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Commentators Discuss Failure of Indian State to Provide Justice

August 17, 2005 | Comments Off on Commentators Discuss Failure of Indian State to Provide Justice

In Moral Indifference as the form of modern evil, Siddharth Varadarajan discusses the indifference of then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi towards the massacres, and how such indifference has led to an entrenched and institutionalized “riot system” that “any ruling party anywhere in the country can use [] with impunity.”  Varadarajan criticizes the Nanavati report for describing the effects of the organized violence, but failing to analyze the causes:

India is the only democracy in the world where politicians and policemen responsible for mass murder, from Delhi in 1984 to Gujarat in 2002, are allowed to thrive while their victims live lives of penury and despair. It’s time we put a stop to this….

 He [Nanavati] concludes that the violence was “organised” and involved “the backing and help of influential and resourceful persons” but then blithely states that there is “absolutely no evidence” to show high-ranking Congress leaders were involved….

At no time did either Rajiv Gandhi or any other senior Minister display the slightest interest in understanding how such a terrible crime could have been committed on their watch, in ordering an inquiry, in ensuring that forensic and other forms of evidence were collected in a timely fashion so that the guilt of the perpetrators could be established swiftly. This is the way a leadership that was genuinely unaware of what was going on would have acted after the event. Conversely, it is only a government that knew it had something dreadful to hide that could behave the way the Rajiv Gandhi Government did in the weeks, months, and even years following November 1984….

Modern states do not allow small men like Jagdish Tytler, Dharamdas Shastri and Sajjan Kumar to unleash — as part of some sort of private initiative — murder on a genocidal scale. Modern states do not allow their police system to fall apart, except by design. Modern states do not allow Army commanders to say they do not have enough troops to do the job at hand. Littered through Mr. Justice Nanavati’s text are all the telltale dots of official guilt but these have been left unconnected, allowing the institutional rot to remain and infect our body politic again in the future. His philosophical approach — in which effects can exist without causes — does not augur well for the Gujarat violence inquiry report he will prepare next.

In See you at three thousand, Dilip D’Souza discusses India’s failure in upholding the fundamental obligations of a state:

Think about it: is there anything more fundamental to the way a society lives, even perceives itself, than the need to punish those who tear at its fabric? Yet in the face of arguably the greatest such tear in our history — a great gaping hole that 3,000 mangled bodies fell through — we are at our most apathetic.

He challenges perceptions of India’s rising status, focusing on its inability to provide justice or act against perpetrators of the massacres:

Because I hear this stuff about India on the move, and the international cachet of India escalating by the day, and American MBA students coming to Indian companies to intern, and waging war on terror, and how we deserve a seat on the Security Council (veto power included) — and I think, how empty it all is. What a bunch of horse-pucky.

When we are a land — let’s be frank, why not? — of no justice whatsoever, what pride can we take in those American interns? When we are complacent about that lack of justice, what image are we talking about? When we let the terrorists live untouched in our midst, even give them police protection, what war on terror are we fighting?


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