Saturday, 5 February 2011

Injustice Vs Investment: Can Gujarat riots be forgotten, role of Narendra Modi forgiven?

Almost a decade has past since the post-Godhra carnage took place in Gujarat. Much water has flown down Sabarmati since the riots and though the horrors haven't been forgotten, there are now voices that Indians must look ahead of Gujarat riots.

Even editorials in mainstream newspapers have recently lauded Deoband rector Maulana Vastanvi for his statement that under Narendra Modi's rule, the state was going on a path of progress and the minorities are also tasting fruits of development and prosperity.

It is becoming fashionable to praise Gujarat's booming economy. But to suggest that investment can wipe off the stains of bloodshed is ironical. Chief Minister Narendra Modi does deserve to get credit for his success in bringing investment in Gujarat but has he taken interest in ensuring justice for riot victims?

Leave aside rehabilitation, justice or compensation, the Gujarat government hasn't even shown any remorse for the 2002 pogrom, which was nothing short of a genocide. If it was an aberration then there should have been efforts to get financial help to victims of violence.

*Rioters remain free, victims remain in relief camps

*State didn't take responsibility of rehabilitation and relief to riot-affected

*Administration remains helpful to rioters

*Upright officers are targeted or given punishment postings

*Muslims framed under draconian POTA during post-Godhra riots remain in jails

*Writers, poets, artists don't have freedom to speak and are persecuted

*Criticism of state can lead a person to jail or registration of false cases

*Muslim-dominated areas in Ahmedabad, Surat and other cities remain under-developed

*Government remains inattentive towards need for hospitals, educational institutions in Muslim localities

*Fake encounters have stopped but witnesses are pressurised, harassed

*Even journalists who dared to speak or expose are hounded

Though industrialists ranging from Rahul Bajaj to Ratan Tata are falling for the success story of Gujarat, one can't overlook the fact that today Gujarat that fashions itself as a sort of state-within-state is not adhering a bit to principles of justice for its citizens.

The horrors of Gujarat and the blot of communal riots may have been washed off, had the state government taken some steps to resurrect itself. For Chief Minister Narendra Modi, it is not possible to acquire a pan-Indian acceptability unless his administration proves that it is just and not biased against Muslims, Christians and other underprivileged groups.

The report of Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) has once again confirmed that the anti-Muslim pogrom had the support of state ministers. The Gujarati entrepreneurship is well-known and this is the reason for shining Gujarat. Time and again the Supreme Court has to step in to stop the injustices.

And investment can't overshadow injustice. Just that Congress can't escape its responsibility for the 1984 mass killings of Sikhs in Delhi even after 27 years, BJP and its Chief Minister can't wipe this stain.

As Chief Minister, he could have stopped the riots. Or in later years, his administration could have provided a healing touch. But there has been no signs of sympathy. Rhetoric apart, in a climate of hate and fear with no signs of remorse, it is impossible to forget the riots and forgive the perpetrators.

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