POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 28, 2014 AT 17:21 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 28, 2014 17:21 IST

H.S. Phoolka, the author of When a Tree Shook Delhi: The 1984 Carnage and its Aftermath, and the lawyer working for the victims of the 1984 riots had this to say on Rahul Gandhi's statement on 1984 and 2002 riots:

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 28, 2014 AT 17:21 IST, Edited At: Jan 28, 2014 17:21 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 29, 2012 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 29, 2012 23:40 IST

Of the many TV shows, documentaries and discussions, the Last Word with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN stood out, which discussed: Whether Narendra Modi still faces serious questions about his alleged role Is he the best administrator in the country? Or can both coincide?

Excerpts:

Karan Thapar: Does the good administration image wash away his role in 2002 or does it simply reveal that here we have a schizophrenic or Janus-like personality? 

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 29, 2012 AT 23:40 IST, Edited At: Feb 29, 2012 23:40 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 28, 2012 AT 23:31 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 28, 2012 23:31 IST

Christophe Jaffrelot in the Indian Express: The Modi Message:

Ten years after the 2002 carnage, in spite of repeated attempts by the Supreme Court and the determination of the victims as well as (suspended) policemen, NGOs and media persons, justice has not been delivered and reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims has not taken place in Gujarat. Whatever happens to Chief Minister Narendra Modi legally, he has already been held guilty on several counts, regarding violence of an unprecedented magnitude since Partition; he has not punished the policemen who let the massacres take place. On the contrary, they have been promoted; he has not given Muslim victims and their kin the compensation to which they were entitled and he has never apologised to the Muslim citizens of his state. In spite of that, he remains the strongest political leader of Gujarat and may also become an all-India leader.

Harsh Mander in the Hindustan Times: I am still able to hope

Today much of that grief persists, because of the many great failures of these 10 years after the massacre: the profound social failures of reconciliation and forgiveness; the legal failures of justice; and the political failures of democratic accountability. Those responsible for mass crimes and continuing persecution of minorities stand unpunished and defiant. I mourn also that leaders of industry, political parties, even social movements, celebrate the administration in Gujarat. They claim that the ‘bigger picture’ is of economic growth, administrative efficiency and alleged financial probity, rendering insignificant the ‘smaller picture’ of mere massacre and profiling.

I have not met a single survivor who has been able to regain the levels of living which they enjoyed before the carnage. Memories of how life was before the storm haunt them each day; of all that they lost that can never be reclaimed. Around half the 200,000 people who fled murderous mobs and burning homes 10 years ago can never return to the lands of their birth. Entire villages have been ‘cleansed’ of their erstwhile Muslim residents.

Around 30,000 persons subsist in small bare tenements in relief colonies built by mainly Muslim organisations as temporary settlements of refuge, but now their permanent homes. Others who could afford it have moved into the safety of numbers in crowded Muslim ghettoes. They were forced to sell their lands and properties at distress rates to their Hindu neighbours. The state remains openly hostile to these Muslim settlements, and discriminates in basic public services like drinking water, roads, electrification and sewerage.

Farah Naqvi in the Hindu: The battle against forgetting 

People say — “move on, get a life, why do activists keep raking up this ‘unpleasant' past? It's been 10 years.” Why? Because if we settle for the past as some would like it scripted, we threaten the meaning of our present, and endanger our future. These contestations are not just about many battles in courtrooms that must be waged. The contestation is about the meaning of citizenship. It is about the relationship between citizen and State. It is about challenging State impunity. Gujarat is the battle for collective memory against forgetting because it is ultimately the battle for the idea of India.

In 1950, India made a constitutional promise to protect the rights of its minorities to live with dignity and with full rights of citizenship. Time and again, that sacred promise has been violated — in Delhi, Nellie, Meerut, Bhagalpur, Hashimpura, Kandhamal, Gujarat and most recently in Gopalgarh (Sept. 2011). In each case, innocents were murdered, maimed, sexually assaulted, burnt out of hearth and home, scattered to the winds, simply because of their minority identity, because of who they were. In each episode of targeted violence, the officers of the State acted in a biased manner, failing in their duty to protect, to prosecute, and to give justice. How long can this go on? How long will those in political power use the might of the State, the guns, and the police, and sirens against one group of citizens and get away with it? Institutional biases of the State machinery cannot be acceptable in any civilised democracy — that is the lesson of Gujarat.

Shiv Visvanathan in the Asian Age: Godhra, Meet Me at Gulberg

For us, the law is a claim to sanity. The law as a rule of law is a protection against majority politics. For us the law is a guarantee that those who threaten us are still subject to the law. The law is a guarantee that even the policeman and the bureaucrat are under the law. When the law lets us down, then the survivor becomes truly homeless.

There is something about the language of riots that hurts. The politicians say things are normal, that we must forget, that we must all develop together. We want normalcy and we want development. Come to our transit camps and explain why transit is a word for a place that is 10 years old today. Explain what transit means to children who were born there and know no other life. Forget justice, give us tap water, jobs, a guarantee that you will not repeat this on our children and we are ready to move on.

This is why many of us meet at Gulberg today. Gulberg was a scene of mass murder.

Gulberg is all of us. It demands from you an ethics of memory, a code of honour and our rights as citizens. Till then, the houses at Gulberg stand empty to remind you of the emptiness in our lives. Gulberg, as it stands, is the beginning of the sadbhavana yatra. The path to healing begins with truth. This means no chief minister, no special investigation team, no majority can destroy the citizenship of survival as a community of truth.

Vinod K Jose in the Caravan: The Emperor Uncrowned

Shortly before I left Gujarat, one RSS leader described his own feelings in a bitter sigh: “Shivling mein bichhu baitha hai. Na usko haath se utaar sakte ho, na usko joota maar sakte ho.” A scorpion is sitting on Shivling, the holy phallus of Lord Shiva. It can neither be removed by hand nor slapped with a shoe.

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 28, 2012 AT 23:31 IST, Edited At: Feb 28, 2012 23:31 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 27, 2012 AT 03:10 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 27, 2012 03:10 IST

Predictably, the short 25 questions in Dear Narendrabhai, Could You Please... has resulted in howls and whines of protest. Mr Shashi Shekhar, who writes the blog Offstumped, alleged on Twitter that these questions are an " obsession of the media to establish a conspiracy" rather than "establish the truth". I responded that I disagreed but that any honest attempt to answer these questions was welcome. 

He has responded on his blog, with detailed, point by point "rejoinders". While these appear to be nothing more than an exercise in obfuscation, but because he has taken the trouble, instead of ignoring, shortening or paraphrasing, I provide below the original question, his rejoinder in full and then my quick response in red:

Question #1 – Mr Modi, in an interview on March 1, 2002, to Zee TV you said about the post-Godhra riots, “A chain of action and reaction is going on. We want that neither should there be action, nor reaction.” Don’t such statements echo the ‘earth-shaking’ rationalisations offered by Rajiv Gandhi after the 1984 riots?

Offstumped Rejoinder:  How is this rationalization, it was a statement of fact if one pays attention to the ground situation as of 1st March 2002.

Reporting on the events of 1st March 2002, The Hindu newspaper on its front page in the edition dated 2nd March 2002 had its own version of “Action-Reaction” (ironical since S. Varadarajan made such a big deal about it, perhaps failed to look at his own paper’s Newtonian reportage):

“Despite the imposition of indefinite curfew, sporadic incidents of violence, group clashes and stoning continued throughout the night and during the day today in the walled city and labour-dominated eastern parts of Ahmedabad. But unlike Thursday when one community was entirely at the receiving end, the minority backlash 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. But there were no reports of casualty. Pitched battle was continuing between the two communities late in the evening.”

SD response: The March 1 interview which is referred above provides the context of what Mr Modi was referring to. My original question had to be edited down for the print magazine because of reasons of space. Mr Modi is not referring to "stone pelting" etc in Ahmedabad but, as he himself spells out in that interview: 

‘people from the Godhra area have criminal tendencies and had earlier killed lady teachers also and now they have committed this heinous crime, for which the reaction is being felt.’

Is this a statement of fact when the charge is that his administration was complicit in the "ground situation" that followed - for which the "reaction is being felt"? 

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 27, 2012 AT 03:10 IST, Edited At: Feb 27, 2012 03:10 IST
     
 
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