Following landslide victory of Narendra Modi led BJP in General Election 2014, people of the country have both apprehensions and expectations. Those voted Mr. Modi to power may have all the reasons to jump with joy, but the remaining 69% have their own doubts. While recalling a few past incidents, freelance journalist Syed Hassan Kazim writes to India’s 15th Prime Minister: “Mr. Modi, please don’t let your conscience die because the call of conscience is always above high office, fame, lucre and security. Mr. Modi, justice and equality must come before any development or progress because a development which excludes large chunks of population means nothing.” Produced below is the letter by Mr. Kazim.
Dear Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi
First of all let me tell you that I am in a dilemma whether to congratulate you for a land slide victory based on a corporate and media driven unprecedented election campaign or not. I will not feel shy in telling you that I have always been against you and have spoken against you and the Gujarat administration led by you whenever I have spoken about the Gujarat riots. And now when it’s time to accept the reality that you are India’s 15th PM, I would like to address you regarding a few apprehensions which an ordinary Indian has, whether he is a Muslim or a Hindu because those Indians constitutes the 69 % of the population which did not vote for you.
Let me talk straight by telling you about a day 12 years ago, that is February 27, 2002. A day that would be remembered in the history for providing trigger to a communal riot which is and will remain a blot on the face of India’s secular democratic face. The brutal manner in which the S6 bogey of Sabarmati express was burnt and the way your administration gave the permission for the dead bodies of the unfortunate victims to be paraded across Gujarat is something which tells a lot about what was going to happen in the next few days or weeks after the Godhra burning.
Some events cast a horrific effect on one’s life and the Gujarat massacre did the same with me. My heart cries for the people killed in the burning train and the ones who were killed after that while the state machinery kept on seeing the other way for at least three days during which nearly each and every city of Gujarat had become a battle field in which women were raped (The leading light of socialist movement, George Fernandez, the then Defense Minister of India went to the extent of taking the violence against minority women in the stride by saying that rape is nothing new and it happens in such situations), children were killed, old men were butchered in the most brutal way they could have been. Houses were burnt, while the police kept on stopping the people from escaping from them.
Mr. Modi, in 2002, I was a graduate student at my home town of Muzaffarpur, in Bihar, the same Muzaffarpur where you said during the election campaign in March that Bihar has turned into a den of terrorists under Nitish Kumar. For your information Muzaffarpur has never seen a communal violence ever. But on that day 12 years ago, the situation was very tense. Since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, 2002 was the first time that Hindus and Muslims were not able to see into the eyes of each other. The same day I met a very good friend, we talked about everything under the sky but neither me nor he said even a single word about Godhra and its aftermath. Not even a single time during our discussion we saw directly into each others’ eyes. .There was something in us which was stopping us to be honest towards each other. That something was the sense of being lost somewhere in the tide of communalism. My friend suddenly said, ‘Bhagwan hi is desh ka bhala kare’. And yes at that time of fear it was God only towards whom a person could have turned. And still many a victims of the Gujarat riots are putting their hopes at the God’s door only because of being dejected from the state and the justice delivery system.
Mr. Modi, last year in an interview to Reuters you said that you felt bad for the Gujarat riots victims just like you would have felt bad for any puppy who had accidently came under the wheel of your car. This analogy in itself was nothing short of a humiliation heaped on the hapless victims who are still running from pillar to post to get justice, in a state where a police officer, accused in Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case BL Singhal was reinstated just after your coming to power in Delhi.
Mrs. Zakia Jafri, the wife of the late Mr. Ehsan Jafri, an ex–MP from Congress has been the flag bearer of the movement to bring justice for the ones who are living to see the perpetrators of one of the worst crimes of the post-independence India brought to justice. Mr. Ehsan Jafri was also killed in the infamous Gulberg Society massacre in which nearly 70 people who tried to take refuge in his house were burnt to death by the murderous mob.
Mr. Modi, every human being has something in him called conscience which keeps on steering us from within so that we are able to differentiate between right and wrong/ just and unjust. Our conscience forces us to speak the truth when the whole humanity decides to accept what it is being tube feeded by the power hungry political class and the corporate backed media. If the conscience of a society is dead then it intentionally loses its memory, only wants to know about the future or the dreams which it falsely believes would come true. It hates to discuss about the past. It asks the victims of wars, mass murders, and communal discords to forget about the past and move forward. It becomes stone hearted as it only wants its interests to be fulfilled at the expense of the class which has remained marginalized since decades. Mr. Modi, please don’t let your conscience die because the call of conscience is always above high office, fame, lucre and security. Mr. Modi, justice and equality must come before any development or progress because a development which excludes large chunks of population means nothing.
Mr. Modi, we don’t have anything against your step of bringing relations with Pakistan to its normal or your future developmental schemes or programmes. But please accept this fact that despite you becoming PM, Gujarat 2002 is something which still following like they way it has been following you since last 12 years. The same day on May 16 when BJP got a landslide victory, far from the media glare in Ahmedabad, six innocent youths who happened to be Muslims were acquitted in the Akshardham case. They had to stay in jails for 12 long years because of no fault; they don’t know who will bring back all the precious days of their lives which they spent in detentions. Mr. PM in the wake of the national media going gaga over your victory it becomes your responsibility to secure justice for many other innocents who are languishing in jails just because they happened to be Muslims. Mr. Modi they need justice more than the much hyped development as your development means nothing for them.
Syed Hassan Kazim
Freelance Journalist, New Delhi