Threee Years After Godhara

નોંધ: આ લેખ મેં મૂળ અંગ્રેજીમાં લખ્યો હતો અને હજુ સુધી એનો ગુજરાતી અનુવાદ કર્યો નથી. લેખ પ્રાસંગિક છે. ૨૦૦૫ના એપ્રિલમાં આર.એસ.એસ.ના મુખપત્ર અને દેશના સૌથી વિશ્વસનીય મૅગેઝિનોમાં જેની ગણના થાય છે એવા દિલ્હીથી પ્રગટ થતા સાપ્તાહિક “ઑર્ગેનાઇઝર” (Organiser) તરફથી ગુજરાત દિન નિમિત્તે એક વિશેષાંક પ્રગટ થયો. “ઑર્ગેનાઇઝર”ના તંત્રી અને મારા મિત્ર શેષાદ્રી ચારીના નિમંત્રણથી મેં આ લેખ સીધો જ અંગ્રેજીમાં લખીને મોકલ્યો. આવતી કાલથી Good Morning Onlineમાં રોજ એક પીસ અંગ્રેજીમાં લખવાનું શરૂ કરું છું અને આશા રાખું છું કે હિંદુસ્તાનના સુપ્રીમો ગં.સ્વ. સોનિયાબેન ગાંધીનો ઇટાલિયન ભાષા પરનો કાબુ મારો ગુજરાતી પર છે એટલો જરૂર હશે પણ એમની હિન્દી કરતાં મારા અંગ્રેજીનો સ્તર થોડોક તો ઊંચો હોય.

Three years after Godhra
By Saurabh Shah

Gujarat is not what you see on your idiot box. Gujarat is not what the bespectacled editorial writers and political analysts of the so-called national press want you to believe. Before the Hindu massacre in Godhra, Gujarat was safe for all the communities and even after Godhra, it continues to be safer for all communities, including the largest of all minorities, the Muslims.

Remember Qutubuddin Ansari, the young tailor of Ahmedabad who was the poster boy for all secular newspapers and journals? His bruised face and folded hands still haunt our memory. Secularists sent him to Kolkata and made a big issue of his migration. Within few weeks, he came back to Ahmedabad, his home and nobody has reported as to why he chose to resettle in Ahmedabad if it was ‘unsafe for Muslims’.

Gujarat has started attracting greater foreign investment than ever before. For the first time, top Indian CEOs like Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani have started gathering in Ahmedabad. Last year they had pledged to invest Rs 66,000 crore in various projects and this year again they have come and signed MoUs worth Rs 1, 00,000 crore.

Top-league businessmen and industrialists do not fear political or social disturbances in the BJP-led Gujarat; neither do they fear natural catastrophies like earthquakes. They have witnessed with awe how the Gujaratis were back on their feet in no time, after the devastating Kutch earthquake of January 26, 2001- in shorter period than the time taken by the Americans after 9/11.

Yes, Gujarat today is a safer place. Much safer than Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Jammu-Kashmir. It is safe for everybody.

Three years ago the media played havoc with the image of Gujarat. Take a few examples:

Rajdeep Sardesai (at that time in Star News), in an hour-long report on May 2, 2002, barely two months after the blackest day of the Hindu calendar 27 February 2002, reported that burning of 59 Hindu karsevaks travelling by Sabarmati Express was not a preplanned massacre but merely a spontaneous act of arson by some hooligans. He interviewed a few people to support his ‘Lalu theory’.

Mid-day (Gujarati) carried a story on May 7, 2002, which proved that Rajdeep Sardesai had selectively and mischievously quoted some of the interviewees. Neither Shri Sardesai nor Star News had any explanation for that.

Before Rajdeep Sardesai’s bogus report, the Indian Express published a front-page report on April 27, 2002 alleging that the Gujarat police had not registered six cases of rape/murder of Muslim females. Once again the Indian Express report was challenged and proved wrong by this writer in Mid-Day, Gujarati. Editor-in-chief and CEO of The Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta complained about the expose to the managing director of Mid-Day. Shri Shekhar Gupta was asked by Mid-Day to file a complaint against Gujarati Mid-Day before the Press Council, Editor’s Guild or in the court of law or at least prove his report’s authenticity in his paper. He chose to keep mum.

There are umpteen cases of misreporting and twisted analyses during the post-Godhra riots of Gujarat. One can come out with a white paper exposing the secular media’s anti-Hindu stance and their role in maligning Gujarat.

Gujaratis know this. Their rage against the secular media got the BJP two-third majority in the December 2002 Assembly elections. The Gujaratis of Godhra had stopped the pin-up girl of electronic media, Barkha Dutt and her cameraman, when they were instigating and spoon-feeding Muslim women voters to speak against Narendra Modi. Even Aaj Tak and Zee News teams had to run for the cover during the election coverage when they tried to send live reports, which were far away from the ground realities.

Yes, Gujarat today is a safer place. Much safer than Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Jammu-Kashmir. It is safe for everybody, except for a handful of secular traitors.

(The author resigned as the editor of Gujarati Mid-Day two years ago and is launching a newsweekly Vichardhara from Ahmedabad on Ram Navmi, April 18, 2005. He can be contacted at: hisaurabhshah@gmail.com)

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