Gujarat Riots: Will Modi follow Manmohan?

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By Mumtaz Alam, Abu Zafar, India Tomorrow,

New Delhi, 20 May 2014: The 82-year-old finance executive had little to do with politics when he became prime minister of the country, had no role – direct or indirect – with the 1984 anti-Sikh riot and none of the victims, human rights organizations or political opposition had remotely blamed him for the gruesome killing of around 3000 Sikhs in the wake of the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Yet, when Dr. Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister of the country he thought it necessary to offer a sincere apology for the pogrom. Will 63-year-old RSS pracharak-turned politician Narendra Modi follow him for the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riot?

Compared to Manmohan, Modi was not just ruling Gujarat when over 2000 innocent Muslims were killed in one of the bloodies anti-Muslim riots of Independent India, he has in fact been accused for first facilitating the riot, turning Nelson’s eye when Gujarat was burning and then protecting the culprits when they were brought to book.

Since the riot 12 years ago, many people have been asking him to apologise for the killings even though many many others said apology is not enough – first culprits however tall they should be punished, and victims should be given full justice. But Modi has always refused sometimes directly and sometimes diplomatically to offer any apology.

His so-far attitude may have been because he did not want to antagonise saffron constituency in Gujarat – which helped him win three assembly polls in a row – and also because he was eying Prime Minister’s post.

Now that the Lok Sabha elections 2014 are over and Narendra Modi is set to become Prime Minister of the country in a week thanks to the impressive landslide victory of his BJP, the question of apology has once again come up. However, neither community leaders nor social activists are hopeful that Modi will show any such statesmanship.

“I would say he will never apologise because he never ever admitted any mistake or administration’s failure,” said Mansi Sharma, a civil rights activist attached to Anhad, an NGO which has been working for civil rights and justice for Gujarat riot victims.

She further said that when Modi did not show any remorse why he will apologise.

“In all his testimonies to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team and to the media he always maintained that he took all right measures in the right time. So when there is no remorse where is the question of apology? asked Sharma.

Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, President, All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat says he doesn’t hope Modi will do it.

“I don’t have even slight expectation that Modi would show statesmanship as Manmohan did. After all, why will Modi apologise when all these 12 years he has been adamant, not hinted any remorse, rather described the riot victims as puppy?” Dr. Khan said.

“Why will he do it when his USP has been such things? We all know how he protected riot accused Babu Bajrangi. His model has been Gujarat. Now he will implement it in rest parts of the country,” said Dr. Khan.

“I do not expect any statesmanship from him. He will only polarise the country as he did in Gujarat where all castes and subcastes of Hindus have lost their distinction and all are Hindus. He may send chador to Dargah Nizamuddin or Ajmer Sharif. He may also call some Muslims over tea and offer them shawls but he will do nothing for the development and progress of the community,” said Dr. Khan who is also Editor of English fortnightly The Milli Gazette.

However, Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Fatehpuri Masjid says this is not the right time for this question, nor is he hopeful for any such apology.

As the CM of Gujarat, should Modi take moral responsibility for the riot and apologise?

“I don’t think so. We should not say this thing at this time and should not be hopeful for any apology. I have given statement against Gujarat incident thousands times and it may be on record also but on this occasion we should not say. The only thing which we should demand is – such incident should not repeat in future,” Mufti Mukarram said.

He also does not like comparison between 1984 Sikh riot and 2002 Gujarat riot and also between Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.

“It (1984 riot) was a matter of Sikhs and he (Manmohan Singh) himself was a Sikh. It was a different case. Here now (in Gujarat’s case) community has changed. And in 1984 riot, the blame was on Congress for rioting. But now he (Modi) has been given clean chit from court and clean chit from everywhere. He is neither an accused nor he belongs to the (victim) community,” said Mufti Mukarram.

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