This article by Shehzad Poonawalla was originally published on DNA as “Mamata Banerjee calls Narendra Modi ‘butcher of Gujarat’; here are 9 mythbusters on 2002 post-Godhra riots”. It got taken down. Naturally, it finds a home here.For those who have developed “selective and motivated” amnesia about the truths of 2002 riots in Gujarat and are suddenly buying into the myths being perpetrated by Narendra Modi’s PR machinery, here are a few myth-busters to refresh your memory and perhaps your conscience
Myth no 1: Post-Godhra violence was brought under control within 2-3 days by Narendra Modi’s governmentTruth: “The violence in the state, which was initially claimed to have been brought under control in seventy two hours, persisted in varying degree for over two months, the toll in death and destruction rising with the passage of time.” Source: Final Order of the National human Rights Commission chaired by the very respected Justice JS Verma, available here
Myth no 2: Gujarat Police acted fairly by taking action against rioters from every sideTruth: “We women thought of going to police and telling the police as in the presence of police, the houses of Muslims were burnt, but the police told us ‘to go inside, it is doom’s day for Muslims” Source: PW219 testimony which was admitted as part of Naroda Patya judgment that led to conviction of Mayaben Kodnani, Narendra Modi’s cabinet minister who led murderous mobs during 2002 riots. It is available here.
Myth no 3: No conspiracy by the Gujarat government; post-Godhra violence was a spontaneous reactionTruth: “A key state minister is reported to have taken over a police control room in Ahmedabad on the first day of the carnage, issuing directions not to rescue Muslims in danger of being killed.” “Voter lists were also reportedly used to identify and target Muslim community members” Source: Report of Human Rights Watch, April 2002, Vol. 14, No. 3(C). Available here
Myth no 4: Modi allowed a fair prosecution of those accused in rioting and hence even his cabinet colleague Mayaben Kodnani was convictedTruth: “The modern day ‘Neros’ were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected.” “Law and justice become flies in the hands of these “wanton boys”. When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice. Public order as well as public interest become martyrs and monuments.” “From the facts stated above, it appears that accused wants to frustrate the prosecution by unjustified means and it appears that by one way or the other the Addl. Sessions Judge as well as the APP (Shri Raghuvir Pandya, the public prosecutor in this case at the time was a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contested elections from Ward 20, Vadodara in the 1996 Corporation Elections on a BJP ticket!) have not taken any interest in discharge of their duties.” Source: Supreme Court in Zahira Habibulla H Sheikh And Anr vs State Of Gujarat And Ors on 12 April, 2004 CASE NO.: Appeal (crl.) 446-449 of 2004. Available here
Myth no 5: Narendra Modi never justified post-Godhra killingsTruth: “Responding to queries regarding various statements attributed to him by the media, Mr Modi denied citing Newton’s law. Nor had he spoken of “action-reaction”; he had wanted neither the action (at Godhra) nor the subsequent reaction. When we cited footage in Zee to the contrary (Annexure 4A), there was no reaction from Mr Modi” Source: Editors Guild Fact Finding Mission Report dated 2002. Available here
Myth no 6: Narendra Modi speaks only about development in his speeches. Even after 2002 riots, his speeches were never laced with communal poisonTruth: Narendra Modi’s reported speech: “For several months, the opposition has been after me to resign. When I did, they did not know what to do and started running to Delhi to seek Madam’s help. They realised that James Michael Lyngdoh, the Election Commissioner of India, is their only saviour.Some journalists asked me recently, ”Has James Michael Lyngdoh come from Italy?” I said I don’t have his janam patri, I will have to ask Rajiv Gandhi. Then the journalists said, ”Do they meet in church?”. I replied, ”Maybe they do.” James Michael Lyngdoh came and visited Ahmedabad and Vadodara. And then he used asabhya basha (indecent language) with the officials. Gujaratis can never use such language because our rich cultural heritage does not permit it. Then he gave a fatwa ordering that the elections can’t be held. I want to ask him: he has come to this conclusion after meeting only members of the minority community. Are only minority community members citizens of India? Are majority community members not citizens of this country? Is the constitutional body meant only for the minority community? Did he ever bother to meet the relatives of those killed in the Godhra carnage? Why didn’t he meet them? Why didn’t he ask them whether the situation was conducive for polls? Why? James Michael Lyngdoh ( says it slowly with emphasis on Michael), the people of Gujarat are posing a question to you.” Source: Reported speech of Narendra Modi, September 30, 2002. Available here
Myth no 7: Narendra Modi never applied for a US Visa (when it came to light that he was denied one)Truth: “The Chief Minister of Gujarat state, Mr. Narendra Modi, applied for a diplomatic visa to visit the United States. On March 18, 2005, the United States Department of State denied Mr. Modi this visa under section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act because he was not coming for a purpose that qualified for a diplomatic visa. Modi’s existing tourist/business visa was also revoked under section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 212 (a) (2) (g) makes any foreign government official who “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for a visa to the United States. The Ministry of External Affairs requested that the Department of State review the decision to revoke his tourist/business visa. Upon review, the State Department re-affirmed the original decision.” This decision applies to Narendra Modi only. It is based on the fact that, as head of the State government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time. The State Department’s detailed views on this matter are included in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report. Both reports document the violence in Gujarat from February 2002 to May 2002 and cite the Indian National Human Rights Commission report, which states there was “a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state.” Source: Statement by David C. Mulford, US Ambassador to India, March 21, 2005. Available here
Myth no 8: Vajpayee never asked Modi to observe “Rajdharma”, did not rap him for 2002 riotsTruth: “In comments which appeared to back criticism of the state authorities, Mr Vajpayee said he would speak to political leaders about allegations that they had failed to do their job. “Government officials, political leaders, need to respond to the task. The constitution guarantees equal rights for all,” he said.The state government is controlled by the BJP, and the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, has come in for particular attack over the way the authorities reacted to the violence. At the Shah Alam camp in Gujarat’s commercial capital, Ahmedabad, Mr Vajpayee said that the Godhra attack was “condemnable” but what followed was “madness”. “The answer to madness is not madness,” he said in an emotional speech.”The duty of our government is to protect the property, life and honour of everybody… there is no scope for discrimination,” he said in an apparent reference to allegations that local officials had turned a blind eye to the killings.” Source: Vajpayee says riots “shameful” – BBC News report April 4th 2002. Available here
Myth no 9: It’s not sheer opportunism that well-known Modi-baiters like Smriti Irani, have today become his cheerleadersTruth: “Smriti Irani who unsuccessfully contested from Delhi’s Muslim-dominated Chandni Chowk constituency in the April-May parliamentary elections, blamed Modi for BJP’s recent electoral reverses. “Whenever people mention Gujarat they only talk about the riots and try to corner the Gujaratis on the issue. So, in order to maintain the respect that I have for Atalji and the BJP, I won’t hesitate to take this step( of going on a fast to seek Modi’s removal) ,” she said.” Source: Times of India report dated December 12, 2004. Available here These myth-busters took me just one hour to compile. So it’s quite surprising that none of the stalwarts who interviewed Modi, (some of whom saw the events of 2002 unfold in front of their very own eyes), never counter-questioned him further and exposed the glaring gaps in his “rebuffed” narrative. Much like Smriti Irani, I guess, each night they must be saying to themselves “Hey Ram”….
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