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The debate on Narendra Modi's ethics will go on

Last updated on: April 11, 2012 12:23 IST

Allegations about the massacre have not been discounted

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B Raman

The question of ethical calibre is not decided by SITs or courts. It is decided -- sometimes objectively, sometimes subjectively -- in the minds of the people, says B Raman

It is said that the lack of evidence regarding a crime does not mean that the crime was not committed.

The conclusion of the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team headed by RK Raghavan, former director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, and accepted by a court in Gujarat on April 10, that there is no prosecutable evidence against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and some others in connection with the Gulberg Society massacre case, does not mean that the allegations related to the massacre have been discounted in toto.

There were two categories of allegations relating to the massacre. The first was about participation in the massacre. As pointed out by Raghavan in an interview to a TV channel on Tuesday night, the trial against people being prosecuted for participation is still going on. Since the matter is sub judice, one cannot comment on their likely culpability.

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi


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A question which will be debated endlessly

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The second category of allegations related to wittingly or unwittingly facilitating the massacre by failing to use the police to prevent the massacre. Certain human rights activists and an Indian Police Service officer of the Gujarat cadre have alleged that there were wilful acts of commission and omission by the Gujarat administration headed by Modi, which facilitated the massacre.

Under the law, wilfully failing to act to prevent a crime is itself a crime. It was alleged by these activists that Modi and others, who have been accused of inaction, wilfully refrained from acting in time to prevent the massacre despite knowing that a massacre was being committed.

The SIT's conclusion does not mean that there were no acts of commission and omission by the Modi government. It only means that they were not wilful and no offence under the common law has been committed by them.

Do they have any accountability for administrative negligence not amounting to a crime that came in the way of preventing the massacre? That is a question which will be debated endlessly without definitive answers being found.

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Image: A protest against Narendra Modi


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Does the legal exoneration strengthen Modi's position?

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Modi thus stands exonerated legally. There is no point in continuing with a witch-hunt against him as sought to be done by his detractors.

Modi's exoneration in the eyes of the law does not necessarily mean that he stands exonerated in the eyes of large sections of the people of this country who have been critical of his handling of the anti-Muslim riots. Modi has not been honourably exonerated in their eyes. A legal exoneration does not mean a vindication of Modi's honour as far as the Gujarat massacres are concerned.

What next? Does the legal exoneration strengthen his position politically in the state and in the nation? Yes, it definitely strengthens his position in the state and increases the chances of his government coming back to power in the state elections that will be held later this year.

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Tags: Modi , Gujarat

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The question of ethical calibre is not decided by SITs or courts

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Does the legal exoneration strengthen his credentials as a national level leader deserving to be the prime minister of this country one day? His followers strongly believe that the road is now clear for Modi to emerge as a leader at the national level, capable of leading this country.

This question will be decided in the months to come, not just by his die-hard supporters but many others who still have question marks in their minds about whether Modi has the ethical credentials to be the prime minister of this country.

His administrative acumen and competent stand have been proved in Gujarat, but the debate on his ethical calibre will continue.

The question of ethical calibre is not decided by SITs or courts. It is decided -- sometimes objectively, sometimes subjectively -- in the minds of the people.

There is no evidence as yet that Modi's opponents and critics as well as many others with a troubled conscience are prepared to exonerate him in their minds. This will come in the way of his chances as a future prime minister of India.

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Image: Supporters of Narendra Modi

Tags: Modi , India , Gujarat

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