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Calling him "unapologetic", NYT editorially asks Modi to be just to Gujarat's 4,000 displaced Muslim families

By Our Representative
Criticizing the BJP’s Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi for his “unapologetic allegiance to the Hindu political right”, in an unusual move, The New York Times (May 20) has editorially advised him “to offer a powerful balancing message by acting promptly to end the neglect of nearly 4,000 Muslim families displaced by the 2002 riots and now living in 86 settlements in Gujarat.” The influential newspaper has said this, quoting a U.S. State Department report, which states that “30 percent of these victims have yet to receive any aid at all.” The editorial is symbolically titled "Modi's Obligation to Justice".
Chiding Modi for his huge claims of infrastructure development in Gujarat to showcase his “model”, the newspaper, says, “Though Mr Modi boasts of infrastructure development in Gujarat, these camps lack drinking water, power and sanitation.” NYT says, “The new government should also demonstrate its commitment to a fair and effective judiciary. There are still cases related to the 2002 riots wending their way through courts. Mr Modi must guard against even the appearance of meddling with the judiciary, including the Supreme Court.”
“Ensuring impartial, speedy and certain justice for all of India’s citizens would do much to inspire confidence across the board in his new government, and to strengthen the democratic foundation of the country’s future”, it points out. Even as recognizing that that the BJP under Modi has got the “strongest mandate of any incoming government in India in 30 years”, the editorial underlines, Modi has “a historic opportunity to shape the country’s future.”
While pointing out that many Indians, and many of India’s friends, are now eager to move forward with Modi, and are saying that it is time “to forget his troubling past, when he was associated with deadly riots in his home state of Gujarat that killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims”, the paper suggests things are not as simple as they seem.
“Unfortunately, there are several factors that will keep that past alive and hinder the ability of the new government to deliver on its economic promises. One is Mr Modi’s unapologetic allegiance to the Hindu political right”, the newspaper’s editorial declares. By way of example, it says, “On the day after the election results were announced, Mr Modi made a symbolically charged trip to Varanasi, the Hindu holy city on the banks of the Ganges.”
“This pilgrimage — where Mr. Modi vowed to take on the “dirty work” he said was his God-given purpose in life — sent one signal to his supporters on the Hindu political right, and a very different message to Muslims”, the NYT says. The editorial has come nearly a month after an opinion piece in the newspaper said (April 18, 2014), “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 tried to sidestep 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 underscored, “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 – had said, “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”.
It quoted a Human Rights Watch report which 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”, it underlined.

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