No, Our Sorrow Doesn’t Matter

Aghast at the deep silence that has welcomed the Tehelka expose of Gujarat 2002 DR MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM is forced to conclude that the Indian state does not think Muslims are human, or they bleed, like others. The society itself seems largely anaesthetised to Muslim sorrow, he avers.

Weeks after the damning Tehelka expose of Gujarat 2002 and its big players the Union government is tongue-tied, its hands tied with invisible ropes of inaction, hamstrung as it is already with a long Congress tradition of silence in the face of the worst atrocities and organised violence against the weak.

We cannot possibly expect better from a party which at the best of times has aspired to become the B-team of the communal, fascist BJP rather than the A team of a secular, democratic India that the people have always wanted it to be.

Perhaps we should expect no better from a party which virtually oversaw the 1984 carnage, and some of its front-ranking leaders and Union ministers (Bhagat, Tytler, Maken, Sajjan Kumar et al) were reported to be leading Hindu mobs in their attacks on Sikhs, as per victims and eye witnesses. Already a lot of people have compared the Gujarat pogrom to 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Some people, who have studied both the pogroms, assert that had the guilty of 1984 been brought to book Gujarat 2002 would not have occurred. For the sake of appearances a dozen or so small fry were convicted in 1984 cases and a similar number of foot soldiers of Gujarat 2002 too have been convicted. However, in none of the two cases the real big timers have been touched.

The All India Milli Council has done its share of reminding the Union government to initiate some action in the Gujarat case. It has also been telling the government ceaselessly to remedy the wrongs done in Mumbai riots of 1992, of Maliana, Hashimpura, and other such cases of mass murder of Muslims. Nothing happened. Nobody in the government was concerned unduly about the incongruity of Muslims being charged with bombing mosques. The entire government machinery in Congress-ruled states like Maharashtra seems to be chasing Muslims even though there were clear leads indicting the involvement of Hindutva groups like VHP and Shiv Sena.

The latest example of official apathy comes in the wake of the Gujarat expose. It is not just the executive that has failed to rise to the occasion. Even the celebrated judiciary has failed to stir. It is the same judiciary that has often asserted its authority on behalf of Indian citizens.

We all know how judicial activism has led to improvements in public life. Delhi’s pollution burden was reduced through introduction of CNG buses following judicial intervention. The judiciary even acted against graffiti on monuments.

However, it apparently does not consider the genocide of 2002 as important enough to warrant judicial activism. Why? Is the death of so many people and the maiming of so many more not worth its while? Are people less important than stones? Why are stones more worthy of protection than people? Were not the confessions of the major actors on camera good enough for suo motto cognisance by our worthy judges?

The country signed the Genocide Convention half a century ago, yet it has consistently postponed legislating on this serious issue. How many more Gujarats, Hashimpuras, Malianas and other mass killings do we need before we think of legislating on prevention of genocides. Already more than 50 countries have made suitable laws to prevent it. In any case, we are obliged to legislate as signatories to the convention. The point is how long would it take us to do that.

At this moment I am reminded of a remark by a Gujarat 2002 survivor. When the illustrious Mr Modi and his party were rewarded with a landslide victory in the election following the pogrom the survivors drew the obvious conclusion that a massive chunk of the citizenry appreciated the government’s role in the mass murder of Muslims. The survivor said, “It (Modi’s victory) shows that our sorrow does not matter.”

There seems to be a conspiracy of silence that is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The sorrows of Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Dalits and tribals don’t matter. We are not people. The Establishment has a lot to answer for. Such an immoral dispensation is unsustainable. It cannot last long. g

Go Back