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Arundhati Roy and her many lies on 2002 Gujarat Riots, vilification of Hindus: Lies about Ehsan Jafri’s daughter being raped, burnt alive and more

Arundhati Roy lied about Ehsan Jafri's daughter being raped and burnt alive, but this was untrue. After Balbir Punj’s expose, Arundhati Roy was forced to give a fake apology in Outlook. Her fake apology titled “To the Jafri Family, An Apology”.

Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor V.K. Saxena’s decision to grant permission to prosecute Arundhati Roy under Section 45(1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for her seditious speech on Kashmir is a welcome step. But sadly, it took 14 years. Arundhati and her pack not only deny the existence of India as a nation but also foment discord, and fuel discontent by building narratives based on falsehoods and half-truths.

We need to remember the mischievous role her left-fascist gang played during the 2002 Gujarat riots. In her 7-page long (approx. 6000 words) essay in Outlook dated 6 May 2002 titled “Democracy: Who’s she when she’s at home?” on the violence in Gujarat Arundhati Roy had written: “Last night a friend from Baroda called. Weeping. It took her fifteen minutes to tell me what the matter was. It wasn’t very complicated. Only that Sayeeda, a friend of hers, had been caught by a mob. Only that her stomach had been ripped open and stuffed with burning rags. Only that after she died, someone carved ‘OM’ on her forehead”.  

Shocked by this despicable “incident”, the then BJP Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Punj got in touch with the Gujarat government. The police investigations revealed that no such case, involving someone called Sayeeda, had been reported either in urban or rural Baroda. Subsequently, the police sought Roy’s help to identify the victim and seek access to witnesses who could lead them to those guilty of this crime. But the police got no cooperation. Instead, Roy, through her lawyer Prashant Bhushan replied that the police had no power to issue summons. Thus she hedged behind technical excuses. Balbir Punj took up this incident in his rejoinder published as Dissimulation In Word and Images in Outlook, July 8, 2002.

In that very essay, Arundhati Roy wrote: “…A mob surrounded the house of former Congress MP, Iqbal Ehsan Jafri. His phone calls to the Director-General of Police, the Police Commissioner, the Chief Secretary, and the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) were ignored. The mobile police vans around his house did not intervene. The mob broke into the house. They stripped his daughters and burned them alive. Then they beheaded Ehsan Jafri and dismembered him. Of course, it’s only a coincidence that Jafri was a trenchant critic of Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, during his campaign for the Rajkot Assembly by-election in February…”  

Jafri was killed in the riots but his daughters were neither ‘stripped’ nor ‘burnt alive’. T.A. Jafri, his son, in a front-page interview titled ‘NobodyKnew My Father’s House was the Target’ (Asian Age, 2 May 2002, Delhi edition), said, “Among my brothers and sisters, I am the only one living in India. And I am the eldest in the family. My sister and brother live in the U.S. I am 40 years old and I have been born and brought up in Ahmedabad.” Balbir Punj debunked Arundhati’s fabrications in his article “Fiddling With Facts As Gujarat Burns” on May 27, 2002, confirming that Jafri’s daughter was safe in the US, as revealed by his son.

After Balbir Punj’s expose, Arundhati Roy was forced to give a fake apology in Outlook. Her fake apology titled “To the Jafri Family, An Apology” said:

“…There is a factual error in my essay Democracy: Who’s She When She’s at Home? (6th May). In describing the brutal killing of Ehsan Jafri, I have said that his daughters had been killed along with their father. It has subsequently been pointed out to me that this is not correct. Eyewitness accounts say that Ehsan Jafri was killed along with his three brothers and two nephews. His daughters were not among the 10 women who were raped and killed in Chamanpura that day.

I apologise to the Jafri family for compounding their anguish. I’m truly sorry.

My information (misinformation, as it turned out) was cross-checked from two sources. Time magazine (11th March) in an article by Meenakshi Ganguly and Anthony Spaeth, and “Gujarat Carnage 2002: A Report to the Nation” by an independent fact-finding mission, which included K.S. Subrahmanyam, former I.G.P. Tripura, and S.P. Shukla, former Finance Secretary. I spoke to Mr.  Subrahmanyam about the error. He said his information at that time came from a senior police official. (What was the name of that official? Neither Subrahmanyam nor Arundhati Roy tell it!)…”

This apology is also false since Roy claims even in that fake apology that 10 women were raped and killed that day. In reality, after reading the then-English newspapers in the first week of March 2002, one finds no mention of any rapes at all. These stories of rapes started coming out in the middle of March 2002, after Time magazine concocted lies in its issue of 11 March 2002, copied by Arundhati Roy. Neither Roy nor the Time correspondent can point out any proven rapes in this case. Roy also apologizes only to the Jafri family, not to the BJP or Narendra Modi for defaming them by her incorrect claim. And she should also have apologized to the country. Note how, while giving the apology, Roy makes sure that it is only “To the Jafri family”.

But there were even more lies by Arundhati Roy in that article for which she should have been prosecuted u/s 153-A, 499-500 (defamation) as well as other relevant sections dealing with fake news/lies.

She wrote, “His (Jafri’s) phone calls to the Director-General of Police, the Police Commissioner [i.e. P C Pande], the Chief Secretary, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) were ignored. The mobile police vans around his house did not intervene.”

All these claims of calls to the Police Commissioner, and Chief Secretary are false. The SIT examined call records of the Police Commissioner Pandey and found that no call was made by Jafri [on pages 203-04 of its final report], though Pandey made/received 302 calls on that day, i.e. 28 February 2002. And that day, the Chief Secretary G Subbarao was abroad, out of India on leave as stated in the SIT report, on page 312, so how could Jafri have called him? Jafri’s landline was the only operational phone in the entire residential complex, as per SIT.

Roy claimed that the police did nothing to stop the mob in Jafri’s house. In reality, police outside his house intervened and as per the SIT final report, page 1 they shot dead four Hindus outside his house, injured 11, lathi-charged the mob, fired 124 rounds, and burst 134 tear gas shells at the spot.

The Times of India also reported online on 28 Feb 2002, that the police and fire brigade did their best to disperse rioters and nowhere did it allege any inaction on the part of the police. It was impossible for the police to control the mob of around 20,000+ people and the mob had gone crazy after Jafri fired from his revolver on the crowd, which injured 15 Hindus and killed 1- as per the SIT report on page 1. But despite this, the police saved 180 Muslims in this episode at a great risk to their personal life. And nowhere did The Times of India accuse the police of not doing anything. 

India Today dated 18 March 2002 clearly admits that at least 5 rioters were shot dead by the police outside Jafri’s house. The SIT report also says that on page 1. The police also saved the lives of some 180 Muslims, since 68 out of the 250 people inside the house died (after all missing were declared dead). The SIT final report says on p 16 that: “In her statement before the local police (recorded on 6 March 2002 under Section 161 CrPC) she (i.e. Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri) had stated that while they were being shifted from the Gulberg Society in jail vans, the mob assembled there would have lynched all of them to death but for the timely action by the police.”

It was the fault of the BJP and other opponents of Arundhati Roy that they didn’t file cases against such lies. Outlook too should have been sued for publishing such trash, which is a blatant violation of law. They should learn from the late Arun Jaitley, who directly sued AAP leaders in Dec 2015 when they made false charges on him and forced them to give an unconditional apology.

[The writer is the author of the book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story” which gives all details about the 2002 riots- Godhra and after, one of the admins of and one of the admins of the Twitter handle @gujaratriotscom and also the author of the book “Why the Vajpayee Government lost the 2004 Lok Sabha polls- An analysis” which exposes a lot more media propaganda, particularly before the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, and before the 2002 Gujarat State Assembly polls]

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Author of the book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story” which gives all the details about the 2002 Gujarat riots - Godhra and thereafter.

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