Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tehelka tells us what we have always known

Indian Express: "What a sting operation in 2007 says has been in the public sphere since 2002. We have always known that the state in Gujarat allowed the gruesome violence to play out, when it didn’t actively collude in the killings."

The Economic Times: "The Tehelka-Aaj Tak sting operation adds nothing new to the shameful truth about how the state machinery enabled the ruling BJP and its sister-organisations to carry out the 2002 pogrom in Gujarat."

The Hindustan Times: "But in a way, all the grisly details that were aired on prime time TV have been recorded and known for some time now."

Some have seen this exposé as something that Tehelka did with the intent of targeting the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. That may well be the case, but that need not detract us from the 'on camera confessions' from so many people implicating themselves and so many others in the 2002 massacre. Not just politicians, but police and public prosecutors as well.

And the utter lack of remorse with which the men behind the massacre recount the grisly details is absolutely, totally chilling. For example:

Suresh Richard, an accused in the Naroda Patiya massacre, confesses to rape. He tells you he is not lying, because he is admitting to it in the presence of his wife.

As Tarun Tejpal tells us repeatedly in his editorial, "Read. And be afraid."

That message is for mere mortals like us. But how about the judiciary? Here's HT:

So while the Tehelka footage seeks to provide a ‘flesh and blood’ reminder about what took place in Gujarat in 2002 and has re-stirred many of us into sitting up with horror, the real business — that of bringing the guilty to justice and providing the nation with a closure on the episode — lies elsewhere.

The commission of enquiry looking into the Godhra train deaths and the subsequent mayhem was first set up by the state government on March 2, 2002. With growing criticism against the head of the commission, retired High Court judge K.G. Shah, being close to the BJP, the commission was ‘reconstituted’ on May 22, 2002, with retired Supreme Court Justice G.T. Nanavati heading it. One understands that what the commission is investigating is a vast collection of disparate, disjointed, rambling incidents that require interviewing many witnesses and many conflicting points of view. But considering the fact that it will be the report’s findings that will enable judicial proceedings to be carried out against the many individual perpetrators of the pogrom, it is time for the Nanavati Commission to deliver that report and set the ball in motion.

The National Human Rights Commission report, based on the findings of a team visiting Gujarat between March 19 and March 22, 2002, also mentions what the latest Tehelka sting ‘shows’. It had called for the CBI to look into those cases that it stated to be the very worst incidents “of murder, arson, rape and other atrocities, including many committed against women and children”. So, in a way, while Tehelka has jogged our memories and shown us what is deemed to be another visible and horrifying aspect of the Gujarat riots, the job is pending with the Nanavati Commission. Surely, any delay in starting the judicial process against the killers and their abettors — and there were abettors in the state official machinery — will be a delay in bringing justice not only to victims in Gujarat but also to the nation. Instead of sinking into the quicksand of politics that is bound to develop from the Tehelka ‘exposé’ in the months leading up to the December polls in Gujarat, let the Commission findings be expedited fast. Before a very real genocide turns into a myth that turns into a rumour that no hand of the law will be able to touch.