Revisiting Gujarat

It’s natural that history is written, rejected and rewritten. The spirit of inquiry is never-diminishing and every generation takes a critical look at the deeds of the past. A BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots raised a hue and cry in India and it was blocked by the central government, saying it was an “attempt to cast aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court.” This is far-fetched. The documentary directly targets Prime Minister Modi for his alleged omissions and commissions as Gujarat chief minister during the days of the bloodletting. That over 2000 persons, largely Muslims, died in the carnage is no small matter. Human rights issues were involved. The Supreme Court has exonerated Modi of any wrongdoing, after nearly 20 years — a delay the Indian judicial system is notorious for. The verdict was passed in 2021 when Modi was the PM and an appeal was rejected the next year. For India, the matter ends there. But, it is illogical to expect the world or the global media, or researchers, to not delve into aspects linked to the riots or treat those as bygones. Our systems should have the strength to bear with criticism and close scrutiny. The beauty of democracy is also that it is where ideas clash, resulting in a process of perfection of views and concepts.
History is not Gospel Truth. It is constantly under scrutiny as those who write it are humans. Motivated distortion of what had really happened on the ground is likely. Many truths, therefore, lie buried in the annals of history. It is by painstaking investigations that truth has a chance to surface. The present BBC documentary, ejected even from YouTube following protests by India, was based on a secret investigation by the UK shortly after the riots. The Indian media too had blamed Modi for allowing the situation to go out of hand.
Be that as it may, the overzealousness being displayed by the pro-Left student organisations in University of Hyderabad, followed by such an effort in JNU, Delhi, to screen parts of the documentary, were part of the nefarious attempts by the Left to whip up the feelings of Muslims against PM Modi and the BJP. The Left has little on the positive side to project about itself; and its leaders’ styles are out of tune with the times. From a pro-poor stance, they have narrowed their focus to a pro-Mulsim, anti-BJP charade. India, the liberal democracy, allows all shades of opinion to “indulge,” but this should not be at the cost of national interests.

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