THE COUNTRY always
believed that Chief Minister Narendra Modi was the guardian deity of
the murderous hordes let loose across Gujarat following the Godhra carnage.
This belief had acquired the force of truth not only due to Modi’s
own pronouncements and to those of other members of his party, but also
because of an across-the-spectrum indictment of the Modi regime by the
media, human rights groups and independent factfinding teams. The Nanavati-Shah
Commission, the official probe into the carnage, has been recording
statements for a few years now. But in a serious indictment, Arvind
Pandya, the Gujarat government’s counsel, reveals that he’s
trying to manage the proceedings.
Pandya, the special public prosecutor appointed by the Modi government
to defend it before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, too believes, like
everybody else, that had it not been for Modi the Hindus could not have
taken their “revenge” for the Godhra killings. Pandya is
privy not only to privileged state information, he is also aware of
Modi’s own thoughts on the matter. Leading a battery of lawyers
for the past five years to absolve Modi and his government of charges
of sponsoring and backing the 2002 pogrom, Pandya told TEHELKA that
during the riots Modi had given oral instructions to the police to “be
“A Hindu-based government was there when this incident took place,
so the people were ready and the state was also ready… this was
a happy coincidence,” Pandya said. This reporter met Pandya twice
– on June 6 and on June 8. On both occasions, Pandya emphasised
that had there been a non-BJP government in power in 2002, the riots
would never have happened. He said that Modi was so upset after the
Godhra carnage that he would himself had dropped bombs on Juhapura —
a Muslim neigbourhood in Ahmedabad — but his position as chief
minister constrained him. Pandya said he believed that the mass killing
of Muslims in Gujarat should be celebrated every year as “victory
day”. He said that crippling Muslims was better than killing them,
as that would not only invite lesser punishment but a crippled Muslim
would also serve as a living advertisement of what Hindus were capable
of. Inflicting economic loss on Muslims was as important as killing
them, Pandya asserted.
This isn’t all. Even as he was defending the government before
the Commission, Pandya was also simultaneously arguing the cases of
the riot accused. He told TEHELKA that in many cases, the judges had
given him their full cooperation and guidance.
“Every judge was calling me in his chamber and showing full sympathy
for me… giving full cooperation to me, but keeping some distance…
the judges were also guiding me as and when required… how to put
up a case and on which date… because basically they are Hindus…
so help from each and every class of people came forth… the people
remained united and their only motive was the survival of Hinduism,”
said the lawyer.
According to Pandya, it’s not just the judiciary in Gujarat that
has been complicit in the victimisation and persecution of Muslims.
Pandya claimed even the Nanavati-Shah Commission has been compromised.
He says KG Shah, who heads the Commission along with Nanavati, is sympathetic
to the BJP. Pandya was also full of derision for Nanavati, who he said
was only interested in money. What follows is a part of the conversation
that TEHELKA had with Pandya at his residence in Ahmedabad on June 8,