Posted on August 31, 2008 - Filed Under 07-Contrasts between 1984 and Gujarat 2002 riots | 49 Comments
It is necessary to remove some more misconceptions. The mainstream media has mostly always tried to equate the Gujarat riots of 2002 AD, and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Again, well-meaning people have fallen pray to the myths.
Justice Nanavati, heading the Nanavati Commission of Inquiry probing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots submitted his report to the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on 9 February 2005. The report was kept under the wraps for six months, and released on the last day of the time limit 8th August 2005. After the release, the media equated the 1984 riots and the 2002 riots of Gujarat. NDTV broadcast The Big Fight on this issue in August 2005. Vinod Mehta, editor of Outlook equated both the riots and said, “A lot of things are exactly the same. In 1984, it was the killing of Indira Gandhi, in Gujarat it was Godhra…both the causes served a cause for the massacre…”
Editorial of The Times of India dated 12 August 2005 on this issue was:
“Now for Modi
BJP and Gujarat CM should take a cue from Tytler, Sajjan
We welcome the resignations of Jagdish Tytler from the ministry and Sajjan Kumar from the official post he held in the Delhi government…People who are even remotely connected with rioting can’t be allowed to hold office. This is a given in a secular democracy. Where does that leave men like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi? He has no option but to quit office. The BJP, and its allies like the Akali Dal and Janata Dal (United) were unequivocal in demanding Tytler’s resignation. The parties invoked the ethics of Parliamentary democracy as well as the morality of public conduct to press the government for action on the Nanavati Commission. Their arguments hold true for Modi as well…”
As a result of this media hype, none other than BJP leaders have started believing that the two riots were similar. In November 2004, on NDTV’s The Big Fight, when Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natrajan said, “We don’t call you communal because of Uniform Civil Code. We call you communal because of Gujarat”, the BJP participant replied, “I can call you anti-secular because of the 1984 riots. You have no face to show”. This was ok. But after that, he should have tried to explain the truth of the Gujarat riots and said that the party’s secular credentials are strengthened because of the efficient handling of the Gujarat riots, where many Hindus were killed too. Instead, he unwittingly conceded that the Gujarat riots were similar to the 1984 riots!
NDTV aired a ‘Big Fight’ on 26 March 2005 on the issue of Modi being denied a visa by the USA, which included Digvijay Singh of the Congress, a member of the BJP and the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Purushottam Agrawal. NDTV also had an American voice with an American woman briefly invited through videophone from Delhi, and it was 4 against 1 with the BJP participant not able to counter NDTV. This is because he did not seem to have the knowledge needed to speak in such debates though he is a good debater. He did not attack NDTV for putting it 4 against 1. He talked of the 1984 riots which simply cannot be compared with the Gujarat riots. It is a figment of the biased media’s imagination and deliberate attempt to demonize the BJP that such comparisons are made, and the 1984 riots and the Gujarat riots are equated. The Congress is never embarrassed over the riots. And the differences are too glaring for the two to be equated. The BJP participant, instead of mentioning some true facts of the Gujarat riots, lost the debate badly to the cunning Congress-Marxist combine.
B.P.Singhal’s article in the weekly Organiser dated 9 October 2005 and in The Pioneer dated 28 September 2005 on this issue is very useful. That article can be read on www.organiser.org
Let us here see the contrasts in detail:
GODHRA AND INDIRA GANDHI’S MURDER
In 1984, Indira Gandhi’s assassination on 31st October was the cause of the riots. Indira Gandhi’s murder was terrorism. It was done by 2 people, both terrorists, with bullets. Such murders are common all over the world and also in India. Murders occurs anywhere are mostly the result of stabbing or bullet shots. It was a heinous and gruesome killing, but it was not exceptionally brutal, cruel, inhuman, and barbaric like the Godhra roasting of 59 Ramsewaks.
The entire Sikh community could not, in any way, be blamed for that murder. It was just an act done by 2 people, both Indira Gandhi’s bodyguards. They were not ordinary people, but terrorists. It was not a communal act, but a terrorist one. It was not an act of barbarism.
The culprits were immediately brought to book. 2 Sikhs killed 1 Congressperson, although she was the country’s Prime Minister. It was also an attack on an individual. It was not an attack on a community, a political party i.e. the Indian National Congress, nor was it an attack on a government. The attackers just wanted to kill an individual.
On the contrary, Godhra was not terrorism, even if Justice Nanavati, Narendra Modi, George Fernandes, L.K.Advani, VHP, BJP, Organiser, Panchjanya claim so. Godhra was unparalleled in the history of independent India. The pain that Indira Gandhi suffered was momentary. But this was not the case with Godhra victims. In Godhra, the train was set on fire and not a single passenger was allowed to escape out, the train being surrounded by Muslims from both sides, armed with petrol bombs, acid bombs and swords. The passengers were burnt to death in a ghastly manner. The pain was not momentary. And even 15 children were burnt to death by the mob, which did not think of letting the children escape the ghastly death.
The attackers in Godhra were not terrorists who had AK 47 rifles, guns, and grenades. They were ordinary local Muslims. Local 2,000 Sikhs did not kill Indira Gandhi. Out of the 2,000 Godhra attackers, even if one had called the police and informed them about such a conspiracy and planned attack much before 7:48 AM when the attack took place, the killings could have been prevented. Not even one of the 2000 attackers did so. The attackers were not terrorists who had undergone training in ISI’s training camps. They were local Muslims, not foreigners, and not terrorists like Indira Gandhi’s killers.
The killers were also not brought to book. Only 35 people were arrested for the carnage which as many as 2,000 people participated. Nobody seriously expected all 2000 to be caught, but at least two-three hundred should have been caught. What follows is an excerpt from weekly India Today (18 March 2002):
“The problem, according to former director-general of police M.M. Singh, one of the finest officers Gujarat has seen, began in Godhra on February 27. He says the police should have immediately cordoned off the area from which the attackers came and taken strong action instead of allowing the culprits to flee. This, he says, would have pacified Hindu feelings to some extent right at the very outset. “Where any act is bound to lead to communal violence the police should always take strong steps against the group which has committed the act. That invariably has a salutary effect.”… There’s another story doing the rounds about which few are keen to talk about. According to it, Modi was given an ultimatum on February 27 itself by the VHP leadership to act against the perpetrators of the Godhra carnage by evening or else face the music. By evening that day the police had detained two of the six main accused besides 50 others. That was found to be inadequate by the VHP because the number of attackers in Godhra was over 1,000.”
The culprits went scot-free in Godhra (most of the 2,000 attackers) and this was one reason for the explosion on 28 Feb.
In Godhra, the attack was on a community, the Hindu community, and not on an individual. It was also not on an organization like the VHP. As a result, the retaliation was done by the entire community and not by a single organization. Also, after Indira Gandhi’s murder, no one rubbed salts into the people’s wounds by blaming her for her murder, or the Congress Party for her murder. On the contrary, after Godhra, the media-politician combine rubbed salts in the people’s wounds by blaming the Godhra killings on the VHP and arguing that the dead men and women and children had it coming to them. Some, like Congress leader the late Amarsinh Chaudhary, accused karsewaks of not paying for tea and snacks at railway platform and blamed them for the Godhra killings. Many accused the dead karsewaks of acts like taunting and harassing Muslim passengers, etc. These angered the people even more and resulted in the initial explosion on 28 February 2002. Nothing of this was done in 1984 after Indiraji’s killing to provoke and anger the people.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE RIOTERS
In 1984, the riots were not a ‘mass uprising’. They were not spontaneous. They were organized killings by members and leaders of a single political party, the Indian National Congress. Leaders of the Congress like Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao, Kamal Nath, Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler were reported to be culpable in the 1984 riots. In 1984, it was a political party that was enraged by the killing of one individual. The nation was also sad and angry, but did not have feelings of revenge. In Gujarat in 2002, it was the entire society that was enraged by the Godhra killings. India Today reports (18 March 2002):
“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.”
This clearly proves that the 2002 Gujarat riots were impossible to have carried out by the Sangh Parivar alone. While in 1984, only the Congress was involved in the riots. The RSS cadres protected the Sikhs in 1984. National Minorities Commission Chairman Tarlochan Singh is on record saying this. (“Sikhs can never forget how RSS activists protected them in 1984 and in the Partition riots in 1947”- Tarlochan Singh, 26 July 2003). But in the 2002 Gujarat riots, Congressmen were also involved, not only in Godhra, but also during attacks on Hindus, and also Muslims. The Times of India reported on 9th August 2003 reported that 25 Congress leaders were also accused of being involved in attacks on Muslims.
PAST HISTORY OF THE RIOTS
There have been hundreds of Hindu-Muslim riots in India since AD 1714. There have been conflicts between Hindus and Muslims right since AD 636. The foreign Muslims committed horrible atrocities on the Hindus in the medieval period. Muslims were the aggressors in almost all the Gujarat riots right since AD 1714. In the 1940s in particular, the Hindus suffered terribly in the Ahmedabad riots. There were also horrible riots in 1969 and 1985 in Gujarat. Wounds of the past haunted the people.
In 1984, the Hindu-Sikh conflicts (i.e. Congress- Sikh conflicts) if at all they can be called ‘conflicts’ and not ‘genocide of the Sikhs by the Congress Party’, were the first and only case of clashes between the two communities. Sikhs had not terrorized Congress leaders in the past, right since AD 636. After independence, Hindu-Sikh conflicts were not seen even once, not to talk of thrice, under the rule of the BJP (or, for that matter, even the Congress) in New Delhi. While in Gujarat, far worse riots took place at least three times under the Congress rule, as compared to the riots in 2002 under the BJP rule. The 1984 riots were the only and the bloodiest.
ACTION AGAINST RIOTERS
In 1984, no action was taken against the rioters at all. Not many arrests were made, despite the fact that as many as 3,000 people were killed in the riots, and the number given by Ranganath Mishra Commission is 3874. Not even one person was shot dead by the police or the Army according to an article by B P Singhal. The police was conspicuous by its absence for three full days. The army, even though available locally, was not called for three full days. But these riots escaped the media glare, because in those days, TV was barely in its infancy.
(Source: Article by B.P.Singhal in the weekly Organiser dated 9th October 2005)
In Gujarat, as many as 25,204 out of the 25,486 accused were arrested by the Gujarat police as of October 2005. As of May 2012, there were 19,200 Hindus arrested and 7799 Muslims, to have a total of 26,999 arrests- almost 27,000. In Gujarat, the entire police force of 70,000 was deployed on 27 February itself, along with all available units of Rapid Action Force. The Army was called immediately on 28 February, and newspapers like The Hindu and The Indian Express reported on 1st March 2002 that the Army had started arriving in Ahmedabad. All English dailies, biased as they are, admitted that the Army had staged a flag march in Ahmedabad as early as 1st March 2002 morning itself.
Already, we have at least 218 people (including 34 Muslims in several cases) convicted for post-Godhra riots in Gujarat and 31 for Godhra to make it 249 only from newspaper reports available to this writer, and the official records show 443 convictions- 332 Hindus and 111 Muslims, while for the 1984 riots, as per the information given out till now only 16 people have been convicted in 7 cases till now in 28 years, but CNN-IBN gave the figures of 30 people in 12 cases. In Gujarat, the police arrested more than 35,000 people as of 28 April 2002, the highest ever in history for rioting. Not even in 1969 and 1985 were so many people arrested by the then Congress governments, when as many as 10,000 people were killed in riots which lasted as long as 5 to 6 months.
In Gujarat in 2002, as many as 98 people were shot dead by the police for rioting in the first three days. Out of the total killed, 170 were killed in police firing till 27 April 2002 as per the report of The Times of India dated 28 April 2002 and official records show that in all 199 were killed in police firing out of whom 101 were killed in the first week. As many as 20 % people killed in the state were in police firing (excluding missing). The deployment of the Army, which was then posted on the border (Almost the entire military strength was posted on the border in view of war-clouds between India and Pakistan), was in very quick time. As per The Hindu of 1st March 2002, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi had frantically called for the deployment of the Army on February 28. The Indian Express dated 28 February 2002 also reports something similar. This is what India Today (18 March 2002) reported on the deployment of the army:
“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.
4.30 PM: Gujarat Assembly adjourned and Modi visits Godhra where he holds a meeting, giving shoot-at-sight orders to the police.10.30 PM: CM holds meeting with senior government officials at Gandhinagar; orders curfew 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.
12.30 PM: Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt-General N.C. Vij tells Narain that only two columns 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
12.45 PM: Narain tells Vij to arrange immediate movement of troops to Gujarat.
4.00 PM: Modi requests army deployment following consultations with Advani.
6.45 PM: 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.
7.00 PM: 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.
9.00 AM: Discussions between representatives of the army and the state take place, followed by troop flag march in Ahmedabad.”
To understand this situation fully, one should read The Hindu and The Indian Express dated 1st and 2nd March 2002. The entire police force of Gujarat was deployed on 27 February itself.
Even on 1st and 2nd March 2002, riots took place in places where the Indian Army was present, i.e. Ahmedabad and Vadodara. But after 3rd March 2002, riots took place almost entirely in those places where the Army was posted. Even on 1st and 2nd March, close to 100 people each were killed, despite the presence of the Indian Army.
In 1984, despite the army being available locally, it was not called for three days. At that time, there wasn’t even an insurgency in Kashmir. There was no war-like situation between any of the neighbors, either Pakistan or China. The entire military strength was not deployed on the border. Neither were police visible in New Delhi. The police did not kill even a single attacker in firing in 1984 as per B P Singhal’s article. Not even a single preventive arrest appears to have been made in 1984, as against 827 made on 27 February itself, even before a single riot had taken place in Gujarat. Many more preventive arrests (20,000) were made after the riots had begun. Narendra Modi gave shoot at sight orders in Godhra on 27 February. There were also similar orders in many other towns in Gujarat, as reported by The Hindu dated 2nd March 2002.
In 2002, the Gujarat police saved as many 24,000 Muslims from certain death in the first three days itself. At least 17,500 people are on record to be saved from certain death. Police saved Muslims in Sanjeli, Bodeli, and Viramgam from the rioters.
There are no such available records for the 1984 riots where it can be said that Sikhs were saved and rioters were killed. The entire Sikh community was held responsible for the deeds of 2 Sikhs, in 1984. And the police turned a blind eye to the riots and no action was taken against the rioters. Hardly 16 or 30 convictions took place in 28 years.
VERSIONS OF THE RIOTS
During the time of the 1984 riots, the versions of the riots were similar and identical in all sections of the press throughout the country. Whether it was the national English dailies, the local English dailies, the local Hindi dailies, or the regional language dailies all over the country, the reporting on the riots was exactly the same. The reporting of the TV news, radio news, was also exactly the same. In those days, TV was barely in its infancy, and hence the riots escaped the media glare. But there was not an iota of difference between the reports of any section of the media on a single case.
On the contrary, there was a contrast of day and night in the versions of the riots as projected by the ‘national’ English media as against the sharply contrasting versions appearing in the local Gujarati newspapers of all hues. This was because the Gujarati media reported the truth, while the English media always took the side of the Muslims, even if they indulged in cold-blooded murder, or were at the receiving end.
There was also a huge difference in the versions of the riots as projected by the same national English media and the electronic media, during the actual time of the riots in March April 2002, and the reports by the same media months after the actual riots.
Anyone reading the English dailies like The Indian Express, The Hindu, and the weeklies like India Today of March April 2002, will understand this fully. These same dailies/weeklies ignored their own reports during the time of the riots ever after, and started reporting completely biased and one-sided.
The TV channels also played a lot of mischief on the issue of the Gujarat riots. NDTV is linked to the CPI (M). This is because, NDTV boss Radhika Roy, wife of NDTV Chairman Prannoy Roy, and CPI (M) MP and Politburo member Brinda Karat, wife of CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, are blood sisters. Not just that, both Prannoy and Radhika Roy are staunch Communists. B.P.Singhal writes in an article in the weekly Organiser dated 9 October 2005:
“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.”
PEOPLE KILLED IN THE RIOTS
In 1984, as many as 3,000 people were killed officially in just a week for the deeds of 2 people. The Ranganath Mishra Commission gives the number as 3874 in all with more than 2300 in Delhi alone.
On the other hand, in Gujarat in 2002, a total of 790 Muslims (a number given by a UPA Minister) were killed for the deeds of 2000 Muslims in Godhra, in addition to as many as 254 Hindus killed after Godhra + the 59 Hindus killed in Godhra. A net result of deaths in Gujarat in 2002 would be 790 Muslims and 313 Hindus. While in 1984, it was at least 3,000 Sikhs and 1 Congressperson. The sinner victim ratio (of co-religionists) in 1984 was 2: 3000, while in 2002 in Gujarat, it was 2000: 790 and in addition 254 Hindus were killed in the post-Godhra riots.
Riots in 2002 AD in Gujarat stopped in just three days, and after 3rd March 2002, the state was completely normal except for some violence in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and some places near Godhra. This was in sharp contrast to the Gujarat riots of 1969 and 1985, which continued for as long as 5 months, or even the 1990-91-92 riots in the state.
Not even a single Congressman (or for that matter, any attacker) was killed in 1984, while as many as 254 Hindus were killed in Gujarat in 2002, after Godhra. It is on record that Muslims had started 157 riots in Gujarat after 3rd March 2002. Muslims attacked Hindus in Himmatnagar area of Ahmedabad and killed a young Hindu after gouging out his eyes.
In 1984, on the contrary, the Sikhs did not start even a single riot. No Congressman was killed after gouging out of eyes. The Sikhs did not attack any Congressman. Sikhs were poor victims in 1984, unlike the Muslims in 2002 in Gujarat, who were equally on the offensive.
RIOTS’ GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS
In 1984, the riots occurred not just in New Delhi, but also in many other far-off places, mostly in Congress ruled states. Not just that, Congressmen attacked Sikhs in as far off places as West Bengal, Tripura. Veteran CPI (M) leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet in an article published in the CPI (M)’s weekly Peoples Democracy in August 2005 accused Mamata Banerjee of being involved in killing of Sikhs in West Bengal in the 1984 riots resulting in her threatening to file a defamation suit. Another link: http://www.indianexpress.com/oldStory/76644/
However, Surjeet’s own comrades in West Bengal dissociated themselves from his charge. Anil Biswas, West Bengal secretary of the CPI(M), gave a clean chit to Mamata Banerjee, saying: ‘‘I have no knowledge about Mamata Banerjee having played any role in anti-Sikh riots in Kolkata…” We (Admins of this website) certainly do not believe this charge against Mamata Banerjee at all, but merely use it to prove that anti-Sikh riots occurred in as far off places as West Bengal, Tripura, etc.
In 2002, not a single person was attacked or killed in any place outside Gujarat, not even in riot-prone Mumbai. As B. P. Singhal wrote in his article in Organiser, “The Hindu community in the country ensured that the riots did not spread beyond Gujarat even though Godhra had severely outraged the Hindus all over the country.” If the VHP or the Bajrang Dal were hell-bent on creating riots as a matter of policy, there could have been mayhem in almost every part of India. However, none of this happened. The riots were limited to Gujarat only.
Even in Gujarat, no riots took place in one-third of the state, i.e. in Saurashtra and Kutch, even in the first three days. This shows the sincerity of the government and the Sangh Parivar in observing restraint. VHP had units in 10,000 out of Gujarat’s 18,600 villages. Had it wanted to, it could have caused riots in all the 10,000 villages. However, riots were limited only to 40 or 50 villages- and a total of 90 places.
PEOPLE RENDERED HOMELESS
In Gujarat in the 2002 riots, Hindus were also rendered homeless. As on 5 March 2002, out of the 98 relief/refugee camps opened, 85 were for Muslims and 13 were for Hindus. As on 17 March 2002, as many as 10,000 Hindus were rendered homeless in Ahmedabad alone, as per The Times of India. As on 25 April 2002, out of the 1 lakh (i.e. 100 thousand) 40 thousand refugees, 1 lakh were Muslims and as many as 40 thousand were Hindus.
In 1984, not a single Congressman or non-Sikh individual was rendered homeless. B.P.Singhal writes in his article, “On the other hand, no attempt was made to open even a single refugee camp for the hounded Sikhs at any point of time anywhere. Actually, as per Nanavati Commission report, weapons of the Sikhs living in Sikh localities were withdrawn with the promise of protection by the police while the same localities were then attacked.”
Far from non-Sikh people staying in refugee camps because of attacks by the Sikhs, even the displaced Sikhs were not provided any refugee camps to stay. This was in sharp contrast to Gujarat in 2002, when Hindus were forced out of their homes by Muslims and forced to stay in refugee camps. Some Hindus were forced to live in temples, since no relief camps were available for them.
Who is going to awaken the masses about the truth of the Gujarat riots? Those who claim to be ‘awakened’, i.e. the RSS and the Sangh Parivar are themselves ignorant of the truth of the Gujarat riots. Those who are aware of the truth of the riots do nothing to educate the masses and the BJP leaders on this issue. The RSS’ weeklies like Organiser, Panchjanya also concede, wittingly or unwittingly, that the post-Godhra riots were one-sided which they weren’t.
From the present situation, it is going to take nothing less than a miracle to blast the media myths on the Gujarat riots, and let the truth triumph (this is what was felt in May 2007).
Some more details on this topic are given in the book.
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