Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Justice Banerjee Report

Stratfor has reviewed the Justice Banerjee report (rejecting Muslim involvement in the Godhara fire) and found it partisan against BJP -- it will strengthen India's secular polity, via Bihar, and deepen internal fissures in BJP as it ponders its response. Stratfor's summary analysis is as follows:

An Indian government investigation of the 2002 Gujarat train fire that killed 59 Hindus and sparked riots that left more than 1,000 dead has surprisingly concluded that the entire incident was an accident, not a deliberate firebomb attack by a Muslim mob. While the ruling Indian National Congress Party (INC) and rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trade accusations and denials of politicizing the event, the timely release of the commission's findings contributes to the INC's goal of reducing popular BJP support.

Frankly, notwithstanding our own deeply secular belief , we are far from persuaded by Justice Banerjee's, and Stratfor's, logic. On the former, while it's less than obvious that Muslim troublemakers were responsible for the train fire, Justice Banerjee hasn't convincingly debunked that theory either. On the latter, regardless of whether Muslims were responsible for Godhara, those who condemned BJP are unlikely to change their view now, nor are those who stood by it.

The only possible gain could be that Gujarat would become the issue in Bihar's elections -- which makes little sense, as the real issue there should be the obscene mismanagement of the state by the Laloo Yadav family. The 2004 Lok Sabha election was BJP's "accountability moment" -- on Gujarat, the need now is justice, not further political haymaking.

In any event, this line of thinking -- which essentially argues that Muslim non-involvement in the Godhara events renders illegitimate the subsequent retaliatory violence against them -- is fallacious. If we accept this line of thinking (which, alas, many Muslims & fellow secularists will), are we then to conclude, conversely, that if a Muslim conspiracy had been proven, then Hindu retaliation would have been justified? We think not and therefore are not sure where Justice Banerjee's conclusion leaves us.

We think this obsession with cause & effect -- or better put, root cause & effect -- is wrong. In this context, even if there was perfidy by some Muslim hoodlums (a claim Justice Banerjee disputes), we still cannot find any justification for what followed. No root cause can ever justify deliberate murder of innocent human beings -- Justice Banerjee's report implicitly hurts this big idea.

Too bad that in pursuit of political gains, our secular polity will milk this unholy cow for all its worth.

1 comment:

Nitin said...

This is perhaps the best comment on the topic I've ever come across. Excellent!