This is why a free (and fearless) media is so important. On Thursday India’s Tehelka magazine published a damning report showing the extent to which the Guajarat state government, led by its Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was an active participant in the 2002 riots in which Hindus massacred over 2000 Muslims across the state.
Tehelka has even put videos supporting their claims on YouTube. [Note: a few years ago Tehelka was harassed by the BJP government (when it was in power), to the point it had to shut down, because it exposed a major bribery scandal involving its defence minister]. This story is all over the Indian press and blogs. For some bizarre reason the Guardian has zilch coverage and the BBC’s story is horrendously lame.
There’s two points to make here. Firstly, that for progressives in Britain, India’s continual denial of justice to Sikhs and Muslims over politically-motivated riots in 1984 and 2002 should constantly feature in any discussion, to the point that politicians there are shamed into doing something. India’s human rights record, for a country claiming to be the world’s largest democracy, is a slap in the face to the ideals of its founding fathers as well as religions that were born there (Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism).
Additionally, this episode only reinforces my point that it’s not religion that is inherently violent, but bigots who use it as a tool for political purposes. Was this massacre carried out in the name of Hinduism – undeniably. But as atheism cannot be blamed for Hitler or Stalin’s pogroms, Hinduism cannot be blamed for this (even though Hindu leaders in India have done remarkably little to wrest control away from the VHP, a sister organisation to the BJP). Those who blanket-blame religion for society’s ills miss the point completely I’m afraid. Guns don’t kill people… people kill people.
Anyway, coming back to this controversy, there has been a blackout of various news channels across Gujarat for covering this story (via SM). That is media censorship plain and simple. Let’s see if the Gujarati media in Britain write something about this, although I doubt it.
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Filed in: Current affairs,South Asia