The much-hyped, much-repeated allegations of the Indian media, both electronic and print, that the post-Godhra riots of 2002 in Gujarat were “sponsored” by the state BJP government, or at least, “the state government turned a blind eye to the rioting” are nothing but a figment of their imagination, stemming out from their biased and prejudiced vision, as explained and admitted by Vir Sanghvi.
Before going into the details, let us first see the opinion poll done by ORG MARG for India Today weekly and Aaj Tak TV channel, published in India Today in its issue dated 25 November 2002 on the Gujarat Assembly elections. The poll gave the BJP 120-130 seats with a dizzying 55 % vote share, and gave the Congress 45-55 seats with 42 % of the vote share. In that poll, the weekly also asked a question: “How did the Modi government handle the riots?” The answer to that question was:
a)- Fairly and effectively- 61 %
b)- In a partisan manner- 21 %
c)- Incompetently- 15 %
The same weekly also did another opinion poll on the same subject in December 2002. That poll gave the BJP 100-110 seats with 52 % of the votes and the Congress 70-80 seats with 45 % of the votes. The magazine published results of the poll in its issue dated 16 December 2002. The same question asked earlier gave the results:
a) – Fairly and effectively –62 %
b) – In a partisan manner- 20 %
c) -Incompetently- 15 %
Both these polls also carried a question- “What caused the March riots?” The answer given to that question in the November poll was-
a) – Godhra incident- 56 %
b) – Muslim extremists- 20 %
c) – State sponsored riots – 10 %
d) – Miscreants on both sides -9 %
e) – Hindu extremist groups – 3 %
This same question gave the following results in the December 2002 poll –
a) – Godhra incident- 64 %
b) – Muslim extremists- 18 %
c) – State sponsored riots – 7 %
d) – Miscreants on both sides -7 %
e) – Hindu extremist groups – 3 %
This was a survey done of the Gujarati people, much closer in time to the actual happening of the riots. Both the polls gave more or less the same results. Even among the Congress voters, many agreed to the fact that the Modi government handled the riots fairly and effectively. This is what the people of Gujarat felt. And this was completely different from what the newspaper editors said sitting in air-conditioned rooms in New Delhi, miles away from the place where the actual riots happened.
Analyzing the second question, it would seem clear that hardly 10 % of the people (who must have been mostly Muslims) considered the riots to be state-sponsored. And hardly 3 % named the so-called Hindu fundamentalists for the riots. Most of the people agreed that the post-Godhra riots were caused by the gruesome massacre at Godhra. And close to 20 % blamed Muslim fundamentalists for the same.
India Today also did an opinion poll called “Mood of the Nation” in August 2002. In its issue dated 26 August 2002, the weekly also asked the question- “Who is responsible for the Gujarat riots?” The answers were-
a)-Muslim fundamentalists – 26 %
b)-Godhra attackers- 19 %
c)– State government- 14 %
d)-Local miscreants – 13 %
e)-Hindu militants- 5 %
f)-Don’t know/ Can’t say –23 %
This was a nation-wide survey, done all over the country. This was also before the election results of the Gujarat Assembly polls, which significantly changed the view of the masses towards the Gujarat riots. Even before that, the single largest view was that Muslim fundamentalists were responsible for the Gujarat riots. And so also was the Godhra incident.
What the government had to face
The Gujarat government had to face the most difficult situation in trying to control the post-Godhra riots. That’s because Gujarat is an extremely communally sensitive state and often even minor things like kite flying and cricket matches are enough to cause riots.
To understand this issue fully- we have already seen the horrific massacre in Godhra- carried out on February 27. Gujarat has along history of communal violence-dating from 1714 AD- and in the recent past- saw horrible riots in the pre-Independence period of the 1940s –and then again riots after Independence. The Times of India in its issue dated 13 April 2002 carried a report saying- “Trivial reasons sparked earlier riots” and begins with the sentence–
“If it took a shocking massacre like Godhra to trigger off massive communal riots in the state in the 21st century, history shows that trivial incidents caused most riots in the 20th century…”
Now- the situation was far worse in February 2002- after the gruesome killings in Godhra. But the Godhra killings were not the only cause. At that time- in 2002- there were war clouds between India and Pakistan-following the attack on Parliament. There was great anger in Gujarat over terrorism and anti-national activity.India Today weekly reported in its issue dated 18 March 2002-
“The immediate provocation for the riots may have been the Godhra inferno, but the savagery of retaliation belies a resentment spanning years. The Hindu-Muslim gulf has been widening since the 1969 Ahmedabad riots, the 1989 rath yatra on the Ayodhya Ram mandir issue and has been fuelled by the Kashmir conflict. The heightening Indo-Pakistan tension and Islamic terrorism in the past two years—from cross-border terrorist attacks in Kashmir to the December 13 Parliament attack—have given Hindu militancy both momentum and respectability…The past few months have seen mounting public opinion on the lack of action against Pakistan—over Kargil and more recently the Parliament attack. In fact, during his attempts last week to pacify Gujarat, Union Defence Minister George Fernandes was not only pummelled by stones, but also queries like, “Why isn’t India attacking Pakistan?”
Indifference to or perhaps ignorance of global compulsions has fuelled hostility and the state’s Muslim population is being held responsible for Pakistan’s jehadi policies.
Another aggravation has been the mushrooming of Deobandi madarsas in the border state over the past two years. The lackadaisical attitude of the Keshubhai Patel and Narendra Modi governments in curbing their growth has widened the gulf between the communities. In fact, police officials attribute the ferocity of attack at the Gulmarg Society and former MP Ehsaan Jafri’s house to the presence of one such madarsa in the complex…
Last week, what marked the slaughter of people was the unprecedented intensity as well as societal sanction. The underclass was supported in the looting by the middle and upper middle classes, including women. They not only indulged in pillaging but openly celebrated the destruction and mounting death toll. Residents from posh localities in Ahmedabad didn’t balk at taking to the streets at the slightest hint of an approaching mob. By the chief minister’s own admission, the pattern of rioting didn’t correspond at all to Gujarat’s 100 most sensitive localities. New areas joined the sectarian frenzy.”
So-in short- the state had a bloody history of communal violence and was extremely communally sensitive- there was great anger over Islamic terrorism in India- attack on Parliament and over the growth of madarsas in Gujarat. Added to that was the Godhra incident- the rubbing of salts into people’s wounds after Godhra by the pseudo-secularists and politicians.
The Telegraph-published from Kolkata also reported on 1st March 2002-
“(On Feb 28) The Vajpayee government, alarmed that law and order were spiralling out of control, ordered deployment of the army in the state. The army has already begun pre-deployment drills in violence-scarred areas and will be out latest by tomorrow morning. Defence minister George Fernandes is travelling to Gujarat tomorrow…Curfew was clamped in 26 towns… “There is a fire inside us. Our blood is boiling,” Mangalben, a woman from Dariapur, said. “What is the fault of those children who died? There is a volcano of anger.””
In other words-there was a volcano of anger among the masses- whose blood was boiling after the Muslims brutally roasted 59 kar sewaks including 15 children in Godhra. On the events of 1st March 2002- The Telegraph reported in its issue dated 2nd March-
“A funeral procession cast away its veil of mourning and exploded into a mob of killers, torching houses inside which the pursued were huddled. Official sources said eight people died in the incident, but unofficial estimates put the toll at above 30…
Despite the presence of the army — some 3,500 soldiers have arrived in the state — in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, the rioting has not stopped.”
That is- so angry were the masses- that even a newspaper like The Telegraph had to publish a report- in which a woman said “Our blood is boiling”. Even The Indian Express said in its report of 2nd March 2002- “Godhra funeral procession
turns into killer mob”.
Gujarat is a state which can see riots even if Sachin Tendulkar gets out on 90 against Pakistan. Here- it saw the most horrific massacre ever known. Even in medieval India- when the Turkish rulers committed horrible atrocities on Hindus- never were 15 children roasted to death- after being locked and surrounded from both sides-not allowed to escape- and the attackers watching the 15 children cry with pain and die in front of their eyes- and roast to coal- at least such an instance in medieval India is not on record. And this happened in a state which can see riots- even on minor things like kite flying and cricket matches.
Even The Indian Express in its issue dated 1st
March 2002 said that-
“In a state so polarised as Gujarat, such a violent backlash was expected ever since yesterday morning’s Godhra massacre …”
India Today weekly reported in its issue dated 11 March 2002- “The mood in the state is militant…The bloody cycle of violence so familiar with Gujarat may have just begun”.And even Outlook– run by a die-hard Congress loyalist and sycophant Vinod Mehta- reported in its issue of 11 March 2002: “Gujarat has always been a communal tinderbox and even a small spark ignites big trouble. The ghost of Godhra looks set to walk its streets for months.” Both these issues covered events till 28 February 2002.
And the situation was terrible. In Ahmedabad- all 6000 policemen were deployed- and only 1500 were armed. At one point of time- there were 25,000 people targeting Muslims in Ahmedabad alone on 28 Feb. Police received 3500 calls instead of normal average of 200 that day. Ahmedabad Fire Brigade received 400 calls- as against its capacity of handling 100 calls at once. In fact- the report “Godhra and after” published by the “Council for International Affairs and Human Rights”- headed by Justice D. S. Tewatia- a retired Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court-after its study of the situation there in April 2002- said that on many occasions- the rioters had better weapons than the police.
Steps taken by the government to control violence
To know the steps taken by the Gujarat government to control violence- we must first also know the background of the political situation at that time. The fact is- that at that time- the BJP was running a coalition government at the Centre with around 22 pseudo-secular parties and was following the NDA agenda. The NDA agenda was as pseudo-secular as the UPA agenda. All BJP governments in respective states were also following the same NDA agenda- for fear of collapse of the NDA- or for any other reason. The report of weekly India Today dated 18 February 2002 was-
“It is strange that the country’s only full-fledged BJP Government in Gujarat headed by Narendra Modi is doing precious little to cleanse the madarsas of jehadi elements. Especially when fundamentalists seem to be gaining clout in madarsas in the border districts of Kutch-Banaskantha as well as in north and south Gujarat. A fact underlined by VHP leader Pravin Togadia last week. No wonder Modi has earned the epithet “Junior Vajpayee” because of his soft approach.”
In its 18 March 2002 issue- India Today reports-
“Says another party worker alluding to the fact that Modi was, until last fortnight, unwilling to take action on issues relating to Hindutva for fear of jeopardising the future of the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre: “Ever since he took over Modi was hell bent upon becoming a Vajpayee but the people have swept him in the direction of Sardar Patel.””
Steps taken on February 27
Now- let us see the steps taken by the government of Gujarat to control the violence. The Godhra massacre occurred on February 27 at 8 AM. At 8:30 AM –Chief Minister Narendra Modi- then in Ahmedabad- was informed about the carnage. Modi then went to visit Godhra. Modi visited the railway platform-and here gave ‘shoot-at-sight’ orders. That is- in a Hindu country- after the partition in 1947 carving out a separate Muslim state- Muslims attacked and roasted 59 Hindus in Godhra- in a state ruled by a Hindu party like the BJP- and even after that- the BJP Chief Minister issued ‘shoot-at-sight’ orders in Godhra during his visit- primarily aimed at Hindus who could have retaliated in Godhra. The leading English daily from South India- The Hindu in its issue dated 28 February 2002 reported that- “The Chief Minister Narendra Modi gave shoot-at-sight orders in Godhra”.
The same day- The Times of India reported in a report titled “Shoot-at-sight orders, curfew in Godhra” –
“The Gujarat government imposed an indefinite curfew and issued shoot-at-sight orders in Godhra after 57 people were killed and several injured when a mob set the Sabarmati express on fire. Four bogies of the train were set on fire by miscreants at Godhra station…”
This report was posted at 1:37 PM. This shows that Modi’s claim of imposing curfew at 9:45 AM was absolutely true.
The same day- The Tribune (published from Chandigarh) – gave a report titled-“Sabarmati Express set ablaze– 57 dead -‘Ram sevaks’ among victims, shoot-at-sight orders in Godhra” and the report said–
“Indefinite curfew was clamped and the shoot-at-sight order issued in Godhra town immediately after the incident…”
It wasn’t merely them. All English dailies the next reported this- and websites like rediff.com also reported this- and so did many foreign newspapers. The Daily Breeze– a US newspaper- reported on 28 February-
“Fearing the attack would ignite sectarian riots, Indian officials immediately stepped up security across this vast, religiously divided nation. The prime minister urged Hindus not to retaliate.”
Even Xinhua news agency also reported this online on 27 February 2002- that Vajpayee appeals for peace.
The same day- the website rediff.com also reported that the state government had taken all precautions and tightened security to prevent riots. These reports of rediff.com are given in Chapter 7, Myth 15 “Narendra Modi gave free hand 3 days”.
After this- Narendra Modi returned to Ahmedabad in the evening. On his return to Ahmedabad- 827 people were arrested as a preventive measure. Narendra Modi said this in an interview to India Today weekly dated 18 March 2002- and this is on official records.
The same day-on February 27- the Gujarat government deployed the entire police force of 70,000 in Gujarat- as per the report of The Hindustan Times dated 28 February 2002- in view of the apprehension that riots may break out in retaliation of burning down of Hindu pilgrims at Godhra. The Telegraph of UK in its issue of 28th February also reported that more than 70,000 security men had been deployed in Gujarat on 27 February. These foreign dailies also reported that security had not only been tightened in Gujarat- but also in all places with sizable Muslim population in India- on 27 February.
The same day-on February 27- the Gujarat government deployed the Rapid Action Force in Ahmedabad and other sensitive areas and the Centre sent in the CRPF personnel. This was reported by The Indian Express in its report dated 28 February 2002. The English daily Mid-Day also reported both these things in its issue of 28 Feb.
These reports- of The Hindustan Times and The Indian Express were published even before a single large-scale retaliatory riot had taken place.
The Hindu– also reported on Feb 28 that- “(On Feb 27) The state government has appealed to the people to maintain peace…The Home Minister said the Government was taking necessary steps to ensure that the disturbances did not spread during the bandh tomorrow (i.e. Feb 28).” This was reported by many newspapers on 28 February.
The VHP also appealed for peace. The Times of India reported on 28 February 2002 even before a single major riot had taken place:
“VHP international Vice-President Acharya Giriraj Kishore told reporters here at Sola Civil Hospital, where 54 out of the 58 bodies of the train attack victims were brought, that “Hindus should maintain calm and keep patience. I appeal to Muslim brethren to condemn the attack and ask them not to put Hindus’ patience to test. Hindus are keeping a restraint but if such incidents do not stop, there can be a counter reaction which may be uncontrollable”.”
The Indian Express dated 28 February 2002 also reported that the Centre had announced a nationwide alert in the evening of 27th February.
Thus, in brief, the steps taken on 27 February (Wednesday) were:
1) The Gujarat Chief Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, rushed from Ahmedabad to Godhra and gave shoot-at-sight orders at 9:45 AM- within 2 hours of the carnage.
2) The entire police force of 70,000 was deployed in Gujarat.
3) All companies of Rapid Action Force in the state were deployed in Ahmedabad, Godhra and other sensitive areas by the state government.
4) The Central Government rushed CRPF personnel to Gujarat.
5) The state government imposed curfew in Godhra and other sensitive areas.
6) 827 preventive arrests were made.
7) The Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Gujarat Government urged Hindus not to retaliate and maintain peace.
8) The RSS and VHP also appealed to Hindus to maintain peace and not retaliate.
9) CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) units were also deployed.
10) The Centre sounded a nationwide alert in the evening.
These were the steps taken by the Gujarat Government on February 27 itself to quell the violence- or prevent the violence. But on February 28- large –scale riots happened. That was due to the extreme anger of the masses over Godhra- the reaction from pseudo-secularists on it- and great anger over terrorism and anti-national activity.
On February 28
Now-the government faced genuine difficulties in controlling the anger of the masses in view of the limited police force. Again let us see what Uday Mahurkar wrote for weekly India Today dated 18 March 2002:
“That the police was ineffective is clear (on February 28). But was this intentional? Ahmedabad has a police force of 6,000, including 1,500 armed personnel. In addition, the entire state has just four companies (530 jawans) of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) of which only one company could be spared for Ahmedabad. Considering that the mobs that simultaneously surfaced at nearly half a dozen places numbered from 2,000 to 10,000, the forces proved woefully inadequate. At one point on February 28 there were at least 25,000 people targeting the Muslim localities in Ahmedabad alone.
What’s more, the police was expecting trouble in Ahmedabad’s walled city, which has been the scene of communal violence in every riot in the past two decades. This time, however, it wasn’t the walled city where the troubles began. (This was also reported by The Times of India online on 28 February 2002). At Naroda Patia, the scene of the worst carnage, there was no police presence worth the name to prevent the mobs from grouping in the morning and going on a rampage. There were at least three mobs of 4,000 to 5,000 each attacking Muslims. Among them were members of a tribe called the Chara, who have a township not very far from Naroda. Till now the Charas were known for thefts and bootlegging. Last Thursday (i.e. Feb 28), they earned a reputation for rioting too.
In Chamanpura area where nearly 40 persons, including former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri and his family members were killed, there were just a few armed guards when the crowd began assembling. Reinforcements did arrive but by that time the mob had swelled to 10,000 and even though police firing killed at least five persons on the spot-in all police firing led to 40 deaths in Ahmedabad alone-it didn’t stop the carnage. The situation was aggravated further by Jafri firing from his revolver on the mob injuring seven. Others in the housing complex are said to have thrown acid bulbs too.
Last Thursday (i.e. Feb 28), the Ahmedabad police received at least 3,500 calls for help from fear-stricken residents, mostly Muslims, against the normal average of 200. The fire brigade which has the capacity to handle 100 fire calls received 400 calls on February 28. Says Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pande: “In my 32-year career I have never seen something like this. It was an upsurge, unstoppable and unprecedented. A stage came when it became physically impossible for the police to tackle mobs running into thousands.”
Elsewhere in Gujarat, the problem was broadly similar. The state police force is about 43,000 strong, though only 12,000 of them are armed. The SRP numbers 14,000. The mobs which targeted Muslims in rural areas ranged in strength from 500 to 10,000. In Sardarpura, where 29 people were burnt to death, the mob was over 500-strong while in Pandarwada, where more than 50 were burnt to death in their homes the mob, drawn from people of nearby villages, numbered over 5,000. Gujarat Minister of State for Home Gordhan Jhadaphiya says, “There is ample evidence to show that the police resorted to effective firing against rioters”. Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley stated in the Rajya Sabha that the police fired 2,000 rounds which killed 98 rioters. In addition, 4,000 people were arrested for rioting in the past week…
…There’s also much criticism over the delay in calling for the army’s help. According to Modi, he had officially called for the army by 4 p.m. on February 28. By 6.30 p.m. a formal request had landed in Delhi. By 1 a.m. on March 1, George Fernandes had landed in Ahmedabad at Modi’s behest. At great personal risk, he bravely took to the streets next morning to check the violence. At 11.30 a.m. the army was staging a flag march in Ahmedabad.
Significantly, Modi tried to ensure that the bodies of the victims were cremated near the hospital where they were brought for post-mortem at 3.30 a.m. on February 28 from Godhra. The Sola Civil Hospital is on the western outskirts of Ahmedabad where the Muslim population is negligible. Cremating the bodies there, Modi thought, would have helped contain the anger.
Some VHP leaders present at the spot were also under instructions to convince the relatives of the victims to agree to the proposal. But the moment the proposal was floated, the kin of the dead flared up and accused the BJP “of acting in a manner worse than the Congress”. Vishnu Sathwara, a VHP worker shouted: “After using us to climb to the top, the BJP leaders have now left us at the mercy of the wolves.” …
…Says political analyst Arvind Bosmia: “It is beyond the means of the Sangh Parivar to lead such an upsurge. It was largely a spontaneous reaction to the Godhra killings. And not just Modi but the entire Sangh Parivar has been put on this strident path. In fact Modi has been swept up in this militancy.””
What does this report from Uday Mahurkar reveal? That the Gujarat police had an easy task in dealing with the situation? That is- we must note the vital points here-
1-Entire police force of Ahmedabad was deployed –total 6000- out of which only 1500 were armed. The size of the mobs was unprecedented on Feb 28 and the police forces were woefully short.
2-Even though Rapid Action Force was deployed- it too could not prevent the violence.
3-Ahmedabad police received at least 3500 calls on Feb 28- against an average of 200.
4-Ahmedabad Fire Brigade- which has the capacity to handle 100 calls received 400 calls on that day.
5-The statement of the then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pande also shows that the situation was out of control.
6-The Hindu also reported the next day that mob fury reached its crescendo on 28 February 2002.
The leading most English daily from South India- The Hindu reported on 1st March 2002- covering events of 28 February –
“The Army units, frantically called by the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, as the situation seemed to slip out of hand, started arriving in Ahmedabad and are likely to be deployed in the city on Friday.”
The Times of India reported on 2nd March 2002- “Neither the Army nor the shoot-at-sight orders given to the Gujarat police could control the mob frenzy in Ahmedabad on Friday (1st March 2002) as the city witnessed a total collapse of the law and order machinery for the second straight day taking a heavy toll of human lives…”
And this was on 1st March- when the violence was much less as compared to 28 February. If even the Army and shoot-at-sight orders couldn’t control violence when it was much less, what must have been the situation on 28 February- when the Army was not present during the day and the violence was far more?
Even in its infamous article misquoting the Chief Minister Narendra Modi as saying “Every action has equal and opposite reaction”, The Times of India reported on 3rd March 2002 that- “The sparse police presence looked like a drop in the ocean of violence”. This- despite the deployment of the entire police force, State Reserve Police, Rapid Action Force and CRPF personnel. The Times of India dated 1st March 2002 also said that the situation was out of control in Rajkot, and that the fire brigade received 175 calls and was out of water. Police fired two rounds and imposed curfew on half the city- according to this report.
This shows that the situation in Ahmedabad has slipped out of hand- and no administration –be it of Narendra Modi or of Sonia Gandhi could have controlled it. What Acharya Giriraj Kishore had warned, reported by The Times of India on 28 February 2002, that the anger of the Hindus could be uncontrollable- became true. We have also seen the report of The Telegraph dated 1st March 2002 that the Vajpayee government ordered deployment of the Army (On Modi’s request) as law and order were out of control.
India Today in its issue of 11th March (which reported events till February 28) reported that, “Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, an RSS pracharak-turned-BJP politician says, ‘The culprits of the gruesome incident will be brought to book, come what may.’ He is in a difficult situation. Though Modi had the Army called into Ahmedabad, he said, ‘The anger of five crore people of Gujarat is impossible to control with our limited police force. We have done our utmost to prevent the violence from spreading.’”
India Today reported on February 28 itself that the Army had been called into Gujarat and that the Chief Minister was caught in a difficult situation.
The riots began in Ahmedabad on 28 February 2002 at around 11 AM. At 12-00 PM, the Chief Minister Narendra Modi called on the then Union Home Minister L. K. Advani and requested him for deployment of the Army, informally. The Army, which was then posted at the border in view of the war clouds between India and Pakistan, sent some of its units immediately. The troops left the border areas and left for Ahmedabad immediately. They did not even take 1-2 days to leave the border areas. Some troops arrived in Ahmedabad at 2 AM in the morning on March 1 itself. By the 2nd of March,
the Army had taken complete control of Ahmedabad.
Now- we have seen the statement of The Hindu– in its issue of 1 March- that on February 28- Narendra Modi frantically called the Army units to Ahmedabad. Despite this- many anti-BJP people in the media have spread canards that- “Modi did not call the Army for three days”. The Gujarat police were overwhelmingly outnumbered on that day in Ahmedabad. Despite this- the police fired 1,000 rounds on that day. A total of 10 Hindus were shot dead in police firing in Ahmedabad alone- and 16 were injured. These are official government figures- and also can be seen from the report of The Hindu– dated 1 March 2002-
“At least 30 others were killed in police firing, stabbing and other incidents in different parts of the city while the casualty in other cities and towns in the State was put at over 50…
Till evening, police fired 46 rounds in Ahmedabad, in which at least 10 persons were believed to have been killed.”
The link is the same as the earlier one.
Now-in its earlier statement it says- at least 30 were killed in police firing, stabbing and other incidents in Ahmedabad without specifying how many were killed in police firing. And at another place-it states that at least 10 were believed to have been in police firing in Ahmedabad alone- by evening. This clearly shows that the government figures of at least 10 Hindus being shot dead and 16 being injured are absolutely true. The Portsmouth Herald reported online on 28 February 2002- “In the state’s commercial center, Ahmadabad, officers fired tear gas at a Hindu mob descending on Muslim houses. The crowd wouldn’t stop, so police fired rifles, injuring six people, three of them seriously, officials at the Civil Hospital told The Associated Press.”
In fact, the BBC reported online on 28 February when the death toll reported by it was a mere 40 for the entire state of Gujarat i.e. when violence was going on-“The army has been deployed there (Ahmedabad) to counter Hindu youths…They included six people who were shot dead by police in Ahmedabad as they tried to restore calm. (Final figure was 10)”
The Telegraph dated 1st March 2002 also reported:
“Authorities said police were forced to open fire and lob tear gas shells at several places as protesters got out of hand during today’s VHP bandh (28 February, Thursday). Two persons died in police firing in Nadiad and Godhra.”
The Army units were frantically called to Ahmedabad. They arrived from the border areas so quickly- that they reached Ahmedabad on 1st March
at 2 AM in the morning.
The full chronology of this can be read in the chapter- “Contrasts between the 1984 riots and the Gujarat 2002 riots” in the category Police/Army action and on pp 68-69.
The Hindu reported in its issue dated 1st March- “ The Army units started arriving in Ahmedabad and are likely to be deployed in the city on Friday (i.e. 1st March)”. This shows that the Army units reached Ahmedabad so quickly on Feb 28- past midnight- that The Hindu had time to report their arrival and publish it in its issue dated 1st March!
The same day- The Indian Express also reported–
“This pushed the toll, by 1.30 am, to at least 70 out of which 60 was for Ahmedabad alone. By this time, Defence Minister George Fernandes was in town meeting Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the Army’s Gandhinagar-based 11 Division had begun to send out reconnaissance patrols.
The news of the Army’s arrival came as a glimmer of hope to residents of the city …”
That is-The Indian Express also had time to report the arrival of the Indian Army- and also of George Fernandes- in its issue of 1st March 2002.
The report on the online edition of The Indian Express on Feb 28 was-
“1,000 para-military personnel rushed to Gujarat
Posted online: Thursday, February 28, 2002 at 1629 hours IST
New Delhi, February 28: Home Minister L K Advani on Thursday directed despatch of about 1,000 personnel of para-military forces to trouble-hit Gujarat following a request by Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
“Eleven companies of para-military forces have been despatched to Gujarat and they will be reaching there by tonight,” a Home Ministry official said.
Modi had telephoned Advani to apprise him of the situation in Gujarat in the wake of Wednesday’s attack on Sabarmati Express and requested for additional forces to deal with law and order problem.”
This clearly indicates how quickly and frantically Narendra Modi called the Army to Ahmedabad. The link for the above report is-
The time of this report’s posting is 4:29 PM. Take into consideration time required for preparing the report, editing, proof reading and posting and it becomes clear that the decision of calling the Army was taken much earlier. It was done so quickly that by 4:30 PM of 28 February, the report was published online.
Among another step taken- was the request made to George Fernandes by the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi himself- to come to Ahmedabad. He came immediately- on 1st March at 1:00 AM.
The Tribune– which editorially fully supported the claim of U C Banerjee that the Godhra train burning was an accident absolving Muslims of their heinous crime in January 2005- reported on 1st March 2002:
“The police complained they were outnumbered and the rampaging mobs had set up road blocks hindering their movement. Chief Minister Narendra Modi told a crowded press conference here 700 arrests had been made throughout the state (BBC report quoted earlier also admitted 700 arrests), including 80 in Godhra, where the train was set ablaze killing 58 persons…Mr. Modi had telephoned Mr. Advani to apprise him of the situation in Gujarat in the wake of yesterday’s attack on Sabarmati Express and requested for additional paramilitary forces to deal with law and order. The Centre today issued a fresh direction to the state governments and Union Territories to deploy security forces in sensitive areas while arranging logistics for implementation of contingency plans…The police opened fire in Kalol town to disperse unruly mobs…”
Nowhere is it alleged that the police deliberately turned a blind eye to the rioting. No mention of police being involved in the violence or giving a free hand to the rioters. No mention of any delay in calling the Army. These charges of “Police turning a blind eye, allowing killings for 3 days, not calling Army until 3 days had passed…etc” were made after the riots. If these charges were true- the newspapers would have screamed and gone downtown on the very next day. Nothing like this happened. And of course- no charge that the riots were being ‘sponsored’ by the Gujarat Government!
The Hindu also reported on 1st March that on Feb 28-
“An indefinite curfew has been clamped in 26 cities and towns in the State, including parts of Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Rajkot, Nadiad, Anand and Kaira in addition to the indefinite curfew in force in Godhra since Wednesday.(27 February)”
Not merely The Hindu– almost every newspaper reported this the next day- and so did weekly India Today in its issue dated 11 March 2002- covering events till February 28.
The only newspaper that accused the police of deliberately turning a blind eye to the rioting was The Indian Express in its issue dated 1 March 2002- on events of Feb 28. After that- not even The Indian Express made any allegations- during the actual time of the riots. And The Indian Express’ allegations too were out of personal and ideological bias. That day- newspapers like The Hindu did not report anything against the police as such. Now- no one can deny that the stray policeman may be lethargic in his duty or sympathetic towards the rioters- but does that mean that the government ordered the police to turn a blind eye? Also- when the policemen are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the rioters- and if they try to intervene in a hopeless situation- will they not lose their own lives-and that too without any gain? Despite this- there are occasions in Gujarat where Police officers have saved the Muslims at a great risk to personnel life- like in Viramgam, Bodeli. The bias of The Indian Express can be seen from the fact that-it did not report that the police shot dead 10 Hindus in Ahmedabad alone by evening- which was reported by The Hindu– nor did it report that-“Narendra Modi frantically called the Army to Ahmedabad and requested George Fernandes to come” –but it did report both of their arrival. Nor did it report that the police fired 600 rounds in Ahmedabad and 1,000 in the whole state.
The Times of India reported on 1st March in a report titled “Six burnt alive near Godhra”:
“…Kalol has been the worst-affected, with nearly 5,000 people descending on it after rumours that the town had been attacked by miscreants… The police have been grossly outnumbered on the highway as villagers attacked passing vehicles…Arad road was one of the worst-affected, with a mob of at least 200 people on the street at any given point of time. Many have armed themselves with knives and sticks. Violence from these two towns has spilled on to the highway where villagers are having a field day. They have created roadblocks using boulders, burning tyres, large drainage pipes and leftovers of unfinished engineering projects. Every once in a while a police van arrives and disperses the crowds from the highway but they are back again the moment the van moves ahead to the next trouble-spot. As one policeman puts it, “They will lynch me if I try to stop them. It is better I turn a blind eye.” (The Times of India justifies this).
The Indian Express reported on 2nd March 2002-
“(On 1 March)In Vadodara, three persons were burnt alive and one person succumbed to police bullets when police fired to disperse a violent mob that gheraoed a Deputy Superintendent of Police and an inspector in Manjalpur. Police Commissioner D D Tuteja said additional forces had to rush in to save the policemen.”
According to The Times of India in its online edition of 1st March 2002- police escorted 400 Muslims to safety in Naroda Patiya after succeeding in dispersing the mob.
On February 28- former Lok Sabha member from Ahmedabad- Ehsan Jafri was killed by a Hindu mob in Gulmarg society in Ahmedabad. Now- in this case- there were around 250 people in the complex. Ehsan Jafri fired on the Hindu crowd with his revolver-injuring 7- as per India Today weekly- 18 March 2002. This drove the crowd mad- and they killed Jafri and 68 others. Here-India Today weekly clearly states that the police reinforcements arrived outside Jafri’s house- despite the fact that the police forces were inadequate in the city- but by that time the mob had swelled to 10,000. Police shot dead 5 Hindus outside his house and saved the lives of 200 Muslims in this episode. India Today weekly clearly states that the police shot dead 5 Hindus outside his house. Narendra Modi in an interview- which we will see later- said that police saved 200 Muslims in this episode. This claim seems to be completely true- going by the fact that there were 250 people in the complex- and 69 were killed. When Jafri fired on the Hindu crowd- the situation was further aggravated- and the people went crazy- and planned to kill each and every person in the complex- but the police saved 200 Muslims in this episode. The Times of India in its online edition on 28 February 2002 reported:
“…Meanwhile fire tenders which rushed to the spot were turned back by the irate mob which disallowed the Ahmedabad fire brigade (AFB) personnel and the district police from rushing to rescue…Sources in Congress Party said that the former MP after waiting in vain till 12.30 pm for official help to arrive had opened fire on the mob in self-defense, injuring four (Actually 14 were injured and 1 killed- as per India Today 5 April 2010). Thereafter mayhem ruled the roost…The mayor Himmatsinh Patel appealed to residents to maintain peace… The situation remained volatile and an inferno raged till 8 pm, till which time the police forces could not gain entry into the colony.”
The Times of India in its online edition on 28 February 2002 reported at 2:34 PM :
“Ahmedabad: At least six persons were injured when police opened fire to disperse a rampaging mob in Meghaninagar area of the city on Thursday afternoon. The injured were brought to civil hospital where the condition of at least three is stated to be serious…the incident took place at Chamanpura area under Meghaninagar police station. Meanwhile, one person was stabbed to death in Kalupur area of Ahmedabad which is placed under curfew. The incident took place at Ghadiali na Khancho area in the afternoon. With this, the death toll in the post-Godhra aftermath in the state has risen to 8, with four deaths recorded in stabbings in Ahmedabad. The toll is expected to go up higher as reports of more violence are trickling in.”
That is- as early as 2:34 PM itself police had injured 6 outside Ehsan Jafri’s house and actually 5 were killed in their firing. This despite the hopeless situation- which is clear from reading The Times’ report that Fire Brigade and Police were not allowed to be reached by the mob. Though police gained control only after 8 PM- they fired much before that- before 2 PM and saved 200 Muslims. Kalupur was already under curfew before 2:34 PM. Infact, reading the online reports of The Times of India one knows that almost places where violence was being reported were under curfew- which must have been imposed immediately as violence occurred. Another report posted at 11:31 AM on 28 February titled “VHP bandh turns violent 8, stabbed to death” also mentions imposing of curfew at many places. And in its report titled “Indefinite curfew in Ahmedabad, Vadodara” posted on 28 February, it says:
“Gandhinagar: Curfew was imposed in many areas of old Ahmedabad on Thursday afternoon following unprecedented acts of violence and arson. The district collector of Ahmedabad has requested for more forces to be brought in as violence and arson threatens to spread into rural Ahmedabad. Fires have been reported in more than 80 places in Ahmedabad. According to government sources, the situation in rural Ahmedabad could turn grim as enough forces are not available to impose curfew. Police Commissioner P C Pandey said at 12.30 pm that he was imposing curfew in the police station areas of Shahpur, Dariapur, Karanj, Kalupur, Bapunagar, Gomtipur and Rakhial and the police chowky areas of Saraspur and Isanpur. Police burst tear gas shells on C G road to control mobs which were setting on fire shops belonging to a particular community. Curfew has also been imposed in the towns of Bharuch and Ankaleshwar following acts of arson on Thursday morning (28 Feb). Curfew was imposed earlier in areas of Vadodara city following deaths of two persons in stabbings. Curfew in Vadodara Indefinite curfew has been imposed in the city from 8 am on Thursday morning (28 Feb) following two cases of stabbing reported from Salatwada and another from the highway after midnight Wednesday night, a senior police official said. Curfew had been imposed in the six police station areas of the walled city and RAF and CISF(Central Industrial Security Force) companies have been deployed in sensitive areas, city Police Commissioner Deen Dayal Tuteja said. Indefinite curfew has also been imposed in Lunawada town of Panchmahal district after 2 am on Wednesday night (27 February) following incidents of arson and looting, he said.”
The Times of India’s report in its online edition of 1st March titled “Gujarat violence hits industries” also says that police were totally outnumbered in the town of Halol-and unable to stop the mobs. The same was the case in other industrial areas like Shapar Veraval and Latiplot according to the report.
The Times of India also reported in its online edition on 1st March that rich men in cars became looters- just like India Today in its issue of 18 March 2002.
As per information put up on the site www.indianembassy.org-the state also requested for additional forces from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Two companies of Maharashtra Reserve Police Force arrived and were deployed in Surat.
Thus, in brief, the steps taken on 28 February were:
1) The riots began in Ahmedabad at 11 AM. The Chief Minister Narendra Modi informally contacted the Central Government to send Army at 12 noon – i.e. within 1 hour. Curfew was imposed by 12:20 at noon.
2) As per the report of The Hindu– Narendra Modi “frantically” called the Army units.
3) Narendra Modi requested the Union Defence Minister George Fernandes to come to Gujarat.
4) Curfew was imposed in 26 towns and cities in Gujarat.
5) There were around 250 people in the housing complex of Ehsan Jafri and the mob killed 69- with the police saving about 200 Muslims- despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered by the mob- which was 10,000 strong- and the crowd going mad by Jafri’s firing. Police shot dead 5 Hindus outside his house.
6) The police fired 1,000 rounds in the state- including 600 in Ahmedabad.
7)The police shot dead 10 Hindus in Ahmedabad and injured 16. At least 2 were shot dead outside Ahmedabad in Nadiad and Godhra.
8) Gujarat Government requested Army deployment within 1 hour. At 4 PM- a press conference was held- in which this decision was publicly announced. All procedures needed for this were done very quickly- Cabinet meeting of Central Government was held at 6:45 PM, it approved Army deployment and Army units reached Ahmedabad after midnight.
9) The Army units reached Ahmedabad so quickly that newspapers like The Hindu, The Indian Express had time to report their arrival on 28 February 2002 (Thursday) itself and publish it on 1st March 2002 (Friday)!
10) Defence Minister George Fernandes reached Ahmedabad so quickly that newspapers like The Indian Express reported his arrival the next day!
11) Police escorted 400 Muslims to safety in Naroda Patiya after dispersing the mob in Naroda Patiya. Total of 95 people were killed- at least 900 Muslims were saved, since The Times of India reports that 1,000 Muslims lived in the attacked area in Naroda Patiya.
12) The Gujarat Government requested neighbouring states to send additional police force. All these states were ruled by the Congress.
13)700 people were arrested by the police in the state, including around 80 in Godhra on the very first day of the violence when situation was out of control. Tear gas shells were also burst.
On March 1
On the next day- i.e. 1st March 2002- the Army staged a flag march in Ahmedabad at 11:30 AM. The Hindu reported on 2nd March 2002-
“The Army began flag marches in the worst-affected areas of Ahmedabad, Baroda, Rajkot and Godhra cities and the `shoot at sight’ order was extended to all 34 curfew-bound cities and towns in Gujarat”.
The title of the report itself was- “Shoot orders in many Gujarat towns, toll over 200”. Now- on this day- the Army had arrived- but even the Army couldn’t prevent the riots. As mentioned earlier- no newspaper accused the administration of being involved in the riots from this day onward. The Indian Express reported on 2nd March-
“The police, its credibility lowest than ever, tried to salvage its reputation intervening in some clashes by opening fire. Twenty were killed in police firing across the state, 12 in Ahmedabad.”
There are two things to be noted from this very vital statement. First- the police did their best to control the violence and could not be accused by anyone, even The Indian Express of negligence from this day onward- the second day of the riots i.e. 1st March 2002. And second, there were “clashes” going on between Hindus and Muslims- not one sided massacres of Muslims.
Direct evidence of the fact that Muslims were equally on the offensive is available from the report of a newspaper as anti-BJP as The Hindu dated 2nd March 2002:
“But unlike Thursday (Feb 28) when one community was entirely at the receiving end, the minority backlash (On Friday, 1 March) caused further worsening of the situation.
Police presence had little impact on the two communities pelting stones at each other in Bapunagar, Gomtipur, Dariapur, Shahpur, Naroda and other areas from where incidents of firing had been reported…Pitched battle was continuing between the two communities late in the evening.
The official sources said timely arrival of the police foiled a retaliatory attempt to break into a prominent temple in Jamalpur locality in the walled city.”
The bias of The Indian Express can be seen from the fact that though it reported that George Fernandes appealed the citizens for peace in Ahmedabad- and later left for Vadodara- it did not bother to mention that he was bravely on the streets of Ahmedabad at a great risk to personal life! This was mentioned by India Today weekly. The Indian Express also reported- “Godhra funeral procession turns into a killer mob”.
The Hindu reported on 2nd March 2002- that at least 17 were killed in police firing in Ahmedabad until the 2nd day of the riots. The Telegraph reported on 2nd March 2002 that “(On 1 March) Despite the presence of the army — some 3,500 soldiers have arrived in the state — in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, the rioting has not stopped.”
Official records show that on the first day- i.e. February 28- 10 Hindus were shot dead and 16 injured by police firing. On the second day- i.e. 1st March additional 24 Hindus were shot dead and 40 were injured. These are figures given to B. P. Singhal – former Director General of Police by official government sources.
On 1st March 2002- the Police saved 2,500 Muslims from certain death when they were attacked by 8,000 armed tribals in Sanjeli, a town in North Gujarat. This was reported by weekly India Today in its issue dated 22 April 2002.
Thus- the shoot-at-sight orders were extended on 1st March 2002
to Ahmedabad and 33 other places- as reported by The Hindu the next day.
The website www.indianembassy.org reports:
“The next brigade of the Army was also deployed in Rajkot and Vadodara on 1 March 2002 itself. Three columns allotted to Godhra reached in Godhra, Lunawada and Halol on the early morning of 2 March 2002.
Thereafter the Army has been shifted in Surat and Bhavnagar as and when the situation warranted such a shift.”
1st March 2002 was Friday. On this day- the violence was much less as compared to 28 February (Thursday). And also- the Muslims started a backlash on this day- according to The Hindu dated 2nd March 2002. The steps taken were:
1) On morning of 1st March, George Fernandes bravely took to streets to check violence in Ahmedabad, at a great risk to personal life. He was pummeled with stones. Later he left for Vadodara.
2) 24 Hindus were shot dead by police and 40 injured.
3) The Army staged flag marches in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot’s worst affected areas.
4) Shoot-at-sight orders were extended to all 34 curfew-bound cities and towns in the state.
5) 2500 (Two thousand five hundred) Muslims were saved in Sanjeli, a town in North Gujarat from a crowd of 8000 armed tribals by the police.
On March 2
2nd March 2002 was Saturday. On this day also- Muslims were aggressive. Ahmedabad was almost completely peaceful on this day- with major violence occurring in other parts of Gujarat. The police brought the situation under control there and fired on pitched battles between Hindus and Muslims. The Tribune reported on 3rd March 2002 that:
“Ahmedabad, the worst hit by the communal flare-up in the wake of Godhra train killings, was virtually back to normal…”
That is- the Gujarat Government managed to control riots in the state in 3 days after Godhra; and in only 2 days in a communally ultra-sensitive place like Ahmedabad! Reports of The Hindu and The Telegraph of 3rd March 2002 also prove that Ahmedabad was virtually back to normal on 2nd March 2002 itself.
On the third day of the riots- i.e. 2nd March 2002- the police shot
dead 47 people in Gujarat- including 19 in Ahmedabad- as per the report of The Hindu dated 3rd March 2002. The Hindu reported–
“Even while claiming that the situation was improving, Mr. Modi said the police fired at least 1,031 rounds in different parts of the State since last night besides bursting 1,614 teargas shells to disperse violent mobs. While 19 people were killed in police firing in Ahmedabad and eight in Godhra, six people were killed in police firing in Baroda, five in Anand, three each in Mehsana and Gandhinagar, two in Kaira and one in Bhavnagar.”
See link: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/2002/03/03/stories/2002030303020100.htm The same day– The Indian Express reported- “The toll went up to over 450 as police recovered more bodies and 77 more people were killed either in police or Army firing”.
This report states that ‘77 more people were killed in either police or Army firing’. This means that on 2nd March itself, 77 were killed
in police or Army firing and many more were shot dead by either police or Army before 2nd March.
Thus, in brief, the steps taken on 2nd March 2002 were:
1) The police fired 1031 rounds and burst 1614 tear gas shells.
2) As per the report of The Hindu– at least 47 people were shot dead by the police in Gujarat- 19 in Ahmedabad, 8 in Godhra, 6 in Vadodara, 5 in Anand, 3 each in Mehsana and Gandhinagar, 2 in Kaira and 1 in Bhavnagar.
As per The Indian Express, 77 people were killed in either police or Army firing.
3) Curfew was imposed in 40 places in Gujarat .
4) Border Security Force units were dispatched to Surat.
5) 2000 Muslims (Two thousand) were saved in Dahod by the Police.
The efforts of Narendra Modi to control violence can be clear from India Today weekly dated 18 March 2002 in an article titled “Chronology of a Crisis”.
“FEB 27, 2002
8.03 AM: Incident at Godhra claims lives of 57 kar sevaks
8.30 AM: Modi is informed of the carnage.
4.30PM: Gujarat Assembly adjourned and Modi visits Godhra where he holds a meeting, giving shoot-at-sight orders to the police.
10.30PM:CM holds meeting with senior government officials at Gandhinagar; orderscurfew in sensitive places and pre-emptive arrests.
FEB 28, 2002
8.00 AM: Special control room set up in CM’s house to monitor the situation during VHP bandh.
12.00 PM:Modi informally contacts Centre for calling in army. Cabinet Secretary T.R. Prasad tells Defence Secretary Y. Narain that army is to be mobilised.
12.30PM: Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt-General N.C. Vij tells Narain that only twocolumns are available as the rest are deployed on the border.
12.35 PM: Prasad directs Narain to advise Chief of Army Staff Gen Padmanabhan to have troops ready due to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ahmedabad.
12.45PM: Narain tells Vij to arrange immediate movement of troops to Gujarat.
4.00PM:Modi requests army deployment following consultations with Advani.
6.45PM: Cabinet Committee on Security meets under the prime minister’s chairmanship;approves the immediate movement of troops to Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat. Vajpayee deputes Fernandes to supervise the deployment of troops.
7.00PM:The Gujarat Government’s formal request for army deployment is received in Delhi.
11.30 PM: Airlifting of troops begins.
MARCH 1, 2002
2.30 AM: A brigade reaches Ahmedabad. The 54th Division’s General Officer Commanding contacts acting Chief Secretary.
9.00AM: Discussions between representatives of the army and the statetake place,followed bytroop flagmarch inAhmedabad.”
Reports from the biased English media also proved that the real riots had stopped in the first three days. Not just that, the media knew it fully well. The following report from The Hindu dated 4th March 2002 will make it clear:
“AHMEDABAD, MARCH 3. The orgy of violence in Gujarat appears to have ended. Today only two deaths were reported, one from Godhra. Officially the death roll is 431, more than half of them in Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad was quiet, apart from two major arson attacks on a Muslim-owned petrol station and warehouse.
Curfew has been lifted in most areas of the 40 towns and cities where clashes were reported, including Naroda and Meghnaninagar (i.e. Gulmarg Society case) in Ahmedabad, where hundreds were killed. The state administration says that curfew will be relaxed in more areas tomorrow. There was a `sense of normality in the State’ today.
But, the smouldering remains of burnt-out buildings and the acrid smell of burning rubber, five days after the violence began, are a reminder that `normality’ in Ahmedabad is a very long way off.”
This newspaper report clearly proves that the government claim of controlling the riots in 72 hours was absolutely true. This newspaper, The Hindu, lied through the skin of its teeth that Muslims were suffering in Gujarat in March-April 2002 despite knowing fully well that they were instigating riots.
We also need to see a few newspaper reports to see what happened after 3rd March 2002. By and large, reading issues of The Hindu of March and April 2002 will give clear indications about the nature of violence. The following was the report of The Hindu dated 6th March 2002:
“Peace marches, prayer meetings held in Gujarat
By Our Special Correspondent
AHMEDABAD, MARCH 5. The Gujarat Government, voluntary organisations and prominent citizens organised a peace march here today as the situation in the State showed signs of returning to normality.
Hundreds of prominent citizens, Sarvodaya leaders and others marched from the Kocharab Ashram to the Sabarmati Ashram, both set up by Mahatma Gandhi, and held an all-religion prayer meeting. Peace marches and prayer meetings were also held in Surat, Porbandar, the birth place of the Mahatma, and several other cities and towns.
State-owned transport corporations resumed partial operations. Municipal buses in Ahmedabad are expected to start services from tomorrow, at least in some areas. According to the State Transport Corporation chairman, Kamlesh Patel, the loss to the body due to the violence is more than Rs. 15 crores.
Schools have reopened in many parts of the State. The Education Minister, Anandiben Patel, said the remaining schools would be reopened tomorrow.
Board examinations for the secondary and higher secondary classes had been postponed by a week to March 18.
Even as the police rounded up more than 1,000 people for the violence following the Godhra carnage, Opposition parties complained that the Government was shying away from arresting Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and BJP leaders named in the suo motu complaints filed by the police.
No known VHP or Bajrang Dal leader has been arrested though the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, has maintained that action would be taken against all those guilty of the “heinous crimes” without any discrimination.”
The following report from The Hindu dated 7th March 2002 will make things absolutely clear:
“ Gujarat limping back to normality
By Our Special Correspondent
AHMEDABAD MARCH 6. No untoward incident has been reported from any part of Gujarat for the second consecutive day today. The Home Secretary, K. Nityanandam, said the curfew had been relaxed in most areas.
For the first time since the Sabarmati Express was torched on February 27, curfew was relaxed for six hours in Godhra today. Though the situation was tense, no incidents were reported.
The Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, has announced a judicial inquiry into the post-Godhra violence. But a spokesman of the Chief Minister’s Office said that the Government was yet to decide on whether or not to club the inquiry with the one into the train carnage. He said since the “nature” of the two incidents were different, it was possible that separate commissions would be constituted to go into them.
The Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, had also preferred separate probes. His view — that while the Godhra carnage was a “pre-planned act of terrorism”, what followed afterwards were “natural outbursts of revulsion and communal violence” — has been echoed by the State Government.
…Mr. Modi visited relief camps housing the minorities and instructed the officials concerned to ensure supply of essential commodities. Doctors visited the camps to treat the injured for the first time today since the beginning of the violence. Some 30,000 people are being sheltered in 18 relief camps…”
The Times of India dated 10th March 2002 also carries a similar report, which makes it absolutely clear that the riots stopped in the state in 72 hours.
After these 3 days- retaliatory riots were started by Muslims- and petty rioting continued. But the above were not the only steps taken by the administration to control violence. Many quotations of weekly India Today blast these myths about the government or the police force turning a blind eye to the riots. This is what the weekly says in its issue dated 22 April 2002:
“8,000 armed tribals attacked Sanjeli, a town in North Gujarat killing 15 of the fleeing Muslims. Police intervention meant that another 2,500 were spared a ghastly death.”
Thus the Gujarat police, far from turning a blind eye to the killings or participating in the killings, saved as many as 2,500 Muslims at a single place on a single day, which is more than thrice the total number of Muslims killed in the state in the entire period of rioting of two and a half months. If, at a single place, at a single time, 2,500 Muslims were saved, surely many more must have been saved at other places on the same day, and many thousand in the first three days in total.
However, it is not merely this act that is record. Like in Sanjeli, 5,000 Muslims were saved in Bodeli, a town in Vadodara district, from a crowd of over 7,000. The following is another report quoted from India Today dated 8 April 2002:
“When a Muslim woman was burnt alive by Hindu zealots, (in Viramgam, not far from Ahmedabad) the minorities, who constitute almost 30 % of the 70,000-odd population went on the rampage. Soon, nearly 15,000 Hindus from nearby villages encircled Viramgam and targeted the Muslim localities in the town. It took some deft handling by the police and the Army to save the day.”
And in the 22 April issue- India Today says-
“…Take Sanjeli. In the carnage that ensued after the February 27 Godhra killings, 8,000 armed tribals descended on the town of 8,000 in the tribal heartland of Dahod district. Bows, stones and gunshots rained on the fleeing Muslims, killing 15. Police intervention meant another 2,500 were spared a savage death … In an identical display of insanity, around 7,000 armed tribals marched into Bodeli town in Chotte-Udepur tribal area of Vadodara district intent on massacring the Muslims who had taken shelter there after being driven out of the neighbouring villages. While hundreds were saved by the police, Vadodara District Collector Bhagyesh Jha and other senior officers were fired upon by tribals as they tried to rescue the trapped Muslims.
Tragedy was also averted by the police and army at Viramgam town near Ahmedabad where over 15,000 Hindus, mostly armed OBC Thakores, burnt 250 Muslim houses…”
That is to say, the Gujarat police and the Indian Army together saved thousands of Muslims, of the 21,000-odd of the town. If we assume that there was no police or Army presence, 10,000 Muslims of the town may have been killed. On the basis of records available to this writer, we can conclusively say that the Gujarat Police saved at least 17,500 Muslims in Gujarat. As a matter of fact, many sources have told this writer that the Gujarat Police saved 24,000 Muslims in the state in the first three days alone. They may well be quite correct, since we already have on record 7,500 Muslims saved in Sanjeli and Bodeli in the first three days.
The website www.indianembassy.org seems to be an official site of the Indian Embassy in USA. It says-
“In Mora village of Panchmahal district, SDM, Mamlatdar and police rushed to the spot where the crowd was gathered, dispersed the crowd and saved the lives of 400 people by shifting them to a safe place.
On receipt of information on 3rd March 2002 a madarsa in Asoj, in Vagodia, Vadodara district was likely to be attacked, nearly 40 persons including 22 children were evacuated to a safe place.
On the night of 2/3 March 2002, in Dahod, the police escorted over 2000 persons belonging to minority community to a safe place, rescuing them from the mob that had gathered from surrounding 28 villages.
In Surat city, protection was provided to about 60 persons and mosque in Nana Varacha area.
On receipt of information that some women and children were trapped in a mosque, Surat police escorted them to a safe place.
On receipt of information that 100 persons were trapped near Rita society opposite Yateem Khana Jain Mandir, the police immediately rushed there and dispersed the mob, but found no persons trapped inside. Surat police immediately provided protection requested for by 12-15 houses of Muslims near Khoja Masjid.”
Police records and figures given by the Union Home Ministry as well as figures given by weekly India Today in its issue dated 18 March 2002 reveal that as many as 98 people were killed in the first three days in police firing. We have already looked at the reports The Indian Express and The Hindu to know that the figure of 98 people being shot dead in the first 3 days is indeed true. This was a record of sorts. Never before were so many people shot dead in police firing for rioting in so few days in the entire history of communal riots in India, and certainly not in Gujarat, which saw far worse riots in 1969 and 1985. Of the 98 people killed in police firing, more than half are Hindus. (60 Hindus) This clearly nails the lie that the police was lethargic or turned a blind eye to the rioting. In the first three days, a total of 431 were killed in the riots as per figures given by ‘The Hindu’. For India Today, the figures are 563 (including 59 killed in Godhra). For many others, they are 520.
Riots did not affect the entire state, only parts of it
That the whole of Gujarat was burning is a figment of imagination of the biased and prejudiced English media. The riots did not even touch Saurashtra and Kutch, both of whom are border areas. Saurashtra and Kutch account for as many as 58 out of the Gujarat state assembly’s 182 seats. That is, they are nearly one-third of Gujarat. Riots simply did not spread to the western and the south-western part of the state of the Gujarat. This is a clear evidence that the state government had absolutely no hand in instigating the riots and it by no means wanted to encourage the riots. The BJP undoubtedly gained in the riot affected areas. The BJP no doubt gained because of the Hindu anger after Godhra. But that by no means indicates that the state government wanted to instigate the riots. The state government firmly dealt with the riots and handled them effectively. Even after the gruesome Godhra massacre, Hindus did not retaliate in one-third of the state even for the first three days.
In the rest of the state of Gujarat too the riots stopped just after the first three days. After the first three days, Muslims started most of the riots, directly or indirectly. North and South Gujarat were completely peaceful after 2nd March 2002 and only some places in Central Gujarat saw riots. Basically, after 2nd March
2002, riots were limited only to Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and a few places in Panchmahal district near Godhra. And even in the first three days they did not touch Saurashtra and Kutch areas.
All TV channels and almost the entire print media admitted at some point or the other that Saurashtra and Kutch remained peaceful throughout the two and a half months of rioting and saw no riots at all. But this admission was not during the time of riots in Gujarat. It was many months later, during the coverage of the Gujarat Assembly elections of December 2002.
Around 6 December 2002, Narendra Modi was invited on Star News- NDTV’s programme ‘Hotline’. In that programme, the anchor Pankaj Pachouri asked Narendra Modi this question. He said, “Your party always gains because of the riots. But no riots took place in Saurashtra and Kutch, so you are all set to lose there. How will you respond to this?” To that question, Narendra Modi replied,
“When 2 % of Gujarat was burning, you were saying that the whole of Gujarat is burning. Now you are saying that no riots took place in Saurashtra and Kutch. So first you apologize for lying that the entire state was burning when only 2 % of the state was burning.”
In the entire state of Gujarat, there are 18,600 villages, 240 municipal towns and 25 district headquarters. In the entire state, riots occurred in no more than 70 places. If you include the two big cities of Ahmedabad and Vadodara, by the maximum stretch of imagination, it can be said that 2 % of the state was affected by riots, or was in flames.
If the state government turned a blind eye to the rioting, why were as many as 98 people killed in police firing? No opponent of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar has ever challenged these figures, nor can he. But the entire media has absolutely no answer to this question. Balbir Punj, then a Rajya Sabha MP of the BJP, a senior functionary and also a spokesman at that time, wrote in an article in The Pioneer dated 25th April 2002 that,
“Out of 31,000 arrests made throughout the State in connection of riots, 80 per cent are Hindus. Out of approximately 800 killed in Gujarat, one-fourth are Hindus. Out of 140 killed in police firing, 80 were Hindus…”
In the first three days more than 30 Muslims too were killed in police firing. On the first day- all the people killed were Hindus. But from the 2nd day onwards, Muslims too were on the offensive and hence they too were killed. At least 15 % of the riots were started by them in the first three days and they called the shots in 15 % of the cases. And in other cases too they killed Hindus. It is a complete myth that only Hindus were indulging in arson and killing. Mobs of both communities indulged in fierce, bloody rioting- at least after 28 February.
As for violence after the first three days, India Today weekly dated 20 May 2002 reports:
“Week 1 March 3-9 17 dead
Week 2 March 10-16 32 dead
Week 3 March 17-23 43 dead
Week 4 March 24-30 54 dead
Week 5 March 31- April 6 149 dead
Week 6 April 6-12 51 dead
Week 7 April 13-19 6 dead
Week 8 April 20- 26 17 dead
Week 9 April 27- May 3 5 dead
Week 10 May 4-10 30 dead
Total dead 972”
This shows that around 550 were killed in the first three days in the real large scale riots and 400 in 70 days, average of 6 killings a day. This shows that these were full-fledged Hindu Muslim riots and not one-sided riots.As per police records, Muslims started some 157 riots after 3rd March 2002. No violence took place in Gujarat from 11 May 2002 to 20 May 2002 and the Army left Ahmedabad on 21 May 2002 .
The following are the excerpts of the interview given by Narendra Modi to weekly India Today dated 18 March 2002:
“A composed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi spoke to Senior Editor V. Shankar Aiyar and Special Correspondent Uday Mahurkar. Excerpts:
Q. Nearly 600 people have died in the Gujarat riots. Was there a complete breakdown of the official machinery? Are you responsible?
A. It’s a false and baseless charge. Let’s go by the official records. I was in Godhra on the evening of March 27 (This is a mistake, it should be February 27) and on my return to Ahmedabad, 827 people were arrested as a preventive measure the same night. I immediately issued shoot-at-sight orders in Godhra. The riots began on February 28 at around 11 a.m. and I had requested the army’s presence by 4 p.m. On my request, Defence Minister George Fernandes was in Ahmedabad by 2 am on March 1.
Q. But all the measures proved ineffective .
A. Only in the minds of those who don’t know the state’s history of riots. In the early 1980s, some parts of Godhra remained under curfew for a whole year. In 1985, curfew was imposed in Ahmedabad’s Kalupur-Dariapur for six months. I have controlled the riots faster than any of my predecessors.
Q. The Muslims allege that the police not only took no action but even collaborated in the killings, arson and looting on February 28 and even later. A. I don’t agree. The police fired 1,000 rounds on the first day. But you must not forget that what happened was a reaction to the brutal killings (in Godhra). The size of the angry mobs on Thursday was something unprecedented. The police must have been overwhelmed at some places because of this but still it did its best. Five persons were killed in police firing at the spot where Ehsan Jafri was killed and police saved lives of 200 Muslims in the episode.
Q. Why do you think the rioting had such a brutal tinge to it?
A. It wasn’t a communal riot but something like a mass agitation. There was already great anger against terrorism and anti-national activity. The Godhra episode symbolised that.
Q. Does the spectre of backlash worry you?
A. My perception is that they will try and do something. So in the coming months Gujarat will have to be very alert.
Q. How do you react to Shabana Azmi’s statement calling you a mass killer?
A. There are two types of violence, one communal and another secular. And secular violence being perpetrated by the leftist lobby is equally detrimental for the society. But some continue to perpetrate it. In fact, there’s a leftist conspiracy against me.”
Now- let us see the interview given by Narendra Modi to Outlook magazine in its issue dated 18 March 2002-
“Were you playing the fiddle while Gujarat burned?
No. Contrary to what is now being projected, I brought sanity within 72 hours of the violent outbreak. It would take months before communal rioting during the previous Congress governments could be brought under control and a semblance of normalcy could be restored. This is for the first time that a communal riot has been controlled in record time.
Your government stands accused of aiding and abetting the Bajrang Dal and the VHP. Their cadre ran amok for a full 48 hours while your police force stood and watched—in some places it even joined in with the rioters.
How can that be? You have to realise that when violent rioting breaks out on such a scale, the police force is under great stress. Resources are limited. More than 70 people have been killed in police firing, so where is the question of the state administration taking sides against one or the other community?
Was the army deliberately called in late so that the police could play out its passive role?
The Godhra massacre took place on February 27. The next day I declared that army help had been requisitioned. The prime minister called a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security on February 28 to take the army’s help. But that was not easy. There was no army presence in Ahmedabad because of the deployment on the borders. Next day, on March 1, shoot-at-sight orders were issued. I spoke to George Fernandes and within 16 hours the army was called in. So where is the question of any delay?
What precisely is your government’s connection with the VHP and the Bajrang Dal?
I have worked hard to raise the BJP in the state. Can I be accused of improving my party’s prospects?
Does that mean that you have played the Hindu card in an effort to boost your party’s sagging prospects in the assembly elections which is less than a year away?
There are no cards to be played. As head of this government I am impartial. I will not play the appeasement card. Everyone involved in the rioting and violence, irrespective of whichever community he belongs to, will be taken to task. A judicial inquiry is looking into the incidents and its verdict will definitely be respected.
Your impartiality was not exactly in evidence over the past few days?
In a democracy anyone can say anything. You have to remember that communalism runs high in Gujarat. If Sachin Tendulkar gets out on 90 against the Pakistani team, riots break out here. Even a small provocation can lead to violence and Godhra was a very big incident. In the 1969 riots, under the then Congress regime, curfew was imposed for 65 days in a row.
You speak about previous Congress regimes but what about your party’s claim to better governance?
We are providing better governance. But can we ignore facts? Of the 80-odd arrests so far, 65 have Congress backgrounds. The Congress is misusing the sentiments. They are alleging that the independent corporators involved in Godhra were backed by the BJP. Until now, the media has been saying that there are no Muslims with the BJP. But when it comes to this incident, my party is supposed to have backed Muslim corporators. There is a limit to double standards. In any case, corporators are not members of any party.
You put a ban on a section of the media. People see this as an authoritarian step designed to muzzle the press….
There was no ban on the media. I blacked out just one channel because of the provocative reporting methods used. Traditionally, the print media has used its own methods of self-censorship, taking care not to mention the name of communities while reporting riots. If every half-an-hour names of communities are going to be mentioned, without any substantiation or any attribution, it inflames the situation instead of allaying it. It is not difficult to see what impact it will have. I must also tell you that since then the channel has rendered an apology and made amends.”
And following are excerpts from an interview with The Hindustan Times dated 10 March 2002:
“…There is a wide gap between your claims (of prompt action) and eye-witness accounts of the Government being a mute spectator for a good 48 to 72 hours after violence erupted during the VHP-sponsored bandh on February 28. What’s your defense?
The situation was brought under control in 72 hours. There is no truth also in the charge that we delayed calling in the Army. The Godhra incident took place at 8 am. At 9.45 am, I imposed curfew there. My government opened fire at the Railway Station. If our purpose was to target a community, we had an opportunity at Godhra. But we didn’t do that. The challenge before us was the safety of the surviving passengers. To keep the violence from spreading, I gave shoot-at-sight orders before leaving Godhra. On February 27 night, nearly 800 people (Its 827) were rounded up all over Gujarat. The February 28 (VHP) bandh was spontaneous. There weren’t any reports of people being forced to join it. Tensions started rising at 11 am and at 12.20 am curfew was imposed in Ahmedabad.
You mean you imposed curfew during the VHP bandh?
Yes, the very first day. The police strategy to quell violence was based on past experience. We concentrated on hyper-sensitive areas. But this time, these areas remained calm and violence erupted in new pockets on the western banks of Sabarmati. (Times of India also said this- like India Today) Five people were killed in 600 rounds of police firing in Ahmedabad on February 28 itself (Actually 10 were killed- 5 at Jafri’s place). At 2 pm, I spoke to the Prime Minister. I told him that people in the middle and upper middle class colonies were out on the streets and I needed the Army and Para-military forces to control them. In fact, at 4.30 pm that day, I told the media that I have sought the Army’s help. The troops were withdrawn from the borders and deployed within 16 hours. (Actually- 14 hours) In similar situations earlier, their arrival took between three and five days.
But till now (March 5 morning), neither you nor any of your ministers has cared to visit the devastated localities. Only Defence Minister George Fernandes touched the trouble-spots which even Advani avoided during his March 3 visit to Ahmedabad.
This is not true. Advaniji took a round of the city covering all sensitive areas. I went with him. The Leader of the Opposition here (Naresh Raval of the Congress) went to his Sardarpur constituency after 72 hours yesterday. But a Cabinet colleague of mine was there within six hours. Now, the Government machinery is focusing on relief work. For the first time, my administration has raised from Rs 5 to Rs 15, the daily cash-doles for riot victims.
More than material help, what the Muslims need is a sense of security. Are you capable of delivering on that front?
This task will have to be accomplished jointly by people and the government. To build confidence and trust between communities, the social, political and religious leaderships will have to combine their efforts.
It is believed that your March 1 statement justifying the backlash to the Godhra killings emboldened the VHP-Bajrang Dal cadres who went on the rampage in Ahmedabad and elsewhere. What do you have to say about it?
I made no statement of that kind. One big newspaper reported that I quoted Newton’s law of every action having an equal and opposite reaction. I have never quoted Newton since I left school. I cannot help if people allow themselves to be guided by their predilections and fantasies. I’m willing to suffer if that helps the society. I plead with those opposed to me to wait till normalcy is restored in Gujarat.
What’s your personal assurance to the Muslim community?
Security and social harmony, that’s my assurance to them. This Government is as much theirs as it is of anybody else.…
Opposition parties do not believe you and have sought your dismissal?
..In the US, nobody sought President Bush’s resignation after the WTC bombings. But in India, each calamity is followed by demands of resignationbe it an earthquake or the attack on Parliament…Gujarat is a border state and the internal security problems here could acquire an external dimension. Our biggest worry is the madarsas. Godhra has a large number of such institutions.
In Bhavnagar, a madarsa became the cause of tension when a TV channel reported that an associate of Aftab Ansari had been a student there. To defuse the situation, we had to move 400 students and some Maulvis to safer places.”
As on 25 April 2002, 80 Hindus were shot dead by the police in police firing and 207 were injured. Shri B. P. Singhal, former Rajya Sabha MP, and former Director General of Police wrote in weekly ‘Organiser’ dated 9 October 2005:
“…The police had fired over 10,500 rounds …In addition, in all, 15,000 tear gas shells had also been burst during the Gujarat riots…The 1984 riots escaped the media glare because TV was barely in its infancy. On the other hand, a lot of mischief was played by the electronic media, which went on repeating some of the gory incidents of riots day after day. One channel repeated a particularly gory seen as many as 21 times. An image was thus created by the collaborating media that the massacre of Muslims was continuing unabated in Gujarat, day after day. The truth is that the total number of riot-related accused that came to light in entire Gujarat was 25,486 (17,489 Hindus and 7,997 Muslims). The efficiency of the Police can be gauged from the fact that out of the above mentioned number, as many as 25,204 accused were arrested- out of which 17,348 were Hindus and 7,856 were Muslims. The police in Gujarat was therefore not sleeping at any time.
The maximum number of relief camps opened up during riots was 159. At a given point of time the figure varied as certain camps were closed down and certain new camps were opened up. As on 5.3.2002, out of the 98 refugee/relief camps opened, 85 were for Muslims while 13 were for Hindus… On the other hand, there was a contrast of night and day in the versions of riots as projected by the national English media as against the sharply contrasting versions appearing in the local Gujarati papers of all hues…”
(Looking at the date 5.3.2002 means 5th March 2002 and not 3rd May 2002, as it would mean in many places outside India.)
Thus it can be seen that on 5th March 2002 itself, so early in the riots as many as 13 out of the 98 relief/ refugee camps were for the Hindus. Since 3rd March 2002 was a completely riot-free day, it is safe to assume that the camps set on 5th March 2002 were for the victims of the riots in the first three days, i.e. until 2nd March 2002. That even after the first three days of rioting, more than 13 % of the relief/ refugee camps were for the Hindus indicates that at least in 13 % of the events even in the first three days, the Hindus also suffered just as much as the Muslims suffered in other incidents of the state.
The following is the report of rediff.com on this issue dated 7 November 2003:
“Ehsan Jafri fired at mob: Witness
At least five Hindus on Thursday told the Nanavati Commission, which is probing the Gujarat riots, that they saw Congress leader and ex-member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri open fire at a mob outside the Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002.
…The five Hindu witnesses said it was Jafri who opened fire at the mob. Three persons had died in the firing, they added.
Vasu Patel, a resident of Chamanpura, held Jafri, the media and police responsible for the massacre.
He said the media had showed footage of those who had died in the Sabarmati Express carnage in Godhra, and this had incited people. He added that action should be taken against the media, which acted in a biased manner.
Instead of restraining Jafri, the police beat up locals and opened fire at them, he added.
Another witness, Madansinh Rajput, told the commission that Muslims used to misbehave with Hindus of the area before the riots.
He condemned English dailies, saying their reports were anti-Hindu.
In all, 15 riot victims/witnesses deposed before the commission.”
This report can be an indication of what happened in the Ehsan Jafri case.
Naroda Patiya case
The Naroda Patiya was a case of real anti-Muslim violence. A total of around 95 Muslims were killed by a Hindu mob here- on 28 February 2002-the first day of the riots.
Here the attacks were done by the Chara tribe- and the police presence was not adequate. In fact- there was no police presence worth the name- as per the report of India Today weekly. The police were grossly inadequate throughout Ahmedabad that day- because the size of the mobs was unprecedented. Years later- The Hindu reported on 20 August 2004-
“AHMEDABAD, AUG. 19. … (Former Police Inspector of Naroda)Mr. Mysorewala blamed the attack in Naroda-Patiya on the “brutal killing” of a Hindu youth, Ranjit Vanjhara, behind a mosque and the reckless driving of a Muslim truck driver in which a Hindu was killed and two others were injured. (The Telegraph also reported this on 2 March 2002).
Rumours were spread in connection with the two incidents that added fuel to the communal fire. Hindus attacked a mosque and later the Muslim houses in the locality.
Inadequate police force
According to Mr. Mysorewala, the Naroda police station with 80 policemen was adequate in normal times but the situation on February 28 was unprecedented and was quickly going out of control.
He said he had asked for police reinforcement and was given 24 additional SRP men but even that was inadequate considering the size of the attacking mob, about 17,000 people.”
That is- 80 policemen were insufficient to deal with a 17,000 strong crowd and additional 24 SRP men too were woefully inadequate.
Among the other details, it is absolutely clear that the state government deployed the Indian Army as soon as possible despite the fact that the Army was located far away in border areas and there were no reserve battalions available, since almost the entire military strength was posted at the border at that time. But even after the Army was rushed to Ahmedabad, the tensions didn’t subside and the killings continued. Curfew was imposed in 26 towns in Gujarat on February 28 but despite that the riots continued on March 1 2002. Neither was curfew effective, nor did the presence of the Indian Army stop the riots. The fact is, after the first three days, riots continued only in those places where the Indian Army was present, i.e. in Ahmedabad and Vadodara. To accuse the BJP and the Gujarat government of allowing killings (of Hindus?) would be accusing the Indian Army was partisanship. The media would never want to know and accept this.
The Times of India in a report dated 28 April 2002 reported that “Of the total substantive arrests made by the police, 9,954 are Hindus and 4,035 Muslims. However, in the preventive arrests column, the statistics show that the number of Hindus arrested is much higher — 17,947 as against 3,616 Muslims.”
To quell the violence:
1-Not only did the Gujarat government call the Army as early as possible but also declared this decision publicly on February 28th evening.
2-The Gujarat police arrested nearly 25,204 out of the 25, 486 accused.
3-More than 17,000 of the 25,000 arrested were Hindus.
4-Police fired over 10,500 rounds of bullets-including around 4,000 inthe first 3 days, though Army was present for 73 out of 74 days.
5-Police fired over 15,000 tear gas shells.
6-98 people were killed in police firing in the first 3 days- and 170 for the entire period of the riots.
7-The police arrested 35,552 people as on 28 April 2002 out of whom 27,901 were Hindus. About 20,000 were preventive arrests.
Note: The figures of 25,204 accused being arrested and religion-wise details are official government figures- given to B. P. Singhal.
The Gujarat police saved as many as 2,500 Muslims in Sanjeli, a town in North Gujarat, 5,000 Muslims in Bodeli, in Vadodara and about 10,000 Muslims in Viramgam. A total of about 24,000 Muslims were saved in the first three days alone. Police officials themselves suffered injuries in trying to save the Muslims, as reported by the weekly India Today.
On February 28, the police shot dead 10 Hindus in Ahmedabad alone. The leading most English daily from South India, and an extremely anti-Hindu newspaper, ‘The Hindu’ reported this on 1st March 2002. On 1st March, the police shot dead 17 people in Ahmedabad alone- as reported by The Hindu dated 2nd March 2002. On 2nd March 2002-police firing resulted in 47 deaths-as reported by The Hindu the next day-i.e. 3rd March 2002. The Indian Express dated 3rd March reported that 77 people were killed in Police/Army firing on 2nd March 2002.
Thus, in brief, it can be seen that the Gujarat government handled the riots extremely efficiently. The steps taken to control the violence were-
1-The Indian Express and Mid-Day dated 28th February 2002 reported that the State Government had deployed the Rapid Action Force in Ahmedabad and other sensitive areas and the Centre sent in CRPF personnel-on February 27 itself even before a single riot had taken place.
2- The Hindu reported in its issue dated 28th February 2002 that “Shoot-at-sight” orders had been given in Godhra and Rapid Action Force was deployed on 27 February and so did many other papers-like The Times of India, The Telegraph, The Indian Express, The Tribune, etc.
3-The Hindustan Times reported in its issue dated 28 February 2002 that the entire police force of 70,000 was deployed in Gujarat on 27 February itself-after the shocking massacre in Godhra-in view of apprehensions that riots might break out. The Telegraph (UK) also reported this.
4-827 preventive arrests were made on the evening of February 27 itself-on Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s orders-on his return to Ahmedabad from Godhra.
5-On February 28 -despite the deployment of the entire police force, the CRPF personnel and the Rapid Action Force-the situation slipped out of control-according to The Hindu dated 1st March 2002.
6-Despite the fact that the situation slipped out of control-the mob sizes were unprecedented-and the police were overwhelmingly outnumbered-the police did its best. The police fired more than 1,000 rounds on the first day of the riots-i.e. February 28-including around 600 in Ahmedabad.
7-The Hindu reported in its issue dated 1st March 2002-that at least 10 persons were believed to have been killed in police firing in Ahmedabad alone by evening of February 28. 5 Hindus were shot dead outside Ehsan Jafri’s house on Feb 28-according to India Today weekly-dated 18 March 2002.
8-Curfew was clamped in Godhra on 27 February itself-as reported by The Hindu dated 28 February 2002.
9-An indefinite curfew was clamped in 26 cities and towns in the State, including parts of Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Rajkot, Nadiad, Anand and Kaira on February 28 in addition to the indefinite curfew in force in Godhra since February 27-according to The Hindu dated 1st March 2002.
10- The Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, frantically called the Army units to Ahmedabad on February 28-as reported by The Hindu dated 1st March 2002.
11-The Indian Express and The Hindu both reported that Army units started arriving in Ahmedabad on the night of February 28-in their issues the next day-i.e. 1st March 2002. This shows that the Army units reached Ahmedabad so quickly-that the newspapers had the time to report their arrival on February 28 itself and publish it on 1st March!
12-The Army staged a flag march in Ahmedabad on 1st March 2002 at 11:30 AM-as reported by weekly India Today in its issue dated 18th March 2002. The Hindu and The Indian Express and all major dailies also reported that the Army staged flag marches in Ahmedabad-and also Vadodara on 1st March 2002.
13-The Army began flag marches in the worst-affected areas of Ahmedabad, Baroda, Rajkot and Godhra cities and the `shoot at sight’ order was extended to all 34 curfew-bound cities and towns in Gujarat on 1st March 2002-as per The Hindu dated 2nd March 2002.
14-The Gujarat police fired a total of 4,000 rounds in the first three days alone. This-despite the presence of the Army for 2 out of the 3 days.
15-The Gujarat police shot dead 98 people in the first three days-majority of whom are Hindus.
16-The Hindu reported in its issue dated 4th March 2002-that only 2 deaths were reported on 3rd March in the entire state-and the violence has ended on 3rd March 2002. Thus-the Gujarat government managed to control the situation in 3 days-even after the shocking massacre in Godhra-while it took previous Congress governments 6 months to stop the riots in 1969 and 1985-even without any cause as Godhra.
See all the links for points 1 to 16 in “Myth 4-Gujarat Police turned a blind eye to the rioting”
Also- the Gujarat Government spent a lot of money for providing relief to the riot victims. None other than the UPA Government’s MoS for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal said in the Rajya Sabha that too in a written reply on 11 May 2005. He said an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh was paid by the government to the next of kin of each person killed and Rs 5,000, Rs 15,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000 to those injured up to 10, 30, 40 and 50 per cent respectively.
In addition, Jaiswal said relief was also extended by the state government to the victims of the riots under the heads of cash doles and assistance for household kits, foodgrains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in affected areas, housing assistance, rebuilding earning assets, rehabilitation of small business, assistance to industries/shop and hotel and so on.
The state government, Jaiswal said has informed that a total of Rs 204.62 crore has been incurred by it towards relief and rehabilitation measures. The Gujarat government has also informed that they had published the data as recommended by the NHRC, he added.
And the Gujarat Government in an advertisement given in weekly India Today dated 6 May 2002 said-
“ At the rate of Rs 30 per person, the Government is spending Rs 35 lakh a day on providing foodgrains to the 1.1 lakh inmates of the 99-odd relief camps in the state, 47 of them in Ahmedabad.
The relief operations at the camps are being directly looked after by IAS officers of the rank of secretary to the state Government.
The camps in Ahmedabad have been divided into six groups. Each group is being monitored by a bureaucrat of the rank of secretary. The secretaries have been looking after the minutest problems of the inmates. Teachers were deputed in each camp to help the children prepare for the exams and the state Health Department has been taking special steps to look after the well being of the inmates. In order to rehabilitate the rural inmates, the Government has floated the Sant Kabir Awas Yojana as per the directions ofPrime Minister A. B. Vajpayee. The scheme will enable the inmates to build houses.”
In most other cases- no government bothered to do all this. Hitler order killing of Jews- not spending money to help them. No culprits were punished for genocide of Hindus in Pakistan since 1947 and in East Pakistan at any time- certainly not in the 1971 genocide. No houses were constructed for Hindus thrown out by Muslims. And these media people keep calling the riots as ‘state-sponsored’- ignoring all the relief given by the Gujarat government.
The then RSS spokesman M. G. Vaidya in his weekly column in Marathi daily ‘Tarun Bharat’ in July 2002 wrote:
“In a town named Harij in the North Gujarat, the following incident took place: “There are only three houses of Muslims in a predominantly Hindu dominated area. All the inmates of the houses had vacated the houses because of the fear of riots but in one house, there were two 70 years old women, 4 kids and 4 women. These women were virtually shaking with fear. However, the RSS Swayamsevaks reached there. One amongst them was the well-known lawyer of the area, Shri Hargovindbhai Thakkar, who is also the local Sanghachalak of the RSS. He called for his jeep and rescued all the women to a safer place.
In a town called Unza in Mehsana district, a Muslim woman was an employee in a dispensary of Dr. Maheshbhai Purohit, who is an active worker of the RSS. When the mob came to attack the woman at Dr. Purohit’s house, he resisted the mob and saved the woman.
There are many such incidents that reveal the humanitarian approach of the Hindus. But, the English newspaper have not published even a single such story.”
Among another of ‘many such’ incidents is the following one reported in weekly India Today in its issue dated 15 April 2002:
“Take Umreth, a little town in Anand district that had practically never witnessed communal violence. This year it did and when a local BJP leader Vishnu Patel tried to pacify a Hindu crowd, it turned on him.”
As another proof of the fact that the real riots stopped in three days, let us take a look at the following facts:
1-In March 2002, both Holi and Moharram were observed with traditional fervour throughout Gujarat. 1,000 Moharram processions including nearly 100 big ones taken out.
2- 7,000 Haj pilgrims were felicitated in about 800 villages/cities in 22 districts.
3- 75 % of the voters exercised their franchise in the Panchayat polls in 1,700 villages.
4- Call for a boycott of the Board exams by Muslim students flopped with 98 % attendance.
It is another myth that only Muslims became homeless and lived in refugee camps. In April 2002, as many as 40,000 Hindus were also living in refugee camps at a time when 1 lakh Muslims were living in refugee camps. We will see this later in another chapter.
Thus Narendra Modi, as the Chief Minister of Gujarat has an unfortunate image of “Muslim-killer”. In reality, far from being a Muslim-killer Narendra Modi if anything was a Muslim-saver whose administration saved as many as 24,000 Muslims in the first three days, and also many in the later days. If Modi’s name ever goes into history, it will be for the effective and efficient handling of the awful riots of 2002 AD.
The violence in the state, post-Godhra can be briefly divided into three phases:
1-First three days on 28 February, 1st and 2nd March 2002
2-From 4th March 2002 to 12th April 2002
3-From 21 April 2002 to 20th May 2002
The first phase of violence was really the period of Hindu retaliation to the Godhra carnage. Though at places Muslims were in complete command and they threw out Hindus from their homes and also killed the Hindus, in general, it was the Muslims who suffered. This period saw the real anti-Muslim riots, like when Muslims were attacked and killed in Gulmarg area of Ahmedabad (Ehsan Jafri case) or the Naroda Patiya killings where Muslims were the victims.
The second phase was when Muslims started the retaliatory riots in Gujarat- retaliatory- for the phase three days of Hindu retaliation. Here Muslims started the riots and attacked Hindus as will be clear from the next few chapters.
The third phase was after 21 April 2002, Ramnavmi day. This was when the riots were instigated by the Congress Party. At that time the Parliament was in session and the Gujarat was to be debated. The Opposition wanted the Narendra Modi government to be dismissed. At that time, peace had come to stay in Gujarat. To deliberately attack Narendra Modi, the Congress Party instigated the riots. We will also see this later in detail.
While there may still be many who will not be convinced of the role of the police during the riots, no one can deny the fact that the Army took complete control of Ahmedabad and Vadodara by 2nd March 2002. As said earlier, riots occurred only in those places where the Army was present. How can any administration be accused of inaction when even the Indian Army could not stop the riots in either Ahmedabad or Vadodara? This doesn’t mean that the riots were one-sided.
There is a lot of criticism that the Modi government allowed the killings for three days. Newspapers like The Hindu, The Indian Express etc have been in the forefront of it. But what do these reports quoted earlier show?
Weekly India Today itself reported in its issue dated 11 March 2002 (article written on February 28) that, “The bloody cycle of violence so familiar with Gujarat may just have begun.” That is, India Today expected the violence to last several weeks if not months. Same was the prediction of Outlook. But it was controlled in just three days.Gujarat has seen horrible riots in the past like in 1969 and 1985. That despite such a bloody history of violence, riots could be controlled in such a communally sensitive state in three days, despite magazines like India Today and Outlook predicting weeks of violence, with Godhra carnage as a huge provocation, shows that the administration did its duties extremely well.
But the media just doesn’t want to listen. It seems to have already crucified its conscience. It has closed its eyes to the evil forces. Reason and truth have taken wings and fled from their journalism. Is it then possible to ensure such constitutional values as fraternity, integrity and unity in a highly complex country, in which, interalia, the media is largely alienated from the truth, biased against a particular party, prejudiced against the centripetal forces, and lenient towards the disruptive forces.