Shoma Choudhary, editor Tehelka, writing in the Hindustan Times has let the cat out of the bag.
For those of you in Gujarat who believed the sting, the expose on Gujarat riots from last week was about justice to the riot affected, think again.
Shoma has made it amply clear in her latest piece that this is not about justice but it is about making you the voters of Gujarat feel guilty.
Offstumped critiques this latest sanctimonious piece from Tehelka.
Shoma makes no secret of where she is going with this piece with her opening remarks. She then goes on to make a startling admission with none of the sensation and hype from last week that It is true that â€˜Operation Kalankâ€™ is about things we already knew. She follows up with more sanctimony and some lament that the sting has only been met by empty counter-arguments and conspiracy theories. She then goes on to make accusations of ducking the truth and terms attempts to explain the sting as deprave.
Then comes the most dangerous elements of her piece with anger aimed ostensibly at the BJP but actually at democracy in Gujarat. She does so by questioning the assertion of majority and accusing it of nullifying justice. Then Shoma makes the mental leap to start talking of a “state sponsored pogrom”. This is the fundamental problem with last week’s sting. It showed what was previously known. It had accused go on record to incriminate themselves. It reminded us of the horror in all its gory detail as recounted by the perpetrators. All facts Shoma herself acknowledges.
But last week’s sting did nothing to make the case that there was a “state sponsored pogrom”. It neither presented new facts nor new incriminating evidence. It is this gaping hole that Tehelka has glossed over with all the hype and sensationalism. It is this gaping hole that Shoma covers up as she goes onto sanctimoniously defend Operation Kalank. She does so with some ludicrous remarks that Gujarat is a failed state.
But this remark is important for it is the foundation for the rest argument. That argument betrays Tehelka’s motives.
We are all content to continue with the charade of treating Gujarat as a democratic state facing an on-coming election.
So what does Shoma want ?
It is the X-factor that seems to have paralyses everybody: the fear of the â€˜Hindu voteâ€™. This fear and the unquestioning acceptance that it will blow in Modiâ€™s favor if anybody speaks out against his depraved state has made a mockery of every check and balance that lies at the heart of a democracy.
That is not all, Shoma is questioning the credibility of our democratic process and the judgement of the people of Gujarat
The real faultline in India today is not between Hindus and Muslims. It is between Hindus and Hindus. If the Hindus of Gujarat are going to re-elect Modi after being confronted with visual proof of what he stands for, we have to aggressively reclaim what being Hindu means.
So here is Offstumped’s poser to Shoma and Tehelka:
If last week’s sting was about justice to the riot affected and if it was about facts and evidence to establish the complicity of the “state” then the responsible thing for Tehelka to do was to present the facts to the Commissions of Enquiry and the Courts. Having done so Tehelka could have redeemed itself by “informing” the public on how much justice has already been delivered, how many cases are still pending, where in the judicial process these cases were held up and how the sting or expose will help the cause of justice in these cases.
We heard none of that.
Instead we were fed on sensational soundbites interspersed with clips from a movie with not even the fig leaf of a disclaimer.
By glossing over the lack of hard factual evidence on the “complicity of the state”, Tehelka is making a very dangerous argument here.
It wants us to first believe thatÂ its expose proves “Gujarat” is a failed state. It then wants us to believe that thereÂ is no sanctity to theÂ Institutions in Gujarat.
One wonders what the riot victims who were delivered justice yesterday in Godhra for Erla, those who were delivered justice in 2003 in Anand, Ghodasar, those who were delivered justice in 2005 in Angswana, think about that. Perhaps all of those trials should be declared flawed and all the sentencing that has happened reversed, forÂ Shoma and Tehelka want us to believe there is no Constitution in Gujarat.
But that is not all. The more dangerous argument that Tehelka is making here is that there is no credibility or sanctity to our democracy. Our system of majority vote is immoral. We all have to feel guilty if a majority of us feel one way and we express that way democratically in an election sanctioned by our Constitution.
Â It is very important to understand this because, Tehelka is making the argument that “justice” is nullified by the “assertion” of a majority in Gujarat.
So what Tehelka is saying here is that if Gujarat re-elects a BJP Government by going through a democratic process and Narendra Modi is returned as Chief Minister in adherence to the Indian Constitution, it would be a denial of justice.
So in the Tehelka scheme of things Justice cannot be delivered by Courts based on factual evidence. Justice according Tehelka, requires us to trash the majority judgement of a democratic process in favor of a campaign of slander and insinuations based on hearsay and boasts.
Complicity of the State in the 2002 riots must be established legally in a Court of Law with factual evidence. In the absence of such evidence the morality of the State’sÂ actions can only be judged by the will of the people expressed through a democratic process. By dismissing the assertion of the majority, questioning its morality Tehelka is attempting to ascribe guilt based on slander, insinuations hearsay and boasts.
This is a dangerous precedent.
Offstumped Bottomline: Tehelka is confusing the legal question with the moral question by glossing over the gaping hole in its sting and transferring the burden of guilt on to the voters of Gujarat. By questioning the democratic judgement of the majority in Gujarat Tehelka is questioning their morality, their faith in Hinduism and their faith in the Indian Constitution.