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Liberation and rebuttal

- Modi blogs about riots anguish, lawyer responds

Ahmedabad, Dec. 27: Narendra Modi today sought closure to the “12 years of trial by fire” by blogging about the riots of 2002 and how he suffered in “solitude”.

“I was shaken to the core. ‘Grief’, ‘Sadness’, ‘Misery’, ‘Pain’, ‘Anguish’, ‘Agony’ — mere words could not capture the absolute emptiness one felt on witnessing such inhumanity,” the BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister blogged a day after an Ahmedabad court said it could find no evidence to prosecute him in a massacre case.

“Gujarat’s 12 years of trial by fire have finally drawn to an end. I feel liberated and at peace,” he added.

The following are excerpts from the over 1,000-word blog and the response from Mukul Sinha, 62, a scientist-turned-union leader and a high court lawyer who represents the Jan Sangharsh Manch, an NGO fighting for the riot victims.

Modi: Within a mere five months, however, the mindless violence of 2002 had dealt us another unexpected blow (after the earthquake a year earlier). Innocents were killed. Families rendered helpless. Property built through years of toil destroyed. Still struggling to get back on its feet from the natural devastation, this was a crippling blow to an already shattered and hurting Gujarat.

I was shaken to the core. “Grief”, “Sadness”, “Misery”, “Pain”, “Anguish”, “Agony” — mere words could not capture the absolute emptiness one felt on witnessing such inhumanity.

Sinha: In the present context of his trying to be the Prime Minister, I am not at all surprised that he would use such words which were totally alien to him in 2002. In 2002, it was hurt on which he built his career.

Modi: On one side was the pain of the victims of the earthquake, and on the other the pain of the victims of the riots. In decisively confronting this great turmoil, I had to single-mindedly focus all the strength given to me by the almighty, on the task of peace, justice and rehabilitation; burying the pain and agony I was personally wracked with.

During those challenging times, I often recollected the wisdom in our scriptures; explaining how those seating in positions of power did not have the right to share their own pain and anguish. They had to suffer it in solitude. I lived through the same, experiencing this anguish in searingly sharp intensity. In fact, whenever I remember those agonizing days, I have only one earnest prayer to God. That never again should such cruelly unfortunate days come in the lives of any other person, society, state or nation.

This is the first time I am sharing the harrowing ordeal I had gone through in those days at a personal level.

Sinha: During the nine years from 2002 to 2011, he contested two state elections primarily based on the ordeal of the victims and the communal polarisation. In fact, during the 2002 Gaurav Yatra, it was the same Narendra Modi who was humiliating the minorities by saying the relief camps were “child-producing factories” and they cannot do anything better then repairing punctures. These were his real feelings. Now he sounds like the devil quoting the Bible.

Modi: However, it was from these very built up emotions that I had appealed to the people of Gujarat on the day of the Godhra train burning itself; fervently urging for peace and restraint to ensure lives of innocents were not put at risk. I had repeatedly reiterated the same principles in my daily interactions with the media in those fateful days of February-March 2002 as well; publicly underlining the political will as well as moral responsibility of the government to ensure peace, deliver justice and punish all guilty of violence.

You will also find these deep emotions in my recent words at my Sadbhavana fasts, where I had emphasised how such deplorable incidents did not behove a civilized society and had pained me deeply.

Sinha: On February 27, 2002, he had instigated Gujarat by describing the Godhra train burning as an “ISI terrorist conspiracy” and this pushed the investigation in a certain direction that led to death sentences for 11 innocent people. Under his chief ministership, thousands have died and he has not punished a single policeman.

Modi: However, as if all the suffering was not enough, I was also accused of the death and misery of my own loved ones, my Gujarati brothers and sisters. Can you imagine the inner turmoil and shock of being blamed for the very events that have shattered you! For so many years, they incessantly kept up their attack, leaving no stone unturned…. It ironically also delayed the very justice that these people claimed to be fighting for. Maybe they did not realize how much suffering they were adding to an already pained people.

Sinha: It was Modi who had subverted justice and if the Supreme Court had not stepped in, even the few convictions that we have till now would not have been possible. In order to avoid his own accountability, he has subverted the entire legal system. If he means what he says now, he should have stepped down from his post and allowed a free investigation.

Modi: Gujarat, however, had decided its own path. We chose peace over violence. We chose unity over divisiveness. We chose goodwill over hatred. This was not easy, but we were determined to commit for the long haul. From a life of daily uncertainty and fear; my Gujarat transformed into one of Shanti, Ekta and Sadbhavana. I stand a satisfied and reassured man today. And for this, I credit each and every Gujarati.

Sinha: He is the greatest symbol of disharmony. There is peace in Gujarat because the trouble-makers are in power.

Modi: The Gujarat government had responded to the violence more swiftly and decisively than ever done before in any previous riots in the country. Yesterday’s judgement culminated a process of unprecedented scrutiny closely monitored by the highest court of the land, the Honourable Supreme Court of India. Gujarat’s 12 years of trial by the fire have finally drawn to an end. I feel liberated and at peace.

Sinha: The acceptance of one closure report by the lower judiciary of the state can hardly be a yardstick for being liberated. It is a premature claim.

Modi: Those who derive satisfaction by perpetuating pain in others will probably not stop their tirade against me. I do not expect them to. But, I pray in all humility, that they at least now stop irresponsibly maligning the 6 crore people of Gujarat.

Sinha: Modi has always tried to divert any allegation against him to make it appear that it is against Gujarat, which is not true. It is he as the person and as chief minister who is responsible for all the wrongs and not the 6 crore Gujaratis.

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