After his triumph in Karnataka where he thundered in four electoral constituencies, losing all four to the Congress whom it seems his fulminations did not persuade the crowds to “hate” enough, Narendra Damodar Modi found more accolades awaiting him at home in Gandhinagar, where he is used to being Caesar, for his customary good governance. Good governance that began in early 2002 with the decisive quelling of the uppity Gujarati Muslims, yielding a decade of funereal peace and quiet conducive to profit maximization.
A Division Bench of the Gujarat High Court has had the gumption to accuse his government of “shielding, protecting, and siding with police officials” arraigned in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter killing.
At a time when stories of executive interference in the investigative workings of the Central Bureau of Investigation are the flavour of the electronic channels, justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari observed how the Special Investigation Team had earlier alleged interference on the part of the State, while the CBI report left no doubt that the State government was shielding the accused cops (see The Hindu, May 11). Just to remind ourselves that, apart from being Caesar, Modi is also the Home minister of the state, and has been so from day one.
Poor CBI has recently been driven to issuing an arrest warrant against Additional Director General of Police, P.P. Pandey—no less—who seems to have gone missing with the benign connivance of the government in Gujarat, a circumstance rather reminiscent of the many months through which the convicted and sentenced Babu Bajrangi was shielded and hidden away under the aegis of Caesar himself as per Bajrangi’s confessions on the Tehelka Sting tapes. One has of course lost count of the number of similarly high-ranking police officers similarly accused in other fake encounter killings who are cooling their heels in the slammer—all, no doubt, testimony to the proverbial good governance of Narendra Modi. Ask an Adani, or an Ambani, or a Tata, and they would tell you how all these underside happenings are of little account so long as good governance keeps extending to unimpeded freebies and bonanzaz for them in the supreme “national interest.” Indeed the latest to join that chorus is the redoubtable icon of entrepreneurial success and probity, Shri Narayanmurthi. It seems the shining roads of Ahmedabad have done it for him.
Then there is the case of the senior IPS officer, Satish Verma, who was a member of the SIT in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, and the first to call the killing a cold blooded murder. While the Court had instructed the CBI to continue to avail of the services of Satish Verma inorder to nab the other accused, the State government sought his services elsewhere in habitual deflection of Court orders.
In the meanwhile, news comes that the judicial magistrate who had been hearing Zakia Jaffri’s Protest Petition on a day to day basis has been transferred after a week or so into the hearings. Just to recall that the Protest Petition challenges the conclusions drawn by the Raghavan-led SIT whom the Supreme Court had appointed to enquire into the Gulberg massacre case. The challenge, which is based on hitherto concealed evidence comprising call records and case diaries pertaining to the fateful days—Feb.,27 to March 1, 2002—demonstrates, for those who care to see, both the complicity of the Gujarat government at the highest level in the killings, and the failure or unwillingness of the SIT to admit such evidence and draw the inferences it should have drawn, although the amicus curiae in the case, also appointed by the Supreme Court, was to independently hold that the evidence already recorded by the SIT was sufficient to warrant the filing of charges against Modi. Indeed the Supreme Court itself had been askance at the inexplicable divergence between the SIT’s recorded evidence and its exoneratory conclusions with respect to Modi.
It is not clear at the time of writing as to who might have been the authority that has ordered the transfer of the magistrate in the case, the Hight Court or the Government. If the former, it is regrettable that the honourable court should not have considered the delay, perhaps an inordinate one, that will not but be caused in the disposal of the Petition, since a new incumbent cannot but take a great deal of time to master the details of the SIT report, and the more than a thousand pages of text and audio-visual evidence annexed thereof challenging the exonerative conclusions by the SIT. If, on the other hand, the transferring authority in the case has been the Gujarat government, what could be a greater giveaway of how, true to pattern, it intends to thwart consideration of the Protest Petition, since its admittance would lead directly to the filing of charges against the accused listed by the Petitioner, at the head of which list happens to be Narendra Modi.
A further piece of news concerns Shri Gulab Chand Kataria, an erstwhile minister and bigwig in the Rajasthan BJP, who has been now charge -sheeted for complicity in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter murder. The BJP top brass sees this to be a sinister conspiracy on behalf of the Congress party which it accuses of using the CBI in the matter with the ulterior purpose of going after Modi. Poor CBI, it can do nothing right, except when it aids and abets the BJP in its difficult times. Sterling example: the murder of Modi’s cabinet colleague, the late Haren Pandya was generally recognized for what it was—a supari killing to eliminate the prospect of Pandya testifying openly to what had transpired at the meeting Modi held with his sartraps on the late evening of February, 27, 2002. Recall that he had actually confided to the Citizens’s Enquiry Panel that Modi had issued instructions to his police not to thwart the vendetta on behalf of Hindus that was sure to happen the next day during the VHP bandh call which was supported by the BJP. The investigation in the matter was passed on to the CBI by the then Home Minister of India, L.K. Advani, and, lo and behold, the CBI quickly concluded the murder to have been the work of “jehadi elements”. Interestingly, all the accused were freed as innocent victims by the Court, and the real killers were never investigated or caught. The BJP and the then NDA government at the centre tom -tommed this finding of the CBI as exemplary proof of the disinformation against Modi. And yet, the same CBI’s case against Gulab Chand Kataria is a priori being propagandized by the BJP top brass as a case of proven vendetta. Just to note: from all available independent sources that have thus far gone into the Sohrabuddin killing, as well as the subsequent murders of his wife, Kausar Bi, and the only witness to the events, Tulsi Ram Prajapati, the CBI may indeed have an open and shut case against both Kataria and Amit Shah, the latter erstwhile Minister of State for Home affairs under Modi at the time, and already charged.
However you look at it, there continues to be an exonerative Teflon all over Narendra Modi; no matter what sorts of facts keep emerging about his reign in Gujarat, no screaming, holier-than-everybody television anchor, not to speak of his own party people who never fail to point fingers every second of every day, and may I add with dismay, some noted mainline Dailies, may persuade themselves to think one bad thought about Modi.
The fact may be that, notwithstanding their routine imprecations on behalf of democracy and the rule of law, most corporates who own these channels, and who fund the print media, and the elites who cotton to them with gusto are all at bottom looking for the great dictator to arrive in the blazing purity of saffron, willing to set the country right through edicts in the superman style.
When the American Constitutional regime was being considered, one of the central contentions was whether the new world should opt for a government of men or laws. As is well known, the chips fell in favour of laws, since the good book taught, and teaches, that all humankind is depraved because of the “original” transgression of Adam and Eve.
It seems that here in India where in Hindu thought depravity is never a serious matter, and never unmanageable at any rate, our forward-looking generation now pines for the rule by one man who may, if he so wishes, be a law unto himself.
Currently, no Indian demogauge fits that requirement more than Modi. Thus the Teflon and the immunity in elite perception.