The double standards of our civil society – Balbir Punj

Balbir Punj“Is it not ironical that the Leftists of various hues arrogate themselves the leadership of secular and democratic values while their record on these counts is dismal? During the fateful years preceding Independence in 1947, the Communists actively worked with Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the British for the creation of Pakistan—a country whose foundation was wedded to theocracy and has subsequently emerged as a petri-dish of terror in the region.” – Balbir Punj

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiThe daylight killing of Karnataka scholar M. M. Kalburgi in Dharwar is an act that deserves downright condemnation from the entire civil society. Surprisingly, most of those leading the charge against the evil deed represent ideologies and organisations that usually endorse violence in the name of social justice and demand leniency for those who are convicted of heinous crimes such as murders and bomb explosions. One cannot recall even one of them raising his/her voice when octogenarian Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati’s frail body was riddled with bullets on August 23, 2008, in the deep forests of Kandhamal district of Odisha. His murderers broke open the door of the toilet when he was busy with his ablutions.

What was Swamiji’s fault? He had spent a lifetime serving the poor tribals in the remote forests of the backward state, helping them save their ancestral faith and identity from those who believe in buying souls in exchange for a loaf of bread, or use the tribals as fodder in their war against the state of India on behalf of their foreign masters (read China).

Brinda Karat (CPI-M)On September 30, 2013, nearly five years after the dastardly assassination of the 82-year-old highly revered Swami and four of his disciples, seven persons—all Christians—were convicted for the hate crime. The Swami and the string of institutions he used to run were major irritants to both the Maoists and the Church which are active in the area, pushing their respective agendas. Even as this column is being written, a prominent multi-edition South-based English daily this morning (Sept. 4), has carried an edit page article by a top CPM leader in which she has termed the judgment in the Swamiji’s murder case “atrocious”.

Defending those convicted, she says, their “crime is that they are Adivasi, they are Dalit, they are poor and they are Christian”. See the contradiction. While hell is being raised over Kalburgi’s murder, a campaign is simultaneously on to secure the release of those found guilty of killing the Swami and four of his devotees. Should those claiming to be speaking on behalf of civil society attribute motives to the judiciary? The conviction followed professional investigations by the police and went through the due process of law, which provided enough opportunity to those found guilty to defend themselves. Kalburgi’s murder was surely an un-Hindu act, and those who committed it deserve no sympathy whatsoever.

The law should take its own course and the guilty must certainly be made to pay for it. However,  can there be double standards in such cases? Should the ideology and faith of the victim and perpetrator colour the response of civil society to such sordid crimes?

Godhra Train BurningDo we remember what the first reaction of the ‘secularists’ was when 59 kar sevaks returning from a pilgrimage to Ayodhya were roasted alive by a mob fired by religious zeal at Godhra on the fateful morning of February 27, 2002? It’s a matter of eternal shame for them that in their initial reaction, they sought to blame the victims for their fiery end.

One multi-edition English daily (which claims to have the highest circulation and readership in the National Capital Region) carried an editorial the following day which said that the kar sevaks had brought upon themselves their horrible fate with their highly ‘provocative’ action of visiting Ayodhya and raising slogans hailing Lord Rama!

After the UPA was voted to power in May 2004, within four months (September 2004) its Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav (an icon of ‘secularism’ ) appointed an inquiry into the Godhra episode headed by Justice Umesh Chandra Banerjee. In tune with the ‘secular’ line, the Banerjee committee held that it was an “accidental fire”, implicitly absolving all the criminals of their heinous deed. Later, the Gujarat High Court declared the formation of the committee ‘unconstitutional, illegal and null and void”. The high Court further termed the committee’s formation a “colourable exercise of power with malafide intentions”.

Generally, the intellectuals and activists who are guilty of such double standards belong to the Left, and they lay exclusive claim to secularism. It is because of such intellectual dishonesty on their part that violence against political and ideological opponents is central to public discourse in Kerala and West Bengal, the two states in which the Communists have enjoyed a dominant position over the past three decades and more.

Jinnah with MountbattensIs it not ironical that the Leftists of various hues arrogate themselves the leadership of secular and democratic values while their record on these counts is dismal? During the fateful years preceding Independence in 1947, the Communists actively worked with Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the British for the creation of Pakistan—a country whose foundation was wedded to theocracy and has subsequently emerged as a petri-dish of terror in the region.

Coming back to Kalburgi’s murder case, one should not hazard a guess either about the identity of the murderers or their motives till the police investigations conclude. However, killing someone for his/her views is alien to Indian traditions and philosophy.

The New Encyclopaedia Britanica says, “In principle, Hinduism incorporates all forms of belief and worship without necessitating the selection or elimination of any. It is axiomatic that no religious idea in India ever dies or is superseded; it is merely combined with the new ideas that arise in response to it.

Hindus are inclined to revere the divine in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and are doctrinally tolerant, allowing others—including both Hindus and non-Hindus—whatever beliefs suit them best.”

Muhammad bin Qasim was an Umayyad general who conquered the Sindh and Multan regions along the Indus River (now a part of Pakistan) for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was born and raised in the city of Taif (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Qasim's conquest of Sindh and southern-most parts of Multan enabled further Islamic expansion into India.Where is the scope for any violence in such a pluralistic tradition? Distortions in the system crept in following the arrival of Islam (Muhammad bin Qasim in early eight century) and the Christian clergy led by Saint Francis Xavier  (in 1542) as invaders. The entry of foreign inspired Communist ideology, with its concepts of “class enemies and wars” in the 1920s, further added to this creed of intolerance and bigotry.

In the past century, global history was stained in innocent blood by Stalinist excesses in the name of exclusive claims to Marxist-Leninist ideological purity in Russia and eastern Europe, and Nazi-fascist atrocities on ethnic grounds on Jews in Germany.

History may repeat itself first as a tragedy and then as a farce. But the lesson of self-proclaimed revolutions, whether in the name of the dictatorship of the proletariat or of the monopolists of purity in the name of religion, is the same: unity through diversity of thought and respect for it is the best bet to real and sustained democracy in action. – The New Indian Express, 4 September 2015

» Balbir Punj is a Delhi-based commentator on political and social issues. E-mail: punjbalbir@gmail.com

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The pathology of the rich white American family – Chris Hedges

Chris HedgesRich white families are also the most efficient killers on the planet. This has been true for five centuries, starting with the conquest of the Americas and the genocide against Native Americans, and continuing through today’s wars in the Middle East. Rich white families themselves don’t actually kill. They are not about to risk their necks on city streets or in Iraq. They hire people, often poor, to kill for them. … Rich white people wanted endless war for the benefit of their arms industry and got it by calling for a war on terror. Rich white people wanted police to use lethal force against the poor with impunity and to arrest them, swelling U.S. prisons with 25 percent of the world’s prison population, so they set up a system of drug laws and militarized police departments to make it happen.” – Chris Hedges

George Bush and Saudi KingThe pathology of the rich white family is the most dangerous pathology in America. The rich white family is cursed with too much money and privilege. It is devoid of empathy, the result of lifetimes of entitlement. It has little sense of loyalty and lacks the capacity for self-sacrifice. Its definition of friendship is reduced to “What can you do for me?” It is possessed by an Dick Cheney, George W. Bush & Donald Rumsfeldinsatiable lust to increase its fortunes and power. It believes that wealth and privilege confer to it a superior intelligence and virtue. It is infused with an unchecked hedonism and narcissism. And because of all this, it interprets reality through a lens of self-adulation and greed that renders it delusional. The rich white family is a menace. The pathologies of the poor, when set against the pathologies of rich white people, are like a candle set beside the sun.

There are no shortages of acolytes and propagandists for rich white families. They dominate our airwaves. They blame poverty, societal breakdown, urban violence, drug use, domestic abuse and crime on the pathology of poor black families—not that they know any. They argue that poor black families disintegrate because of some inherent defect—here you can read between the lines that white people are better than black people—a defect that these poor families need to fix.

Peddle this simplistic and racist garbage and you will be given a column at The New York Times. It always pays to suck up to rich white families. If you are black and parrot this line, rich white people are overcome with joy. They go to extreme lengths to give you a platform. You can become president or a Supreme Court justice. You can get a television talk show or tenure at a university. You can get money for your foundation. You can publish self-help books. Your films will be funded. You might even be hired to run a company.

America Hate Black PeopleRich white families, their sycophants opine, have tried to help. Rich white families have given poor people numerous resources and government programs to lift them out of poverty. They have provided generous charity. But blacks, they say, along with other poor people of color, are defeated by self-destructive attitudes and behavior. Government programs are therefore wasted on these irresponsible people. Poor families, the sycophants tell us, will not be redeemed until they redeem themselves. We want to help, rich white people say, but poor black people need to pull up their pants, stay in school, get an education, find a job, say no to drugs and respect authority. If they don’t, they deserve what they get. And what the average black family ends up with in economic terms is a nickel for every dollar held by the average white family.

Starting at age 10 as a scholarship student at an elite New England boarding school, I was forced to make a study of the pathology of rich white families. It was not an experience I would recommend. Years later, by choice, I moved to Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood when I was a seminary student. I lived across the street from one of the poorest housing projects in the city, and I ran a small church in the inner city for nearly three years. I already had a deep distaste for rich white families, and that increased greatly after I saw what they did to the disenfranchised. Rich white people, I concluded after my childhood and Roxbury experiences, are sociopaths.

Roxbury, Boston 1974: Black student about to be stabbed with US flag pole.The misery and collapse of community and family in Roxbury were not caused by an inherent pathology within the black family. Rich people who treated the poor like human refuse caused the problems. Layers of institutionalized racism—the courts, the schools, the police, the probation officers, the banks, the easy access to drugs, the endemic unemployment and underemployment, the collapsing infrastructures and the prison system—effectively conspired to make sure the poor remained poor. Drug use, crime and disintegrating families are the result of poverty, not race. Poor whites replicate this behavior. Take away opportunity, infuse lives with despair and hopelessness, and this is what you get. But that is something rich white families do not want people to know. If it were known, the rich would have to take the blame.

Michael Kraus, Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner, social scientists at the University of California, did research that led them to conclude that the poor have more empathy than the rich. The poor, they argued, do not have the ability to dominate their environments. They must build relationships with others to survive. This requires that they be able to read the emotions of those around them and respond. It demands that they look after each other. And this makes them more empathetic. The rich, who can control their environments, do not need to bother with the concerns or emotions of others. They are in charge. What they want gets done. And the longer they live at the center of their own universe, the more callous, insensitive and cruel they become.

The rich white family has an unrivaled aptitude for crime. Members of rich white families run corporations into the ground (think Lehman Brothers), defraud stockholders and investors, sell toxic mortgages as gold-plated investments to pension funds, communities and schools, and then loot the U.S. Treasury when the whole thing implodes. They steal hundreds of millions of dollars on Wall Street through fraud and theft, pay little or no taxes, almost never go to jail, write laws and regulations that legalize their crimes and then are asked to become trustees at elite universities and sit on corporate boards. They set up foundations and are admired as philanthropists. And if they get into legal trouble, they have high-priced lawyers and connections among the political elites to get them out.

Percent of adult males incarcerated by race and ethnicity (2009).You have to hand it to rich white families. They steal with greater finesse than anyone else. If you are a poor black teenager and sprint out of a CVS with a few looted bottles of shampoo, you are likely to be shot in the back or sent to jail for years. If there were a Olympiad for crime, rich white families would sweep up all the medals; blacks would be lucky to come within a mile of the first elimination trial. I don’t know why black people even try to compete in this area. They are, by comparison, utter failures as criminals. The monarchs of crime are rich white people, who wallow in their pilfered wealth while locking away in prisons a huge percentage of poor men of color.

Christopher ColumbusRich white families are also the most efficient killers on the planet. This has been true for five centuries, starting with the conquest of the Americas and the genocide against Native Americans, and continuing through today’s wars in the Middle East. Rich white families themselves don’t actually kill. They are not about to risk their necks on city streets or in Iraq. They hire people, often poor, to kill for them. Rich white families wanted the petroleum of Iraq and, by waving the flag and spewing patriotic slogans, got a lot of poor kids to join the military and take the oil fields for them. Rich white people wanted endless war for the benefit of their arms industry and got it by calling for a war on terror. Rich white people wanted police to use lethal force against the poor with impunity and to arrest them, swelling U.S. prisons with 25 percent of the world’s prison population, so they set up a system of drug laws and militarized police departments to make it happen.

George W. Bush & Tony BlairThe beauty of making others kill on your behalf is you get to appear “reasonable” and “nice.” You get to chastise poor people and Muslims for being angry fanatics. You get to spread the message of tolerance with a cherubic smile—which means tolerating the crimes and violence of rich white people. Compare a drive-by shooting in Watts with the saturation bombing of Vietnam. Compare a gangland killing in Chicago with militarized police shooting a person of color almost every day. No one else knows how to churn out corpses like rich white people. One million dead in Iraq alone. And the rich and powerful kill staggering numbers of people and never go to prison. They can retire to a ranch in Crawford, Texas, and paint amateurish portraits of world leaders copied from Google Image Search.

Donald TrumpThere is no decadence like the decadence of rich white people. I knew a billionaire who in retirement spent his time on a yacht smoking weed and being catered to by a string of high-priced prostitutes. The children of rich white families—surrounded by servants and coddled in private schools, never having to fly on commercial airlines or take public transportation—develop a lassitude, sometimes accompanied by a drug habit, that often leads them to idle away their lives as social parasites. Mothers never have to be mothers. Fathers never have to be fathers. The help does the parenting. The rich live encased in little kingdoms, one guarded by their own private security, where the real world does not intrude. They are cultural philistines preoccupied with acquiring more wealth and more possessions. “Material success,” as C. Wright Mills wrote, “is their sole basis of authority.” They meld into the world of celebrity. And the organs of mass media, which they control, turn them into idols to be worshiped solely because they are rich. Public-relations specialists manufacture their public personas. Teams of lawyers harass and silence their critics. Acolytes affirm their sagacity. They soon believe their own fiction. 

Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1965 wrote what is known as the Moynihan Report, or “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” The report concluded that “at the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family.” The oppressed were to blame for their oppression. Social programs alone could not save the poor. The report offers a classic example of a neoliberal economic model repacked as an ideology.

Police guard Greek ATMsThe pathologies of the rich will soon drive us over an economic and ecological cliff. And as we go down, the rich, lacking empathy and understanding, determined to maintain their privilege and their wealth, will use their Praetorian Guard, their mass media, their corporate power, their political puppets and their security and surveillance apparatus to keep us submissive. “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been discovered, because it was properly executed,” Honoré de Balzac wrote of the rich in his novel Le Père Goriot. 

Bertrand Russell QuoteThe rich executed a coup d’état that transformed the three branches of the U.S. government and nearly all institutions, including the mass media, into wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate state. This coup gives the rich the license and the power to amass unimaginable wealth at our expense. It permits the rich to inflict grinding poverty on growing circles of the population. Poverty is the worst of crimes—as George Bernard Shaw wrote, “all the other crimes are virtues beside it.” And the ability of a rapacious power elite to let children go hungry, to let men and women suffer a loss of dignity and self-worth because there are no jobs, to abandon cities to decay and squalor, to toss the mentally ill and the homeless onto the streets, to slash the meager services that give some hope and succor to those who suffer, to lock hundreds of thousands of poor people in cages for years, to wage endless war, to burden students with crushing debt, to unleash state terror and to extinguish hope among the least fortunate exposes our wealthy oligarchs as the most dangerous and destructive force in America. – Truthdig, 17 June 2015

» Chris Hedges, whose column is published weekly on Truthdig, has written twelve books. He is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City, and has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and The University of Toronto. He currently lives in Princeton and teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey. In 2012, Hedges notably sued President Barack Obama after the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration appealed, and the decision was overturned. In 2014 the the Supreme Court denied to review Hedges v. Obama. The act still allows for presidential authority for indefinite detention without habeas corpus. 

Black church burning in the USA

Black Church Fires June 2015

Friedrich Nietzsche Quote

USCIRF Report: Modi govt should treat it as a bad joke – R. Jagannathan

R. Jagannathan“The USCIRF is little more than a US busybody created to appease the US evangelical fundamentalist lobby. The US government uses USCIRF when its recommendations are in tune with its national interests and foreign policy. Otherwise, it is ignored. Likewise, we should ignore it. A joke deserves a laugh and embarrassed dismissal, not serious rebuttal or the expending of angry energy.” – R. Jagannathan 

Katrina Lantos SwettThe United States Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is a bit of a joke. It is a busybody created by US law to appease evangelical bigots at home. Its outpourings are used by the US state department — selectively — to rap countries that are difficult to handle diplomatically. It thus pontificates annually on the state of religious freedom everywhere. Everywhere, but the US and other developed countries of the largely Christian west.

It is only we in India who work up a lather over it, for under the skin we are all very touchy about any “firang” who criticises us for anything. And so it has been this time, when USCIRF came out with its annual report for 2015 yesterday (30 April), where it placed India in the unflattering category called Tier 2: “countries where the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are serious and are characterised by at least one of the elements of the ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious’ standard, but do not fully meet the CPC standard.”

CPC is short for “countries of particular concern”, the USCIRF’s gold standard (Tier-1) on religious intolerance. We didn’t make the cut to Tier 1 because USCIRF feels there is still some hope for us despite the arrival of Narendra Modi as PM. The current CPC list – which is more or less permanent – includes Burma (USCIRF apparently hasn’t heard that Burma has been renamed Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It also wants to add eight more to this august list: Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Tajikistan, Vietnam – and (ahem) our own neighbour Pakistan.The Indian government, luckily did not go overboard with its criticism of the USCIRF report and dismissed it being based on a “limited understanding of India, its Constitution and its society.”

The reason why the list is a joke is simple: while USCIRF gets to point fingers in all directions (except at home, where the Moral Majority can make any kind of wild statements about non-Christian religions and is protected by the First Amendment), it can actually do zilch about the worst offenders, especially when they are Uncle Sam’s closest allies.

Thus while an Iran may face sanctions for various transgressions (trying to go nuclear, oppressing minorities, etc), Saudi Arabia – the fountainhead of worldwide Wahhabi terrorism and probably the world’s most religiously illiberal state – gets a free pass and presidential waivers from any punitive action under the US International Religious Freedom Act (which created USCIRF).

People from the Christian community attend a protest to condemn suicide bombings which took place outside two churches in LahoreDitto for two other close (but religiously intolerant) pals: Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, who get waivers because they serve an “important national interest of the US.” Pakistan, which has been recommended for joining the CPC Hall of Fame by USCIRF, will, even if so designated by the US state department, get the same waiver. As an earnest, the US has just rewarded Pakistan with another billion-dollar dollop of military assistance to buy “attack helicopters, missiles, and communications equipment,” among other things. Pakistan can run with the jihadi hare and hunt with the US anti-terror hound, but it will always receive the US President’s special bum-chum waiver from sanctions. The state department knows when to dust up the USCIRF and when to leave it on the dungheap.

India, where the evangelical lobby has huge market share hopes, is in Tier-2 because we are frenemies of the US. We are potential pals since we are the only nation big enough to counter-weigh China; but we are also the bad boys who worship too many strange gods and who want to politically resist easy evangelisation. If Uncle Sam’s Religious Cohorts are kept out of the biggest soul-harvesting market outside China, or hindered in their work by Freedom of Religion laws, they will list you as villain. They will tut-tut and huff-puff, but beyond its water off a duck’s back.

The real joke is that none of the standards used to designate religious rogue states as Tier-1 or Tier-2 apply to the US or western Europe.

Consider what USCIRF has held against India, and check how much this may also apply to what is going on in the US on the intolerance front.

One of the major points of criticism against India is that after the 2014 elections, there have been attacks on minorities. The ‘church attacks’ and ‘ghar wapsi’ programme of the Sangh parivar come in for particular mention, apart from the bigoted statements of Sangh-linked politicians. USCIRF says: “Since the election, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by politicians linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups, such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).”

Bias in the Indian mainstream media.This statement takes at face value the first reports in the Indian media on Sangh parivar activists, but not the later ones which poked holes in the “minorities under attack” story line. Also, the reference to forced conversions is off the mark. Even the Agra ghar wapsi, where some Muslims were apparently lured with promises of Aadhaar cards, was at worst an inducement to convert, not an attempt to do so by force. So the USCIRF clearly has chosen to give credence to loosely documented reportage by evangelicals back home.

There is little doubt that the incandescent statements of Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and some other Sangh loudmouths have been supremely bigoted, but does America lack its own Sakshis and Sadhvis? Who calls Hinduism “demonic”? Who thinks that Kali is that “black, ugly statue”? Who says with contempt that “none of their 9,000 gods is going to lead me to salvation. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can have some big kumbaya service and all hold hands and it’s all going to get better in this world. It’s not going to get better.”

As we noted in a recent post, these outpouring of hate came from evangelical leaders like Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham, who have been busy demonising Hinduism. Their bigotry has vitiated the atmosphere of tolerance in the US, and as many temples in the US have been vandalised as have churches in India (read about it here). Gurdwaras have been attacked, Sikhs killed, and Indians racially targeted by US cops.

USCIRF has much work to do in its home base, too.

The USCIRF is also a bundle of contradictions on the idea of religious freedom. It cannot simultaneously criticise both the Freedom of Religion Acts enacted by some Indian states and the ghar wapsi programme. Ghar wapsi is a religious conversion/reconversion programme, which, given the USCIRF’s own focus on “religious freedom”, ought to be a kosher activity. The Freedom of Religion Acts in some tribals-heavy states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha are meant to check attempts to convert innocent tribals by fraud or force. You can’t oppose both Freedom of Religion (FoR) laws and ghar wapsi, even assuming you think FoR laws are a roadblock to conversions, and hence religious freedom itself.

Barack ObamaOn the other hand, consider how many American states have themselves mangled the idea of religious freedom. Conservative American states like Indiana have legislated extremely illiberal Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, which are less about religious freedom and more about giving licence to personal prejudices about homosexuals and transgenders.

In Europe, far-right forces have risen – and governments are turning conservative. France banned the use of religious symbols in schools, and the hijab. Full-face veils are banned in many European countries. But these intrusions into personal choice don’t seem to register with USCIRF.

This is not to let India off the hook. We are nowhere near achieving secular or human rights nirvana. However, there is no need for breast-beating and fuming every time a USCIRF criticises us – often with laughable motives.

The USCIRF is little more than a US busybody created to appease the US evangelical fundamentalist lobby. The US government uses USCIRF when its recommendations are in tune with its national interests and foreign policy. Otherwise, it is ignored.

Likewise, we should ignore it. A joke deserves a laugh and embarrassed dismissal, not serious rebuttal or the expending of angry energy.

USCIRF is a burden for US taxpayers at a time when their country is struggling to retain its superpower status with a struggling economy. We need not burden ourselves with its hypocritical output. – FirstPost, 1 May 2015

» R. Jagannathan is a journalist and the current editor-in-chief of all Network18 publications including the online news website FirstPost.com and Moneycontrol.com as well as Forbes India.

Sureshbhai Patel

Sikh Temple

Old Lake Highlands Hindu temple vandalised with Satanic graffiti in north Texas.

Hinduphobia

The charade of the church attacks – Abhijit Majumder

“The meltdown of the great church attack story was reported in trickles — a single-column story here and there, a passing byte. No channel had a debate on it or stood corrected. Nobody asked who jumped the gun, who tarred the nation’s image, or who created the communal discourse in the first place. International media, too, seemed to be a part of this collusion of silence. Apart from creating baseless fear among minorities, what the media and intelligentsia have achieved is to further erode their own credibility. Social media has time and again shown the mirror to the mainstream in the last couple of years on matters of biased reportage and poor fact-checking.” – Abhijit Majumder

St Sebastian's Church, DelhiThe fire that started at the St Sebastian Church in Delhi’s Dilshad Garden on December 1, 2014, had caught on to national media by January and was raging internationally by February. 

The narrative was the same: Minorities are under siege in India, churches are being attacked, nuns raped. 

Narendra Modi’s critics asserted on social media that their dark clairvoyance had come true: With him heading the government, the violent Hindu right wing fringe had become the mainstream. 

“Church leaders have speculated that the Hindu far right might also be behind the church attacks,” the New York Times wrote. 

US President Barack Obama too swiftly took to the pulpit: “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith.” 

Ex-cop Julio Ribeiro to boxer Mary Kom to former Navy chief Sushil Kumar spoke about growing fear and insecurity among Indian Christians. 

And then, it all started unraveling. 

Sushil Kumar IsaacWhile a special investigative team is looking into the Dilshad garden church fire, pesky children were found behind the Jasola church stone-throwing, short circuit behind Rohini crib burning, a drunken dare behind Vikaspuri vandalising, and a burglary at Vasant Kunj church. 

A church which was attacked in Hisar was an illegal construction. However, it was perhaps the only communal one among recent church attacks, with the accused planting a Lord Hanuman idol inside it and blaming the priest of dodgy conversion attempts. 

The Navi Mumbai church attack grabbed headlines till it was found to be the handiwork of gamblers exacting revenge for church authorities setting the police after them. 

In West Bengal, mainstream and social media suspected Hindu fundamentalists behind the rape of a 72-year-old nun till the accused, Bangladeshi Muslims, were tracked down and arrested. 

Former IPS officer Julio Francis RibeiroAnd now, a jilted Muslim lover has been arrested for the attack on an Agra church, belying earlier claims that it was a communal incident. 

Disbelievingly, almost disappointedly, those who strung together a neat narrative of intolerant India watched each bead of untruth explode. Ribeiro even admitted to exaggerating the threat to Christians. 

But the mainstream media, which so enthusiastically spotted and reported a trend, did not report a fraction as comprehensively how it was never a trend in the first place. 

The meltdown of the great church attack story was reported in trickles — a single-column story here and there, a passing byte. No channel had a debate on it or stood corrected. 

Nobody asked who jumped the gun, who tarred the nation’s image, or who created the communal discourse in the first place

Mary KomInternational media, too, seemed to be a part of this collusion of silence. Apart from creating baseless fear among minorities, what the media and intelligentsia have achieved is to further erode their own credibility. 

Social media has time and again shown the mirror to the mainstream in the last couple of years on matters of biased reportage and poor fact-checking

One can’t shrug it all off as trolling. But here is the real danger: If a communal attack actually takes place (we know what happened to Graham Staines or Arul Das), mainstream media reports could be taken with extreme scepticism. 

The truth could get buried in the ashes of past lies. The bigger danger to the minorities is not from their perceived enemies but their irresponsible champions. 

Bias and lies breed anger, and often harden the stance of otherwise liberal, tolerant people. And it is never wise to keep announcing the arrival of the wolf. – Daily Mail, 25 April 2015

» Abhijit Majumder is a journalist and the Managing editor of Mail Today.

Fr. Dominic Emmanuel SVDCardinal Archbishop  Baselios Cleemis

Obama’s concern for religious intolerance in India is part of a sinister plan – Rakesh Sinha

Prof Rakesh Sinha“Obama has shown himself to be more a Christian figure than statesman. Fact is that the missionary lobby fears an anti-conversion law that will prevent them from ‘harvesting’ Hindus as part of their demographic project. … Indian missionaries are perturbed by rising demands for a Central law against conversion. Obama’s statement is a part of the Vatican’s agenda in India.” – Prof Rakesh Sinha

Obama also has a Christian agenda for South AsiaPresident Obama’s out-of-the-blue statement voicing concern for allegedly growing religious intolerance in India is no surprise at all. There are reasons for this outburst. The US President is clearly under the superficial anti-India propaganda by a powerful network of the Christian lobby alleging that minorities face ‘existential challenges’.

Is that really so? A few stray incidences in Delhi concerning churches are unfortunate and against our long history and tradition of religious harmony and peaceful coexistence. Such incidents, of course, must be prevented and wrongdoers punished. The pattern of such incidents, however, and the disproportionate propaganda following them must be diagnosed. Likely hired criminals damaging churches may be more a symbolic act, intended to create an atmosphere for motivated propaganda against the Sangh Parivar and push the Modi government on the defensive. While the use of the term ‘symbolic’ for such incidents may sound trivialising, it needs iteration that these are not open or premeditated attacks, nor owned up to by any group.

During Vajpayee’s NDA government, a similar propaganda was unleashed by vested interests. There were incidents of a few churches being damaged; incidents of rapes on nuns were cited to claim that a Sangh-influenced government had been “encouraging fringe elements”. The St. Anne’s Church in Gulbarga was attacked on June 8, 2000 along with another, St. Peter Paul Church, in Bengaluru, and literature threatening Christians was distributed. But investigation unravelled the real culprits and intentions. It was the handiwork of Deendar Anjuman, an outfit backed by Pakistan’s ISI.

Broken Jesus idol Another incident was the rape of four nuns in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, in 1999. Investigation revealed the 12 rapists to be Christians. More intriguing was an incident in 2009 when church property was destroyed in Mangaluru on March 16, sparking off media discourse on “anti-Christian activities of Hindu outfits”. But post-arrest investigation revealed all seven accused to be Christians, who confessed that the intention of their crime was to defame the majority community and create social divide. Such incidents are an eye-opener.

The recent Delhi church incidents may not have been along earlier patterns. Whatever the case, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been quick to intervene to the apparent satisfaction of the Christian delegation that sought his intervention. Then what led Obama to issue statements that are an intervention in India’s domestic affairs?

Obama has shown himself to be more a Christian figure than statesman. Fact is that the missionary lobby fears an anti-conversion law that will prevent them from ‘harvesting’ Hindus as part of their demographic project. There were expectations during the Pope’s visit to India that he would advise evangelists to stop conversions. Far from it, he claimed conversion to be a right. Indian missionaries are perturbed by rising demands for a Central law against conversion. Obama’s statement is a part of the Vatican’s agenda in India.

Does India have to learn religious tolerance and secularism from Obama? The POTUS needs to be reminded that unlike India, an American Presidency oath carries religious elements. Since 1937, the US President’s oath ceremony includes blessings by a pastor, called Benediction. Moreover, the President-elect repeats his oath placing his hand on the Bible.

French hijab ban 2004The US and Europe’s approach to terrorism has morphed into anti-Islamic rhetoric, with most European countries officially declaring a departure from multi-culturalism. For instance, Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini termed the burqa a ‘mobile prison’. Switzerland has banned the construction of minarets. Will Obama lecture them, and France too, which has banned the hijab?

Obama’s statement reveals him to be driven by propaganda, not guided by realities. He is no world statesman like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, who sacrificed his life in a defining battle against white supremacy. Obama is not decisive; he is just pushing the Vatican agenda which wants to pressurize the Modi government and stall an anti-conversion law. POTUS’s intervention is pathetic and condemnable. Anyone who uses it for domestic politics is guilty of encouraging neo-imperialists to intervene in our domestic affairs. – The New Indian Express, 8 February 2015

» Prof Rakesh Sinha is Hony Director of India Policy Foundation. Contact him at rakeshsinha46@gmail.com

Hindus don’t need lectures on religious tolerance – Ambaa

Ambaa“Hindus want to welcome everyone to practice whatever makes him happy. That is what is natural in our religion. But how can we continue to happily allow anyone to practice whatever he likes when most often what he likes to practice is forcing Hindus to convert to Abrahamic faiths? Telling them that they’ll go to hell? That their Gods are demons?” – Ambaa

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiWhile we were traveling one day in our van the topic of intolerance among religions came up. When I said that this was a problem with Abrahamic faiths because they require exclusivity, a friend said “No, all religions do this.”

But I say that Hinduism is naturally tolerant to other religions. When it isn’t, that’s a defensive reaction to Abrahamic faiths forcing themselves on us.

This article is going around on Facebook now saying that Indian media has cut part of Obama’s speech out of its reports about his visit, a speech about religious tolerance. 

“India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith — so long as it’s not splintered along any lines — and is unified as one nation.” – Politico, 29 January 2015

And that may be true enough but why are these warnings directed at Hindus?

All these warnings are meant to tell Hindus to stay tolerant of other religious views. But when Hindus turn intolerant it is for DEFENSIVE reasons. Tell Christians and Muslims in India to stop tricking and coercing people into converting and you’ll see any aggression that might be present in right-wing Hinduism immediately deflate.

Hindu pilgrim train burning at Godhra Junction in 2002We all want to get along.

Hindus want to welcome everyone to practice whatever makes him happy. That is what is natural in our religion. But how can we continue to happily allow anyone to practice whatever he likes when most often what he likes to practice is forcing Hindus to convert to Abrahamic faiths? Telling them that they’ll go to hell? That their Gods are demons?

Religious tolerance starts with those who say “Ours is the only valid path to God.” Until those people can learn to accept other points of view, Hindus are going to feel threatened and some will respond defensively. – Patheos, 2 February 2015

» Ambaa is an American woman who is also a practising Hindu. She contributes to the Patheos blog at The White Hindu.

Missionaries at work in rural India

The Godhra Riots Postscript: The Masterminds – Nicole Elfi

Godhra Junction

Nicole ElfiA study of the masterminds behind the Godhra riots

In May this year, the people of India chose their Prime Minister. Over twelve years, several inquiry commissions — the Tewatia Committee (2010), the Nanavati Commission (2008), the Special Investigation Team (2011) under the Supreme Court — cleared Narendra Modi of all charges of having masterminded or, at least, encouraged the Godhra riots.[1]

Still, his detractors — politicians and ideology-driven activists in India, the US and Europe — have continued to label him “merchant of death”, “butcher”, “Nazi”, “fascist”, “murderer”, etc. Let us examine the facts and see whether they can point to the riot’s real mastermind.

Haji BilalThe Role of Congress Members

On 27 February 2002, when a coach of Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya went up in flames at Godhra railway station, a Congress member of the Godhra municipality, Haji Balal, led a mob and stopped the fire-fighting vehicle on its way to the station. The fire crew reported that “he had been visiting the fire station at night for the past few days on the pretext of watching films on television.” Haji Balal, a few days earlier, had the clutch plates of one of the main fire-fighting vehicles removed; in the second vehicle, the nut connecting the pipe to the water tank was spirited away.[2]

Haji Balal who, according to locals, proudly proclaimed himself the “Bin Laden of Godhra”, is among eleven people convicted for criminal conspiracy and murder and sentenced to death by a special fast track court in the high-security Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad on 22 February 2011.[3]

Other Congress members were also “booked for the carnage”.[4] The attack on the pilgrims was carried out “according to what was planned earlier under the directions of [the late] Maulvi Umarji”,[5] a religious leader of the Ghanchi Muslims of Godhra.[6] “All the acts like procuring petrol, circulating false rumour, stopping the train and entering in coach S/6 were in pursuance of the object of the conspiracy,” concluded the Nanavati Report. “The conspiracy hatched by these persons further appears to be a part of a larger conspiracy to create terror and destabilise the Administration.”[7]

“Destabilise the Administration”: Narendra Modi had assumed office as Gujarat Chief Minister on 7 October 2001, four months earlier. Incidentally, Maulvi Umarji got a ticket to campaign for the Congress in December 2002 state election in Gujarat.

In order to quickly gather a crowd of angry Muslims to the Godhra station and attack the train, so that no one would guess who was pouring petrol in the S6 and S7 coaches, rumours that a Ghanchi Muslim girl had been abducted by the Kar Sevaks were spread by the Jamiat-Ulema-E-Hind (JUH), a long-standing ally of the Congress.[8]

Narendra ModiFrom the start of the crisis, Narendra Modi appealed to the people to remain calm and exert self-control. On five occasions between 27 and 28 February, “CM addressed Media, Assembly and General public and everywhere the genesis and intention was one and the same, to punish the culprits responsible for the Godhra incident in an exemplary manner, so that it did not recur ever again.”[9] He announced an ex-gratia payment of 200,000 rupees to the next of kin of those killed in the Godhra incident and ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident.[10]

On 1st March, less than two days after the tragedy and while riots were raging, Modi requested the chief secretaries of neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan to send ten companies of armed police from each state to assist the government in “handling law and order situation”. As the sociologist and author Madhu Kishwar points out,[11] all three states then had Congress governments, and all three turned down the request.

Teesta Sitalwad & Javed AnandThe Campaign

Let us recall that the BJP-led NDA alliance had been in power at the Centre since 1998, confirmed by fresh elections in 1999. A 15-million-rupee campaign by journalist-activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, funded by the Congress Party and Communists to “politically isolate the BJP”,[12] failed to convince the Indian people, who voted the BJP to power. And the crusaders had to swallow the obvious — that the streets of India remained peaceful during the NDA regime.[13]

They however found a fertile ground in the US, especially with the evangelical lobbies.[14] On 1st April 2002 Teesta Setalvad created “Citizens for Justice and Peace” (CJP), an NGO “outsourced by the Congress to the job of attacking Modi”, as Madhu Kishwar put it.[15] The activists approached the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a U.S. government-funded body, with known roots in the evangelical movement, whose “original intention was to protect Christians around the world … to review facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally — and to make policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and the Congress”.[16] Testifying before the USCIRF, Teesta Setalvad alleged that the BJP had conducted: 

successful pogroms and attacks against the countries religious minorities, … recent state-sponsored Genocide of the Muslim Community in Gujarat … Brutal destruction of life, through rape, quartering of bodies, urinating on them and incarcerating [sic] them so that there is no trace or evidence of their remains … desecrating over 270 religious and cultural shrines belonging to the community … through systematic planning and targeted action by armed militias ideologically driven by the vision of a supreme and exclusive Hindu rashtra (state). … Over 2,000 lost their lives, 500 are missing and 250-300 girls and women were gang-raped before being quartered, burned and killed.[17]

This “testimony” from India is what fed countless self-styled human rights organizations and intellectuals in India and in the West. They drank in Setalvad’s words and regurgitated them as articles and “reports” with a plethora of gory details.

As regards the number of riot victims, invariably quoted in thousands, the then Police Commissioner P.C. Pande, in a statement to the Special Investigating Team, declared, 

… it was incorrect to say that 1000 people lost their lives in Ahmedabad City during the riots of 2002, whereas the actual number of deaths between February 28th 2002 and April 30th 2002 was 442, of whom 113 were Hindus and 329 Muslims. … All offences committed were duly and properly registered including by sending police officers to relief camps and therefore, no important crime remained unregistered.[18]

According to the Congress-led UPA government’s statement in Parliament on 11 May 2005, the final figures of those killed in the Godhra riots are 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus.[19] In any case, the endlessly repeated figure of “2000 Muslim victims” has no basis in actual fact.

Sanjiv Bhatt IPSThe SIT and Sanjeev Bhatt

Facts cannot so easily be wished away. And they were nailed by the Nanavati Report and the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief R.K. Raghavan in response to a petition filed by Jakia Nasim, Ehsan Jafri’s[20] widow, and Teesta Setalvad, which alleged criminal conspiracy by Narendra Modi’s government.[21] Jakia Nasim’s testimony before the Nanavati Commission and Supreme Court in 2002 and 2003 was that “the mob would have lynched all of them but for the
timely action by the police”. Four years later, her praise turned into complaint — except that the poor lady was not even aware of what she complained or petitioned about: “She has no personal knowledge of the allegations mentioned in the affidavits filed by R.B. Sreekumar during the years 2002, 2004 and 2005 on his own”, said the SIT.[22]

Let us explain: The SIT, appointed on 23 March 2008, investigated two retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, one of them being R.B. Sreekumar just mentioned, to whom we will shortly return. The second one, Sanjeev Bhatt, then Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence in the Gujarat government, claimed after years of silence that he was present at a law and order meeting convened
by the Chief Minister on 27 February night at his residence. At this meeting, which lasted 15-20 minutes, Sanjeev Bhatt claims that the Chief Minister said that “for too long the Gujarat police had been following the approach of balancing the action against Hindus and Muslims … that the situation warranted that the Muslims be taught a lesson, … it was imperative that Hindus
be allowed to vent out their anger….”[23]

As it turned out, none of the officials present even remembered the presence of Sanjeev Bhatt. Interrogated independently later, they denied any such talk by the Chief Minister, who, they asserted, said instead that the Godhra flare-up was very unfortunate and should be handled with a firm hand. The discussions centred around maintenance of law and order in view of the call for a bandh on the next day and the availability of forces. Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pandey categorically stated that no instructions to allow any freedom to law-breakers were given by the Chief Minister. According to Prakash S. Shah, then Additional Secretary (Law & Order), the Chief Minister instructed all the officers that “communal peace and harmony be maintained at all costs and all possible steps be taken to control the possible communal flare-up.”[24] 

As for Sanjeev Bhatt’s testimony, the SIT called fax messages produced by him “not genuine”, “forged document, fabricated subsequently by someone with a vested interest.”[25] “This conduct of Shri Sanjiv [sic] Bhatt in arranging, prompting and controlling the witness [a witness produced by him] to corroborate his statement is highly suspicious and undesirable.”[26] And from the location of his mobile phone, his claim of being present at the said meeting at the Chief Minister’s residence proved to be false. “Shri Sanjiv Bhatt is a tainted witness and therefore, cannot be relied upon keeping in view his background in the police department as he was involved in criminal cases of serious nature and departmental inquiries are also in progress against him.”[27] Cases against him included inflicting torture in custody leading to death, abduction, extortion and unprovoked firing, killings and planting narcotics with a view to blackmail. SIT head R.K. Raghavan concluded that Bhatt had lied and brought in tutored witnesses to falsely implicate Modi.[28] The Gujarat Vigilance Commission recommended his suspension twice (on 15-07-2002 and 19-10-2006) for professional misconduct, but each time he managed to evade prosecution.[29] 

A last brush stroke on Sanjeev Bhatt’s erratic comportment is given by senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani in a Sunday Guardian article. The man “handed over charge and his official computer, leaving all his emails in an unprotected mode for all to read”… The state government forwarded the material to the SIT for investigations, and thanks to this irresponsible gesture, authorities harvested details of his “hobnobbing with the Opposition Congress party in a thoroughly illegal and almost seditious manner to concoct evidence against the Chief Minister and the state of Gujarat”. To this end Bhatt was in constant touch with top Congress party leaders, from whom he received not only guidance, but “packages” and “materials”, as per his own statement.[30]

Teesta SetalvadAn Activist’s Career

Activist Teesta Setalvad built a successful career on the Godhra issue and on demonizing Narendra Modi, for which she has been covered with national and international awards. Let us mention just a few: 

• In August 2002, the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana [Communal Harmony] Award instituted by the Congress (I), jointly with Harsh Mander (former IAS officer and NAC board member),[31] “for their outstanding contribution towards communal harmony and national integration”. 

• In 2003, the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award (jointly with Ibn Abdur Rehman, a Pakistani “peace and human-rights advocate and veteran communist from Pakistan”).[32] 

• The New York-based Parliamentarians for Global Action’s 2004 Defenders’ of Democracy Award, for her efforts “to ensure justice for the victims of the genocide in Gujarat. 

• In 2006, the Nani Palkhivala Award. In her acceptance speech, Setalvad was all praise for an IPS officer to whom she dedicates her award, someone “who stood mighty in the face of a murderous and vindictive Gujarat administration.”[33] 

• In 2007, the Padma Shri Award from the Government of India, which since May 2004 had been run by a Congress-led coalition. – Scribd, 2014

» This is a postscript to The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction, by the same author

» Read the second part of this article, the ISRO Spy Scandal  story, on Scribd here 

» Nicole Elfi is a French author who lives in Auroville. This article © Nicole Elfi, 2014

 Notes & References

  1. From Commission of Inquiry Report of Justice G.T. Nanavati & Justice A.H. Mehta (henceforth “Nanavati Report”), p. 175: 229. The report is available on the website of the Gujarat government: http://home.gujarat.gov.in/homedepartment/downloads/godharaincident.pdf (accessed May 2014).
  2. From Justice Tewatia Committee Report, short for Gujarat Riots: The True Story; Facts Speak for Themselves – Godhra and After, A Field Study by Justice D. S. Tewatia, Dr. J.C. Batra, Dr. Krishan Singh Arya, Shri Jawahar Lal Kaul, Prof. B.K. Kuthiala. Council for International Affairs and Human Rights, Governing Body for the Term 2001-03. See “Staff of the Fire Brigade”. Online at: www.gujaratriots.com/index.php/2010/04/justice-tewatia-committee-report/ (retrieved June 2014). Also Nanavati Report, p. 86, 88, 89: 128, 130-131.
  3. Dasgupta, M. 2011. “11 get death in Godhra train burning case”, online at: www.thehindu.com/news/national/11-get-death-in-godhra-train-burning-case/article1500325.ece (retrieved July 2014).
  4. Among them, President of the District Congress Committee, Farooq Malla and Congress activist of Godhra Municipality, Abdul Rehman Dhatia. Tewatia Report, “Fifty-Eight Pilgrims Roasted Alive”.
  5. Nanavati Report, p. 159-160: 214; p. 175.
  6. Gujarat’s minister of state for home Amit Shah’s interview by Sheela Bhatt, 27.02.2003, online at: www.rediff.com/news/2003/feb/27inter.htm (retrieved June 2014).
  7. Nanavati Report, p. 175: 229.
  8. Nanavati Report, pp 40-41: 51-52, p. 49: 68; pp. 158-159: 213.
  9. Special Investigation Team (SIT) Report, p. 241. The Supreme Court handed over all records pertaining to 2002 riots to SIT on 20.01.2010; SIT submitted its final report on Modi’s role in 2002 Gujarat riots, on 25.04.2011.
  10. SIT p. 21.
  11. Kishwar, M.P. 2013. “Modinama 7, When Congress State Governments Snubbed Modi’s Request for Additional Police Force”, online at: manushi.in/articles.php?articleId=1704 (retrieved May 2014).
  12. Wikipedia, Communalism Combat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communalism_Combat . “In a 1999 interview, Javed Anand said that before the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, his monthly magazine Communalism Combat (published by Sabrang Communications since August 1993) requested and received funds from the Congress Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India and ten individuals to run advertisements attacking the Sangh Parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”.
  13. See Elst, K. & Rao, R.N. 2002. Gujarat after Godhra: Real Violence, Selective Outrage, Har-Anand, Delhi.
  14. See Balakrishna, S. 2014. “Narendra Modi’s visa denial still an unhealed wound” online at: indiafacts.co.in/narendra-modis-visa-denial-still-an-unhealed-wound/? (retrieved May 2014).
  15. Kishwar, M.P. 2013. “Modinama” 13, “RB Shreekumar: Hero No. 2 of Secular Brigade” – Part I, online at: manushi.in/articles.php?articleId=1730 (retrieved May 2014).
  16. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Commission_on_International_Religious_Freedom (retrieved May 2014).
  17. Teesta Setalvad’s testimony to the USCIRF, online at: http://web.archive.org/web/20070713194116/www.uscirf.gov/events/hearings/2002/june/0 6102002_setalvaTestimony.html (retrieved June 2014)
  18.  SIT pp. 92-93.
  19. See “Gujarat Riots: the true story”, online at: www.gujaratriots.com/index.php/2008/05/myth-1-2000-muslims-were-killed-in-the-gujarat-riots/ (retrieved July 2014). Narendra Modi’s interview for Seedhi Baat/Aaj Tak, in India Today, 04.11.2002, online at: www.indiatoday.com/itoday/20021104/conf.shtml#co (retrieved July 2014).
  20. About Ehsan Jafri see Elfi, N. 2013. “The Godhra Riots: Sifting Facts from Fiction”, online at: scribd.com/doc/174541552/The-Godhra-Riots-Sifting-Fact-from-Fiction-Nicole-Elfi .
  21. SIT pp. 16, 18-19.
  22. SIT p. 16.
  23. SIT pp. 22-25.
  24. SIT pp. 25-27, 34, 522.
  25. SIT pp. 523-530.
  26. SIT p. 41.
  27. SIT p. 241.
  28. SIT pp. 540-41. Also Dasgupta, M. 2012. “SIT rejects amicus curiae’s observations against Modi”, online at: thehindu.com/news/national/article3401728.ece (retrieved June 2014).
  29. SIT pp. 48-51. Kishwar, M.P. 2013. “Modinama 6, Heroes of the Secular Brigade: A Glimpse into the Doings and Misdoings of Sanjiv Bhatt”, online at: http://manushi.in/articles.php?articleId=1703&ptype=campaigns (retrieved July 2014).
  30. Jethmalani, R. 2011. “UPA, media have a brazen mission to demonize Modi”, online at: sunday-guardian.com/analysis/upa-media-have-a-brazen-mission-to-demonize-modi (retrieved July 2014). Also Kishwar 2013: 6, op. cit.
  31. The National Advisory Council (2004-2014) was a body set up by the first UPA government to advise the Prime Minister of India. Sonia Gandhi served as its Chairperson from its inception to its end.
  32. Nuremberg International Human Rights Award, online at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_International_Human_Rights_Award
  33. Teesta Setalvad “Nani A Palkhivala Award 2006 Acceptance Speech”, online at: www.countercurrents.org/comm-setalvad100207.htm (retrieved June 2014).