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Its soon going to be six years since the Gujarat carnage took place in our ‘Democracy’. The actions we have seen so far have not been surprising. The Chief Minister gets re-elected, none of the people who arranged the attack on the muslims have been prosecuted yet and off late, the Court yells at one person who has been instrumental in getting justice to the victims of the carnage.

Let me begin by re-counting some of the incidents to most of my readers. The Tehelka issue on the Gujarat riots have been quite helpful in helping most of us re-visit the events. For people like Babu Bajrangi, the magazine is his worst nightmare. Surely it should be so when he is caught in the sting operation which giving an account of the Naroda Patiya massacre.

“Kauser Bano, was nine months pregnant that day. Her belly was torn apart and her foetus wrenched out, held aloft on the tip of a sword, then dashed to the ground and flung into the fire. Bajrangi recounts how he ripped apart “ek who pregnant b******d sala”; how he showed the Muslims the meaning of wrath – ‘if you harm us, we can respond- we’re no khichadi kadhi lot”


Then there’s also 22 year old Sufiya Bano who was raped and burnt in front of her father and when the father and three sons went to save her, the sons were killed and the father beard was cut off.


Naroda is an open area with a large pit that is actually a cul de sac – a slope leads into it from one side but the other side is a sheer rise that cannot be scaled. Several muslims had sheltered there; the mob surrounded the pit, poured fuel into it and set it afire. Around 200 people have said to have died in it.

Without going further in recounting these horrid tales, it must be stated that the action taken against those who were involved(hindus) in these crimes is as good as nil. On the other hand, the Supreme Court has denied bail to each of the 84 accused (muslims) of the burning of the Sabarmati express and all of them have been in jail for the past six years.

This is the irony of the Indian governance system. We are told that we are a democracy where everyone’s rights would be protected and there shall be no arbitrariness involved but on the other hand, communalism has penetrated so deep within us, that it is evident in the everyday actions of our Government. Most of the muslims in Ahmedabad still live in ghettos with inadequate facilities of water and electricity while Modi and his compatriots manage to come to power on the pedestal of “Gujarat Shining”.

Now when most of these issues are highlighted by Teesta Setalvad in an article, she gets a highly critical reaction from the Court. Well the article highlighted the fact that the Supreme Court had not done enough to deliver justice to the victims of the Gujarat riots and in fact was delaying the hearing time and again and not giving it much importance. This in a country where the Court has held that “Justice delayed is at par with Justice denied”. She also raised the following questions;

  • · Can no questions be asked about the systems in operation in the Supreme Court of India?
  • · Which matters get automatic priority and which do not?
  • · Which matters suffer because of the delays and interim orders of the Supreme Court?
  • · Is there no prioritization of cases where issues of personal liberty, denial of basic fundamental rights, mass crimes and impunity to the rich and powerful is concerned?
    If we can ask no questions, we will receive no answers.
  • · The time has come to question the basic accountability procedures of the highest court in the land.
    Has the Supreme Court of India lost its soul and is it turning a blind eye to cases related to fundamental rights violations?
  • · If so, where then do we turn?

In reply, when the Court was to hear the case on the 16th of this month, the Court was apparently fuming over the article and went to the extent of asking the lawyers whether they had any association with Teesta and if so, that they wouldn’t be hearing the petition. Well, quite juvenile I must say in a land where free speech is a highly cherished ideal.

So while the we enter the Sixth year since the riots took place, a lot of questions are raised about the efficiency of the administration in maintaining order and securing justice to the victims. In addition to this, it is disheartening to point out that even still we don’t have a law dealing with mass crimes in India and the Communal Violence Bill has not yet been passed. Like I said earlier, the irony of Indian democracy.

(See articles in the hyperlinks provided in the text)

Now playing: Neil Young – We r in control
via FoxyTunes

The recent events in Gujarat are tattering to an Indian’s heart. It’s not just the Tehelka tapes that have come out in the open; the banning of TV news channels in Gujarat, disgusting comments by the Press and politicians are all a consequence of it which further saddens me.

Mirza in an wonderful read pens down the responses,

BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said “This sting has rendered Tehelka as the investigative wing of the Congress”. BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said “Definitely the sting operation and its content are suspect, because we are aware for sometime that there are detractors against Modi in Gujarat and there is the Congress party, which has lost all ground in the state.” They talk about everything but not about the inhuman brutality. Vir Sanghvi wrote very aptly regarding this in 2002 “I was not surprised when the political establishment scrambled to look for conspiracies: the CIA was behind it, the ISI sponsored Tehelka…My point then, as now, was simple enough: let us first deal with the revelations and then worry about Tarun’s so-called backers.”

Today Chandan Mitra, the editor of the 143 year old newspaper Pioneer and a BJP supported Rajya Sabha MP, invoked the third and the fifth point; Modi has won various elections and why do you take out dead issues now. This is the editor of one of the oldest national newspapers of India! In which moral system and when was justice decided by the street? If someone wins elections does it exonerate them? Mr. Mitra, is the state of journalism going down to this level in India? And since when did we start forgetting about injustices on the pretext of moving ahead? Should we have said the same to the Sikhs who were hounded in 1984? Should we have said the same to the utterly vulnerable Jews who were brutalized and killed in millions by the Nazis? That it will be all decided in the court of law and forget about it in the social aspect.

When I myself went to Ahmedabad last december, I was shocked to learn about and see the ghettoization of the Muslims; rich and the poor in the officially put ‘world class city’. But the other issue was, whoever I met (hindus only), were sort of equating Modi to Gabriel as a messenger of god.

And what about free speech? The governments decision to ban all the TV channels that showed the news clip is now a rider to the free speech clause in the Constitution. Hah! gone are the days when Article 19 1(a) was the ultimate sword for the press. If my readers are interested, I’d request you to read Express Newspapers v. Union of India; an amazing case that exposed the link between Gov action and free speech in 1985 and the Delhi riots. (A related article here)

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Banned by the censors, rejected by Mumbai International film festival, now being awarded by the President of India! 


In the just announced 53rd National Film Awards, Rakesh Sharma’s internationally-acclaimed documentary Final Solution about the Gujarat carnage has been given the Special Jury award comprising a Rajat Kamal and a cash prize of Rs Ten Thousand. The Jury awarded the film “for its powerful, hard-hitting documentation with a brutally honest approach lending incisive insights into the Godhra incident, its aftermath and the abetment of large scale violence”. (

Said Rakesh Sharma, “Final Solution itself is a perfect illustration of why there should be no censorship for documentaries. The President of India is now recognizing the film for its merit and excellence. Curiously, in sharp contrast to the National Film Award Jury, the CBFC (censor board), while banning the same film in 2004 had observed that the film “promotes communal disharmony among Hindu and Muslim groups and presents the picture of Gujarat riots in a way that it may arouse communal feelings and clashes among Hindu Muslim groups.” According to the CBFC, the film “attacks the basic concept of our Republic i.e. National Integrity and Unity. Certain dialogues involve defamation of individuals or body of individuals. Entire picturisation is highly provocative and may trigger off unrest and communal violence. State security is jeopardized and public order is endangered if this film is shown…. ” Widespread public outcry and protest campaigns led the CBFC to clear the film without a single cut in Oct 2004. Both the ban and CBFC’s subsequent clearance came during the UPA’s regime.

Ironically, the government-run Mumbai International film festival (MIFF) rejected the same film on the grounds that it wasn’t good enough, refusing even to screen the film, let alone allow it in Competition! However, the week after MIFF, Final Solution created history at Berlin by winning two awards, including the Wolfgang Statudte award, never given before to a documentary film!

Reacting to the National award itself, Rakesh Sharma said, “I am delighted and saddened at the same time. Delighted because after 30 international awards for my last two films, this is my first National Award! Delighted also as now Doordarshan will telecast the film to a wider audience in view of its policy convention and judgements by the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court. Saddened because the ugly shadow of censorship continues to mark the National Film Awards, leading to its boycott by a section of documentary film-makers.”

Stressed Rakesh Sharma, “When an arm of the Government of India honours the film while another arm harasses the film-maker and then bans the film, it makes the Indian State appear schizophrenic. I hope the Government will do away with censorship for documentaries, especially in view of its stated commitment to Right to Information as well as Freedom of Expression. Documentaries should instead be brought under the purview of the Press Council of India – after all, what is the difference between an NDTV special report on Gujarat riots and Final Solution? A ban on Final Solution seems absurd! Police action to prevent screenings of documentaries seems totally farcical. There is no space for such censorship in a mature Democracy – I urge sections of civil society to join us in our campaign against censorship of documentaries.”

Final Solution is a study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat during the period Feb/March 2002 – July 2003, the film graphically documents the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 genocide of Moslems in Gujarat. Final Solution is anti-hate/ violence as ” those who forget history are condemned to relive it “.

The film has over 20 international awards and has been screened at over 80 international film festivals (details below and on These include two awards at its premiere at the Berlin International film festival and the prestigious Index on Censorship award in 2005
Final Solution (India; 2004; DVD; 149 minutes)

  • Wolfgang Staudte award & Special Jury Award (Netpac), Berlin International film festival (2004)
  • Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Documentary, HongKong International film festival (2004)
  • Montgolfiere d’Or (Best Documentary) & Le Prix Fip/Pil’ du Public (Audience award), Festival des 3 Continents at Nantes (France; 2004)
  • Best Film, Freedom of Expression awards by Index on Censorship (UK ; 2005)
  • Silver Dhow, Zanzibar International film festival (2004)
  • Best documentary, Big MiniDV (USA; 2004)
  • Special Jury Award, Karafest (Karachi; 2004)
  • Special Jury Award, Film South Asia (Kathmandu; 2005)
  • Human Rights Award, Docupolis (Barcelona; 2005)
  • Special Jury Mention, Munich Dokfest (2004)
  • Special Jury Mention, Bangkok International filmfest (2005)
  • Nominee, Best Foreign Film, Grierson Awards (UK; 2004)
  • Best Documentary, Apsara Awards (India;2006)
  • Special Award by NRIs for a Secular and Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI), NY-NJ, USA (2004)
  • Special Award by AFMI, USA-Canada (2004)
  • Special Jury Award, Worldfest 2005 (Houston)
  • Special Jury Award, Mar Del Plata Independent film festival (2005; Argentina)

Screened at over 80 international film festivals.

Rakesh Sharma: A brief profile : Rakesh Sharma began his film/TV career in 1986 as an assistant director on Shyam Benegal’s Discovery of India. His broadcast industry experience includes the set up/ launch of 3 broadcast channels in India: Channel [V], Star Plus and Vijay TV and several production consultancy assignments. He returned to independent documentary film-making in 2001. His first independent film Aftershocks : The Rough Guide to Democracy has been screened at over 100 international film festivals.

It got the Best documentary film award at Fribourg, Big Mini-DV and at Jeevika ( India) and won 8 other awards {including the Robert Flaherty prize}at various festivals in USA and Europe during 2002-03. His latest film Final Solution deals with the politics of hate. It has been screened at over 80 filmfests and has over 20 awards ( Berlin, HonKong, Karachi, Zanzibar, Index on Censorship etc). Both films were rejected by the government-run Mumbai International film festival in 2002 and 2004 respectively.

Asghar Ali Engineer *Article here

ive years have past since the Gujarat carnage of February 28 2002 which lasted over six months. The carnage followed the burning of S-6 at Godhra on 27th February. It is great mystery as to who set fire to S-6 or was it an accidental fire? Before even news spread all over India of this ghastly incident at Godhra in which 59 persons were burnt, Ahmedabad city started burning on the morning of 28th February. In the post-Godhra carnage in central and north Gujarat more than 2000 persons, mostly of minority origin, were killed most brutally. Several women were raped and weapons inserted in their private parts.

The then NDA Government at the Centre and Modi in Gujarat maintained that S-6 was set afire as a result of conspiracy hatched by the ISI of Pakistan with the help of some Muslims in Godhra. The Modi Government arrested about 100 persons under POTA which was then in force. However, during last five years the Modi Government has not been able to produce an iota of proof against the accused in the ‘Godhra conspiracy case.’

The POTA review committee opined last year that there are no substantial grounds for keeping the accused under the POTA but even then the Modi Government refused to release these accused.

It is real mystery as to who set fire to the coach S-6 or was it an accidental fire. The Banerjee Commission set up by Shri Lalu Prasad, the Railway Minister in the UPA Government concluded that the fire was result of short circuit inside S-6 and there is no evidence for setting fire from outside. Mr. Mukul Sinha, the defense lawyer thinks that fire was result of bursting of cooking stove carried by karsevaks had gone on long tour to Ayodhya. The Shah-Nanvati Commission, which is also probing in the train burning at Godhra has still not published its report. One wonders what conclusion it would draw.

Before even the cause of fire was known Modi pronounced the theory of ‘equal and opposite reaction’ and justified the carnage in Gujarat on the very first day the carnage began. Modi also insisted on carrying the dead bodies of Godhra train tragedy in procession in Ahmedabad thus providing direct provocation for the carnage. No administration, let alone a chief minister, would permit dead bodies of those killed in any sensitive communal incident to be taken out in procession as it acts as direct provocation for more violence. But Modi wanted precisely that.

The Gujarat carnage of 2002 was very different from other riots in post-independence India for following reasons:

  1. In no other riot in post-independence period chief minister directly provided justification for massacre as Modi himself did. There have been instances of chief minister not effectively quelling the riots but never of justifying them.
  2. In no other riot ministers and police officers led the marauding mob. In case of Gujarat carnage many eye witnesses named two ministers including Mr. Zadaphiya, the then Minister of state for Home involved in directing the marauding mobs. He even entered the police control room and directed the police what to do. His cell numbers also have been recorded. No outsider is ever allowed in police control rooms.
  3. In no other riots police officers have been transferred for effectively controlling communal violence. In Gujarat 2002 several honest and committed police officers were transferred on this ground and soon after their transfer riots broke out in that region.
  4. In no other riots refugee camps were suddenly closed without providing either alternate accommodation or allowing the refugees to return to their homes and hearth. Modi Government closed the camps without any justification and without providing refugees any alternate accommodation or making arrangements to return to their homes and hearths. Modi while closing down the camps even derisively remarked that I cannot allow ‘baby-producing factories’ to go on, simply because few Muslim women who were pregnant at the time of riots gave birth to babies in refugee camps.

Not only that the refugee camps were closed down even today i.e. five years after the carnage more than 5000 families are rotting in horrifying conditions in various refugee camps. Not only this Modi recently returned more than Rs.19 crore to Central Government saying funds are no more needed as all have been ‘settled’. The victims of Gujarat carnage are unable to return to their original homes as they are still threatened by the VHP activists of the affected villages.

They say that victims would be allowed to return only if they agree to withdraw all cases against the perpetrators of carnage in the village and on condition that they will live in separate quarters like the apartheid and would not give azan on loud speakers. Naturally many victims have refused to agree to these humiliating conditions and are living in most despicable conditions.

What is most shocking is that the Gujarat society is still completely polarised and one sees no signs of repentance among those who indulged in most brutal violence against fellow human beings. They still feel the violence against Muslims was justified. The Sangh Parivar has been carrying on high-pitched hate campaign against minorities even today. Modi needs this campaign to go on as it be used a s political capital in coming assembly elections.

In fact the Gujarat carnage, as it is well known was carried out with the sole purpose of winning the 2002 assembly elections in Gujarat. When the Modi Government won the elections with two-third majority the BJP functionaries celebrated the victory by saying we have found a ‘model’ to win the elections and we will repeat it in other states. Even Mr.Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India when asked for his reaction as to the winning model, he replied ‘will Muslims burn train in other place?’ In other words even Vajpayee found the ‘model’ acceptable.

However, the BJP lost general elections of 2004 and Mr. Vajpayee accepted that NDA Government was defeated mainly because of Gujarat carnage. The people of India who are basically peace-loving and secular rejected the BJP-led NDA Government lest other states should experience such carnage. The BJP is in disarray ever since and has not been able to find yet its political bearings. The BJP and Shiv Sena are the two political parties which, thrive on anti-minority hate campaign. They want to base their victory in elections on hatred against minorities. The Sena Chief Bal Thackaray again made sharp attack on Muslims during the Mumbai Municipal Corporation elections.

Is there any way out? In Gujarat one does not find any way out as of now. What Gujarat needs in healing touch and only civil society can provide it. But as pointed out above, the civil society itself is deeply polarised on communal lines. In South Africa the blacks and coloured had suffered immensely under the White Government. When Nelson Mandela could establish government of people of African origin, he did not seek any revenge and instead set up a truth and justice commission. Bishop Desmond Tutu played very vital role in functioning of the commission. It provided the healing touch.

But one does not see any Desmond Tutu in Gujarat. The civil society is badly divided. In democracy civil a vibrant society can play very important role but when it is itself polarised on communal lines how can it intervene to set things right? Harsh Mandar, who himself is not from Gujarat, but is extremely sensitive soul, is trying his best to bring about some reconciliation is few villages of Gujarat. But it is only a lonely battle of an outsider.

Why the Gujarat society is so polarised today? The BJP has won over dalits, backwards and tribals in its political fold and thus Hindus, despite deep internal cleavages appear to be united. There has never been a strong dalit movement in Gujarat emphasising their own separate identity like in Maharashtra and other states. There has been no reform movement either. Thus in absence of such a movement dalits, backwards and tribals find it politically beneficial to be part of Hindutva parivar.

Only in 1985 the then chief minister of Gujarat Mr. Solanki had made a feeble attempt to unite weaker sections of Gujarat society by forming a KHAM alliance. KHAM stood for kshatriya, harijans, adivasis and Muslims. He gave them reservations as per Bakhshi Commission recommendations and won 1985 assembly elections with two-third majority. However, the BJP saw the red and launched an aggressive movement against KHAM alliance and succeeded in toppling Solanki Government. Solanki also unfortunately did not stand up firmly with the alliance and suspended reservations to save his government.

However, that knocked the ground off the KHAM alliance and except Muslims, other weaker sections sought refuge under the Sangh Parivar. That is the main reason why Sangh parivar has been able to successfully create the illusion of ‘Hindu unity’ and Hindu rashtra. The Congress after Solanki could not stand up and almost willingly conceded ground to the Sangh Parivar. Most of the Congressmen themselves subscribe to Hindutva ideology in Gujarat. It has rightly been described the B-party of BJP.

The BJP has been further helped by the identity crisis among the Gujarati NRIs living in U.K. and USA. They help the Hindutva movement in Gujarat generously through their financial contributions to compensate for their identity crisis. Most of the Gujaratis have struck it rich in USA and satisfy their conscience by supporting the Hindutva movement back home. Taking all this into account there is very little hope in Gujarat for the time being. Let us hope for better days in future.