A sessions court yesterday asked the CBI to re-investigate Tytler’s involvement in the 1984 Sikh massacre in Delhi. Any action the court takes is good, and for the betterment of justice. To that extent, the general excitement about the news is justified. But the BJP seems to have gone overboard – presuming or rather pretending – as if Tytler has been convicted. Far from it.
I have always agreed that the 1984 anti-Sikh riots were the worst blot on the Congress party’s otherwise reasonable secular credentials. I am quite confident the party did not sanction the riots. But I am equally convinced that several partymen – including Tytler – went overboard and were directly or indirectly involved in the hate crime. I have no sympathies for Tytler. But the fact remains that he has been let go scott free. Call it the handiwork of the CBI, call it the absence of hyper-active media back then, call it the shoddy and excruciatingly slow judicial process, call it whatever – the fact before us is that this man is free. And the Congress is guilty of letting him remain a member of the party. In fact, a senior member of the party, in charge of a state (Orissa).
All this is in much the same manner as Modi has been let off scott free. Modi is as involved in the hate crime against Muslims as Tytler was in the anti-Sikh riots. If the BJP is keen that Tytler be dropped, then so must Modi be dropped. If the BJP defends Modi, then so is the Congress justified in protecting Tytler. In reality of course, both parties are wrong. Both parties are acting unjustly. Both parties must take action against the black sheep in their parties. Both parties must sack Tytler and Modi respectively. But one has left Tytler in the CWC, the other is going further and projecting Modi as its PM candidate. Such is the state of affairs of the country’s two major political parties.
Having said all this, let’s also look at why the “event” yesterday is really such a non-event after all. It’s not the first time that Tytler’s case has been shut by the CBI, rejected by a court, then re-shut by the CBI, allowed by a court…..and now ordered to be re-opened by the court. It’s not the “yippee” moment the BJP is making it out to be. It’s not a court recognizing a folly, and angrily demanding that a culprit be brought to book; and most certaintly not the passing of a verdict. It’s a technicality and the court was almost obliged into re-opening the case.
The technicality relates to a few “eye-witnesses” not being interviewed by the CBI when it was investigating the case. Most of these eye witnesses have since shifted base to the US. These eye witnesses may claim that Tytler was out there directing the mobs at the gurudwara. The CBI on the other hand has evidence that Tytler was in fact at Teen Murti Bhawan, by the side of Indira Gandhi’s dead body. So honestly, I am not sure much will come out of this. In the past, the evidence of another such eyewitness was deemed inconclusive. Even the Nanavati Commission has admitted that the evidence against Tytler is weak (Wikipedia). Nor did the 6-years of NDA rule move an inch on Tytler. The Tytler issue is purely political. The process or further investigation will take time. And that is what excites the BJP. A dead issue has suddenly come alive – just in time for the big 2014 elections. An issue that they will no doubt flog. The excitement is not so much about Tytler himself, it is about the issue coming alive. It’s a much wider bat to hit the Congress with, and Tytler is a mere pawn.
The Congress can be expected to retaliate. The Babri cases are still in progress. The party can attack the seniormost leadership of the BJP using those cases – after all, Advani was caught on camera and witnessed by thousands giving inflammatory speeches and exhorting his cadres to pull down the Babri masjid. So were Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati and scores others. This is one line of attacks the Congress could take. The other line could of course be to increase the heat on Modi. After all, Modi has been surviving on mere technicalities. That he wasn’t himself present at the sites of violence. But he was allegedly directing the operation remotely. It’s those minutes of important meetings; those call logs; that Modi has managed to keep hidden. But there are many steps still left in the legal process. More and more BJP men are likely to get embroiled. And maybe, Modi will face embarrassing situations as well. The Congress will no doubt count on all this to nullify Modi and the BJP.
But let’s forget all the politics. The fact is that the Congress has apologized for the anti-Sikh riots. The PM and Sonia Gandhi have personally issued public apologies. They have apologized not only in words, but also in action. The PM is proof of the rise of the Sikhs to the pinnacle of political and executive power. That aside, the Congress has given Sikhs prominent places in its hierarchy of power; in government; and in governmental bodies. Sikhs have always been an important part of the Congess and continue to be so. That one incident was a freak blot. That is why the Sikhs have forgiven the party. That is why the Congress has shared power with the Akalis almost equally in Punjab, since 1984.
This is not the case with the BJP. The party has never apologized for Babri. Nor for the anti-Godhra riots. It continues to spew hatred against Muslims. Modi still refuses to apologize. Or even to wear a Muslim skull cap. He has never given a seat to Muslims in his state. The party has no senior Muslims in its hierarchies, except for a couple of puppets. The BJP can therefore never make a Muslim the PM. The BJP’s fig leaf is making Abdul Kalam President, but everyone knows the President is only a titular position. It’s a good ploy to wash off charges of bias, but the reality is that the BJP is a monolithic party of Hindus – that too mostly Brahmins. There are no Christians either in the party.
The real truth is that we cannot compare 1984 with Babri or Godhra. They are poles apart. The responses of the two parties after these torturous incidents are also poles apart. This lone incident (1984) doesn’t make the Congress’s secular credentials suspect. Nor does it give the BJP any bragging rights. The BJP remains a communal party, unfazed and unapologetic…..But we can compare Tytler with Modi. Both are under suspicion. Maybe the two parties can drop both of them. Will the BJP agree??????