‘How do you make a line smaller without touching it?’ is a question which kids use while playing games. It is a sort of a children’s equivalent of an IQ test. It would be more appropriate to rephrase it as ‘How do you make a line appear smaller without touching it?’ The answer would of course be ‘by drawing a larger line adjacent to it.’
Why would adults play a kids’ game? But they do. They do. Human rights activists do. Intellectuals do. Media analysts do. Politicians do. Social activists do. They do and have been doing it, in spite of the issue under discussion being, as macabre as the butchering of thousands of men, women and children in the national capital. They do although one unnatural death (death by wanton murder) is one too many.
The riots in Gujarat following the burning of a wagon-load of karsevaks in February 2002 could be discussed as a standalone riot. There is another strange aspect to it. It is as if India had no history before 1992 and no history after 2002. Therefore the demolition of the ‘Sri Rama Janma Bhumi – Babri Masjid’ in 1992 and the riots that followed the burning of a wagon-load of karsevaks in 2002 are discussed ad nauseum as standalone incidents as if they had no context. In the case of 2002, only the riots are discussed. The burning of a wagon-load of karsevaks that preceded them is airbrushed as if it never happened. If it was ever mentioned it was done so, as an after-thought. ‘Yes, it happened. Unfortunate.’
When it comes to discussing the Sikh massacres of 1984 (an inconvenient issue that cannot always be avoided), the issue of 2002 had to be invariably invoked as if it was somehow it was the incident that triggered it. Stranger still, even in a discussion about the massacre of 1984, the riots of 2002 become the focal point and the massacre of 1984 an addendum. These are the ways of our secular polity and objective media!
This was the background for Vivek Kaul’s ‘1984 riots: The original ‘maut ka soudagars’ set tone for future’. The issue came back to limelight after the Delhi High Court ordered reopening the Jagdish Tytler case, which, CBI, India’s premier investigation agency sought to bury umpteen times in the last twenty-eight years. It was not due to its ineptitude that the premier investigation agency sought to bury the case but because the oft-quoted dictum ‘the law will take its course’ is applicable only to ordinary mortals but not to the high and mighty. There is a separate jurisprudence for them!
Kaul relies heavily on Ramachandra Guha's book (India After Gandhi –The History of World’s Largest Democracy) to put across his point of view. There are many inaccuracies - deliberate and mala fide - in both Kaul's and Guha's versions. Guha writes, “…The mobs were led by Hindus who lived in and around Delhi…” That the massacre had nothing to do with Hindus or Hinduism has been conveniently ignored. That it was the private revenge of the Congress party was intentionally ignored. That the Congress party’s most cynical, if not macabre game plan was to use the sad incident to derive political dividends by whipping up public hysteria was deliberately not highlighted.
Guha goes on to say, ‘…in Delhi alone more than a thousand Sikhs perished…’ A deliberate attempt, to use Nixon’s famous phrase, to economize with the truth! The fact was, in Delhi more than 3000 Sikhs were butchered and 5000-7000 more were killed in the other parts of the country.
It is at this point Kaul tries to draw his ‘Gujarat 2002 larger line’ to make ‘the 1984 Sikh massacre, the smaller line’. Kaul doubles the number of deaths in the Gujarat riots – off his own bat without any help from Guha! The number of Muslims killed in Gujarat in the 2002 riots was not 2000. It was 790, according to a reply given by a secular Congress Minister of State for Home (MoS, Home) in the Rajya Sabha. There is more to the inappropriate comparison. The 1984 anti-Sikh carnage was a totally one sided affair, truly a genocide, to use a word often inappropriately applied to the Gujarat 2002 riots. In the riots that followed the burning of a wagon-load of karsevaks, 254 Hindus were killed. The number of Hindus dead is a matter of no consequence for secular writers and hence no mention was ever made of them.
Guha’s specious argument about unnamed Karsevaks ‘getting into a fight with Muslim vendors at the Godhra railway station’ as a reason for burning down a whole compartment of Hindus, more than half of whom were women and children is another spin of sick secular minds. This mauling of facts often resorted to by the secular mob since 2002 is a deliberate insult to the common sense of – well, the common man. Do platform vendors routinely store hundreds of gallons of petrol anticipating altercations over a few rupees with their customers, and do they routinely burn customers to teach them a lesson?
While the central government in Delhi deliberately delayed the deployment of the army in 1984 till the blood-lust of the dynasty was satisfied, the army was called in Gujarat in 2002 within 48 hours. (There were no four days between February 27 and March 1 as some over-zealous, motivated commentators tried to make out!) While the accuracy of Rajiv Gandhi’s ‘the earth trembles when a big tree falls’ statement has been fairly well established, the Gujarat Chief Minister’s statement following the riots was deliberately distorted to paint him as a bloodthirsty tyrant.
Another detail which the article deliberately glosses over was that in the Delhi massacre, senior Congress leaders like H. K. L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler led the murderous mobs from the front. The fact that Congress workers were as much part of the Gujarat riots as members of the BJP is too inconvenient for the secular brigade to be bothered about.