(BASO Pamphlet, 8th June)
Fascism has always thrived on bending the truth and manufacturing lies– even if they are of mammoth proportions. And when the fascists are in power, the use of the state machinery is extremely crucial towards this end. Some of the biggest open secrets are brushed under the carpet by giving an official sanction to lies and fabrications. One needs to look at some of the recent developments in our country to see how this insidious agenda of the Hindutva fascists is being operationalized today.
14 years after the Gujarat carnage, last week a Special Court finally pronounced a judgment on the Gulbarg Society massacre. On 28th February 2002, in one of the worst massacres during the Gujarat carnage, the Hindutva mob with the able support of the state machinery killed 69 Muslims, including a former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri. Over six hours of the siege of this complex by the mob, Jafri’s several phone calls to several officials, far from providing them with any security only got in return abuses from the then CM Narendra Modi. As the police looked the other way, the mob broke upon the complex, killed en masse those present inside and then burnt several bodies. Ehsan Jafri, in whose house several people had taken shelter thinking that his stature would save them from the organized mayhem, was cut into pieces, stripped naked, killed and then burnt.
The court judgment would however want us to believe that this was no organized or planned attack and the government & the police had no role to play. Out of the 66 accused, 36 have been acquitted and 24 convicted – 11 for murder. As with most other such riots, the foot soldiers have been convicted while the ring leaders have been left scot free – including the sitting BJP corporator Bipin Patel, the former Congress corporator Meghsinh Chaudhari and the then police inspector of the area K.G. Erda. The court also dropped the conspiracy charges against all the accused which amounts to nothing less than a legal sanction to the then ‘action-reaction’ theory through which Modi justified the carnage. The only important conviction is that of VHP leader Atul Vaidya who is one of the 13 convicted of the lesser offences. In acquitting the ring leaders and sidelining the conspiracy charges, the court has willfully overlooked serious evidences:
• How can 11 people without any planning, or state support, attack an entire locality and ‘spontaneously’ kill 69 people?
• Four years back, the court convicted 32 people (including Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani) in the Naroda Patiya massacre where 97 people were killed. While convicting them, the court had made out a clear case of criminal conspiracy and a pre-planned attack which cant just be a reaction to the burning of the kar sevaks in Godhra the previous day. Naroda Patiya is just 4 kms away from Gulbarg society. Were these two massacres that happened at the same time, so close to each other not related? How come one is upheld as a case of criminal conspiracy and the other is not?
• The call records of Babu Bajrangi in jail for his role in the Naroda Patiya massacre show that between 27th February & 1st March 2002, he was in constant touch with Atul Vaidya, convicted of lesser offences in Gulbarg massacre. Does it now show a clear case of planning & coordination?
• Mangilal Jain, one of those convicted by the court, in a sting operation done by Tehelka in 2007 had said that the police inspector in-charge of Meghaninagar police station, KG Erda had told the rioters on that day that they had three to four hours to carry out killings. And Erda arrived to “rescue” the survivors only after the massacre was almost over and then told the mob to dispose of the bodies to reduce the magnitude of the crime. So while a foot soldier has been convicted, the police inspector who oversaw the killings has been let off!
This judgment, however, is a culmination of a process that was set in motion immediately after the riots – destruction of crucial evidences, refusal of naming important figures in FIRs and chargesheets, recording incorrect statements of survivors who were important eye witnesses to these massacres, hounding officers who spoke out against the involvement of government before enquiry commissions and finally the report of Special Ivestigation Team (SIT) that exonerated Modi.
The clean chit to Modi by the SIT that was set up by the Supreme Court on the plea of Ehsan Jafri’s wife Zakia Jafri has been crucial in ensuring those who were in power – including the CM – are shown to be unconnected with the bloodshed in Gulbarg society. This was after all the only case in the Gujarat riots where Modi was directly one of the accused. Far from cross questioning Modi, or looking for other glaring evidences, the SIT in its closure report had taken on face value the claims by Modi that he had received no phone call from Ehsan Jafri on that day and that as the chief minister he had been rather unaware of the attacks on muslims in the state till the night. Despite several people who were survivors in the Gulbarg society massacre naming police officers, including the then commissioner of police, P.C. Pande as being present at the site of the massacre, the SIT neither questioned the CM about the failure of the police to respond with urgency to the situation, nor did it interrogate the claims of officers like Pande that they were not present on that day. On top of it, the final report of the SIT that was submitted to the Ahmedabad magistrate in 2012 (after it had ceased to be monitored by the Supreme Court) had several discrepancies from the previous status reports filed in the previous years by the same SIT to the Supreme Court. The clean chit to Modi by the SIT came at an important time for Narendra Modi paving the way for his projection and subsequent rise to power as the PM.
With a fascist figurehead in Modi at the helm, the attempt today by the Brahmanical Hindtuva fascist forces is to replicate across the country this Gujarat model that has reaped them rich electoral dividends. Today in Dadri, where Akhlaq was lynched in broad day light last year on rumours of storing beef, the Hindutva goons are making open threats of more murder and violence. As for the police, it is exactly doing what it did on that day of Akhlaq’s murder, i.e. looking the other way. This is exactly what they did in Gujarat, in Muzaffarnagar, or in Kandhamal, or during the Mumbai riots and that is their assigned role when the Hindutva goons wreck mayhem.
As it has insidiously unfolded in Gujarat, the investigating agencies as well as the judiciary are also being both used in a synchronized manner to give clean chits to killers and an official sanction to sangh’s political agenda. So, now as elections approach, the latest forensic examination on the one hand changes the meat in Akhlaq’s fridge from mutton to beef overturning previous reports to effect a particular polarization! Simultaneously, the versions around several bomb blasts are also being changed to exonerate the role of sangh outfits and bring back the Gobbelsian propaganda of “Islamist terror networks”. A few days back, in an extremely dangerous development, the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, very close to the sangh, held a closed door meeting with Supreme Court judges seeking their “cooperation” on “national security and global terrorism.”
Before that the public prosecutor Rohini Salian had revealed the pressures on her after the Modi government came to power to go soft on “Hindutva terror”. MCOCA charges were dropped against Pragya Thakur and Colonel Purohit in the Malegaon blasts. In the same vein, now the attempt is to bring back by hook & crook an Islamist link to the Samjhauta blasts sidelining previous investigations which unearthed the role of Hindutva outfits.
Today we are being asked to believe in certain fictitious conspiracies of “Islamist terror”, while other meticulously planned attacks like the Gulbarg society massacre orchestrated in broad light, even as all evidence points to the contrary, are passed off as the work of a few fringe elements unconnected with those in power. But such is the (ill)-logic of fascism!
Irrespective of the party in power, the Indian state machinery has always been used to target minorities, dalits, adivasis and the other oppressed. Just that, today with a full majority inside the parliament, the BJP is using it in a much more brazen manner to push its fascist agenda. But the alternative to that lies not in simply replacing BJP with any other party – who as past history has shown are all too eager to throw away the veneer of their “commitment” to secularism to cater to majoritarian interests. In fact, it is these very forces who though their long history of betrayals and compromises to fascist forces, have created a fertile ground for the rise of the monster of Hindutva fascism. Brahmanical Hindutva fascism cannot simply be voted out of power, and the way ahead lies not in opportunist electoral permutations and combinations but in confronting and defeating these multifarious assaults politically and ideologically through uncompromising on ground struggles!
– Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students’ Organisation