the privilege and the legal right to be viewed as "innocent" till he is pronounced guilty for the 2002 Gujarat-carnage. And this is one side of the entire politico-legal drama. The other is, how much attention has Modi really paid to assure compensation and resettlement of surviving Muslims? Has he ever expressed any regret for what happened in 2002, regarded as a dark chapter in India's secularism? Has he given any thought for taking legal action against those responsible for Gujarat-carnage? Not really.

Though it has taken eight years for him to realize the importance of Indian law and order, he has done it so only when he has been placed under the scrutiny of judicial eye. Notwithstanding his actual role, legal loopholes may spare Modi the judicial hammer. Even then Gujarat-carnage is likely to chase and haunt Modi for quite some time.