The incident at Godhra and the genocide thereafter exposes a horrifying picture of the human psyche. That humans are capable of such deeds is not unknown, however, a living example brings home the point far more powerfully. The revelations by Tehelka were, for most, not surprising since what was revealed was implicitly understood. News reports during that horrifying period had made the reality quite obvious.
That the ‘riots’ were supported by the establishment was also an easy and logical conclusion. But for a denying lot this was not sufficient. It was also not sufficient to be able to try that faceless mob in a court of law. The Tehelka expose’ did what circumstantial evidence was incapable of doing. It is unlikely that more direct evidence can possibly be brought forward.
The ultimate outcome of this remains to be seen, but what was the immediate one? One would have expected that the state would have immediately initiated the process for bringing these criminals, who have admitted their crimes on camera, to justice. On the contrary what actually transpired was the ban on the news channels airing the expose’. But this was not without reason; the devil’s advocates explained that one could not let the atmosphere be vitiated just before the elections. This would be against electoral morality! Indeed, how could Tehelka make such an ill timed revelation? Do they want people to wake up from their stupor and reflect that in the coming polls? Why should the deaths of a few thousand derail the process of democracy? Democracy is far more important than the ends it has been established for, especially if the murderers are the likely victors.
The tragedy of Gujarat is not merely the incidents of 2002 rather the story that has been repeated since then in the elections held thus far. That the general populace can easily be duped by false promises is a known reality across India and perhaps the world. However, that an entire populace can be so zombied by the fervor of a hate ideology that its conscience can no longer sense the pain and helplessness of another section is a feat that only Hindutva is capable of accomplishing. Such a large section of Gujarati polity has been so deeply desensitized that one wonders whether the thought of justice ever crosses its mind. Was the tradition of justice so weak in the age old Hinduism that fifty years of hate mongering has undone the work of centuries? Are the tales of alleged injustices of an unseen past so intoxicating that the atrocities of the present can be ignored? Or have we become so concerned with economic development that human life is no longer important especially if it happens to be of the ‘other’. Hitler as we all know did bring much economic development to Germany.
The suggestion that it has been so many years and we need to move on is bemusing since it comes from the lips of those who are not able to forget the alleged crimes of a bygone generation. The point however is that process of forgiveness cannot begin till the perpetrators of those crimes continue to go unpunished. The victims can be expected to move on in their lives only once this process is complete. Until then the memory of the horror will continue to linger in the minds of all concerned Indians.
Neither can the argument that the alternatives to the current political dispensation are equally guilty of crimes against humanity be used to comfort ourselves for our continued support to this regime. Cost needs to be imposed on those guilty; otherwise there will be nothing to discourage them from repeating these crimes there or elsewhere. Only an opposing party can bring such people to justice, because until they remain in control of the system they will remain immune. This is the state of our democracy, so let’s face it.
The incident at Godhra was used to fuel this hatred and has been used, since then, to justify those crimes. The Tehelka report also discusses this ‘Diabolic Lie’. Was the burning of the compartment an accident, was it the result of a quarrel between Muslim hawkers and Kar Sevaks or was it a pre-planned crime? Various investigative committees have forwarded differing conclusions. Why then is the last option seen as the only alternative? Why is it that every time the mention of crimes against Muslims of Gujarat is mentioned, the incident of Godhra is drummed up in discussions on television and more viciously on the anonymous discussion rooms of the Internet? Even if one was to assume that the incident was indeed a pre-planned crime, how does its responsibility fall on the shoulders of those murdered and raped in the aftermath? Hopefully those duped by this ideology are aware of some basic rules of justice, that punishments are awarded to the guilty and in due proportion. Killing of two thousand innocent civilians for the murder of fifty seven by a different set of people can certainly not be an example of Ram’s justice. One wonders what Ram would have done to these self proclaimed heirs of his?
The concept of Ram Rajya, the debate on the existence of Ram notwithstanding, is of a state where social justice is the central pillar, where the concern for the welfare of the subjects is a dharma – the Raj Dharma. Can such a state be created over the bodies of civilians who died not knowing their crime? Can this state be established over the helpless cries of children whose flames were blown away by their ‘uncles’ on the street? Can this heaven-on-earth be constructed over the torn bodies of pregnant women lying near the foetuses that they were not allowed to bear? More importantly, can this state be brought into existence by the monsters that unleash this terror?
The answers to these questions are quite simple and straight forward. However, on the part of some us it would take some soul searching and courage to break lose from this circle of hate. But the process would definitely be rewarding, and the end, pleasing. The polls in Gujarat recently have not yielded the desired results (as expected) but this country is longing for the change within us.