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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 17, April 22, 2023

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Apr 22, 2023

Saturday 22 April 2023


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, April 22, 2023

Playing the ‘Rules’

The Modi-led BJP Government is hard at work using the state machine to protect allies and friends and go after critics, fix public opinion via the news machines, censor out uncomfortable news, and influence the legal process to whitewash and clear names of those ideological buddies of the Hindutva spectrum who had been booked for crimes . . . ; to alter history books with the Mughal period of our History —all marked for deletion. They already keep air-brushing the history of the Taj Mahal. The conspirators of the December 1992 demolition of the Babri Mosque have all been let-off; Tomorrow they will tell us that there was no Babri Mosque. Questions over the breach of rules and corrupt business practices of a big business tycoon close to the Government are dismissed. Recent revelations by a former Governor over a government cover-up in Kashmir have been nearly blanked out. Many people found to be involved in mass crimes of violence in 2002 Gujarat are being let off the hook, and all uncomfortable record or history of that time is being fixed. So, a leading civil society activist who stood up with the victims 2002 Gujarat to fight court cases on behalf of victims has been made to face hell including arrest. A BBC documentary film on the 2002 Gujarat riots is now banned. Students on campuses who dared to screen the film have faced action from authorities. Some of the worst offenders of the 2002 Gujarat carnage, key accused Dr. Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi along with 65 others involved in the Naroda Gam massacre case have been acquitted on April 20, 2023, by a special court, leaving concerned citizens, victim’s families and legal experts in shock. The Naroda Gam massacre of February 2002 had been one of the nine prominent events of mob violence investigated by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). The SIT after a long investigation filed charges in 2008. These acquittals have been preceded last year with the release from prison of 11 Hindutva activists serving a prison sentence after being convicted of gang-rape of a pregnant woman, Bilkis Bano, and the murder of nearly all her family members during the 2002 Gujarat carnage. An appeal challenging the grant of remission is currently being heard by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had asked the Government of Gujarat and the Central government in Delhi to present all relevant papers related to the remission of sentence of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, but the Governments have openly refused to share these papers. It is not as if these papers endanger ‘national security’ that they cannot be shared. We have to wait to see how the Supreme Court rules in this matter. Our own layman’s view tells us that remission of sentence for the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Case and the 67 acquittals in the Naroda Gam massacre case are signals of a dangerous future.

April 22, 2023 – HK

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