Posts Tagged ‘Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’

Shadows of Violence Cling to Indian Politician – By Somini Sengupta – The New York Times

May 2, 2009

 

 

Shadows of Violence Cling to Indian Politician

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Mr. Modi campaigning last week in Gujarat State. He was chief minister during a deadly episode of Hindu-Muslim violence in 2002.

 

By SOMINI SENGUPTA

 

AHMEDABAD, India — Narendra Modi, India’s most incendiary politician, is trying to cast himself as the vanguard of India’s modern industrial future. The ghosts of this city’s savage past, though, are refusing to leave his side.

Mr. Modi, 59, is the thrice-elected chief minister of the western state of Gujarat. On his watch, this city witnessed one of the worst episodes of Hindu-Muslim violence in the history of independent India: in the spring of 2002, mostly over three days, 1,180 people were killed across the state. Most were Muslims. Mr. Modi’s administration was accused of doing little to stop the fury and on occasion, abetting it.

On Monday, India’s Supreme Court, in its strongest move yet, ordered a special police team to investigate Mr. Modi’s role in the alleged conspiracy to attack Muslims.

With national elections under way, Mr. Modi is the biggest crowd-puller for India’s main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. And while party hierarchy means he is not the B.J.P.’s candidate for prime minister this year, he is positioning himself for the top slot in the next race.

On the campaign trail, he is sardonic, often churlish, always theatrical. At one rally, he compared the ruling Indian National Congress, the nation’s oldest party, to an aging woman. At another, he assailed the incumbent prime minister, Manmohan Singh of Congress, as so “weak” that he ought to get a medical check-up; Mr. Singh had recently recovered from heart bypass surgery.

At a third, stabbing the air with his finger, he taunted Mr. Singh for turning to the United States for support in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November, which India said were the work of a Pakistan-based militant group.

“O-baaaa-maaa,” he whined, referring to President Obama. “O-baaa-maaa. Our neighbor has come and attacked us. Do something!” The crowd lapped it up, hollering, clapping and imitating his cry of “O-baaa-maa.”

Mr. Modi’s success offers a window into the B.J.P.’s delicate balancing act: It has to hold on to its radical Hindu support base even as it pitches itself as a force of prosperity and security. His rise also suggests a turning point in Indian politics, in which voters weigh what matters more: identity issues, like faith and caste, or practical issues, like electricity, water and roads. Opinion polls show that Hindutva, or Hinduness, has diminishing appeal.

With a national profile clearly in mind, Mr. Modi has assiduously sought to reinvent himself from a scruffy mascot of Hindu nationalism to a decisive corporate-style administrator. His talking points these days are Gujarat’s double-digit economic growth, private seaports and round-the-clock electricity in Ahmedabad, a booming western city that Gandhi once called home. He wears business suits to business meetings, instead of homespun tunics. He still lampoons the urban, English-speaking elite, but he is also honing his English skills.

His biggest coup has involved the Tata Nano, the world’s least expensive car. Last fall, Mr. Modi persuaded Tata Motors to relocate its Nano factory to government-owned land not far from here. The company had been buffeted by protests over land acquisition in another state.

Soon afterward, several of India’s most prominent industrialists gathered in Gujarat for a meeting and declared Mr. Modi, a former tea shop manager, fit to be a future prime minister.

Swapan Dasgupta, a columnist who advises the B.J.P. on strategy, described him as India’s “aggressive modernizer.”

The B.J.P “promises growth, good governance, development and security.” But it also returns to the party’s original ideological pillars, from pledging to build a Hindu temple on the site of a razed 16th-century mosque to resurrecting a preventive detention law that Muslims said had been unfairly applied to them.

Rarely does Mr. Modi make overt appeals to faith. He does not have to.

“Modi has learned that you have to do development to get re-elected, you have to have a secular image if you want to be prime minister,” said Ajay Umat, editor of a Gujarati-language daily newspaper, Divya Bhaskar, who has known Mr. Modi for more than 20 years.

Mr. Modi has also learned, Mr. Umat said, that his core Hindu supporters will not easily forget his original incarnation as their “protector.”

That image was sealed in 2002, after a train ferrying Hindus was set on fire by Muslims in a town called Godhra, killing 59 people on board and prompting Hindu mob attacks on Muslims across the state. The mobs stabbed, raped and set their victims on fire; they burned homes and businesses. Mr. Modi has never apologized for what happened. (His office did not respond to numerous requests for an interview with The New York Times.)

His admirers say he has moved on. They credit him for removing red tape for business, improving the state’s road networks, and cracking down on lawlessness and petty corruption. His detractors call him an autocrat. (Sonia Gandhi, the president of Congress, once called him “a merchant of death.”)

If and when Mr. Modi becomes the standard-bearer for his party, Indian voters will have to decide whether they can overlook what is called the “2002 stigma” in favor of the “aggressive modernizer.” His critics hope they will not.

“This man can’t represent India, either as a civilization or as a nation,” said Shiv Visvanathan, a sociology professor and one of Mr. Modi’s critics. “He can represent a part. He can never represent the whole. That is the sanity of Indian democracy.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Modi, the past has been hard to cast off. A police team appointed by the Supreme Court has begun to pry open several cases from 2002, making fresh arrests.

Maya Kodnani, Mr. Modi’s former minister for women and child development, was arrested on charges of helping a Hindu mob attack two nearby Muslim enclaves. She is awaiting trial on accusations of arming the mob with kerosene cans, which were then used to set people on fire. All told, the mob killed 106 people on a single day, including seven members of Abdul Majid Mohammed Usman Sheikh’s family.

Mr. Sheikh, 56, who came to the courthouse on the morning of the arrest in late March, called it the beginning of justice for the dead. Among them were his pregnant wife, three sons and three daughters. He carried their pictures in a plastic shopping bag. He said he felt “a little satisfied.”

 

Top police officers expose Modi’s bias, KPS Gill’s role – World Sikh News

February 20, 2009

http://worldsikhnews.com/18%20February%202009/Top%20police%20officers%20expose%20Modi’s%20bias%20KPS%20Gill%20s%20role.htm

Top police officers expose Modi’s bias, KPS Gill’s role
WSN Network

New Delhi: EVEN AS THE Indian Corporate world led by the likes of Ratan Tata and Anil Ambani wants to see Hindutva mascot like Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister of India, this beloved of the Indian right wing communal forces was splashed in some more shame when two senior police officers told the investigators in a Supreme Court-appointed panel that the Gujarat CM had a pronounced anti-Muslim bias.  

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat saw R.B. Sreekumar, a former additional director general of police (ADGP) who was in-charge of the state Intelligence Bureau during the riots, and Rahul Sharma, the then Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police, questioning the impartiality of the administration.  

“The Chief Minister summoned me to his chamber on May 7, 2002, and instructed me not to concentrate on Sangh Parivar, as its members were not doing anything illegal. He asked me to concentrate on Muslim militants, and get data on Amanpath, suspected to be a Muslim group,” Sreekumar said in his affidavit. Narendra Modi was the CM then.

Predictably, Modi’s government kept mum after the allegation came to light. Modi was famously denied visa by the US because of his ugly record on the human rights front.  

What was even more important was the police officer’s revelations about KPS Gill. This man with a blot the size of the Indian ocean on his face, as a result of his all-blemished track record in Punjab during militancy years, was the one found encouraging Modi in his devious plans.  

“K.P.S. Gill, the adviser to the Chief Minister, had told state police chief K. Chakravarthy not to reform the politicians — meaning thereby , not to take any action against the VHP and Bajrang Dal. The adviser also wanted the police to vacate the riot victims living in the relief camps, exhibiting a clear anti Muslim bias,” Sreekumar said in his affidavit.  

Sreekumar says he is prepared to be cross-examined, and has stood by what he stated on oath in the affidavits. 

Sharma, who is a Deputy Inspector Gneral, CBI, in Mumbai, said: “Minister of State for Home Gordhan Zadaphia had contacted me and said the ratio of deaths as a result of police firing was not proper. What I understood was that, he was complaining about more number of deaths of Hindus as compared to Muslims in Bhavnagar city .” 

In his affidavit, prominently reported by the Hindustan Times, Sharma said a large part of the police records related to riots had been destroyed and “it was on my own conscience that I managed to submit to the investigating agencies what I could protect”.  

Interestingly , Sreekumar and Sharma both faced the wrath of the Modi government for not toeing the “official line”. Sreekumar, who retired in February, was chargesheeted in 2005, for leaking intelligence reports.  

Last year, the Ahmedabad bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal quashed the government order and directed payment of all dues to him and slammed the government for denying him a promotion. Sharma was shunted out of Bhavnagar within days of his talk with Zadaphia to an insignificant position in the Ahmedabad Control Room.

18 February 2009