The riots in Delhi over the past few days has spun up traumatic memories of past violence in India, communally charged and instigated in large part of politicians trying to claim a certain vote bank. Images and videos of Muslim people being brutally assaulted, Masjids being desecrated and burnt, scores of people killed, all under the noses of our politicians – this has been India’s reality for decades. And if you thought that these puppet-masters got what they deserved over time, think again.
1. Jagdish Tytler – Accused of leading murderous mobs during 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Not charged as witnesses did not testify.
This Congress politician, who was an MP at the time of the anti-Sikh riots, was seen by numerous eyewitnesses inciting mobs to carry out the pogroms. It is even alleged that he complained to his supporters about the relatively ‘small’ number of Sikhs killed in his constituency. However, the CBI submitted misleading reports about his involvement, and all the witnesses said they were afraid to testify as they feared for their safety. Tytler walked free.
2. Kamal Nath – Accused of inciting mobs and encouraging rioters during the 1984 riots. Not charged and currently Madhya Pradesh CM.
Nath was another Congress politician who was witnessed by numerous people to be leading and controlling mobs who were baying for blood. The police had been asked to stand down by the Central government, and merely watched as the violence went on. However, the Nanavati Commission, which was investigating his role, dismissed the charges. He walked free and is currently the CM of MP.
3. Sangeet Som – Accused of fuelling the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots through hate speech and circulating fake videos. Given clean chit.
BJP MLA Sangeet Som has built a career out of being a Hindutva hardliner who routinely makes incendiary speeches calling for the killing of minorities. In 2013, He shared videos claiming they showed 2 Hindus from the area being lynched – this was actually a video from Pakistan that was over 2 years old. The ensuing clashes left over 50 dead and 50,000 displaced. In 2017, a Special Investigation Team gave Som a clean chit as records of the video had not been maintained.
4. 17 men serving life sentences for burning 33 people alive during the 2002 Gujarat riots given bail, asked to do ‘spiritual work’.
In January this year, the Supreme Court ruled that these men would be granted bail, and will be moved to Madhya Pradesh to do ‘social and spiritual services’. The bench was led by Chief Justice SA Bobde. These 17 men had set fire to a house in Sardarpura village where 33 Muslims were hiding, burning them all alive.
5. Not a single person was prosecuted for the 1983 Nellie Massacre in Assam that killed over 3000 people.
On 18 February 1983, as the tension between the Centre and the All Assam Student’s Union (AASU) over the inclusion of illegal migrants (mostly Muslims from erstwhile East Bengal) in electoral rolls reached a tipping point, things blew up. Over the course of 6 hours, a systematic massacre of the people of Nellie and 13 neighbouring villages was conducted by locals armed with guns and machetes. The unofficial death toll goes up to 10,000.
6. Maya Kodnani – Accused of orchestrating some of the worst massacres during the 2002 Gujarat riots, where women and children were burnt alive. Acquitted in 2018.
Kodnani was convicted of encouraging Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya massacres during the 2002 Gujarat riots in which 97 Muslims, including 36 women and 35 children, were stabbed, dismembered and burned alive. Numerous witnesses placed her at the scenes – handing out swords, firing a gun, and instigating mobs to kill Muslims. In 2012, she was sentenced to 28 years in prison. In 2018, the High Court overturned the trial court’s findings and acquitted Kodnani. She now walks free.
7. Babu Bajrangi – Convicted of involvement in the deaths of 97 people during 2002 riots, including pregnant women. Currently out on bail.
Bajrangi was one of the prime accused in the Gujarat genocide, and was open in his hatred for Muslims. He led mobs of people baying for blood during the riots, and once boasted that he had cut the foetus out of a pregnant woman’s belly and set it on fire. In 2012, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2019, the Supreme Court granted bail to Bajrangi on the grounds of apparent ‘bad health’. The move was met with absolute shock and disgust.
8. None of the main players (L.K. Advani, Murli Joshi) who instigated the 1992 Babri Masjid Demolition have been arrested till date.
In 2009, the Liberhan Report that found that several senior BJP politicians had been a trigger for the Babri Masjid demolition, key among them being L.K. Advani, who had even taken out a Ram Rath Yatra that riled up the mobs of the VHP. Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti (current National Vice-President of BJP) were also named, and even the chief of police has stated that they made speeches contributing to the environment of hate.
As is evident from all these cases of utter devastation, there has been no example of ensuing redemption, of vindication, and of justice. The people in power pull at the strings of those willing to go to any violent lengths, and then walk away as if nothing happened.