As Outlook was going to press on March 18, the odds were placed on Modi appearing before the SIT, although the possibility of him taking advantage of legal confusion to avoid questioning also remains. Sources close to the CM in Ahmedabad said there would be consultations with lawyers till the last day and he would possibly take a call on the day before the appearance. Meanwhile, BJP sources in Delhi say, “It may be better for him to go as avoiding questioning may not always be possible.”
That Dark Night Zakia Jafri and Teesta Setalvad visit her Gulbarg Society home in Feb ’10
He has, however, managed to avoid it for eight years. Many weary lawyers who live in Gujarat and have tried to hold Modi accountable say, “If he shows up, be certain he will also show off.” Besides, his round of questioning involves only one case. Zakia, the widow of Jafri, wanted an FIR lodged against 62 individuals, including Modi, his ministers, bureaucrats and senior police officers. Since the police in Gujarat refused, she approached the Supreme Court which asked the SIT to take up the matter. The SIT, set up two years ago to look into many high-profile cases, functions as an investigative arm of the Supreme Court.
Outlook has learnt from well-placed sources that the SIT has no direct evidence of mobile phone records of Jafri speaking to Modi and requesting help. In those days, says a source, mobile connectivity was limited and Jafri may have used a land line as he spoke to several people. Shockingly, the landline phone records have disappeared. Many suspect the complicity of police officers who do not want the cases investigated. Yet, the SIT has apparently spoken to some 60 to 70 witnesses linked to the case and, after questioning Modi, can advise the court to investigate him further or lodge an fir against him.
A Gujarat government official told Outlook that if there was political will, Modi could have been charged under section 120 B of the IPC for “criminal conspiracy”, which is often described as the “favourite law of top cops”. The official adds that it is hard to get convictions for conspiracy but in the case of Modi, a political point would have been made. It is, he says, “an expansive charge” and conspiracy suggests “a meeting of minds”. Mukul Sinha, who is fighting some of the key riot cases, says, “The conspiracy section of IPC could have been easily applied against the CM. Doesn’t the US hold Osama bin Laden responsible for terrorism even though he did not fly the planes into the World Trade Center?”
Equally revealing is the account of R.K. Shah, one of Ahmedabad’s most respected lawyers. He recently quit as special public prosecutor of the Gulbarg Society case because he found it impossible to work with the SIT. He describes their tactics: “Here I am collecting witnesses who know something about a gruesome case in which so many people, mostly women and children huddled in Jafri’s house, were killed and I get no cooperation. The SIT officers are unsympathetic towards witnesses, they try to browbeat them and don’t share evidence with the prosecution as they are supposed to do.”
In control? SIT chief R.K. Raghavan
Shah also told Outlook that the day after his resignation, the SIT chief R.K. Raghavan called him up and requested him to stay on “for the sake of the victims”. Raghavan, a former director of the CBI, also sent a fax to Shah. But Shah says: “Raghavan is from outside Gujarat so he may have good intentions. But what can he do with those police officers who want to cover up everything? I know how they operate. They keep preparing documents in Gujarati to confuse Raghavan and the few officers he has brought from outside.”
Outlook has also learnt that the SIT intends to have Modi questioned by retired CBI officer A.K. Malhotra, who is also from outside Gujarat. If the CM does turn up, there will be questions about the meeting he held in Gandhinagar on February 27 to review the fallout of the Godhra train incident. Did Modi tell officers to “let Hindus vent their anger”, as former police officer R.B. Sreekumar has alleged? Many individuals Jafri called desperately on that dreadful night have also testified that he told them he requested Modi for help but the CM was not helpful. Will the SIT suggest that such evidence is enough to implicate Modi in the conspiracy?
The SIT can certainly conclude that Modi, at the very least, deliberately looked the other way and failed to stop the violence. It can make a case for the Supreme Court to censure Modi. If it fails to do even this, one could say the entire exercise was another legal disaster in the tortured journey of the Gujarat riot victims.
Apropos of Nero Hour (Mar 29), I’d like to point out that we have a Sikh prime minister who had to watch the suspects of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots obtain bail and their relatives obtain Congress tickets. The chances of justice being served by any inquiry in Gujarat are slim. All we can hope for is a strong-enough backlash against the kind of lawlessness that allows rioting—and allows rioters and those who incite them to get away. Hitesh Brahmbhatt, San Diego, US
The analogy of the ground shaking when a big tree falls is worse than any hate speech that can be made. And this analogy came from a prime minister who went on to win the Bharat Ratna. Anil Kohli, Mumbai
Is Outlook implying that Narendra Modi must be held guilty at any cost? Raj, on e-mail
Why doesn’t anyone concede that to allow, as chief minister, the people of any community to be butchered by mobs amounts to criminal negligence and hence is open to investigation? Sumera Subramanian, Melbourne
Your report on Narendra Modi being summoned by the sit is hilarious. Both the Congress and the bjp know that nothing will come of it. Kishore Dasmunshi, Calcutta
Only recently has the media, for fear of being seen as partisan, come around to saying that what happened in Delhi in 1984 was as bad as what happened in Gujarat in 2002. K.C. Sharma, New Delhi
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT