LESSONS FROM GUJARAT - 15TH August 2002
Mrs. Radha Rajan
Shri. L.Ganesan, National Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party
Shri. K.S.Sudershan, Sarsanghachalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
INTRODUCTION BY RADHA RAJAN
Good evening, may I, on behalf of ‘Vigil’, extend to all of you a very warm welcome. Today is a very special day for ‘Vigil’ for more than one reason. For one, we have with us today Pujaneeya Sudarshanji, Sarsanghachalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh who graciously made the time to be here today to inaugurate the ‘Vigil’ web site. Launching this web site is for us a very significant step in this continuing process of growth. We are in our twentieth year in the task of mobilising and informing public opinion on important national issues.
Today is also very special for ‘Vigil’ in that things so happened that it is a day that belongs to our children. Blessed are those parents whose children become embodiments of the best in our culture. The day belongs to this little girl, Pratibha, with the phenomenal voice rendered the invocation song flawlessly in the Carnatic classical style. Not at all an easy thing to do for one so tender in years. And blessed are those parents whose children came forward six months ago to volunteer to design and format the ‘Vigil’ web site. Nothing that I can say can adequately express my deep sense gratitude either to Pratibha who gave us all such a beautiful beginning to this evening nor to Saambavi and Ramnath for having made the ‘Vigil’ web site a reality today. Thank you once again.
Normally, it is a ‘Vigil’ tradition that in our introduction we set out the framework for the meeting by stating ‘vigil’s opinions or position on the said issue. But today we have the highest authority with us in the person of Pujaneeya Sudarshanji who will talk to us on what really happened in Gujarat and its implications. We ought to have had today Dr.Balbir Punj from Delhi. He has recently been made the Chief of the Intellectual Cell of the BJP and many of you would have read his articles on the editorial page of the Indian Express. Unexpectedly, he has had to stay back in Delhi to attend the President’s ‘At Home’ reception on the occasion of our Independence Day. I can’t express my gratitude adequately to Ganesan ji for having readily agreed to take the place of Dr.Balbir Punj and speak to us on the forthcoming elections in J&K.
Therefore, I will not make a detailed introduction today but would nevertheless like to draw your attention to a few events and make a few points which in their own way are also lessons from Gujarat. It is not going to be a cogent presentation but these are facts nevertheless. Two years ago the Pope came to India, to New Delhi on Deepavalli day to address the Asian Synod. He told us that in the third millenium, the Church intends to plant the cross in Asia. And to make his intentions clear, and to signal to the Hierarchy to begin their work, he came here campaigning for freedom of conscience and the right to practice any religion that an individual may want. Freedom of conscience indeed. High falutin’ words. And it is the Pope who denies to the Muslims of Nazareth the right to build a mosque next to the basilica. Is not building a place of worship an integral part of practicing a religion? And didn’t the Pope say he was all for the right to freedom of conscience and the right to practice any faith? Nazareth is a holy place for both the Christians and Muslims. The Pope wants the right to freedom of conscience and the right to practice any religion (he means the catholic faith, nothing else) wherever the Christians are in a minority. If the Pope will allow the Hindus to build a temple anywhere in the Vatican city, then it makes sense for the Pope to come to India and lecture to us about religious freedom.
I am just drawing your attention to random facts which while it may not be cogent, will set the tone for lessons from Gujarat. We have had a series of high profile persons in high places lecturing to Atalji, lecturing the BJP, lecturing the NDA government. It began with Justice J.S.Verma of the National Human Rights Commission; this gentleman goes to Gujarat, I don’t know, maybe it is something with us Indians, we give a person the mike for two minutes and he will vent all his spleen, all his anger, pour scorn and be self consciously secular. That was Justice Verma’s day. He goes to Gujarat, comes back and gets his two minutes’ worth of publicity when he tears apart the government for its failure to care adequately for the minorities in the camps in Gujarat. The same Justice Verma of the NHRC probably has never heard of the fact that for the last twelve years, the Hindus of the Kashmir valley have been living in refugee camps in Delhi and Jammu in pathetic conditions. For twelve years! Has he visited any of these camps, has he bothered to file any report on their living conditions, has he taken that state government to task? Why? Is it that the NHRC does not have any jurisdiction in J&K because of Article 370?
The Chief Election Commissioner. His task is to go to Gujarat and assess the situation there to see if conditions to hold elections are conducive or not conducive. He is not supposed to be airing his opinions before the media. CEC Lyngdoh is quite prepared to hold elections in J&K despite the fact, once again, there are refugees from the Kashmir valley who haven’t gone back to their homes. What was CEC Lyngdoh’s grouse? It was that the Muslims of Gujarat who are living in camps are too terrified to be casting their votes and they have not yet returned to their homes. What about the Hindu refugees from the state of J&K who are still living in refugee camps, for more than 12 years now? Still living in refugee camps, some of who have never voted? The Election Commission has never cared to visit these camps to verify if the electoral rolls contain their names. But elections are still being held in J&K! Lessons from Gujarat. These are all lessons from Gujarat.
Shabana Azmi trots promptly all the way to Gujarat. Shabana Azmi doesn’t trot to J&K. Every person who is visible and audible today, and this is Gurumurthy’s pet term, the English educated secular, but these are the people whom the media promotes, gives them media space. Give them their two minutes worth of glory in the print or electronic media, and they will hold forth. Ten days ago, I went to listen to Shashi Tharoor. This man is the Under-secretary general of the United Nations. He passes out of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and has equipped himself with the training and the skills to hold the position he is holding today. You can all rest assured I would never be made the Under-Secretary General of the UN. I wouldn’t be able to say the things that the UN may want to hear. I cannot say things that you may all want to hear. He came to India recently and the first thing he talked about was Gujarat. He didn’t say a word about J&K because, (and so he said), the UN had not given him the mandate to talk about J&K but Gujarat, Gujarat is an issue which can be discussed by anyone from any forum, including the Under-Secretary General of the UN. Lessons from Gujarat.
Last night I was transcribing Arun Shourie’s talk on Ayodhya, a meeting which ‘Vigil’ held on the 3rd January, 1993. And there Arun Shourie says, you keep on pushing these Hindus into a corner and one day there will come upon this country a situation which will be beyond anyone’s control. And you know whose fault this is? Not this group’s which beats us with a stick at any given opportunity. But we ourselves because we never retaliate verbally, effectively enough. We never retaliate verbally, we do not care to inform ourselves on issues, we do not have information at our fingertips. Some of us do. I would like Shashi Tharoor to sit across the table with me or with Gurumurthy or with any other RSS swayamsevak who is an intellectual and who is well-informed. Let us discuss. Let us discuss secularism, let us discuss freedom of religion, let us discuss Gujarat and let us discuss J&K too. But they will not. They prefer to hit and run and the print and electronic media provides them with the space to hit and run. People like Shashi Tharoor, N. Ram and others prefer a captive audience which will not look at them critically. Their flawless English makes every word from their mouth assume the nature of unchallenged truth. Nobody that day got up to tell Shashi Tharoor, I will grant you everything word you said about Gujarat, now let us talk about your silence on J&K and about what is happening to the Hindus and Buddhists even today in Jammu and Laddakh.
So hit and run. Either they have a captive audience which just laps up every word that they say or they hit and run through the space provided by an ever-obliging media. Why is that none of them will ever come forward to sit down with us and talk? Why will they not come? Lessons from Gujarat. So ‘Vigil’ is a forum to hit and run too, if that is what we want it to be. If the secular intellectuals are prepared to come and discuss issues with us with civility, the forum is open to everybody. We have kept this forum open to one and all. Anybody can come and hold an honest, open discussion with us on any issue.
Swaminathan and I are deeply indebted to Saambavi and Ramnath for having given us this web site because all that ‘Vigil’ has striven for in these twenty years, is encapsulated in that web site. It is your forum and mine. Let us make good use of it.
SHRI L. GANESAN, NATIONAL SECRETARY, BJP
Parampujaneeya Sarsanghachalak ji, dear brothers and sisters, please let me greet you all on our Independence Day. As Radha Rajan said at the very outset, Shri Balbir Punj should have been with us today to speak on J&K. But due to unforseen circumstances he has had to stay back in Delhi and conveyed to me over the phone his inability to come to Chennai today. I was very pleased when I was told that he would be speaking today because he is an intellectual, he is a writer and an orator too. He is also a man with great clarity of thought and that is a rare quality these days. And I was therefore very glad to know he would be here. But I was gladder when he said he would not be able to come to Chennai today. The reason being it is so difficult and almost impossible to have in our midst persons like our Pujaneeya Sarsanghachalak whose time is planned a year in advance. To have Pujaneeya Sarsanghachalak ji today is a rare opportunity and I was therefore glad to hear that Dr.Balbir Punj will not be here today. This would have meant that Pujaneeya Sudarshanji would have all the time at his disposal this evening and we would all have benefited immensely from the light he would have thrown on Gujarat and J&K.
It is therefore very unfortunate that I have been asked to replace Dr.Punj almost as a punishment for the fact that a BJP Member of Parliament had to retract upon his promise to be here. Pujaneeya Sarsanghachalak ji will be speaking in great detail on the events in Gujarat. It will therefore be very improper of me to speak on the same issue. I will therefore speak about the forthcoming elections in J&kK and confine myself to just one or two observations about Gujarat. Today is Independence day. Pakistan observed its independence day yesterday. Those of us who followed the celebrations in Delhi over the television channels would have seen our Prime Minister hoisting the national flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort, as is the custom in our country. Yesterday, on the occasion of their independence day, the Pakistani President General Musharraf addressed his countrymen but the most amusing thing was it was an indoor meeting. I can understand the fact that the Indian Prime Minister, addressing the nation in the open, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, has a security shield thrown around him because India is the victim of Pakistan exported terrorism but what is very strange is that the man who masterminded Kargil, who continues to preside over a nation exporting Islamic terrorism into this country should feel the need for such high security that on the occasion of his country’s Independence Day he is forced to address his people from inside because, as I see it, the danger to the Indian Prime Minister, committed to rooting out terrorism from our nation, is threatened only by terrorists but the threat to Musharraf comes not only from the terrorists on his own soil but also from his people.
It is doubtful if anyone, has conducted the kind of meetings and discussions on every aspect of J&K as ‘Vigil’ has done in Chennai. This kind of discussion and meeting has not been held, not even in Delhi. I know that for a fact. Therefore there is really very little that I need to say about J&K to this learned audience. I will confine myself only to the forthcoming elections in Jammu and Kashmir and my assessment of it. I would like primarily to allay your fears and apprehensions about J&K, and to show you all the very positive changes that are happening in the state today, notwithstanding the continuing terrorist attacks on Hindus and our defense forces. We all know that at the time of Partition, the British had given the five hundred odd princely states three options – to accede to India, to accede to Pakistan or to choose to remain independent. But Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the then Home Minister undertook the super human task of integrating all the princely States into India – all except three. Jammu and Kashmir, Junagadh, and Hyderabad. The cabinet meets in Delhi to discuss these three princely States. Sardar Patel has serious apprehensions about all three of them and also about Nehru’s handling of the situation. He therefore tells Dr.Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, who is also a member of the Union cabinet then, to tell Pandit Nehru that Sardar Patel must be given the responsibility and a free hand to integrate these states too into the Indian Union. Sardar Patel tells Dr. Mukherjee to place this submission before Nehru so that Nehru would find it difficult to refuse him.
Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee does ask Nehru to assign Sardar Patel the task of dealing with these three truant states and Nehru could not refuse. Indeed, he does give the Sardar the responsibility of dealing with the Nawabs of Junagadh and Hyderabad, but stubbornly keeps J&K with himself. And the results are there for all of us to see. The Nawabs of Hyderabad and Junagadh were dealt with ruthlessly by Sardar patel and both states acceded to India soon enough. J&K, which was Nehru’s responsibility continues to remain in the throes of terrorism and separatism. The roots of the problem lie with Nehru. Although Nehru was the Prime Minister, he also had additional charge of External Affairs. Sardar Patel was the Home Minster. From that time onwards and all through the Congress years, the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir have been with the External Affairs Ministry. Within a few months of the NDA forming the government in Delhi, there was a report in some of the English dailies, in some remote corner titled “ Change of department”. A very small report to the effect that the affairs of J&K which was so far with the Prime Minister is now being transferred to the Home ministry. I was concerned at the utter disregard by the media of the significance of this move, the utter ignorance about this government’s intentions. This was not merely a change of department with regard to the affairs of J&K.
I am not scoring political points here, please note. I have to make a reference to the Congress Party and its attitude to J&K. For as long as the Congress Party ruled this country, and this was for more than four decades, it thumped its heart and beat its breast asserting that J&K is an integral part of this country; but the affairs of J&K was overseen by the External Affairs Ministry, and not the Home ministry. When the Prime Minister Shri Vajpayee transferred the responsibility to the Home ministry it was not because he was overworked and Advani had nothing to do as was being implied in the media, it was to send a very strong signal to Pakistan and to the international community that the affairs of J&K under this government would now be the responsibility of the Home ministry as were the affairs of all the other states and Union territories of this country. The media should have the capacity to understand the significance of this move. Regrettably, it did not have the understanding.
You all know the terrible state of affairs in J&K when it was still in the grip of terrorism, when terrorists both domestic and foreign overran the state. We all remember how Dr. Murali Mnaohar Joshi began his Ekta yatra from Kanyakumari to Jammu and Kashmir, with the objective of hoisting the national flag in Srinagar. Domestic media men knew the context and cause for this combative yatra but some of the foreign correspondents did not. The BJP had declared this course of action to be a protect and an agitation. The foreign correspondents wanted to know why the hoisting of the national flag in Srinagar on India’s Republic Day by a leader of the Opposition should be deemed to be a protest or an agitation. That was the situation in the valley at that time. You could not hoist the national flag there on Independence Day or Republic Day; government offices could not fly the national flag as is customary. Only army camps and cantonments flew the national flag. Pakistani independence day would be celebrated by the Kashmiri terrorists and their supporters publicly. Indian Independence Day was not allowed to be celebrated. The terrorists compelled the people to observe it as a Black day. Black not just figuratively, mind you, but literally. The valley would be plunged in darkness in the evening and all through the night, and people were prohibited from watching television. All these details were gathered by three of our senior Sangh adhikaris, who even in those days traveled widely through the valley. That was the situation in those days and Dr.Murli Manohar Joshi could hoist the national flag in Srinagar only amidst tight security provided by our army.
The Kashmir valley is a place of extraordinary scenic and natural beauty – an ideal place for tourists and a place haunted by the film world for film shooting. All that came to an end when Islamic terrorism caught the state in a death grip. Even that wonderful film ‘Roja’ by Mani Rathnam, which dealt with the theme of terrorism in J&K was shot, not in J&K but in Himachal Pradesh. The J&K economy relies to a great extent on tourism for substance. Srinagar, like Rameswaram is a tourism city which is visited annually by two to two and a half lakh people on an average. This industry came to a standstill, terrorists continued to hold sway over the state and particularly the valley, you could not celebrate the Independence day or the Republic Day, and the national flag and the national anthem had vanished from public life. I too had accompanied Dr.Joshi to Srinagar on the Ekta yatra. In Srinagar, I had a long discussion with several of our defense personnel. I asked them why it is that they could not rid the state of terrorists and terrorism, in spite of having a large presence there. To which our soldiers replied – how can we finish off terrorism? Do you know what our instructions are? We have been instructed not to shoot these terrorists at sight. We have been permitted to shoot them only in self-defense, after we have been shot at first. And don’t shoot them in a crowd. First get him away from the crowd and then shoot him. Is it even remotely possible to deal with terrorists in this manner? You are asking us to finish off terrorism with one hand tied behind our back. I can assure you, if the government were to give us a free hand, we are confident we can wipe out these terrorists and their support base effectively.
I have full faith in our defense forces, they are the best and the most capable in the world. The problem is not that our defense forces are ineffective, it was successive governments which were ineffective in their thinking and action. It was under these extremely trying circumstances, when terrorism was at it speak that Advani took charge as the Home Minister. And the first orders he issued to our armed forces was to shoot the terrorists at sight, ruthlessly and without hesitation. Now look at the results. One thousand six hundred and odd terrorists have been killed so far. In ones and twos, threes and fours, day after day, the terrorists have been pursued, hunted and shot dead. In this context. Let me tell you in lighter vein, I think it was on the 15th of August last year, the J&K government had come out with a full page advertisement highlighting its so-called achievements. And as one of its major achievement, it stated that it had so far killed one thousand two hundred terrorists. It is black humour indeed that this man and his family which caused the problem in the first place, should be taking pride in killing these terrorists. But see the difference in J&K now. Today, on Independence Day, not just in Srinagar, in every taluk, the tahsildar has hoisted the national flag and our Independence day has been celebrated with the solemnity and dignity befitting the occasion. Not just today, it was so last year and also on Republic day. The national flag flies high atop every government building and office. There are no terrorists left to celebrate Pakistani Independence day openly and with impunity. Tourists are returning to the state once again and films are once again being shot in the beautiful valley. As per government figures more than two lakh tourists have visited the valley in the last 18 months and more. The situation is almost normal. Almost.
There are reports everyday about terrorists being shot in this place or that. A person known to me told me, look it is after Advani took over that terrorist activity has stepped up in the state. So many terrorists are being killed day after day. This statement triggered my memory and I was reminded of an advertisement on the television about a product meant to kill cockroaches. The lady in the advertisement sees a solitary cockroach under the washbasin and sprays the insecticide on it. In about two minutes, there emerged from nooks and crevices over fifteen cockroaches and they all soon died. This friend who had been watching television with me, I remember, had remarked even at that time, I would not buy this product. Look how after you she sprayed it, so many of them appeared on the surface. Until then there was only one that was running about the house. It is this same un informedness that characterises the remark that terrorism has stepped up after Advani became the Home Minister. Our armed forces have, upon the explicit orders of the Home Minister, pursued and hunted down the terrorists who had found safe haven all these years in the state. Now they have nowhere to run or hide. My entire presentation today is intended to allay your apprehensions and make you all feel hopeful that we now have a government with zero tolerance for all kinds of terrorism.
Today, there are still a few thousands of Pakistani and other foreign terrorists who have already infiltrated into the state; but domestic, Kashmiri terrorists have almost all been either nabbed or killed. Pakistan has always maintained and so have some politicians and well-known media men/women who have demanded of our government that it hold a plebiscite in Kashmir, to ascertain the wishes of the people. Not Jammu and Kashmir mind you, which will include the Hindus of Jammu and the Budhists of Laddakh; but a plebiscite for the Muslims of Kashmir, the Hindus of Kashmir have already been driven out of the valley. They are making this demand on the basis of the informal letter written by Mountbatten to Maharaja Singh. It is not a official letter, please let me tell you. It is a moot point whether Mountbatten, a British national, had the right to make such a statement on behalf of this country and her people to the Maharaja, particularly when the Maharaja had not made any such demand when he wrote the letter agreeing to sign the Instrument of Accession and asking for Indian armed forces to move into J&K to fight the Pakistani hordes which had forcibly occupied the state.
Even if we accept for arguments sake, Mountbatten’s offer to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir, both in the letter that Mountbatten wrote to the Maharaja and in the UN Resolution on the issue of the plebiscite, there are two pre-conditions that Pakistan must fulfil before plebiscite is held there
– First, Pakistan must clear the state of J&K of all its invaders and other unlawful occupiers.
- Second, normalcy must be restored through cesation of hostilities.
Pakistan has failed to respect or fulfil the two conditions attendant upon holding the plebiscite and moreover, it continues to unlawfully and forcibly occupy a major part of the state still and as long as there continues to exist a Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, India is not obliged to hold any plebiscite. Once Pakistan vacates the territory it is occupying, we will consider holding elections in that area too like we have been holding elections in J&K. I would go so far as to say, that unlike Pakistan which has never held elections in Azad Kashmir and which has governed POK as a vassal State, we have held elections in J&K since the state acceded to India. The question of a plebiscite in J&K is therefore redundant.
In 1947, before we became independent, there were two major political parties which contested the general elections in this country, one was the Congress and the other the Muslim League. The Congress had stated unambiguously in its manifesto that it was against the creation of Pakistan and would not support partition. They had in fact used the phrase “Akhand Hindustan”. Today no Congress man would dare to use the phrase “Akhand Hindustan”. If he did he would be labeled communal. It is only the RSS alone which has consistently spoken of “Akhand Hindustan or Akhand Bharat”. The RSS worships Akhand Bharat, the undivided India. The Muslim League on the other hand stated that its objective was to create a Pakistan and wanted the partition of our nation to achieve their goal. History attests to the fact that even in those constituencies in today’s Pakistan and what is today Bangladesh, and what remains of India, the separatist Muslim League, did not win the elections. Mind you, not even in what is today Pakistan and Bangladesh! What does this prove? Pakistan was created not by the desire of the Muslim people but by the machinations and obduracy of the Muslim leadership of the time. When Prime Minister Vajpayee undertook to travel to Lahore on his visionary peace initiative, an editorial in one of the leading Pakistani dailies remarked that the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee is so highly regarded in Pakistan today that were he and Nawaz Shariff to contest elections from the same constituency, Vajpayee would win with a landslide victory.
The point is, there is no need for a plebiscite in Kashmir to ascertain the views of the Kashmiris; what we do need however is a plebiscite in Pakistan to ascertain the views of Pakistanis on the partition of 1947. I would now like to narrate an incident that happened when Musharraf came to Agra. I have this from very reliable sources. In the course of his dialogue with the Indian Prime Minister, Musharraf is reported to have remarked to Vajpayee that he would accept that J&K is an integral part of India only if the people of ‘Kashmir’ said so through a plebiscite. To which our Prime Minister is supposed to have replied – “So you will accept any decision that the people may express through an election or a plebiscite? You have so much respect for the views of the people? To which Musharraf replied that yes, he would definitely accept the views of the Kashmiri people. Pat came the reply of the Indian Prime Minister, I hold this position because the people of my country have elected me. They have expressed their views. On what basis do you hold your position?”
Yesterday, on the occasion of their independence day, the self-anointed Pakistani President remarks that he fears the elections in J&K may not be free and fair! That is a laugh coming from a man who never faced elections, heading a country which, except for very brief intervals, has always been ruled by dictators. For Pakistan to be questioning the intentions of the Indian government in holding elections in J&K would be amusing if it were not so impudent. For a country whose leadership does not respect the views of its own people and which has no respect for the freedom of its people, to speak of freedom and democracy in J&K, is the height of absurdity. But it is true that all is not well with J&K and also that there is a very large element of unfairness with regard to a major section of its own people. There are nearly two and a half lakh Hindus in J&K who migrated from Pakistan into the state at the time of partition. These are second class citizens in that state. As per the highly discriminatory provisions of the fundamental rights as per the J&K state constitution, these People, who are Hindus cannot stand for elections to the state assembly, they cannot be elected to posts even in local polls. They do not have the right to vote either and cannot apply for state government jobs and as students cannot avail of government scholarships. They cannot own property and cannot buy land. This is the condition of a section of people in J&K, Indian citizens! Secularist media and secularist academics have not written editorials or written articles and books on this gross perversion, on this denial of fundamental rights. This perversion doesn’t stop here.
Although when these people speak of Kashmir, it is not Kashmir, it is Jammu and Kashmir. There are three major regional and cultural formations in this state – the Muslim majority Kashmir valley, the Hindu majority Jammu and the Buddhist majority Laddakh. Jammu is larger than the valley both in terms of territory and population. But the number of assembly segments reserved for the Kashmir valley is 46 as against 37 for Jammu and 4 for Laddakh. There is the same discrimination in the Lok Sabha constituencies too – 3 for the valley, 2 for Jammu and 1 for Laddakh. The statistics is as follows – the Kashmir valley elects I member to the Assembly for every 8% percent of its population while Jammu elects one representative for every 12% of its population. No parity at all. When it comes to revenue collection, the valley contributes only 30% of the total while Jammu contributes 70% of it but the budget allocation is predominantly in favour of the Kashmir valley while very little is allocated to Jammu and Laddakh. Therefore successive state governments in J&K have been guilty of brazen discrimination against the people of Jammu and Laddakh while the valley Muslims have cornered all benefits. Seventy percent of the state budget allocations go to the valley alone while a mere 30% is divided between Jammu and Laddakh. The state is almost entirely dependent on central funds to administer the state and even here over 90% of the central funds is gobbled up by the valley while a paltry 10% of the central funds is used for administering Jammu and Laddakh. This is religious bigotry and discrimination at its most brazen. Only now are some people beginning to even acknowledge that the Hindus and the Buddhists of the state have been denied their constitutional rights and have also been discriminated against.
Therefore the situation in J&K is by no means normal. It cannot be resolved easily and the two parties totally responsible for this state of affairs is the Congress party at the Center and the National Conference in the state. Had the state been integrated into the Indian Union wholly as desired by Maharaja Hari Singh, we would not be facing the problems we are facing today because of Article 370, a foolish concession made by Nehru just to appease Sheikh Abdulah. I had been to the Andamans recently. There is a small island there – an island gifted by Nehru to Lady Mountbatten who later sold it to the Chinese government for a handsome amount. This is the kind of scant respect that Nehru had for the sacredness of the territory of our nation – he gifted away Jammu and Kashmir to the Abdullahs and gifted away an island to Lady Mountbatten. The question may well be asked of the BJP, if the nature of the National Conference and the Abdullahs is so obvious to, then why align with it politically at all. Our reasoning is simple we have to use the Abdullah clan and the NC to deal with the problem which was created by them in the first place. It was from this very forum that a highly respected advocate of the Madras High Court had remarked that were it not for Sheikh Abdullah, J&K would have been swallowed by Pakistan. While not agreeing with him totally, I still believe that Sheikh Abdulah for his own self-interest had no desire for J&K to accede to Pakistan and therefore mouthed pro-India sentiments. We have to use a thorn to pull out the thorn.
There will be no return to the pre-1953 dispensation, no matter how pitched the rhetoric on Autonomy, I will assure you all that. The only thing for which we may give some credit to Nehru is for his decision to imprison Sheikh Abdullah for treason and keep him incarcerated in Kodaikanal for 19 years. Please note the absurdity of what I am about to tell you. If the Central government named the airport and the prison complex in the Andamans after Veer savarkar, it was because Savarkar was a fierce patriot, devoted to the nation and bitterly opposed to he british. But the state government in Tamil Nadu has renamed the ‘Kohinoor’ Bungalow in Kodaikanal as Sheikh Abdullah bungalow, after a man who was imprisoned there, not by the British for being a nationalist, but who was imprisoned there for plotting to declare independence and for plotting the secession of J&K from India. This can happen only in India, I tell you. Jammu and Kashmir will never be allowed to secede. This the Abdullahs know only too well because it is not just Kashmir and the Muslims of Kashmir, it is Jammu and Kashmir, and this means we have to listen to the wishes of the people of Jammu and Laddakh too. The NC cannot sever ties with the NDA. This too the Abdullahs know well enough; because once they are out of the NDA, they have no security and above all, they will become irrelevant in national politics. There is no going back to pre-1953 state of affairs I assure you all once again. There will be elections, and elections will be held there no matter what Pakistan’s machinations.
Prime Minister Vajpayee when he was the Leader Of the Opposition, attended the Geneva Convention and led the Indian delegation. On his return, I had occasion to meet with him and he told me that the saddest moment of his life was when he had to plead with little countries, and their leaders to defeat Pakistan’s motion against India on J&K. We are a civilization, he told me, the oldest and most glorious civilization and for us to beg for the support of such small countries which are no match for us, was the saddest moment for an Indian. He was happy to have defeated Pakistan’s motion but his heart bled in pain to be held to ransom by these countries. But what a turn around in world affairs. There was that time when India had to plead for the support of small countries but today Pakistan stands isolated, not because Pakistan became the villain overnight. Pakistan was always the villain, it was the international community which stood exposed. And therefore Pakistan stood isolated.
When Musharraf and Vajpayee met in Agra, it all began informally enough. Musharraf had asked Vajpayee how it was that a poet like him took to the rough life of a politician. Vajpayee is said to have replied that he had indeed been a light hearted poet until his leader Shyama Prasad Mukherjee had led the agitation into J&K and died there under mysterious circumstances. “I never saw him alive after that”, said Vajpayee “and that changed me and my focus in life”. ‘Agra Summit fails’ screamed the headlines in the English dailies when Musharraf stormed out of the Summit, angry and empty handed. But that it failed was the biggest victory for the NDA government. We did not yield an inch to Musharraf’s intractable demands although there was a lot of pressure on the NDA government from inside the country and from the international community to somehow keep the Summit going until a breakthrough was achieved. But Vajpayee and his government did not yield and did not succumb to the pressure. The Agra Summit could only have ended in failure given that Musharraf asked for the impossible.
I know that many things need to be done differently; but for that to happen, the BJP must win the next general election with an absolute majority. Once that happens we will begin by scrapping Article 370. The rest will follow. We do not rely on any super power to deal with Pakistan. The USA has to deal with Pakistan for the same reason that the Abdullah clan and the NC have to deal with terrorism in J&k – they are the creators of the problem. Pakistan is what the USA and the international community have made it – they supplied it with arms, they looked the other way when it acquired nuclear weapons, they gave it money and they gave Musharraf the legitimacy that he did not have. Far from surrendering even one inch of this nation’s territory to Pakistan again, the time has come to recover all that we lost. J&K is trifurcated today – a part is held by China and another by Pakistan. We have to retrieve what was forcibly taken from us. The trifurcation must end and we must get back the whole of J&K into India again. This is all I can say about trifurcation. Pujya Sudarshanji is here and I have my limitations in this regard. Thank you all.
Shri. K.S.Sudarshan, Sarsanghachalak of Rss
Respected Ganesanji, the office bearers of Vigil, and assembled gathering of intellectuals. I have been asked to throw some light on what happened in Gujarat. When Radha Rajan said that the Pope wants freedom of conscience to be granted by every country to its citizens, but that he himself is not prepared to give that freedom inside the Vatican, I was reminded of a statement by one Bishop Louis Winnelot. He says this about the Christians “when we are in a minority, we demand freedom of religion in the name of your principles. When we are in a majority, we deny the same freedom to you in the name of our principles”. Then she made another observation: Why is it that whatever is happening in Gujarat is being so vehemently criticised, not only by the politicians but also by the intellectuals of our country? They keep mum when it comes to the Kashmiris who have been hounded out of their hearths and homes twelve years back. But they will be talking about the Muslims who were killed in Gujarat. Why this doublespeak by the secular intellectuals? When it comes to Hindus they keep mum but when it comes to Muslims they are vociferous.
There is a reason for the way our intellectuals in the media and academia behave. In order to appreciate it fully, I shall take you back to 1835 when Lord Macaulay gave his speech in the British Parliament. This speech is available in the minutes of the Parliament. In that speech he made a significant observation. The observation is – “I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar or a thief. There is so much wealth, such high moral values and people of such caliber that we would never be able to conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation which is her spiritual and cultural heritage; and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them to be – a truly dominated nation”.
Now Macaulay has been successful in creating a band of such uprooted or rootless people in our country. They had been the backbone of the British Empire here at that time. Therefore after we attained freedom, little had changed in the way this country administered herself. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was himself a product of English education. He was educated where his family moved when he was five years of age. His whole upbringing was in tune with British culture. And he once told John Galbraith in all seriousness, “I am the last Englishman to rule this country”. Now, this breed of self-alienated intellectuals has been joined by another breed called the Marxists. They are also self-alienated - from their cultural roots. They have no pride in their cultural heritage. On the contrary, they make it a point to tell us at every opportunity that they are ashamed of it. And therefore this breed of individuals, as one of my friends in the Benares Hindu University says, are Euro-Indians. Though they are Indians by birth, their whole thinking is Euro-centric. All the issues in our country will be looked at by them from the European angle. And these fellows have today dominated all the educational institutions, the academic forums as well as the media, especially the English media. And it is because of this that the whole media and all these intellectuals are collectively against us, against Hindutva, which is the soul of this country. Their greatest ire is that in spite of their continuous tirade against some of the Hindu organizations for 50 years, they have not been able to arrest their progress.
And today some of the representatives of these thrice-damned communalists have not only come to power in certain states but have also come to power in the centre. This is something they can’t digest. And therefore they are trying with all their might to run them down, to defame them and defame all Hindu institutions. They have set in motion the practice of intellectual terrorism. Those who do not agree with them and those who look at the issues of the country from an Indo-centric angle, are trashed, and consigned to the dustbin. And they will abuse them with the choicest epithets - communal, narrow-minded, retrogressive, reactionary, obscurantist and even fascist.
It is this intellectual terrorism which is characterising their public discourse on Gujarat. These people are looking at the happenings in Gujarat from their own euro-centric angle. It is because of this that they are so vehement in their criticism. We can understand the criticism of the politicians because they have some political axe to grind. But what about the media? What about the other intellectuals. It is only because they too are Euro-Indians, Macaulay putras and Marx putras.
Now coming to the actual happenings in Gujarat. All that has happened so far has been triggered off by what happened in Godhra. There is an NGO in Delhi – Council for International Affairs and Human Rights. It sent a study team to Gujarat. It was headed by Justice D.S.Tewatia, who was the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court and before that, the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Some eminent journalists, some eminent Supreme Court advocates and academicians were all part of the five member team, which went to different parts of Gujarat. They interacted with the general public, with the victims of the Godhra incident and also of other violent incidents in Gujarat. They compiled their findings into a Report.
In that report they have described the initial incident at Godhra: “The barbarous burning of the train at Godhra has been described in great detail. I will read out a portion of it now. “On the 22nd of February, this year, the Sabarmati express started from Faizabad 225 minutes late. On that fateful day, 2300 pilgrims were traveling by the train. Most of them were returning from Ayodhya after the Purna Ahuti yagna. Most of the Muslim passengers got down at Dahod railway station and the rest of them at Godhra and it appears that when the train was torched there were no Muslim passengers in the train except those who were to stop the train by pulling the chain as part of the conspiracy to burn the pilgrims alive. At 7.47 Hrs the train started to move from Godhra station but stopped for a few moments as some passengers could not board the train. It finally left the station but came to a halt about 700 metres away from the station as someone had pulled the chain. The vacuum pipe between the coaches S6 and S7 was cut thereby preventing any further movement of the train. Miscreants threw stones and bricks at the train. As soon as the train left the Godhra station, the stoning intensified after the train stopped about 700 metres away at a place called Falia. The passengers of the coaches S5, S6 and S7 particularly were the main targets. The passengers reportedly shut the doors and windows to protect themselves. Burning missiles and acid bulbs were thrown at and into the coaches and one such missile landed in coach S7. The fire spread but was controlled by the passengers. The attack continued and more burning missiles were thrown into coach S6. Soon S6 caught fire and within minutes it was in flames. Passengers who managed to get out of the burning compartment were attacked with sharp weapons. Some of them got out through the windows and took shelter below the coach. After some time, between 20 and 40 minutes, fire engines arrived at the scene and took about half an hour to extinguish the fire. Inside the coach 58 charred bodies were found. They included 26 women and 12 children. Those who had seen the charred bodies, shiver even weeks after the incident while recalling the gory scene. Even a cursory look at the photograph of the charred bodies is a chilling experience. Forty-three injured persons were rushed to the civil hospital at Godhra with different degrees of burns. The train left Godhra at about 12.30 Hrs minus coach S6. Fifty-eight dead and 43 injured”.
Now, as soon as this incident happened, hours afterwards, a mysterious email was sent to Delhi, Bombay and Michigan. What did it say? It said “The event had actually begun not at Godhra but at Dahod. At 5.30 AM the train reached Dahod and halted there till 6.00. The Karsevaks got down for tea and snacks. There the Karsevaks broke the stalls after a skirmish. After that the stall owner registered an NC, (it says NC; we do not know what it means, it may be an FIR), with the police. The Karsevaks had alighted at the Godhra railway station, they quarreled intentionally with a minority community “chacha” with a beard while having tea and snacks. Hearing this, the sixteen year old daughter, staying near the railway station came and started pleading with them to stop. On hearing the girl, the Karsevaks took the girl inside the coach. The train started to move and many people jumped into the train to rescue the girl”.
Now can this be possible? Those Karsevaks who were traveling with their wives and children could ever do such a thing in such a situation. Again it was averred that the Karsevaks who came from their bogies attacked the crowd with long bamboo sticks which were used to attach the banners. This was like adding insult to injury to the crowd gathered there. As a result the angry crowd took petrol from nearby trucks and rickshaws to save the girl. The petrol was not taken from the nearby petrol pump. It is a categorical statement that the petrol was not taken from the nearby petrol pump. And this story was carried by the Delhi newspapers. The interesting part of the whole thing is that it was given in the name of two journalists: Anil Soni and Neelam Soni. Both were reporters of the Gujarat Samachar newspaper as also members of the PTI and ANI. So therefore, Prem Shankar Jha, who is an eminent columnist, rang up Anil Soni to know the details. He gave a write up in OUTLOOK. He says that he was surprised when Soni not only categorically denied having ever filed such a story but also claimed that the contents of the email were exact opposite to what had happened.
The next day when he rang up again, he was out and his son Vimal told him in great detail what his father had found at the site of the tragedy. He said it was pre-planned and went on to add chilling details that his father had not included in his story. He entreated Prem Shankar Jha to publicise the fact that his father did not file such a story which Prem Shankar Jha did and got it published in Outlook. So from the very beginning since the incident occurred, efforts were made to spread disinformation, to obfuscate the whole matter. The study team came to the conclusion that the whole affair was pre-planned. They say the attack on the Sabarmati Express was pre-planned and pre-meditated. It was the result of a criminal conspiracy hatched by a hostile foreign power with the help of the local Jehadis. The report further listed some of the mysteries. They say - the Assistant Collector of Godhra, a young Muslim of eastern UP goes on leave two days before the incident and does not return till the middle of March while the district of his posting was aflame with communal riots, absence of information with the District officials about the number of arms licenses issued, abnormally large number of passports issued to the residents of Godhra, presence of a large number of persons without ration cards in some localities of Godhra. They also observe that a large number of unemployed Muslims in Godhra possess mobile phones. A very high traffic of telephone calls from Godhra to Pakistan, (mainly Karachi where there is a locality called Godhra locality) – before February 27. This is what the study team has reported.
Now Godhra is a place with 48% Muslim population. And the rate of increase of Muslim population is enormous. It is not a pilgrim centre like Ajmer nor is it an educational institution like Deoband or Aligarh. Nevertheless Godhra has held three isthamas (religious congregation). Now, the people in Godhra are economically weak. But these big congregations were held. Participants from a 100 Muslim countries participated in one of these Ishthamas.. And therefore it strengthens the general belief of the people that it is being funded by foreign powers. So, this is what is happening in Godhra. And it has had a long history of communal riots since 1928 when Morarji Desai was the collector there. From then on riots have taken place periodically and every time it is the Muslims who have caused and aggravated the riots.
Now there is a nagarpaalika, a municipality where there are 50 members of the Muslim community and most of them are Congressmen. And they took an active part in burning the Hindus in the Sabarmathi Express. There is one Haji Bilal, a Congress municipality member, who, according to the locals, has been proudly proclaiming himself as the Bin Laden of Godhra. Then the President of the district Congress Committee, Faroukh Malla, and Congress activist and member of municipality Abdul Rahman Gatiya are among those booked for the carnage giving credence to the report that local Congressmen were actively involved in burning the train. It was Haji Bilal who was also responsible for delaying the fire brigade. Now the question arises, What was the motive for this heinous, barabaric act? There were two motives, as I see it.
One: the primary objective of the Jehadi elements was to create a communally tense situation throughout Bharat. And if they succeeded in doing that, (and because the armies of both Pakistan and Bharat were standing eyeball to eyeball at the border at that time), the Indian army would have been pulled back to quell these riots all over the country. Pakistan wanted the Indian army to be pulled back because Pakistan was finding it a very major economic and financial burden to maintain its army at the border in a state of alert. So it wanted the Indian troops to be pulled back from the border. Had that happened not only would Pakistan heaved a sigh of relief but it would have made the Indian borders vulnerable and porous. And that would have been to Pakistan’s advantage. They could smuggle arms and narcotics into India. This was one of the reasons why they did it.
Another reason was their miscalculated plan to isolate Bharat in the international community, to tarnish its image as a pluralist and democratic society. Unfortunately for our country, our political parties and also the media, instead of unraveling the real causes of the incident, just ignored it. They ought to have investigated the Godhra massacre, the conspiracy and the motives behind it. Instead, they belittled the enormity of the crime by projecting yet another act of terrorism by a section of the Muslims as just a reaction to the Ayodhya incident. They pegged the massacre of Hindus at Godhra with Ayodhya, as yet another reaction to December 6 and also by unsubstantiated and unverified allegations that the karsevaks returning from Ayodhya provoked the Muslims to masacre the Hindus. The media has always thus condoned and rationalised every terrorist act be it Coimbatore, the Mumbai blast massacre or Godhra by pointing to December 6. And this time the media and the secular intellectuals despicably the onus of the massacre of the Hindus on the Hindu pilgrims. They focussed their venom and their hypocritical anger on the reaction that occurred in the rest of Gujarat.
The Lok Sabha debate on Gujarat suffered from the same malaise and did not make anybody any wiser. Everybody spoke according to their political affiliation and calling. The entire debate was centered around the news stories that were published in Delhi newspapers. Newspapers also obliged this disinformation campaign by dishing out half truths and concocted stories. The stories were one sided. It was made to appear that only Muslims were being targeted in the riots and there were only Muslim victims. Arundhati Roy, published a totally false story that the daughter of an ex-MP, Ehsan Jaffri, was disrobed in the middle of the road, raped and ultimately burned. The next day Ehsan Jaffri’s son said that he had two sisters both of whom were in America and safe. The whole story was a concocted lie. Ultimately Arundhati Roy had to apologise for the falsehood that she had perpetrated.
The electronic media, especially Star news played havoc by interviewing only the Muslim victims and showing their breast beating and wailing. They tried to create the impression that what was happening was genocide of Muslims being systematically carried out with help of the State. Stray and sporadic incidents of violence and arson were repeatedly shown for over 24 hours, contributing to the impression that all of Gujarat was burning. Now Pakistan could not have hoped for anything better. Everything was happening according to their plan and expectations. Both the electronic and print media as also the opposition leaders were providing the grist for the Pakistani propaganda mill. Strange as it may appear, Pakistan had banned all Indian television channels in Pakistan. But as soon as the Gujarat incidents started to happen, they ban was withdrawn so that the people of Pakistan could see what was happening to the Muslims in India. The study team of Justice Tewatia had this to say about the media - “Local and regional newspapers at times seemed to be emotionally surcharged and lost sight of objectivity. However Gujarati newspapers were by and large factual in day to day reporting”. But the English media in Delhi demanded that action be taken against Gujarati newspapers for their ‘biased’ reporting. But this report by the Justice Tewatia team says that they were factual in their day to day reporting.
“The editorial pages of local and regional newspapers maintained a balance in projecting all view points. Newspapers published from Delhi invariably editorialized the news. Direct and indirect comments in the news were so telling that the personal likes and dislikes of news reporters were too obvious to be missed. The English language newspapers published from Delhi appeared to have assumed the role of crusaders against the state government from day one. They covered the entire operation of news-gathering, feature writing and editorials. The editorial pages of English newspapers carried comments that clearly indicated biases against the state government of Gujarat, in favour of the Congress, the left parties and secular intellectuals, indifferent to the carnage at Godhra, against Hindu organisations and against the NDA government at the centre. Most of the national newspapers and news channels played down the intensity of the Godhra carnage and projected it as a result of provocation by the pilgrims. Not many reporters were deputed to dig out facts or to do follow up stories. This resulted in a large number of editorials and articles, which projected the Godhra massacre as a reaction to provocation by Karsevaks and the riots in the rest of the state as State sponsored terrorism. Repeated telecasts of arson and violence contributed to spreading the tension to unaffected areas”.
TV channels ignored warnings from officials and kept telecasting the communal riots like infotainment. Media did not help cool down the tempers. It failed to act as a platform for dialogue between Hindus and the Muslims on the one hand and the people and the administration on the other. The team was alarmed at the intensity of the hostile attitude towards the people of the state by the Delhi press and the news channels. Some of the lawyers, doctors and businessmen who came to talk to the study team said that there would be complete peace in Gujarat if some of the TV channels are closed down for some weeks. That was the role of the media.
The reaction in other parts of Gujarat to the Godhra massacre went into three stages. The first stage was the immediate reaction. Now the massacre happened on the 27th Feb. Nothing happened for 24 hours though the situation had become already tense. But then, when the charred bodies and the injured persons and rest of the passengers who had gone to Ayodhya returned to their homes, there was great resentment and a spontaneous reaction of the whole Hindu society against the Muslims. And therefore in this reaction, the society stood up as a whole. Everybody was there. There was no distinction between castes, professions or political affiliations or social status. Everybody from the poor to the rich reacted strongly.
Now in that first reaction which was spontaneous the Muslims were the target. Four major incidents occurred, two in Ahmedabad and two in other places. In Ahmedabad there are two localities Narodia Patia and Gulmarg Society. Sardar Khura, Mehsana district and Baroda and Panchamahal District where the Muslims were targeted and killed. But then, this situation was brought under control within 3-4 days. Up to the 4th of March the Hindu reaction had already subsided because it was a spontaneous reaction and whenever such reactions happen, history tells us that they subside in 3-4 days. But then again afterwards, the reaction to Godhra enters the second phase. And during this phase the reaction was from the Muslims. And starting from the 3rd March and continuing till the 30th April there were incidents in different places where the Muslims started the riots and Hindus reacted to it. The Muslims intentionally kept the flames of Gujarat burning.
To tell you some of the instances - at Gandhi Road in Ahmedabad, 37 shops were burnt including Chandravilas hotel. This was on 3rd March. At Anjar iBhuj, Hanumanji’s temple was destroyed. Riots began in that area. In Ahmedabad several Muslim women attacked a police chowki. Near Surat between Miru Lakshmi and Kosway, the Nemina temple was attacked by the Muslims. On 9th March around 2000 Muslim women gheraoed the Kalupur police station. On the 21st March a mob of 1000 Muslims surrounded the LIC building. On 22nd 150 shops were burnt in the Sindhi market in Ahmedabad. On 27th March- live electric supply wires were used to kill small girls in Prantich district in Mehsana. On 17th April Muslims owning firearms, firied from Juhupura Muslim locality on the police force and army. On 22nd April, the Ram Navami processions were attacked, there was a major attack upon the Hindus and policeman killed in Ahmedabad on attack on temple. On 24th in Ahmedabad about 200 huts belonging to poor Hindus were burned. On 28th in Vadodara Mahakali Temple was destroyed. Chandramouleeshwar temple was attacked and a 10 year old boy was killed. On 29th April factory manufactured crude oil bombs were discovered by the police. On 30th two Muslims were killed while preparing bombs in Ahmedabad at midnight.
Now all these incidents kept the fire burning for over two months in Gujarat. But in all media reports it was the Hindus and the government that were blamed for the riots. The government was slack and late in calling the Army was one accusation. But what was the truth? Justice Tewatia’s study team reports - “the army was requisitioned in time. Barring a few exceptions the police was not found to be communally motivated. Police on many occasions were overwhelmed by the rioting mobs that were massive and carried more lethal weapons than the police did”.
The study team also gave the socio-economic profile of the rioting mobs based on information collected. It says: “Muslim mobs predominantly included people of lower socio-economic strata. Muslims mobs included many known faces but the number of persons not seen earlier in the locality was also very large. Hindu mobs especially during the first week of March comprised a mix of people belonging to the lower middle and upper-middle socio-economic strata. Involvement of all middle class Hindus in arson and rioting is a phenomenon seen for the first time in the country. Another new phenomenon reported was the presence and active participation of women in the mobs’. One more thing that I wish to tell you all was that the vanavasis too reacted ferociously to Godhra. And when Sonia Gandhi got there with her team she was astonished as to how the vanavasis could rise against the Muslims. But characteristically, the media did not care to find out why the vanavasis reacted so strongly against the Muslims. And the tribal people themselves complained to the study team that nobody was looking at their plight.
What was the reason for the ire of the vanavasis? The Muslim money lenders, shopkeepers and forest contractors had been exploiting the tribals for decades. They charged exorbitant rates of interest, in certain cases as high as 50% per annum. They ill treated those employees who were their servants. The accumulated anger of years of exploitation became explosive. There were reports that these money lenders sexually exploited their women folk. The tribals are no longer allowed to use forest produce that has been their sustenance for centuries. This too fuelled their feeling of anger and hatred and revenge. The report says: “the tribals of late have become conscious of their Hindu identity because of the awareness campaign launched by the VHP and other Hindu outfits. Burning alive of the Hindu pilgrims by a Muslim mob at Godhra provided the spark for the fire of revenge and hatred.”
So thus it is that all of the Hindu society rose as a whole without any differences of cast, status, or political affiliation. It was a spontaneous reaction. Now many of our Hindu intellectuals just derided this phenomenon. They have described it as a deviation from Hindutva. One of my Christian friends wrote me a letter and asked “What would have Gandhi done had he been present at Gujarat at that time? I wrote back, “Though Gandhi in the 1920s had said that in all the riots the Hindus always came out second best because an average Muslim is a bully and an average Hindu is a coward; and so long as there are cowards there shall be bullies. But the same Mahatma Gandhi for political reasons in 1941 when there were riots throughout the country asked Hindus not to retaliate as long as they were in the Congress. They could go out of the Congress and retaliate was what he said. When this was published in the newspapers, Shri K.M.Munshi asked Gandhi why Hindus, who are being attacked and face danger to family and property, should not retaliate to violence with violence. They should be given freedom to use violence against such marauders. Mahatma Gandhi wrote back, “If you are convinced about it, you can do it, but only after going out of the Congress”.
In 1946 when Jinnah launched his Direct Action movement against the Hindus and Hindus were targeted everywhere, Sardar Patel said, “Congress is ready for civil war. Swords will be met with swords”. And Mahatma Gandhi chided Sardar Patel for saying that giving Jinnah an opportunity to mock at Sardar Patel and say, “Sardar is a very brave man, but where is his sword?” Now, this emboldened the Muslims. They said that if we attacked the Hindus and loot their properties they would not retaliate even in self-defence. So I told my Christian friend, ‘This is not what Hindutva teaches. And according to Mahatma Gandhi himself, it is because of the weakness of Hindus that such attacks are being made against them. I ultimately gave him an excerpt from Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda had said, “Ahimsa is a very lofty principle. Not to retaliate against evil is a still loftier principle. But whatever our scriptures say, our shastras say, if anybody gives you one slap, if you do not retaliate by giving ten slaps then you are not fit to be called a man”. And then he quoted from the Manusmriti which says, “If anybody comes as a tormenter, he may be a boy, he may be a guru, he may be a Brahmin or a learned man, if he comes as a tormenter kill him without a second thought”. That is what our scriptures have taught us. And therefore the Hindus of Gujarat have retaliated against what was an attack against their women and children. And because the Hindus have retaliated there, it has created a fear complex for the Muslims also. It was because of this that subsequently when peace efforts were launched, many of the Muslims came forward to and joined the effort...
The media tried to create a myth that the whole of Gujarat was burning. But here are some eye opening facts. Out of 18,000 villages and more in Gujarat, those affected by riots were fewer than 100. From March 18th to 28th the first phase of HSE and SSE examinations were conducted smoothly. Over 1.2 crore students participated in various examinations with an average attendance of 98%. Nearly 1700 village panchayats went on to conduct incident free elections on March 11th. The voter turnout was 75%. Muharram was observed peacefully with around 2000 Tajia processions throughout the state. Holi was also celebrated peacefully. Around 7000 Haj pilgrims returned to the state in the meantime and were warmly welcomed in their villages. The Rathyatra procession on 12 July was celebrated with great enthusiasm and also welcomed by the Muslims. The plan of agent provocateurs was foiled by the police when they unearthed a huge cache of arms and ammunition in the same period.
This was not the first time that Gujarat has been troubled by riots. Here are some facts that I place before you. Now, Ahmedabad has been experiencing these riots since 1710. After independence there have been major riots periodically in Gujarat. The major riots were in 1969, 1985, 1992, 1995 and 2002. In 1969 and 1985 the gram panchayats were with the Congress. There was a Congress government in the state and Centre and the gram panchayats. Let us see how these governments dealt with these riots. In 1969 the riots started on 18th September following the incident near the Jagannath temple. The riots spread to areas under the jurisdiction of eleven Deputy Commissioners of Police. The army was called 4 days after the riots began. The riots were brought under control within 5-6 days though sporadic incidents continued for another 3 months. The death toll registered at that time was 666 and the population in Ahmedabad was only 17 lakhs. In 1985, the riots started in February and continued for up to 5 months. All the major cities of Gujarat were affected. The army was summoned only after two and a half months and by then the death toll was 177. The total deaths were 266. Godhra was put under curfew for a whole year. In 1990 the death toll in the riots was 290 and in 1992 it was 441. What happened in 2002? The riots started as a result of the Godhra carnage and spread to a wider area both rural and urban. The army was called in on the second day itself and actual deployment of army had begun at 11 am on 1st March at sensitive points. The situation was brought to normal within 4 days. Total number of deaths were 741 of which 257 were Hindus including those who were burnt alive in Godhra. In addition 204 persons died in police firing both Hindus and Muslims. But after 3rd March, retaliation by the Muslims started. But the government acted firmly. Out of a total of 66,518 arrests 54,177 were Hindus and 12,341 were Muslims. This gives total lie to the propaganda that the state government acted in a partisan manner and the killing of the Muslims was State sponsored.
Now as far as rehabilitation is concerned, in all the earlier riots during the Congress regime, compensation was paid only to the family and relatives of the dead. But it is for the first time in Gujarat that the government has given sustenance to the riot affected people and tried to help them in their rehabilitation. During all the previous riots compensation was given only to those whose relatives had died. This time even riot affected people were given aid to sustain themselves and reconstruct their houses. A total of 103 relief camps were opened to provide safe temporary shelters to all displaced persons. The total number of inmates at the height of the disturbance was 1,13,697 of which 68,100 were in Ahmedabad alone. Now there are only four camps left in which only 9000 people are still living.
And in spite of all that the state government has done to bring the state to normalcy at the earliest, these politicians are crying that there should be no elections in Gujarat because the people are under fear and have not gone back to their houses. What about Kashmir where 2 ½ lakh people have come out of their homes and are languishing for the last 12 years in refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi while the rest are scattered in different parts of the country, some in Maharashtra, some in Mysore? In spite of that we are holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir. And here only 9000 people are in camps. And you say this cannot be held. This is because the Congress knows well that if it fights this election, it would not win at all. And therefore they have just borrowed one of our Sangh Swayamsevaks. Now Shankarsinh Waghela was formerly a Sangh Swayamsevaks. Now he has become the state Congress President and he is going to lead the Congress in the elections. A hue and cry was raised about the adverse affects of the riots on Gujarat’s economy. That was also completely false. It was only in 2% of the area that riots took place and where the people were affected. The rest of Gujarat was calm.
In Ahmedabad too, which was the worst affected, all the banks worked normally. Financial transactions were close to normal. Some 47 lakh cheques were encashed. Similarly none of the big industries were affected. As far as small industries are concerned only 15% were affected. 85% of the small and medium units remained in operation. 220 hotels and restaurants were affected. But the effect was only on their furniture etc. The total loss was computed to around 10 crores. Not only that. During this period itself, an agreement was signed with a Dutch company about the development of the Hazira port at an investment of about 5200 crores. Trade and commerce were definitely affected and the most affected were the daily wage earners. But the government has declared an economic package for them. This is the actual position. They did not think what would be the outcome in the rest of the world when they projected India as a simmering communal cauldron.
The English educated of this country have tried to defame our country in the eyes of the world. So therefore today their intellectual and other battles against the Hindu forces continues. But we are reacting too today. In many of the intellectual forums some new people are being brought in and in some academic institutions too the winds of change are blowing. Even the text books written by these self-alienated intellectuals are being changed. So there is a hue and cry about saffronisation of the education system. Well Macaulay wanted to de-saffronise this country by breaking its backbone which is our spiritual and cultural heritage. Today when we are re-saffronising it to undo the ill-effects of what Macaulay had done, we should all welcome it. Saffron ultimately represents our spiritual and cultural heritage. It should be saffronised. There is nothing about it to hang our heads in shame. We should be proud of it. But these people know that if that happens, then it will sound their death knell. It is because of this that they have become so very vehement in criticising the Hindu organizations but ultimately the Hindutva forces are coming up. It is not something that we say. It is destined. Swami Vivekananda had said, “Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was born in 1836 and an epochal change began. And Rishi Aurobindo had said that the yuga sandhi, that is the period between two epochs, is 175 years. When you add 175 to 1836 you come to 2011. And by 2011 India is going to lead the world.