Sunday, May 13, 2007

Media encounter Modi is the target

Dina Nath

The fake encounter controversy in Gujarat has peaked and is taking its rounds on the plateau of political arena. It was started by a non-descript vernacular journalist who changed his job 14 times in a career of 13 years. Since it had potential to demonise Narendra Modi, it gathered momentum. From the days of Godhra, he has been the target of all political opponents, including some mighty media tycoons. The timing was most opportune - Assembly elections are due by year-end.

On the other hand Narendra Modi, as Chief Minister is high achiever in almost all developmental indices. This has also been acknowledged by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Planning Commission and the people of Gujarat. It has clearly been established by BJP's astonishing victory in Panchayat and corporation elections. The percentage of Below Poverty Line (BPL) people in the State has decreased and the Government is considering reduction in wheat and rice quota sanctioned by the Central Government.

By all accounts, Modi is the best Chief Minister, Gujarat has had, and may go down in history as such. Yet, the media and political opponents have demonised him. The fact remains that he quenched the riots after Godhra, killing more than 200 rioters, mostly Hindus. Compare him with former Congress Chief Minister Madhav Singh Solanki. In 1969 riots continued unabated for six months in Gujarat. Compare it with the biggest massacre in India after partition in Delhi in 1984 when more than 4,000 Sikhs were massacred with no police intervention. Rajiv Gandhi was in command, Narsimha Rao was the Home Minister, a number of Congressman were involved which was later established in court.

Also compare it with what former Chief Minister of West Bengal SS Ray did in the late 60s and early 70s when more than 4,000 misguided Naxalites, who happened to be brilliant students, were brutally killed by the State police.

Further, compare it with the Left, which came to power after the Congress in West Bengal. They picked the local Congress leaders of eminence one-by-one and killed them publically to maximise the fear deterrent among the masses.

The Nandigram killings look like a Gestapo operation, as they did annihilating hundreds of innocent villagers. These are incidents rarely discussed. But the Gujarat encounter overshadows everything. It shows the conspiracy of the ruling set-up.

Here is some data from National Human Right Commission (NHRC).

"According to an NHRC report, the worst-hit State is UP with 68 fake encounters in 2003-04 and 54 in 2004-05. The figures were nine and five, respectively, for Andhra while Gujarat reported one in 2004-05. But as Balgopal points out, the figures do not reflect ground reality as the NHRC only investigates instances brought to its notice."

Here is another interesting statistic from NHRC on fake encounter cases disposed of during 2004-2005. Gujarat had just one fake encounter while the Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh had five, SP ruled UP had 54 and the Congress ruled Haryana had four. While Gujarat has only five encounter cases pending, Andhra Pradesh had 21, Congress ruled Maharashtra had 29, UP had 175, the Capital 18 despite Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh at the helm and the Congress ruled Uttaranchal had 14.

It is for anybody to see that in fake encounter cases Gujarat has just one. But let me give the example of Ishrat Jahan, a terrorist who was liquidated along with Lashkar-e-Toiba men at the entry point of Gujarat, a few years back.

Media immediately cried foul and created all round sympathy for Jahan. Her college colleagues and family cried while giving statements before the camera. For almost a week, Modi and his Government endured this media trial. Then came the confirmation of Jahan's involvement by none other than the highest police officials of the Congress-ruled Maharastra. A senior police officer of Jammu and Kashmir, too, confirmed it.

As for the Sohrabuddin encounter case, not only was he an extortionist, but he also had terrorist links. During police interrogation he had conceded his connection with Dawood Ibrahim. It happens only in India that an encounter of a criminal like Sohrabuddin is mourned by the media, portraying him as innocent.

In fact the anti-Modi brigade, which includes anti-India elements, die-hard political opponents, and human right activists is in the habit of filing Public Interest Litigations and, of course, the few media personalities, who have vowed to demonise Modi and demolish him, are active in the forefront.

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