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An article by Shehzad Poonawala debunked several cover up propaganda myths spread by BJP about the 2002 Gujarat Riots and got taken down. Here is the article.

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

Narendra Modi surrounded by security and fans

Myth no 1: Post-Godhra violence was brought under control within 2-3 days by Narendra Modi’s government

Truth: “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 side

Truth: “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 reaction

Truth: “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 convicted

Truth: “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 killings

Truth: “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 poison

Truth: 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 riots

Truth: “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 cheerleaders

Truth: "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"....


It is a common question to needle a Muslim with. "Is your first loyalty to God, or your country?" And they give whatever answer they give. And if they say country, they are met with skepticism and it is immediately followed with "Don't you know what the Quran says?" There is no right answer for xenophobia. Phobia by its very meaning is irrational.

Similarly, some Muslims look at Hindus with deep suspicion. They are convinced that Hindus are out to take away their rights and their safety and no amount of pointing out numerous secular Hindus will be a reassurance. There is no right answer for xenophobia. Phobia by its very meaning is irrational.

I will not go into the right and wrong of it, because I have no interest in debating people's opinions and perceptions and prejudices and criminal tendencies. Instead, what I want to do is answer the question myself. My first loyalty is to my country. And here is my problem with all these angry religious people.

I have no problem agreeing that if we love something, seeing it insulted hurts. My problem is with what is done about that hurt. There is a widespread legitimacy for a group of people angry to riot, damage public property, injure people and also at times kill. Particularly if they are angry with another religion or political party. Religio-political exploitation of our country has led to people who would file a police complaint over the murder of their own mother to take the law in their hands and go out seeking revenge for religious or political reasons. So, in my view, the hogwash that extremely hurt feelings make people act out of control doesn't wash.

What happens here is a deliberate incitement and approval of violence as a political tool. To dominate the weaker party into submission on threat of safety. In EVERY case. Irrespective of religion, irrespective of political party. Every time a group resorts to mob violence, they are in essence saying that "Our religion or our political party is more important to us than our country." Whatever their reasons are, this is not acceptable to me.

Holding the safety of citizens at ransom brings governments down on their knees. No matter which party is in power (unless it is the ruling party doing the damage, in which case, of course, they see it as an opportunity). It becomes nearly impossible to prosecute mob violence, for fear of further violence. In essence, each such instance becomes a state within a state. Each instance erodes the sovereignty of the country. MY country. Each failure to prosecute a large crowd sets precedent for impunity. Each successful riot sets a benchmark for the other side to rally its people against.

In my view, all these people are on the same side, and that side is one of gang wars for control of power. Whoever wins. The loser is always the country. ALWAYS. And it infuriates me that some of these people then call themselves nationalists like rubbing salt on a wound.

There is no disagreeing that wrongs happen, hideous wrongs happen, we have plenty of troublesome people in the country. However, using them as an excuse to indiscriminately attack citizens at large is the height of opportunistic bullying and cowardice. It is an attack on my country by the state within the state, and I do not respect this. Not even for God.

This has become so predictable, that people can trigger riots by doing something stupid, knowing that one cartoon, one slab of beef, one insult, whatever can reduce people to animals, devoid of all control over their actions or worse, the animal cunning of predators. We claim provocation, but really we WANT to be provoked. Sriram Sene's unfurling of the Pakistan flag is a case in point. If it were not discovered, it would have "provoked" retaliation against Muslims, as though no one else will unfurl a Pakistan flag to get stupid people rioting for fun and profit. As if, even if the religion of the culprit were branded on the crime, who exactly among all those attacked did it could be known. What makes it ok to attack an entire community of people over perceptions of threat from some of them?

It is no secret that a strong party that can protect its citizens from threats gets votes. So not only is the integrity of a country being eroded, but the intellectual autonomy of citizens too, by manufacturing heroes and encouraging mental slavery. This is its purpose.

In the absense of this, the violence vanishes. When police are now saying that it was a group of Hindu men who threw beef into the temple to incite riots, there is no outrage. I have people asking me how I believe what the police say. Yet, they would thump their chests and call it proof if the religion they wanted blamed were mentioned as culprits. Not a single person said that "IF" they did it, then it was wrong. Let alone wanting to beat them up or any such thing. Being a Hindu makes it ok to throw beef in a temple, I guess. It doesn't. Every Hindu will still think it is wrong. But without a political target, there will be no need to riot or even harm the exact culprits.

Muslims are very vocal about how Hindus treat Muslims in India. How do they treat Ahmedis in India? How do they treat Hindus in India? How do they treat Muslims in India? Where is the outrage? Big claims of genocide don't even end up as whimpers if the main target to blame is missing.

If this were truly religious hurt, betrayal by a follower of the religion ought to hurt more, no? But this isn't about hurt, like I said. It is mob violence that has been deemed the appropriate response to wrongs by specific people.

Yet these enemies of the country continue to masquerade as its protectors and leaders and well wishers. All the time destroying the rule of law to new heights through their own actions. Using slights and wrongs to incite people to attack entire communities with little proof and even lesser identification and total disregard for mechanisms to deal with illegal actions. Crime is increasingly rampant. Loss of life and property. Social safety. And what for? To prove superiority in a country committed to inclusion. To use the threat of massive presence and disruptive capacity to force. How does successfully retaliating mean either innocence or rightful cause? It only means you out violenced opposition. Think about it.

We have redressal mechanisms for addressing wrongs. We have police, we have courts. Yes, they don't function optimally. Yes, I know there is still no justice for the 1984 riots. At the same time, what citizens done done to make the system powerful enough to function against powerful criminals? Eroded it further. If justice has not been served, the need is to make sure it does. To use the system enough that it updates itself to cope with the responsibilities on it. To take the law in your hand, because someone else does it too, is nothing but a gang war. If your god likes it, that is between you and him. As someone who loves my country, I think all parties to this rubbish are criminals. Whatever your religion is, whatever your political orientation is, whatever your provocation is.

If you have the guts to claim to love India, quit sabotaging it.


Primary Red and I often have differences on the subject of Gujarat Riots. This is a subject with many differences of opinion, but what disturbs me about my conversations with him is that they often become about me personally. About my morals or me supporting genocide and such. Today, things came to another such flash point when I unfollowed him for repeatedly making it about me rather than the subject.

Since then, he has written an excellent post about why Zakia Jaffri must find justice. I agree with that post except for the last section and his stand, and this post is about the difference between them.

Another reason is because I do believe that the last part of his work that addresses the people that do nothing is likely provoked by our unConversation yesterday.

What about those who wield words to dismiss the wail of widows? For them, history reserves obscurity - its ultimate contempt.

There's more, but it is best you read the original, because it does point out important thoughts for us all to consider, and particularly the state.

He makes excellent points about history being kinder to the weak, and I think this will be an appealing perspective in our image eager times. I also support his call for justice because I believe that safeguarding human rights are the fundamental responsibility of the state and without them, we can't hope for good things in our future. It is the only way for us to be able to survive this with any integrity and unity as a country.

My issue with Primary Red's stand is not that post. It is how he applies the thoughts of that post in his interactions with others. I agree completely that the state owes Zakia Jaffri speedy justice. And all the other victims too. At the same time, I do think that the hallmark of the Gujarat riots has been in pitting citizens against each other to devastating effect. In taking the law into own hands and defining justice at will. And the responses to that incident thoughtlessly follow the same track.

The issue is not Zakia Jaffri finding justice for me. She should and I will never ever think that to be a bad idea. The issue is with justice being decided on the streets. The issue is with saying "I trust the courts to arrive at a responsible judgment" not being good enough. The subversion of democracy started by that incident continues unabated as a kind of appropriate response. Without the bloodbath, the essence of the riots - polarizing people against each other, identifying with one kind of victim and lynching the other... continues, even if the lynching is no longer physical. I see this as harmful for democracy and I reserve my right to remain neutral in terms of allocating blame. This is not and will never be about defending Modi, but I will not presume to define justice against my fellow countryman. I find the Gujarat riots revolting, but I am not a freaking Khap panchayat.

Do you realize that the only difference between a terrorist and a person who has decided justice is whether they fire words or bullets? The underlying attitude - that this wrong has been done, and these are the people that must be punished is the same. And there is no guarantee that someone hearing your peaceful recommendation doesn't decide that he isn't all that good at writing after all, but a massive wrong needs fixed.

The advice is excellent for the state, I disagree with it as advice for the citizen. There is a reason we have courts. Most of the people who both defend or attack Modi have no clue of the "truth" They were not there. It is impossible to look at a person and know their thoughts. Modi may have indulged in our trademark politicization of tragedy for profit that went out of hand. Mody may actually have conducted a pogrom. Modi may have failed to exert influence on the public opinion and ended up following the tide. Modi may have wanted far more carnage but got pressured by politics. Or something else. We don't know. That is why we have courts - when two people have differences they cannot reconcile, we place our trust in the system and accept its judgment and enforce it. We put our faith in the constitution and laws so that we don't end up fighting each other, but follow what is laid out for us when it comes to conflict.

The two sides have chosen beliefs based on whose cause they empathize with more and these beliefs and resulting confrontations in my eyes are the riots still continuing without physical violence. The mental, verbal violence, hate continues. I refuse to participate on either side. If that makes my morality suspect as this person thinks, then I must live with that, because my values don't allow me to participate in a process I see harmful for my country.

Does this mean that we must stay shut and pray for justice? Not fight for what we think is right? I would say support everything you think needs support. Help it find voice, find justice, but draw the line at attacking another, because you add to the problem. This is very real damage many over zealous people are doing to their cause and their country in their pursuit of control over what gets called "right".

There is another side to this that goes beyond justice. This side is more of concern to me as someone interested in the unity of India, not just geographically, but psychologically and emotionally. People are not equations to arrive at a total and say this is the right answer and the one right answer. That side is about majority population and minority population.

Neither the Hindus nor Muslims are going to leave the country. We have to co-exist. We can keep the hate of Pakistan out by building high walls, building high walls between each other as people will destroy us. It is easy to hold Modi to blame for the entire carnage. And I certainly hold him culpable and I have made it no secret that seeing him as Prime Minister is my idea of a horror story. At the same time, Modi is one person. The butchers were in the thousands.

Even soldiers trained and commanded to kill will not kill if their conscience disagrees. Do the math.

These are also the majority population. All these lofty ideals are excellent sitting in the US, where paper consequences don't bite. This is also the person who had said "let Anna Hazare die" right at the beginning of the protests. It is easy to conclude that lifeless equation when you don't have access to the ground realities and the anger charging the protests. Any person who saw the crowds would know whether "morally right or wrong", it would have been a security disaster.

Similarly, what do you think are the feelings and hostility for a minority population where the majority not only believe their beloved leader is innocent of intending them harm, but actually elected him back as a leader at least once since the carnage? What "reality" is, is nice on paper, but is this kind of thinking any favor to those being supported here? Where you are not willing to stand any argument, anything except that the popular leader should be punished.

It is different for an activist, a man on the street, an angry person protecting the Muslims to say this, and the Supreme court to decree it. In a democracy, no matter how unpalatable, if a court finds Modi guilty, then the population will largely accept it. If they don't, order can be enforced. That cannot be done for the hate you generate. Too many voices of hate are wrecking this country on every front there is.

Some worry about a few thousand Muslims, I worry about 1.2 billion Indians whose lives are all increasingly insecure and threatened with this kind of arbitrary blame. For example, those threatening the slutwalk also have a problem with the "morality" of the protesters that they perceive.

Primary Red may be a gentleman and likely physically non-violent, I don't think every person nodding head in agreement is the same. I also don't think mental violence as less damaging.

In conclusion, the Gujarat riots were horrifying. The butchery was unimaginable. Every person guilty must be punished as far as they can be identified. Modi included. Muslim killers included. Every victim as far as possible must be compensated and must find justice. Muslims and Hindus. But the guilt must be decided by the courts, not in "tu-tu main-main" type pissing contests. I refuse to take matters into my own hands, because my country is more important than my ego.

What would I like to do about this? Continue to promote neutrality, disengagement from the mental rioting, and encourage support for following procedure.