Skip to main content

In a fresh Opinion piece, New York Times calls Modi sectarian, unapologetically divisive

By Our Representative
Continuing with foreign newspapers’ barrage of attack on Narendra Modi, the New York Times’ Opinion Page has carried yet an article (April 18, 2014) regretting, “As candidate for prime minister, Modi has not given up his sectarian ways.” Written by Basharat Peer and titled “Being Muslim under Narendra Modi”, the article sidesteps the illusion being created around Modi being a tea seller who has grown to become “brave and just” (as pictured in a widely circulated comic book “Bal Narendra”). It underscores, “If anything Modi’s public record paints the picture of a leader unapologetically divisive and sectarian.”
Peer – who has authored “Curfewed Night,” a memoir of the conflict in Kashmir – recalls, “It was on (Modi’s) watch as chief minister that more than 1,000 people, many of them Muslims, were killed throughout Gujarat in 2002, when rioting erupted after some 60 Hindus died in a burning train in Godhra”, adding, “A Human Rights Watch report that year asserted that the state government and local police officials were complicit in the carnage.” Even so many years after the riots, “Modi has not visited the camps of the Muslims displaced by the violence or apologized for his government’s failure to protect a minority.”
Instead, the author states, Modi “has described the reprisal killings of Muslims that year as a simple ‘reaction’ to an ‘action,’ namely the deaths of the Hindu train passengers — and has said he felt as sad about them as would a passenger in a car that accidentally ran over a puppy.” He adds, Modi’s “only regret, he once told a reporter for this paper, was failing to manage the media fallout.”
Insisting that nor has the BJP -- termed as “Hindu nationalist” – tried to amend its ways, Peer, who was in India and Ahmedabad for an election watch tour, says, “Of the 449 BJP candidates now running for seats in the lower house of Parliament, all but eight are Hindu. The party’s latest election manifesto reintroduces a proposal to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram on the site of a medieval mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya, even though the destruction of that mosque by Hindu extremists and BJP supporters in 1992 devolved into violence that killed several thousand people.”
Referring to Amit Shah, who is currently BJP in charge managing UP for the party, the New York Times commentary says, the former Gujarat minister is Modi’s “closest aide” and “is awaiting trial for the murder of three people the police suspect of plotting to assassinate Modi.” It adds, Shah has made “speeches inciting anti-Muslim sentiment among Hindu voters, including in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, despite an outbreak of sectarian violence there last September.”
Referring to Ahmedabad, which was affected by the riots, the author says, the city “ceases to swagger in Juhapura, a southwestern neighborhood and the city’s largest Muslim ghetto.” The way this Muslim ghetto has been treated suggests, according to him, that “a BJP victory in the general election would increase marginalization and vulnerability among India’s 165 million Muslims.” He also refers to the massive network of Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) which has grown all over, saying it is plying, ironically on “People’s Path.”
Pointing out that Ahmedabad that is Gujarat’s largest city, and has become a wealthy metropolis of about six million people and three million private vehicles, with office complexes, high-rise apartments, busy markets and shopping malls, which have replaced the poor villages that once dotted the land, Peer recalls how he rode around there last week on the back of a friend’s scooter to get a feel of the ghetto where 400,000 people live.
“On the dusty main street was a smattering of white and beige apartment blocks and shopping centers. A multistory building announced itself in neon signs as a community hall; a restaurant boasted of having air-conditioning. The deeper we went into the neighborhood, the narrower the streets, the shabbier the buildings, the thicker the crowds. The edge of the ghetto came abruptly. Just behind us was a row of tiny, single-story houses with peeling paint. Up ahead, in an empty space the size of a soccer field, children chased one another, jumping over heaps of broken bricks”, he says, guoting his friend, to say, this was The Border.
“Beyond the field was a massive concrete wall topped with barbed wire and oval surveillance cameras. On the other side, we could see a neat row of beige apartment blocks with air conditioners securely attached to the windows — housing for middle-class Hindu families. Modi’s engines of growth seem to have stalled on The Border. His acclaimed bus network ends a few miles before Juhapura. The route of a planned metro rail line also stops short of the neighborhood. The same goes for the city’s gas pipelines, which are operated by a company belonging to a billionaire businessman close to Modi”, the author says.

Comments

TRENDING

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Modi's Kashmir move meant to 'solidify' Hindu majoritarianism, 'demonize' Muslims

By Battini Rao*
The parliament of India on August 6 put its stamp of approval on bills abrogating article 370 and downgrading the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to two union territories. When the representatives of the people of India were deciding the fate of the state, the people of J&K were forced into collective house arrests.