Of riots and media

It is illuminating to  learn from this Muslim businessman in Kishwar’s book. His account can be independently crosschecked with information in public domain to eliminate the possibility that he might have been sold out. The same person had become a celebrity for taking on Modi and filing a suit against him in International Court.

He says that people choose to forget that the 2002 riots were the culmination of an endless series of riots. The worst after the partition was in 1969 in Ahmedabad in which over 5000 Muslims were killed under the watch of Congress CM Hitendrabhai Desai. Entire community in his area was wiped out. Leave alone punishment, not a single chargesheet was ever filed against the culprits.

Another major riot 1985 preceded by several smaller riots. This went on for months. Congressman Madhavji Solanki was the CM and Rajeev Gandhi was the PM. Between 1985 and 2002, people had come to expect a riot every two or three months. At one time curfew lasted for 200 days.

During 1987 riots Amarsingh Chaudhary of Congress was the CM. 1990 riots happened when Chimanbhai Patel of Congress was the CM. Under his watch riots took place in 1992 as well.

In his words,  during every riot his workshop was burned down, insurance paid paltry sums and leading bank refused loan because of the M factor. The truth is that all earlier (Congress) governments remained indifferent to Muslims. After each riot Hindus helped Muslims. Hindus are 100% non-communal. Only because Hindus are 100% non communal Muslims continued to prosper in Gujarat. All those riots were politically engineered and the Congress party was the chief culprit.

Kishwar’s book tells the story of this businessman and how he decided to meet Modi in London after the riots of 2002 and confront him and what happened. I recommend that you read his account from the book itself.

He found that Modi was willing to listen and solve all problems. Modi set aside his other appointments in London and spent whatever time was needed with this group of Muslims. He was grilled and lectured on the need to ensure justice for all. Modi listened to all this and patiently explained what really had happened during the riots (Modi was just four months in CM job and had inherited an administration which was highly communalized. Please refer to the spate of riots in Congress Chief Ministers’ tenures and that no was even charged) and why it had happened. Modi showed willingness to do whatever needed to be done for help and for justice. Modi had also said that some accounts of violence were totally wrong. He had all the details.

According to this Muslim businessman, the 2002 riots were brought under control in just three days whereas the riots in all earlier regimes burned for months. (Can you draw parallels with the Muzzafarnagar riots in UP and Assam riots this year which raged for long time one under SP rule and the other under Congress rule? ) Modi had to deal with an administration which was thoroughly communalized. BJP, VHP, and Bajarang Dal had patronized Hindu dons while the Congress had patronized Muslim mafias. These organised criminal syndicates  functioned with impunity due to political patronage.

There are many accounts in this book how Modi helped and ensured protection of whosoever asked for help and how he was always approachable. (His office would call back to fix appointments) You must read them as well. There also are also many accounts of how Congress Chief Ministers of Gujarat and even PM Narasimha Rao cold shouldered Muslim delegations who had gone for help from time to time.  You must read this.

The Muslim businessman also explains how Modi’s Government removed the license-raj for schools and how this helped them in launching education drive among Muslims.

We know how Modi cut the troublemaker Togadia to size, how he prevented entry into BJP of the likes of Mutalik. We also remember how he asked his own party leaders not deviate from development agenda during an election campaign when he was under a vicious attack.

Media should have brought out the above facts impartially along with Modi’s alleged single failure related to 2002 riots. By playing up Modi’s alleged single failure very aggressively  and by suppressing many of his ground level achievements and by suppressing the role of Congress as a prime culprit for riots the main stream media has rendered a big disservice to us.

The main stream media are further compounding this by continuing with their improper reporting, for instance in case of recent disturbances in Pune. Media failed to ask the Police about their failure in controlling the mobs and of apprehending people with criminal records. Media failed ask the State Home Minister and Chief Minister about the riots and the murder. Media reports intelligence failure. Who should be held accountable for this?

The media have been spreading a ‘theory’ that BJP’s wining the election has emboldened the ‘right-wing fanatics’. What has the ‘secular’ state government been doing? Who encouraged killing of BJP workers in West Bengal? Who encouraged riots in Assam?

The problem for us citizens is that there is no counter to the media’s misinformation campaign.  We remain in dark until someone like Madhu Kishwar takes huge efforts to discover ground level facts, record them and present them. We voted for Modi despite media being against him, because of his huge and indefatigable campaign to reach us with his development agenda, his track record, his sincerity, work by BJP and RSS cadres and some concerted activism of his supporters on social media. But now he is and will be busy with governance. Who will tell us what really is happening?

The Congress has built a system of favors and disfavors which has ensured that only one voice is heard despite a large number of publications. This eco-system is deeply entrenched and it is at work even now.

The challenge to our freedom of expression is, ironically, the main stream media. The same media whose freedom we guard zealously. What should we be doing?

 

 

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