Interview with D. Raja, national secretary, CPI.
POLITICAL parties, including the Left parties, feel that the affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court by IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt needs to be given due importance in view of the seriousness of the post-Godhra carnage in 2002 and the context of the discourse around the development of Gujarat under Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Excerpts from an interview with D. Raja, Rajya Sabha member and national secretary, Communist Party of India:
What is the significance of Sanjiv Bhatt's affidavit? What does it say of the SIT in which a lot of confidence was reposed by people.
The IPS officer took a long time to come out and there must be a reason why he did so. The delay cannot be used as a reason to dismiss the issues raised in the affidavit. That an officer in service should come forward gives an amount of credence, and cannot be dismissed that easily. The SIT should take it seriously. The judiciary too should take note of it.
When the Gujarat pogrom took place, the Left parties and others said that such a horrendous crime could not have taken place without the connivance of the State government. It was not a spontaneous act of violence and even the Supreme Court made some comparisons with Emperor Nero. The present revelation shows that there was a conscious attempt to teach Muslims a lesson by the State administration. The question should be the other way around: why was it that honest officers were unable to speak the truth? What were the pressures and the compelling reasons?
Some of his colleagues, including the then Director General of Police, have tried to discredit his testimony.
The police are expected to act objectively and in a situation like the post-Godhra violence, they should have remained non-partisan, non-prejudicial, non-biased and pro-people. Our police forces are politicised and brutalised. We saw it in Mumbai, in the aftermath of the demolition. The findings of the [B.N.] Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry had indicted the police severely.
The constitution of the SIT and the monitoring by the Supreme Court show the need for an objective, independent pursuit of the cases in Gujarat. Not only Muslims in Gujarat but Christians too were targeted during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure at the Centre. Instead of being critical of the State government, he said that conversion needed to be debated. There was no forthright condemnation.
These issues are going to be raised in Gujarat. The only problem is that the Left isn't a strong force. In Gujarat, the Congress, which claims to be a secular force, is hardly seen as a serious force against communalism.
There are some who say that all-round development work has been done by the Modi government and that issues like Bhatt's affidavit have been raised to tarnish the government's image.
Secularism should be accompanied with social justice, equitable economic development. This is what inclusive growth is all about. Gujarat, which has a port area, had the advantage of infrastructure development like all those centres that were declared presidencies by the East India Company. This gave an impetus to growth in the post-Independence period. But there is uneven development, which is a characteristic of capitalistic growth. In the post-1990s, the corporate sector took advantage of the neoliberal policies. So it is not because of Modi but because of many other factors.
The other thing is that people were killed in 2002. No one can deny what happened. There are questions about the role of the State government. Had it been any other government, it would have been seen as a simple collapse of the law and order machinery.
But as Gujarat had been declared the laboratory of the Sangh Parivar, there was an ideological underpinning to the entire violence. The State government was in the hands of a party whose ideology is sectarian and fascist. That is why the role of the state will be continuously questioned as long as the BJP is in power there. Whatever one might say about Ayodhya, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that it was the BJP that had built the movement and created the atmosphere for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Nobody can exonerate the role of the BJP's top leaders in that movement.
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