Gujarat Riots Verdict: Will Those Who Created An 'Industry Of Lies' Finally Be Made To Pay?

by Aaina - Jun 27, 2022 02:30 PM +05:30 IST
Gujarat Riots Verdict: Will Those Who Created An 'Industry Of Lies' Finally Be Made To Pay?The remains of the Sabarmati Express that was set ablaze. (SEBASTIAN D’SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • The highest court in its order pointed out that the present proceedings were pursued for the last 16 years to keep the 'pot boiling'.

    It added that all those who were involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and dealt with in accordance with the law.

Twenty years of incessant hounding, lies and fabrications against Narendra Modi by a coterie of activists on hire could be credited for contributing to making him the leader he is today. If not for the monumental deceit that was deployed to bring him down, he would not have toughened the way he has and become more determined in his pursuit to serve the nation.

On 24 June, when the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Ehsan Jafri challenging Special Investigation Team’s (SIT’s) closure report, it reignited the memories of a witch-hunt against Modi by a well-oiled propaganda machinery.

The highest court in its order pointed out that the present proceedings were pursued for the last 16 years to keep the 'pot boiling'. It added that all those who were involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and dealt with in accordance with the law.

The court named activist Teesta Setalvad for exploiting the emotions and sentiments of Zakia Jafri, the widow of Ehsan Jafri. Jafri, along with 68 others, was killed by an agitated mob, a day after the carnage of 59 kar sevaks, including women and children, in a pre-planned conspiracy in Godhra.

As recorded by the SIT, nearly a dozen eyewitness accounts told that Ehsan Jafri fired upon the crowd of thousands gathered around Gulbarg Society. It instigated the mob to attack the building with vengeance. Zakri Jafri, who was present in the building, was saved by the police along with 200 others.

However, in 2006, four years after her husband’s death, Zakia Jafri, with support from Setalvad, filed an FIR against 63 people including the chief minister of Gujarat accusing them of hatching a grand conspiracy leading to murders, rapes and riots in the state. All the important details were obliterated, and a new narrative indicting Modi was concocted.

It is to be noted that the FIR did not present any eyewitness account of the event. Instead, as proof, it carried statements given by a handful of officers, holding grudges against the chief minister, to the Shah-Nanavati Commission, which was formed by the Gujarat government immediately after the riots took place. The commission investigated the events leading up to Godhra massacre and examined if any administrative lapses were made to control the subsequent riots that took place.

Even before the commission could come out with its findings, Setalvad jumped into the fray, stitching gruesome tales of brutality against the Muslim minority by the Hindu majority at the behest of Modi-led government in the state. One of the other imaginary tales planted by Setalvad included a pregnant Muslim woman, Kausar Banu’s gangrape by rioters, who then gouged out her foetus with a sword. The gory details were flung and turned into a widely publicised fable, adding to the victimhood narrative of minorities under Modi rule.

These charges were found to be untrue by Supreme Court constituted SIT which told the court that Setalvad “cooked up macabre tales of wanton killings”. She tutored witnesses to give evidence about imaginary incidents. In another instance, famously known as the Best Bakery Case, the witnesses came on record to state that Setalvad offered bribes and even threatened them if they did not give out false statements in front of the investigative agencies.

There were charges levelled against Setalvad for embezzling funds collected in the name of riot victims. The riot victims of Gulbarg society filed an FIR against Setalvad for pocketing crores of funds from foreign NGOs for her own personal use.

But even after multiple agencies and investigations, including the Supreme Court mandated-SIT, gave clean chit to Modi and others, the distorted version of the truth as spread by the likes of Setalvad kept growing. The brazenness with which media personalities, activists, politicians, and academicians repeated the lies turned them into accepted “reality”.

Even when evidence emerged otherwise, the supporters of these “conflict entrepreneurs”, sitting in high places, quickly brushed them aside and instead, inflated the claim with hyperboles such as “maut ka saudagar” used famously by Sonia Gandhi, to describe Modi’s role during the riots.

However, the remarkable resilience displayed by Modi contrasted him with a hate-filled, fraudulent, and politically motivated gang of rabble-rousers. The people of Gujarat stood behind Modi, despite attempts made by his detractors to paint the entire citizenry as communal and bigoted. His popularity continued to rise as he developed his unique style of governance that set him apart from a corruption-ridden Congress at the Centre. He set his own agenda and allowed his work to do the talking.

Not only did Modi cooperate with investigative agencies by appearing before the SIT and answering questions posed to him, but he also ensured that, for the first time, perpetrators were caught and prosecuted for their deeds. It was unprecedented considering in most riot cases, the aggressors go scot-free due to lack of evidence and political patronage.

With the arrest of Setalvad, the prime conspirator of the anti-Modi brigade, a beginning has been made to bring to justice the forces that played politics over dead bodies and in turn, embezzled funds to fund their high-flying lifestyle. However, there are many more who are equally guilty of perpetuating an industry out of human miseries and national shame. They, too, need to be booked for their crimes.

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