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Goebbelsian secularism

Goebbelsian secularism

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 15, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/169650/Goebbelsian-secularism.html

Punish Gujarat's perjury promoters

The findings by the Special Investigation Team - appointed by the Supreme Court and headed by Mr RK Raghavan, the former CBI director - that the activist group Citizens for Justice and Peace fabricated 'evidence' relating to the Gujarat violence of 2002 are revealing. The SIT has found about two dozen key witnesses were tutored and made to sign template affidavits, printed out on the same printer. The witnesses gave bogus evidence about the alleged rape and murder of a pregnant woman, named Kauser Bano, whose stomach was apparently torn open and foetus pulled out. The SIT has concluded that this grisly and hideous incident simply did not happen. Another fictitious case related to witnesses who claimed to have seen bodies dumped into a well in the Naroda Patiya neighbourhood of Ahmedabad. Again, no corroborative evidence has been found and the SIT has reason to believe this incident too never took place. In a third case, the police was falsely accused of aiding the murderers of a British national of Gujarati origin. Finally, claims that Mr PC Pandey, Commissioner of Ahmedabad police in 2002, colluded with a mob in an attack on Gulbarga Society, a largely Muslim residential quarter, were also found to be untrue. The SIT has established that Mr Pandey was elsewhere at the time.

While bringing into question the credibility of Ms Teesta Setalvad, the leading light of the CJP, the SIT revelations also point to a carefully crafted conspiracy. The myth about the murder of a pregnant woman, which became the subject of impassioned essays and books, was used to dehumanise Gujarati Hindus. The mass dumping of bodies in a well and the role of the police were used to point to a pogrom-like situation, with the state killing its own people. In targeting Mr Pandey, key functionaries of the Government were sought to be put on the backfoot. An attempt was made to prejudice public opinion and subvert investigations into the Godhra carnage and its aftermath even before these started. All this implies something far more serious than the genuine errors or even the wild ranting of over-imaginative vigilantes. Ms Setalvad obviously had a political motive. As has been known since the Zahira Shaikh case, there is a documented history to her coercing and bribing of witnesses and, now, of promoting perjury. The charge that the Gujarat Police protected the killers of a British citizen was particularly audacious. It inevitably had diplomatic implications, with Ms Setalvad causing her British interlocutors to believe they were dealing with a rogue Government in Gandhinagar. To call this treachery would be mild. Ms Setalvad has been shown up as having an unusually perverted criminal mind.

It is nobody's suggestion that there were no pre-meditated murders in Gujarat in February-March 2002. From the Godhra incineration of Hindu pilgrims to the retaliatory and counter-retaliatory killings that followed, hundreds of lives were lost. Justice may be delayed but it must be delivered. If individual officials or politicians had a role to play, they need to be punished. Indeed, the judicial process has already resulted in convictions. This does mean, however, that entire case histories can be manufactured and an activist cabal's political prejudices can be allowed to come in the way of reality. Ms Setalvad needs to be tried for vilifying and framing innocent people.

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