Dubious standards of public opinion and debate
We witnessed, a few weeks ago, how the media launched a broadside against the Congress and two leaders, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, based upon leaked reports from "sources" in the CBI and a flung shoe. The situation was built into an expression of the ire of the Sikh community, the candidacy of the two gentlemen was withdrawn by the Congress and top guns of the media community got them and others to time and again apologise on air.
I am not trying here to defend these two gentlemen for what they may or may not have done nor am I trying to judge the treatment meted out to them. The events of 1984, as the targeting of any specific religious or ethnic group anywhere in the world, is a matter for grave condemnation, reproach and indeed the sustained search for redressal and justice. And it is truly unfortunate that successive governments and dispensations of the CBI seem to have failed to convincingly press for justice in this case.
However, I would contend that this search for justice must remain within the realms of a judicial system that our, and indeed any other nation, chooses to set up. It must not be based upon speculation and perceptions rife in the media or the supposed "public space". My point here is to bring to your attention the very different standards that are being used to judge the Supreme Court’s queries into the actions of the Narendra Modi government of Gujarat in the events of 2002.
Why is it that while Tytler and Kumar are pronounced guilty and termed recipients of a "clean chit" thanks to the largesse of the present central government, Mr Modi continues to be hailed as the most development-oriented chief minister around despite the fact that the highest court in our country deems it fit to include his name for investigation into these dastardly events? Is this the model of development that we must extol and cherish so highly, where a state high court may be judged unsuitable by the Supreme Court to impart fair judgement?
Why, when interviewing Mr Modi, is a poignant silence allowed to reign as he digs in his heels and refuses to answer questions about the riots of 2002? The footage of the man who must lead us in the future (if we believe the BJP propaganda, endorsements of India Inc and that of some media houses too), folding his hands, sulking and refusing to answer questions like a chastised little boy, was truly unflattering.
I am by no means an expert on the law; however, even to a lay person it should be evident that the fact that the Supreme Court of the country sees merit in relocating the riot cases outside Gujarat, in setting up the Special Investigation Team as its own impartial investigator for the cases and now, finally, having it investigate the role of none less than the chief minister in the events under scrutiny does bring into serious question the entire administrative machinery of the state and its ability to administer justice to its citizens, if not further its complicity in the acts of violent crime.
Would we grant Hitler the same leniency that we seem to be bestowing on Mr Modi for having supposedly created development and won an election?
Must we still uphold the Gujarat government as an epitome of development when, in addition to being investigated for complicity in communal violence, the government’s track record on various social and political indicators such as health, education and land rehabilitation is more than dubious, as evidenced by the reports from various social commentators and also analysis of the government’s own published data. Additionally, most of the financial IOUs signed at Mr Modi’s glorified "Vibrant Gujarat" shindigs too have scarcely materialised into actual investments on the ground.
It may serve us well to remember that the regime of Hitler was supported by most of the conservative governments of the West and in fact did win a popular mandate at the polls too. His reign was marked by significant architectural development, military growth and advances in the fields of science and technology and industry at a scale and grandeur far in excess of Mr Modi’s Gujarat thus far. Would we then grant Hitler the same leniency that we seem to be bestowing in judging Mr Modi for having supposedly created development and won an election?
You may call me opinionated or biased but I am unable to bring myself to support this travesty in the name of the "popular".
If we must address the anguish felt by communities, as a responsible rational society must, then it must be equally so for all communities, not just those that may be convenient for us. The disaffection felt by the Muslim community after repeated attacks upon its faith and, more importantly, innocent members of its community, must also be addressed and assuaged at least by public displays of being fair if not more sincere efforts at finding justice. And certainly not by having the Hindustan Times in its Delhi edition editorial (on April 28, 2009) claim that this new investigation, instituted by none other than the apex court after a prima facie examination, may in fact be an opportunity for Modi to prove his innocence and rid himself of this "controversy". This raises the question then of why the ‘sources’ seem so silent this time around and why no harrowing interviews of the ‘morally deplorable politician blindly supported by his party’ seem to be forthcoming with their rather virtuous and moralistic closing lines.
Archived from Communalism Combat, May 2009 Year 15 No.140, Media