NDA government led by prime minister Narendra Modi is busy celebrating its second year in office.
BJP is buoyed by the fact that it is propelled to power for the first time in Assam. After the debacle in Delhi and Bihar, questions were raised on the efficacy of Amit Shah as a master strategician for all times. Then came the resounding success in Assam.
The mainstream media is once again going to town about how the political acumen of Shah enabled the ruling party to gain a foot hold in the state considered as the gateway to other north eastern states. So the man who pulled of a near magical performance in Uttar Pradesh in 2014 election (fMuzzafarnagar riots are not to be remembered on such joyous occasions) would be the happiest person when his mentor Modi celebrates his second year in office.
But it is at the same time Rana Ayyub, journalist whose dogged and sustained investigations into the Gujarat fake encounters is publishing her book ‘Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up’. Going by the excerpts published by some news websites, it deals with how she posed as Maithili Tyagi from the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles to investigate what happened during the 2002 Gujarat carnage while Modi was the chief minister of the western state.
Ayyub who had earlier worked with ‘Tehelka’ is now an independent journalist.
In one of her interview with Ashok Narayan, the then home secretary tells her how Modi used VHP and other organisations in the pogrom and how orders were issued to officials and police to go slow in containing the riots.
Amit Shah must be knowing Ayyub more than any other BJP leaders. She was instrumental in bringing to the public notice Shah’s role in the fake encounter cases in 2010. After her incisive report in ‘Tehelka’, Shah, who was the junior home minister of Gujarat was arrested. He was the first home minister in India was arrested for murder case.
Ayub says Shah’s arrest gave a new lease of life to those police officers who have been sidelined or discriminated against during Shah’s tenure. She writes how she was told that the fake encounters were only a tip of the iceberg. After taking to many officers, who were only willing to speak off record, Ayub says there was something more sinister that had been buried in the files of various cases in Gujarat. She also hints about the decade long subversion of judicial process in the state ruled by Modi.
When Shah was about to take charge as president of the BJP, Rana Ayyub wrote a piece in DNA news paper. “As a journalist covering Gujarat extensively since 2005, as someone who exposed Shah’s role in the fake encounters in the state and who can claim to have knowledge of his political trajectory, I would not mince my words in suggesting that by appointing Amit Shah as the president of the party, the BJP has hugely disrespected the law of the land and signalled an all time low for the criminal justice system of India. For the cases against Shah are for crimes so gruesome that the cloak of political astuteness will be too short to cover it,” Ayub wrote in the Mumbai based daily.
In the chargesheet filed in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, the CBI which had been investigating the case under the watchful eye of the Supreme Court had not just named Shah as one of the key accused and conspirators, but also named him as the head of an extortion racket which involved underworld thugs, politicians and businessmen.” The article was withdrawn from the online edition without citing any reason.
It seems Ayyubhas encountered more pressure when she tried to publish her new book ‘Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up.’
In a Facebook post, the author details how her book was subjected to the worst kind of censorship from publishers. So much so that she decided to publish it herself.
After Modi ‘s win in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the mainstream media conveniently forgot the 2002 carnage and other alleged fake encounters that is said to have taken place while he was Gujarat chief minister.
Most news outlets are busy devoting space and airtime to describe the astuteness of some leaders in helping the BJP to spread its influence through out the country.
In these times of celebrations and ego massage, Ayyub’s book stands out.
It helps the people to ‘struggle against forgetting’ about the worst pogrom in independent India.
Because as Milan Kundera wrote the “struggle of man against power, is the struggle of memory against forgetting”