Alok Bhatt
Thoughts on Naroda-Patiya Verdict
This article originally appeared in centreright.in. CRI content has now been subsumed in swarajyamag.com. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of swarajyamag.com

Verdict for Naroda-Patiya has been pronounced and as court has delivered justice to riot victims. The reaction to court verdict on all sides is on expected lines with Teesta brigade (of riot cottage industry) hailing this as closure for riot victims; the secular brigade sees this as victory of Indian democracy & justice delivery system while Hindu right, though aggrieved has reacted in a muted manner while pressing for the need for similar justice to victims of 84-riots, Marad killings and the brutal killing, rape and ethnic cleansing of 5 lakhs Kashmiri pundits at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists.

Here it is important to note that no one has lambasted courts for punishing the guilty for Naroda-Patiya; something that you would often see or hear whenever courts takes a decision that is not agreeable to members of Teesta brigade or secular elites of this country. Given their conflicting  reactions, it won’t be futile to say that the verdict in all Gujarat riot cases is pre-decided and what Teesta & Secular brigade wants is nothing but the stamp of court’s approval. If it comes to their satisfaction, it will always be hailed as triumph of Indian justice delivery system and in those cases where courts chooses otherwise, Gujarat riot victims will continue to inspire them to meet their own ends of justice.

That said; let me now move to my next argument. Till date, we have always analyzed Gujarat riots from the prism of Muslim victimhood and no credence has ever been given to the fact that it was the burning of 57 hapless Ayodhya travelers aboard Sabarmati Express in Godhara which precipitated the unfortunate chain of reactionary violence. Yes, time and again we have read and heard about Zaheera Sheikhs, Kausar Bano (incidentally now proved that ghastly and mindless violent act believed to have been heaped on her never took place) or Qutubuddin Ansaris etc; however no one has ever heard the names of those 57 people burnt alive inside Coach-S6 or seen any interviews of the next of their kith and kin. If UPA government had its way, they would have by now painted the entire Godhara train burning as a handiwork of Hindu right to justify Gujarat that was to take place in future after that train burning! Wow, imagination needs no wings when pursuing M-votes.

Let us now imagine a scenario where Gujarat had remained peaceful post Godhara train burning. However, in order to create such scenario, it is extremely important to take you back to the November month of 1984. The unfortunate events of that month were the 1st recorded instance of the state sanctioned pogrom-dare I used that word as it was nothing but an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, Sikhs in this case- by the Congress goons. I need not go into the how and why of that shameful blot on India’s independent history. Needless to mention that, those organized acts of brutality against Sikhs ended up alienating the majority of that community. What followed thereafter was equally tragic as orthodox elements of the community-every community has that- leveraged that seething and pent-up anger and hate of the youth towards the state to the hilt thus throwing the country into turmoil. Scores of people lost their lives, properties worth thousands of crores was lost, an entire generation lost their childhood and youth to mindless circle of violence and it took more than a decade for situation to come back to normal. Why? The reason lied in the fact that entire community felt outraged and wronged by the state and it just couldn’t find any outlet for that anger. It was far easier to brain-wash those youths and for more tough to reason with them. Denial of justice to riot victims didn’t help cause either. If I were to extrapolate Sikh situation into Gujarat-post Godhara, it won’t be difficult to imagine the consequences. Yes, Godhara visuals would have been a ready fodder to attract and brain wash Hindus into believing that they were wronged by the state. As 84 had shown, riot victims in India have never got justice and it would be safe to assume that even Godhara victims wouldn’t have got justice either. The orthodox elements of Hindu right would have got a free ride and situation would have become far more explosive than it is today. My point is that yes whatever happened in Gujarat in 2002 was tragic, reprehensible and unavoidable. However, had that not happened, situation would have been far more serious and mindless circle of violence would have had many concentric circles, closely entangled with Godhara.

Last but not the least, someone would argue whatever logic I have applied to Hindus and Sikhs would apply to Muslims as well. Answer is NO. History and even recent Indian history is replete with incidents where Muslims in India have revolted against the state or resorted to violence on events that were completely unrelated to the country. Whether it is the case of banning of The Satanic Verses or American attack on Iraq or publication of Prophet cartoons in Denmark, Islamists have never found it tough to mobilize Muslim youths. Victim-hood pervades across majority of the followers and it is extremely easy to make them believe as victims, when they themselves are the perpetrators. Gujarat is an example as but for Godhara, there would have been no Gujarat 2002. Justice or no justice, Muslims will continue to feel victims!

Image Courtesy- Indian Express