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September 29, 1998


E-Mail this column to a friend Varsha Bhosle


If one group of politicians labels the Srikrishna Commission Report as biased, can a rival faction use that very thing to lynch them? Shouldn't the claim first be disproved by evidence from neutral parties like the free press? Major problem: Can the English press itself be deemed unbiased? Especially since it stands accused of being controlled by those rivals -- which allegation it has not shaken off to everybody's satisfaction?

So we come to an impasse: Hindutvawad gained strength from what's perceived as the utter bias of leftists/secularists towards minority feelings, with scant regard for Hindu sensitivities. And, the disputing camp has always held any thought/act by right- wingers as Nazism. It's a clash of mindsets. And mindsets are rooted in ideologies. And in ideology, there can be no absolutes.

Well, I finally finished studying the Report. And my own conclusion is that it is not worth the paper it's printed on. Not just because I think it is plainly prejudiced, but also because it's full of glaring inconsistencies, exclusions and oversights...

Some excerpts that bug the hell out of me: "As far as the December 1992 phase of the rioting by Muslims is concerned, there is no material to show that it was anything other than a spontaneous reaction of leaderless and incensed Muslim mobs..." Then, "There is no material on record suggesting that known Muslim individuals or organisations were responsible for the riots though a number of individual Muslims and Muslim criminal elements appear to have indulged in violence..." After which, "though some violent incidents were taking place, large-scale rioting was commenced on January 6 by the Hindus..."

Now why's it that Muslim infractions are committed by "individual" and "criminal elements," while Hindus remain the collective Hindus? That the initial rioters were Muslim, appears to be purely incidental. Not so for "the" Hindus. We get the honour of starting "large-scale rioting" during "some" violent incidents by Muslims. "The" Hindus, you see, must all be criminals and can't operate on an individual basis...

"Spontaneous reaction," that mother of all absolutions, serves as another convenient cover for Muslim communal violence. It would seem that in the Commission's view, Muslim anarchy was an understandable reaction to the Babri demolition. However, Hindu response to that violence is...? The Commission charges, "Because some criminal Muslims killed innocent Hindus in one corner of the city, the Shiv Sainiks 'retaliated' against several innocent Muslims in other corners of the city." By the same coin, because some Hindus demolished a derelict structure in one corner of the country, didn't the Muslims retaliate against several innocent Hindus in other corners of the country...?

Dilip D'Souza quotes to certify the equity of the Report: "When the killers of Mathadi workers were not identified, Hindus, spearheaded by the Shiv Sena, kicked up a furore, saying the murderers were Muslims, giving a call for arms to Hindus. However, later it was established that the murderer of the workers was an alcoholic and the motive behind it was far from being communal." This is *precisely* the kind of wanton fudging that stems from bias of the press...

ONE Mathadi worker was killed on December 25, 1992. FOUR Mathadi workers were killed on 5 January 1993. The "alcoholic" (who only happened to be a Muslim) killed the lone worker. It was after the multiple-murders by, what else, plain old miscreants (who only happened to be Muslims) that Hindus took action... Chapter II, para 1.7(ix) states: "he was set upon by miscreants who stabbed him to death. Three more Mathadi workers who came out of the godown to help him were also stabbed to death. The Mathadi workers union called for a bandh... Speeches were made during this meeting to condemn the police and government for their ineffectiveness with exhortations that Hindus might have to pick up swords to defend themselves if the police failed to protect them. " Weren't they entitled to protection...?

And yet the Commission states, "The communal passion of the Hindus were aroused to a fever pitch by the inciting writings in the print media, particularly Saamna and Navakal, which gave exaggerated accounts of the Mathadi murders and the Radhabai Chawl incident." The less said about the 6 victims of the Chawl massacre, the better. But I wonder, if the papers wrote that they were locked in and burnt alive by Muslims, and that one of the victims was a handicapped girl, why isn't that reportage...? What was "exaggerated" about the case? The reality is grim enough! Or is it suggested that no carnage be reported -- when the victims are Hindus?

Subsequent investigations verified that the butchers in all three above incidents were indeed Muslims. Still, the Commission castigates the newspapers for factual reporting, deeming it as sensationalism. Hilariously, the slip shows: "That they were criminals was underplayed by Hindus; that they were Muslims was all that mattered." As I said: Hindus are murdered by criminals who only happen to be Muslims; and collective Hindus distort that...

Now, this is Chap II, para 1.7(iv): "The last week of December 1992 and first week of January 1993, particularly between 1st to 5th, saw a series of stabbing incidents in which both Hindus and Muslims were victims, though the majority of such incidents took place in Muslim dominated areas of South Bombay and a majority of victims were Hindus."

Please note that the Mathadi multiple-murders took place on January 5, 1993, and the Radhabai Chawl arson, on January 8. Even so, these killings are not part of the ongoing communal strife! The riots have no bearing on them! That communal bloodshed was in progress since two weeks before these murders, is immaterial! Who in his right mind will buy that?

So also, the demolitions of illegal structures by the BMC before December 6, 1992: "Some Muslim extremists and fundamentalists seized upon this opportunity to canvass that their religious interests were at stake... This call to religion found a ready response amongst the Muslim youth." The Commission generously accepts that "it is not possible to say that (demolitions) were directed only against Muslims." Thank you. But what I'd like to know is: Who gave the call to religion...? Funnily, the Report states earlier, "Muslim organisations like SIMI and BMAC also carried on propaganda..." Doesn't this indicate that *the* Muslims were never "leaderless"...?

Why is there no investigation -- at this point or later -- into what was preached to congregations in mosques? The "sudden spurt in attendance at Friday namaaz in Mosques" is taken note of -- and that's ALL! Hasn't it been proved that "miscreants" take refuge (and also assemble bombs) in mosques? Too, why is there no scrutiny of the inflammatory articles appearing in Urdu newspapers...? "The" Hindus are guilty, period. Muslims had no communal motivations, period. Hindus were organised. Muslim individuals reacted spontaneously. Tell me more...

Then we have the Maha-artis: "Some of the Mahaartis were used as an occasion for delivering communally inciting speeches and the crowd dispersing from Mahaartis indulged in damage, looting and arson of Muslim establishments." Only, that comes after: "There was a sudden spurt in attendance at Friday namaaz in mosques. The Hindus replied with their ingenious Maha Artis, ostensibly to protest against namaaz on streets and calling of azaans from mosques, though both were going on for years and were, perhaps, no more than minor irritants."

The admirable principle of seeking the root cause whenever it applies to Muslim offences (eg, Babri demolition okays Muslim rioting), is not extended to Hindus. Given the conditions, why would I tolerate being told in high decibels, 5 times a day, everyday, that "there is only one God and that is Allah"? Why can't Maha-artis be a spontaneous backlash? Why was there a sudden increase in mosque attendance? Did the Commission really look for material indicting Muslim leadership?

Next we come to the abuse of Muslims by the police. You know what 'inconsistency' really means? Why I say the Report should be sold to the raddiwala? Read on:

* Chap II, para 1.5: "Considering it from all aspects, the Commission is not inclined to give serious credence to the theory that disproportionately large number of Muslim deaths in December 1992 was necessarily indicative of an attempt on the part of the police to target and liquidate Muslims because of bias."

* Chap II, para 1.6 (yes, the very NEXT one): "The Commission is of the view that there is evidence of police bias against Muslims... That there was a general bias against Muslims in the minds of the average policemen which was evident in the way they dealt with the Muslims, is accepted by the officer of the rank of Additional Commissioner V N Deshmukh..."

The Commission accepts V N Deshmukh's admission about the bias of the police. Which ACP is later referred to thus: "Deshmukh has no hesitation in calling BJP and Shiv Sena as communal parties as the records show that they have been preaching communal hatred." Oh really? Is that why his testimony is placed above those by A A Khan, A S Samra, R D Tyagi and S K Bapat -- all senior officers stating that the police are not biased? Why is Commissioner Bapat's testimony brushed off thus: "Bapat's attempt to give a sanitised version and a diplomatic answer does not impress the Commission"...?

For those who love to chant that "The response of police to appeals from desperate victims, particularly Muslims, was cynical and entirely indifferent," here's another: "Two constables in Deonar jurisdiction were killed with choppers and swords by the rampaging Muslims. While one lay on the ground bleeding to death, the body of another was dragged and thrown into the garbage heap from where it was recovered seven days later."

About a police officer dying from a head shot, the Commission notes that "it cannot be said with certitude that it was a case of private firing." Who can accept that the famed miscreants had no arms? Which community dominates the mafia? Who spawned the Bombay blasts? While making sweeping political statements ("Unlike elsewhere in the country the Muslims have not acquired sufficient political clout, nor have they been able to increase their representation in the BMC or in the legislative assembly"), the Commission plays charmingly safe over the existence of unregistered weapons.

But let's take for granted that the police are indeed anti-Muslim. Then why's it so? Are they all conscripted from the VHP or Sena? If "the irresponsible act of the Hindutva parties in celebrating and gloating over the demolition of the Babri structure was like twisting a knife in the wound and heightened the anguished ire of the Muslim," then why not agonise over the equally anguished psyche of ordinary Hindus who rejoiced at the erasure of the insult by Babar...?

If I didn't know, I'd have said that the Report was the handiwork of a typical "secular" Hindu. That species which bends over backwards to make excuses for the minorities; which has never given a thought to why there is a Hindu awakening; a species so bent on being politically correct that it has destroyed the delicate communal balance of this country. As M V Kamath wrote: "To get the right answers, we must ask the right questions. Even if they prove inconvenient to our cherished beliefs." That, the Commission seems not to have done.

This essay contains just the tip of my objections. I haven't touched on what irks me vis-a-vis the role of pinko/secularist journalists; analysis of death/injury figures; role of Shiv Sainiks; discrepancies in notation of violent incidents; actions of the Congress regime... Actually, if rationalists (aka Hindutvawadis) decide, they could well produce a release tabulating why they consider the Report biased. Which will then promptly be garbaged by the opposing camp. There are no absolutes...

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