Ostrich Syndrome!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Living with the Ghosts

I don’t believe in ghosts. I think they are the folly of a fearful mind. But yet I find ghosts to be funny characters. They hound you at the most awkward of hours and at the most awkward of places. Having said this, some ghosts are not funny, they can make life miserable. Ask Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat. Mr. Modi is alleged to have mastermind or rather orchestrated the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat during the 2002 communal riots. It was this orchestration of communal massacre which earned him the title of modern day Nero by the Supreme Court of India. The ghosts of Gujarat 2002 keep returning to him. The more he tries to ostracize these nefarious characters, the more they return with new force and vigor. Ghosts of young men & women, small children, pregnant mothers and even the little Caspers, the fetuses who were torn out of the cozy comfort of their mothers’ bellies and thrown into soaring infernos. All are back. Some ghosts are obstinate, pigheaded to get justice for getting them into this indiscernible state by Mr. Modi and his riot manufacturing machine which runs on human blood.
I am sure these ghosts will accompany Mr. Modi on March 27th 2010, when we are made to believe, that he presents himself to be questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court of India to probe the Gujarat carnage. It is important to note that Mr. Modi will be testifying only in the case of Mr. Ehsan Jafri who was murdered, sorry, dismembered, in the Gulbarg society carnage in Feb 2002. I am amused to imagine that as Mr. Modi will sit in the big leather chair in front of a tight lipped committee of polished bureaucrats, there would be a thousand eyes popping over his shoulder, jostling to get space, pushing and elbowing each other to make their presence felt. The SIT interrogation room will be full of ghosts. Frail elderly ghosts, who will be pushed further back in the chaos, the naughty little ones who will dodge their mothers to go and pee on Modi’s white starched kurta and the pregnant ghosts, the most difficult to control; they start cursing and bellowing at the top of their voices whenever they see Mr. Modi. Probably they were too much in love with their babies-to-be the day they were raped and cut opened. Then there would be those who are unnamed, unidentified - the faceless ghosts. These are the ones who resided in bodies which were charred beyond recognition in the spring of 2002 across different locations of Gujarat. Bodies scorched so badly that even their spirits are now faceless.
It will be interesting to note how these ghosts will react as Mr. Modi is put through what I feel will be scratchy questions. Well surely uncomfortable for people with a heart and soul! I had always felt that Mr. Modi should be invited to an episode of Sach ka Samna, the popular Hindi version of a more suave Moment of Truth. Seeing him answer moral (and immoral) questions in a true or false pattern would be fun. In fact it might be much easier for him as well; at least he will not have to give bizarre and whacky explanations which make us judgmental on his intelligence and astuteness. So, if the host asks, “Mr. Modi you ordered the best bakery carnage -True or False?” he, with all the straightness of face (resembling the election face mask he distributed in 2007) will answer, “False”. The not so always accurate lie detector machine says: False. No more explanations, no more shame. Well, no more shame particularly for Mr. Modi and no more shame for us, Indians, in general.
History has a peculiar knack of catching up with its characters. On March 27th India’s history will catch up with its most pernicious of politicians. In the company of three thousand invisible yet tangible ghosts, Narendra Modi will undergo a scrutiny of his deeds. His acts of commission and importantly his impotence of omission, everything will go under the scanner. And all this in the presence of those to whom he owes an explanation. He owes an explanation to all of us. To me, to you, to those who love our freedom and our country. To those who bow before the god a bit differently and also to those who bow in the same way as he does. He owes an explanation to the nameless ghosts who wander through the land of Gandhi awaiting their moksha and to those who were left alive and mourn the dead.
I am sure Mr. Modi will perspire as the SIT questions get difficult and will sigh as the easier ones follow. Watching him quietly in the room with three thousand ghosts will be a smiling Ehsan Jafri in white kurta-pyjama; still soaked in blood. His body was dismembered, but his spirit is cohesive. He has identified his killers. He has recognized the perpetrators. His death has not gone waste. His wailings from that fateful day in Gulbarg society haven’t gone unanswered. The Day of Judgment is closing in. He does not want to blink. He wants to capture each and every second of this hearing into his fluid state. The pain of getting dismembered by a crowd of assassins must surely be not greater than the pleasure of seeing Narendra Modi in the spot light. The spot light of shame and ignominy.
Narendra bhai Modi, as he is popularly called, has a task cut out. Either he faces the SIT to answer questions he has been evading since February 2002 or he continues to live in the shadow of ghosts. His party feels that he is a popular chief minister who always respects law. It makes me laugh - law and Modi in the same voice? A sarcastic oxymoron for those who saw law raped in Gujarat in the 2002 carnage. An ironic antithesis for those who saw their children thrown in fire in the February of 2002. An iron-cold apathy for those who saw policemen betray their trust.
Mr. Modi, it’s not easy to live with ghosts. They create ruckus, they can be hysterical. They don’t let you sleep peacefully and above all they do not forget or forgive.


Mukul Dube said...

To be troubled by such ghosts, one must have a heart. Modi is immune.

T Azeez Luthfullah said...

Anything can happen. After all, Narendra Damodardas Modi too is a human with a heart. His conscience may prick him. His heart may persuade him. He may break into tears. Anything can happen. After all, Narendra Modi too is a human with a dhadaktha dil. He may accept his crimes, murders, sins and start crying. He may ask a glass of water. He may resign and surrender himself to the court. He may write a book sitting in jail waiting death sentence. Anything can happen.

Nagendra said...

Some news coming in saying that the Modi appeared before the SIT,
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appeared before the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team at its Gandhinagar office in connection with a 2002 communal riot case on Saturday.

The date was also confirmed earlier by Modi's lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, who said March 27 was the mutually agreed date on which the Bharatiya Janata Party leader would appear before the Supreme Court-appointed probe team.

Earlier, confusion prevailed over his appearance before the SIT with its chief R K Raghavan saying he would depose on March 21.

But later, Modi in an open letter claimed that he was not summoned on that date. SIT has summoned Modi to depose in connection with a complaint of Zakia Jaffery, widow of former Congress Member of Parliament Eshan Jaffery, who was killed in the riot at Gulburg Society here along with 69 others.

This is for the first time that Modi presented himself for questioning in the post-Godhra riots that took place eight years ago.

It is too much to expect genocide Modi to do any soft hearted steps he has even questioned apex court decisions for this SIT. I think Modi is just the face, it is likely that what happened in Godhra lay in the long-term plan of the right-wing saffron combine (Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)and Bajrang Dal) and its government to cleanse Gujarat state of its 9 per cent Muslim population. As part of its game plan, the VHP had even issued pamphlets calling for the economic boycott of Muslims sparing no one - not even judges, police officers, Members of Parliament, pregnant women, infants, children, young men, greying older men and women, teenaged girls, mothers.
The government's lack of interest (in fact I will say vested interest to suppress this community) and justification of this violence has compounded the situation. The important thing now is to let those affected know that all of us care deeply about what has happened and help them to fight for their justice in fact all three: security, sanity and justice.

Amit J said...

Hello Mr.Khan,
I must say, a very provocative and a no holds barred approach....Although I don't think the ghost theory applies to Mr.Modi....The ghost theory requires conscience, which he seems to be a little deficient in...However lets hope that the wheels of justice start rolling(finally)...and just in case you aren't too orthodox, http://thegoofysufi.blogspot.com

Apurv Relan said...

Dear Dr. Khan

I have been forwarded this article, purportedly written by you. I also abhor the politics of fundamentalism and violence and see no justification in the genocide that happened in Gujrat.
However, I am somewhat disappointed at your deafening silence on the Godhra incident which triggered the entire Gujrat episode. Any right thinking human should be equitable in condemning senseless acts of fundamentalism and violence by any community. A responsible and intelligent person does not have the luxury of condemning acts of one community and maintaining silence on the misdeeds and acts of another community.
Your article would have been more meaningful and your anguish more credible, had you been equally apalled at the acts of Muslim fundamentals in the Godhra incident and called their perpetrators to justice along with those responsible for the Gujrat riots that followed the Godhra incident.

Best regards,
Apurv Relan
Apurv Relan & Co.,
Chartered Accountants
E-102, DDA Flats,
Ekta Apartments,
Saket, New Delhi - 110017
Tel: +91 11 26512307

Shah Alam Khan said...

Dear Mr.Relan,
Thanks for your mail and for the kind and "not so kind" words. I appreciate your diktat regarding Godhra. To me, those killed in Godhra were as much a result of an inefficient administration (read Gujarat govt) as those killed in the riots which followed. In fact if you read my article once more, you will find that there are references to them throughout the text.
My name is very much Muslim Mr Relan, but I honestly believe that no religion can really solve the issues which bother us today. Religious fundamentalism is a curse from which we all need to come out; may be Muslims need to come out more than any other religious sects. As for my silence on the other community's misdeeds, I would be obliged if you could go to my blog at http://www.indiaandbharat.blogspot.com and read some of the other pieces I have penned. I hope this will give you some idea of what I think and write. By the way, my article was not against any community (as you sound to make it). It was against Mr. Modi and the agenda of his government. Please detest from branding Modi as the champion of Hindus. He is not. For me, he can never represent as tolerant, liberal and encompassing religion as Hinduism
Hope you understand.
Shah Alam Khan
(These comments were sent through e mail)

Rohit Jain said...

Dear Dr Khan
One of the best writeups on the Gujarat riots I have read. More power to your pen!
Dr Rohit Jain

Ashini Srivastava said...

This is perhaps one of the best articles you have written so far. Hard hitting, yet maintaining a stoic dignity. Very impressive Shah Alam. Your metaphors and images are impeccable this time. I hope justice and truth prevail and we can take pride in vanquishing a demon. When I read your work I feel reaffirmed that even today pen is mightier than the sword!
Keep up your good work and all the best.

Anser Azim said...

I read your article with interest and the comments. I have seen many Modi's in my life time growing up in India. They might not have been as powerful as Mr Modi happens to be. But our society never recognized them and they could never get political power as Mr Modi did. What pains me the most is that he has been elected to power two times after the carnage since 2002. People have been rooted out from their homes as they happened to be minorities in a democratic India in many parts of Gujrat since then!!!!!

Anonymous said...


Many are upset the way in which the modi has come back to power for the second time. It is becuase of the insecurity feeling which has got into the psyche of hindus seeing the happening of hindus in kashmir.

Is there anybody to talk about the ghost of hindus killed in kashmir. They have been wiped out or they have been forced to leave for good. The so called "hindu country as addressed by other community" has done nothing. Further what has the muslim in other part of the india spoke about the violence in kashmir. Immediately the answer would be that their grievance are not addressed. Is it a license kill my neighbout becuase my grievance are not addressed.

Fundamentalism fires fundamentalism, the unabated mulsim fundamentalism in the mainstream as vote bank and violence in the border is the answer for modi's success. Further gujarat shares its border very near to pakistan adds to the insecurity.

Shah Alam said...

Dear Mr. Anonymous,
Thanks for your view point which to an extent is correct. But how is the killing of Kashmiri Hindus justified or equated by the massacre of minorities at other places? Of course it is justified if we have decided that this country will follow an eye for an eye rule (like many other nations including the large number of Muslim dictatorships of the Middle East). To me, this is a very regressive logic fuelled (as you have correctly mentioned) by fundamentalists on both sides. How could otherwise we would have an Ajmal Kasab if this logic was not at work. He too was brain washed into what he did by rabid men on the other side of the border. As for Mr Modi, honestly I cannot understand how he can represent a religion so open and liberal as Hinduism? My ghosts also included the 58 Kar Sevaks who were burnt alive in Godhra. Here too Narendra Modi failed as a Chief Minister to protect their lives. I hope you understand what I am trying to say.

Anonymous said...

@Shah Alam

It is never justified in hinduism killing of innocent in revenge. However the mob has more head but no brains. It applied to any mob whether it is that of hindu or muslim

You made the right statement with reference to the middle east. Unfortunate the communicaiton has reduced the world into global village and every action get equal and opposite action in other part of the world

True is that the world including india importing the hatred from middle est. For example the banning of burqa in the whole of europe. NObody in gcc spoke because they have no moral rights to ask. only in india some muslim leader are making noise as they are ignored and will be ignored internationally is the truth.

In case if you site would have carried an article on the hardship of the kashmiri hindus i would have appreciated whatever is written about the grievance of muslim.

For god sake i never believe in the killing of human. If that has been done by ANYBODY they deserve to be punished by law if not by the eternal divinity to which hinduism repose faith and are advised not to take it in their hands like abrahamic religion.


Gujju Girl said...

Dear Mr Aalam,

( Let me first clarify that I am not a pro-hindu/muslim or any other caste/creed)

Whatever you have written is correct in your view point. Anyone not living in Gunarat during 1985-2000 with think as you only.

There are many cities in India with more or less equal population of Hindu and Muslim. But it is only Ahmedabad which has faced the communal riots since 1985. If you can get the data of communal riots of Ahmedabad, you will found that in all such riots more hindus have lost their lives than the other caste. Reason is very clear. By birth, hindus and especilly Gujarati community is "Ahinsak". We are not aggressive or have killing instinct when it comes to riots. (Yes we have killing instinct in Business or Share-market)

Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) some of the leaders could lead some of the hindus to become more attacking. Yes, I agree that what ever happened in Godhara was an administrative failure. But then the same was thereafter.

Let us accept a fact that Mr Modi is a politician and not a saint. And any politician will take the advantage of the situation in his favour.

The situation emerged post-godhara can be understood ONLY if you are in Gujarat at THAT time. No journalist or any outsider can understand the mental agony of Gujarati-hindus post-Godhara. Definitely the politicians have took due benefit of the situation.
Both sides have tried to get the benefit. By chance, this is the first time since 1985, more Muslims got killed than the Hindus in the riot. And that is the main cause for all Human Rights fellows to poke their nose in Gujarat issue. When hindus were loosing their lives in communal riots since 1985, NO PROBLEM.

One bitter truth Mr Aalam. Since 2002, there is no communal riot in Gunarat, which was otherwise a bi-annual program in Ahmedabad. Why? Think about it also.

And what has been published in media is lot MORE than the actual.

You may not like my views, but this is other side of the coin.