On 27th February, 2002 a train coming from Ayodhya was set on fire by a Muslim mob in Godhra, Gujarat. 59 karsevaks, who were returning from a pilgrimage at Ram Janmabhoomi, were burnt alive. Subsequently, widespread communal riots took place in Gujarat leaving hundreds dead.
The unfortunate riots, however, were used by the opportunist vultures for dirty politics and defame Gujarat as well as the then chief minister Narendra Modi. Here are some of the things one should never forget.
Neighbouring Congress states did not send help
Narendra Modi had taken charge as Chief Minister just four months prior to the carnage. He reached out to three neighbouring states for help to control the law and order situation. Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh and Vilasrao Deshmukh of Congress were chief ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra respectively.
None of them sent help.
Fake news on atrocities on Muslims
Haven’t we all read the horrifying story of Kausar Bano, who was allegedly raped by a Hindu mob, her pregnant belly slit open and her foetus flung into fire. Some versions also included that the above act was done with a sword. This story has been perpetuated through years and even nearly after two decades, this story is used as anecdotal evidence to claim that Muslims were targeted in Gujarat.
However, that is not true. A 2010 report states that the doctor who conducted post-mortem on Kauser, found the foetus intact. Dr J S Kanoria, who had conducted the autopsy on 2nd March, 2002 presented supporting documents to the special court and said that the foetus was intact in the woman’s womb. The foetus weight 2,500 gms and was 45 cms long.
Kausar Bano’s unfortunate death was used to further bitterness amongst communities.
Never forget how Muslims were pitted against Hindus to deepen the fault lines.
How media fanned riots and now plays holier than thou
When the riots broke out, the 24-hour news channels were taking baby steps. Multiple media houses had launched their own channels and some had split from existing networks to start their own 24-hour platforms. Riots were the first big breaking news for most. So, obviously, in the mad rush to get the ‘exclusive scoop’, some celebrity journalists of today indulged in spreading fake news.
For years, Narendra Modi was demonised and accused of inciting and encouraging riots. Ahead of 2019 general elections, India Today employee Rajdeep Sardesai, who during the 2002 riots was associated with NDTV, had revealed how PM Modi was not responsible for the same.
Responding to a question by journalist Manu Joseph, on whether Narendra Modi the then Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002 was in any way responsible for the incident, Rajdeep Sardesai admitted that he personally believed that Modi was not responsible for the 2002 riots that followed after Godhra massacre.
“It is unfair of us to say that Mr Modi or anyone was responsible for the riots. He did not ask or incite violence,” said Rajdeep Sardesai.
Here is what then Gujarat Chief Minister told journalist Madhu Kishwar in an informal interview regarding the riots.
“If you see the data you will see that within 72 hours we had put down the riots and brought the situation under control. But these TV channels kept on playing up the same incidents over and over again. At the time, Rajdeep and Barkha were in the same channel NDTV.
During those inflamed days, Barkha acted in the most irresponsible manner. Surat had not witnessed any communal killings, barring a few small incidents of clashes. However the bazaars were closed (as a precautionary measure). Barkha stood amidst closed shops screaming “This is Surat’s diamond market, but there is not a single police man here.” I called her up and asked her if she is providing the address of this “unprotected” bazaar to the rioting mobs? Are you inviting them to come and create trouble there by announcing that there is no police here so you can run carry violence safely?”
Modi then further talks about another incident of reporting by Barkha. “In a second incident in Anjar, she played up the news that a Hanuman mandir had been broken and vandalised. I told her, “What are you up to? You are in Kutch which is a border district. There you are showing the attack and destruction of a temple. Do you realise the implications of broadcasting such news? We haven’t yet recovered from the earthquake. Have you actually done proper investigation into the riots? Why are you lighting fires for us? Your news takes a few minutes to broadcast that such and such place is unprotected or a mandir has been vandalized. But it takes for me a few hours to move the police from one disturbed location to another since these incidents are breaking out in the most unexpected places.”
Modi further said that when he inquired about the said incident, the administration found out that it was a small, insignificant structure under a tree which had been damaged a little bit by some crazy individual. “But NDTV presented it as an attack on a Hanuman mandir. When the fires were raging these journalists were pouring fuel on those fires,” he said.
Subsequently, the channel was banned temporarily from broadcasting news in Gujarat as it would only lead to flaring up of communal tension. Modi had called up Rajdeep Sardesai and said, “I will have to put a temporary ban on your channel if you continue with the provocative coverage. There is a well-established regulation that media should not name communities during communal riots nor identify a damaged placed as a mandir or masjid. Why are you violating that code and well set protocol about not naming communities or identifying places, of worship? You are going against established norms.”
Never forget how media acted irresponsibly because they could.
Know how disgraced IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt is the posterboy of ‘liberals’? In 2011, Bhatt alleged that during the 2002 post-Godhra carnage, the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi had called a meeting at his residence on 27 February 2002 to “let Hindus vent out their anger against Muslims so that repeat of Godhra-like incident never happens in the state”.
This was also picked up and perpetuated by celebrity journalists and various professional activists. Bhatt, in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court, had claimed that this meeting took place following the Sabarmati Express burning incident in which 59 Ayodhya Kar Sevaks had died. At that time, he was the deputy commissioner in the state intelligence bureau.
He further stated in the affidavit that the meeting was attended by eight top police officers. Bhatt also alleged that the SIT constituted to probe the riots was trying to protect the Gujarat government.
However, the Nanavati-Mehta Commission rubbished his allegations. The Commission said that Bhatt used a false document, a fax message, to support his presence at the meeting. “On consideration of the evidence, it clearly appears that Bhatt is not telling the truth with regards to what happened in the meeting held on February 27, 2002, at the CM’s residence. Claims made by him of being present in the meeting appear to false”, stated the second part of the report of the ‘Commission of Inquiry’ by Justice G T Nanavati and Justice Akshay Mehta.
The Commission stated that the copy of the fax message, which Bhatt had used to claim he was present in the February 27, 2002 meeting with the then Gujarat CM Modi, was, in fact, sent on March 2, 2002, by one PP Upadhyay, about an incident in Pandarva, Panchmahal. Bhatt had claimed that he had reached to the meeting accompanying K Chakravarthy, the then Gujarat DGP in his car. However, Chakravarty had refuted Bhatt’s claim.
Never forget these ‘andolanjeevis’ and ‘brave and courageous people’ who ‘speak truth to power’ because their ‘truth’ is more likely far from reality.
Falsely painting Hindus as conspirators
Ahmedabad resident Shashikant spent 15 years in jail owing to mistaken identity. Shashikant, who had actually saved 17 other Muslims during the Gujarat riots, was falsely implicated by Abdul Sattar, an autorickshaw driver, over personal enmity. Shabana Bano, who had also given a statement against Shashikant, admitted that she gave a false statement because she was paid Rs 10,000.
Widow of Shashikant says he actually saved a few Muslims from Bihar and Bengal who were caught in the Gujarat riots. Despite this, his shop was burnt and looted. Shashikant got bail in 2005 but was again sent back to prison because Sattar claimed he was getting threats from Shashikant. The family claims that when a neighbour tried to take Shashikant’s side and tell police that he had not gone out of house, Sattar filed a complaint against that neighbour too.
Sattar died a few years ago and Bano has reportedly left Gujarat. Shashikant, who spent 15 years in prison, died of twin heart attack in 2018.
Never forget the pain of hundreds of Shashikants.
“Army deployment was delayed, police did nothing”
Yet another lie perpetuated by the propagandists. Lt. General (Retd.) Zameeruddin Shah, brother of actor Naseeruddin Shah, in his autobiography ‘The Sarkari Mussalman’ claimed that when riots broke the Gujarat government led by Narendra Modi failed to provide immediate transport to the Army, thereby delaying Army deployment in the riot-affected state.
Lt. Gen. Shah claims that the “3,000 troops had landed at the Ahmedabad airfield at 7 am on 1st March but had to wait for a day before the Gujarat administration provided transport.” He says since the crucial time was lost, it led to more deaths in the state. He claims that had Modi government would have provided necessary logistical support, the damage and loss to life would have been contained. However, a simple glance at media reports from 1st March shows how he is lying.
As reported by India Today in 18th March 2002 issue, Modi had called officially called for the Army by 4 pm on 28th February and by 6:30 pm a formal request for the Army landed in Delhi. On 1st March at 1 am, the then defence minister George Fernandes reached Ahmedabad and at 11:30 the Army was staging a flag march.
The same fact is also reflected in the note submitted by ACS (Home), Ashok Narayan as part of the investigation.
The note further states that in wake of the terrorist attack on the Parliament in December 2001, there was a war-like situation on the border. Hence, the whole force was deployed in the forward/border areas of the country. The state government then requested for Army personnel in the cantonment of Ahmedabad, but no force was available there either.
The note says Army personnel were airlifted by using about 40 aircrafts from the border and landed in Ahmedabad by 28th February midnight. 6 buses, 9 trucks and 15 jeeps were sent for use by the Army by 2:30 am on 1st March 2002. During the day 39 additional vehicles were provided. A total of 131 vehicles were provided to the Army. Additional executive magistrates were provided to the Army. Escort officers from the police force were provided to the Army.
Never forget how a man who donned the uniform and vowed to protect the nation chose to lie about something that could easily be fact-checked. Of course, the ‘fact-checkers’ never bothered.
Never forget how you are being taken for a ride by these very ‘liberals’.
Forgetting the carnage
Whenever the riots are talked about everyone conveniently forgets those 59 people who were burnt alive in the train. Those Hindus, returning from pilgrimage, killed. Never forget how the ‘liberals’ tried to implicate these Hindus for their own murder.
Apparently, Karsevaks were burnt alive for refusing to pay for their tea and snacks. One of the many “Independent fact-finding missions” the kinds which have Harsh Mander in their team, published this. No proof, no evidence, just ‘informants’. The ‘liberals’ did not think twice before spreading rumours about the dead Karsevaks, did not hesitate to paint them as hateful bigots and eveteasers and thereby responsible for their own death.
Arundhati Roy, the favourite child of international protestors, even claimed that the karsevaks who were burnt alive by Muslim mob in 2002 were returning after 1992 Babri demolition.
Further, many media reports and more such ‘fact-finding missions’ claimed that the train was not set on fire but ‘it caught fire’ from inside. Because obviously the Karsevaks self immolated to trigger communal riots in Gujarat <sarcasm>.
Never forget that these Karsevaks were not given the basic dignity in their death.
Never forget that the ‘liberals’ propagated ‘Dara Hua Musalman’ narrative while piggybacking on the dead bodies of 59 Hindus killed by Muslim mob.