The Gujarat Government spent a lot of money for providing relief to the riot victims. None other than the UPA Government’s MoS for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal said in the Rajya Sabha that too in a written reply on 11 May 2005. He said an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh was paid by the government to the next of kin of each person killed. In addition, Jaiswal said relief was also extended by the state government to the victims of the riots under the heads of cash doles and assistance for household kits, foodgrains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in affected areas, housing assistance, rebuilding earning assets, rehabilitation of small business, assistance to industries/shop and hotel and so on. The state government, Jaiswal said, has informed that a total of Rs 204.62 crore has been incurred by it towards relief and rehabilitation measures. The Gujarat government has also informed that they had published the data as recommended by the NHRC, he added.
And the Gujarat Government in an advertisement given in weekly India Today dated 6 May 2002 said- “At the rate of Rs 30 per person, the Government is spending Rs 35 lakh a day on providing foodgrains to the 1.1 lakh inmates of the 99-odd relief camps in the state, 47 of them in Ahmedabad. The relief operations at the camps are being directly looked after by IAS officers of the rank of secretary to the state Government. The camps in Ahmedabad have been divided into six groups. Each group is being monitored by a bureaucrat of the rank of secretary. The secretaries have been looking after the minutest problems of the inmates. Teachers were deputed in each camp to help the children prepare for the exams and the state Health Department has been taking special steps to look after the well being of the inmates. In order to rehabilitate the rural inmates, the Government has floated the Sant Kabir Awas Yojana as per the directions of Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee. The scheme will enable the inmates to build houses.”
In most other cases- no government bothered to do all this. Hitler order killing of Jews- not spending money to help them. No culprits were punished for genocide of Hindus in Pakistan since 1947 and in East Pakistan at any time- certainly not in the 1971 genocide. No houses were constructed for Hindus thrown out by Muslims. And the media still kept calling the riots as ‘state-sponsored’- ignoring all the facts contrary to their allegations, and none in their support.
The then RSS spokesman M. G. Vaidya in his weekly column in Marathi daily ‘Tarun Bharat’ in July 2002 wrote: “ In a town named Harij in the North Gujarat, the following incident took place: “There are only three houses of Muslims in a predominantly Hindu dominated area. All the inmates of the houses had vacated the houses because of the fear of riots but in one house, there were two 70 years old women, 4 kids and 4 women. These women were virtually shaking with fear. However, the RSS Swayamsevaks reached there. One amongst them was the well-known lawyer of the area, Shri Hargovindbhai Thakkar, who is also the local Sanghachalak of the RSS. He called for his jeep and rescued all the women to a safer place.
In a town called Unza in Mehsana district, a Muslim woman was an employee in a dispensary of Dr. Maheshbhai Purohit, who is an active worker of the RSS. When the mob came to attack the woman at Dr. Purohit’s house, he resisted the mob and saved the woman.
There are many such incidents that reveal the humanitarian approach of the Hindus. But, the English newspaper have not published even a single such story.”
Among another of ‘many such’ incidents is the following one reported in weekly India Today in its issue dated 15 April 2002: “Take Umreth, a little town in Anand district that had practically never witnessed communal violence. This year it did and when a local BJP leader Vishnu Patel tried to pacify a Hindu crowd, it turned on him.”
Also, let’s look at some other facts which media did not highlight and which indicate how Modi government, despite all the lack of forces, managed exceptionally well in controlling the situation and improving it later.
1. In March 2002, both Holi and Moharram were observed with traditional fervour throughout Gujarat. 1,000 Moharram processions including nearly 100 big ones taken out.
2. 7,000 Haj pilgrims were felicitated in about 800 villages/cities in 22 districts.
3. 75 % of the voters exercised their franchise in the Panchayat polls in 1,700 villages.
4. Call for a boycott of the Board exams by Muslim students flopped with 98 % attendance.
Thus Narendra Modi, as the Chief Minister of Gujarat has an unfortunate image of “Muslim-killer”. In reality, far from being a Muslim-killer Narendra Modi if anything was a Muslim-saver whose administration saved as many as 24,000 Muslims in the first three days, and also many in the later days.
The violence in the state, post-Godhra can be briefly divided into three phases:
1. First three days on 28 February, 1st and 2nd March 2002
2. From 4th March 2002 to 12th April 2002
3. From 21 April 2002 to 20th May 2002
The first phase of violence was really the period of Hindu retaliation to the Godhra carnage. Though at places Muslims were in complete command and they threw out Hindus from their homes and also killed the Hindus, in general, it was the Muslims who suffered. This period saw the real anti-Muslim riots, like when Muslims were attacked and killed in Gulmarg area of Ahmedabad (Ehsan Jafri case) or the Naroda Patiya killings where Muslims were the victims.
The second phase was when Muslims started the retaliatory riots in Gujarat- retaliatory- for the phase three days of Hindu retaliation. Here Muslims started the riots and attacked Hindus as will be clear in the coming episodes.
The third phase was after 21 April 2002, Ramnavmi day. This was when the riots were instigated by the Congress Party. At that time the Parliament was in session and the Gujarat was to be debated. The Opposition wanted the Narendra Modi government to be dismissed. At that time, peace had come to stay in Gujarat. To deliberately attack Narendra Modi, the Congress Party instigated the riots. We will also see this later in detail.
While there may still be many who will not be convinced of the role of the police during the riots, no one can deny the fact that the Army took complete control of Ahmedabad and Vadodara by 2nd March 2002. As said earlier, riots occurred only in those places where the Army was present. How can any administration be accused of inaction when even the Indian Army could not stop the riots in either Ahmedabad or Vadodara? This doesn’t mean that the riots were one-sided.
Weekly India Today itself reported in its issue dated 11 March 2002 (article written on February 28) that, “The bloody cycle of violence so familiar with Gujarat may just have begun.” That is, India Today expected the violence to last several weeks if not months. Same was the prediction of Outlook. But it was largely controlled in first three days. Gujarat has seen horrible riots in the past like in 1969 and 1985. That despite such a bloody history of violence, riots could be controlled in such a communally sensitive state in three days, despite magazines like India Today and Outlook predicting otherwise, with Godhra carnage as a huge provocation, shows that the administration did its duties extremely well.
But the media just didn’t want to listen. It had already crucified its conscience. It had closed its eyes to the evil forces. Reason and truth had taken wings and fled from their journalism. Is it then possible to ensure such constitutional values as fraternity, integrity and unity in a highly complex country, in which, inter alia, the media is largely alienated from the truth, biased against a particular party, prejudiced against the centripetal forces, and lenient towards the disruptive forces?
In the coming episodes, we’ll be focussing on busting several myths spread by the forces inimical to Gujarat and the nation, be it in media or in ‘Gujarat cottage industry’ comprising alikes of Teesta Setalwad.