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A Muslim prime minister in India to contain majority extremism
Monday April 28, 2014 11:00 AM, Seema Sengupta

NARENDRA Modi, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general election in India has once again rubbed salt into Muslim wounds.

Indian Muslim

The man who presided over the 2002 Gujarat pogrom has let it known nonchalantly that he has no intention of tendering apology to the family members of the riot victims who are still longing for justice. And why would Modi not be so impudent when the hallowed justice system in India has failed to provide solace to the riot victims' relatives who continue to seek closure through appropriate punishment after 12 years?

Modi has suggested that Muslims should enjoy the fruits of India's economic progress — in short lead a cozy lifestyle. But is it possible for the Muslims to enjoy a laidback life under Modi who not only loves to provoke anti-minority extremism but also stereotype Islam as a violent religion inimical to Hinduism?

Though the final legal word on Modi's culpability in the 2002 riots has not been pronounced as yet, it is an open secret that the judiciary appointed fact-finding team (SIT) had dished out a sloppy exercise to bail out the high and mighty.

Is it not strange that the investigators exonerated Modi even though key players of the 2002 carnage — senior Hindutva activists Babu Bajrangi and Haresh Bhatt — have candidly acknowledged that they received Modi's whole-hearted support in butchering innocent Muslims? Even, the advocate who represented Gujarat government in a commission of inquiry had stated that Modi gave verbal instructions to police to set the rioters free.

This author understands that classified intelligence inputs were shared with the then Prime Minister Vajpayee — who failed to convince BJP about the necessity of penalyzing Modi — as Gujarat, a sensitive border state, was fast turning into a hell. But then, from the very inception the entire effort was concentrated on shielding Modi from any international scrutiny. Perhaps, the judiciary also erred in appointing a BJP loyalist ex-police official to head the SIT for probing the Gujarat pogrom.

Incidentally, this gentleman was responsible for the security lapses that led to Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in 1991. Those who tracked the functioning of SIT minutely have unanimously criticized the lackadaisical manner in which the judiciary appointed investigators went about their business.

As a result, their report ended up subscribing Modi's "reaction to an action" theory though no eyewitness from the fateful Sabarmati Express has ever corroborated the Gujarat administration's claim of Hindutva activists being burnt alive by a Muslim mob therein.

And the horrendous riot that erupted thereafter was supposedly triggered by this unsubstantiated incident.

Thanks to the amateurishness of the investigators, who decided to keep their eyes and ears closed throughout the course of investigation, the reputation of Indian judicial system has taken a severe beating.

Otherwise, how can an independent judiciary of a civilized nation turn a blind eye to the plea of an elderly lady, who had the misfortune of witnessing her husband's brutal execution at the hands of a Hindutva mob? Indeed, those killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots have become victims of a blindfolded law that has fallen prey to the manipulative interpretation of the powerful perpetrators.

And the judiciary has unwittingly helped consolidate a culture of impunity in India whereby the rioters and their influential patrons will get emboldened to repeat gruesome carnages. Maybe the Indian judiciary is still oblivious of the prevailing psychology of polarization in Gujarat in all spheres of life. Muslims are effectively ghettoized, as reflected in Hindu right-wing leader Praveen Togadia's call to "evict Muslims from Hindu areas."

Moreover, a practice of unofficial economic boycott has already been initiated surreptitiously across Gujarat to victimize Muslims. Ironically, a silent undercurrent of communalism flows in Mahatma Gandhi's Gujarat today while communities are pitted against each other deliberately. The 2002 riots sent an ominous signal — that of religious apartheid having proliferated uniformly to urban and rural areas.

And most worryingly, the tribal people are being indoctrinated by BJP's affiliate organizations to fight Muslims. It is all the more disturbing that there is a secret design to spread such atmosphere of hatred and insecurity throughout India under Modi's leadership.

Unfortunately, some Muslim clerics and influential members of the community are openly patronizing Modi and his party despite a deep sense of distrust and fear engulfing the minds of ordinary Muslims.

As the wounds of the 2002 pogrom continue to fester in the absence of proper justice, do they not share the agony of their fellow brothers and sisters who suffered immensely at the hands of Hindutva brigade?

If making Manmohan Singh the premier of India was an act of atonement for the sins committed against the Sikh community in 1984, is it not time for the nation to have a Muslim premier to contain majority extremism, instill confidence in minorities and help preserve India's composite culture? (Arab News)

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