“You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.” – Napoleon Bonaparte.
I am normally conservative in acknowledging intelligence of others but now am forced to acknowledge the intelligence of Amit Shah, perhaps for the first time in his career. In fact, I was also considering the question that perturbed one of the senior journalists, Rajdeep Sardesai. Why Amit Shah kept SIT in the dark over Maya Kodnani?
When Amit Shah deposed before the court in favour of Maya Kodnani, political pundits have seen it a message to BJP workers to uplift their morale before elections. Of course, the deposition had indeed uplifted the moods of BJP workers. However, it is not the intended objective of the deposition but a collateral advantage.
The defence lawyer claims that Amit Shah’s deposition only proves presence of Maya Kodnani at the Assembly in the morning and after two hours at the hospital, but it doesn’t absolve her from being at the alleged crime scene. Of course, he may say this before cameras, but now the onus of proving would be on him – especially considering there is video evidence in favour of Maya Kodnani. This change of stance in fact would discredit the arguments of the defence given the fact that there was no FIR against Maya in 2002.
Remember the famous court scene in Damini in which Sunny Deol asks the court what the defence is upto? “First, they claim she was mad. Then, they suggest she was too intelligent, so much so that she schemed a case. Then, they tamper with evidence and physical harm. How should the court infer such an argument?” Sunny questions the court.
As it is in public forum, cases against Maya Kodnani were filed after six years gap. And then, she was convicted in one of the cases. During hearings, many witnesses Maya Kodnani wanted to present were not allowed. She was accused of instigating a mob to perpetuate violence. Now, in light of Amit Shah’s deposition supported by a video evidence, will the case in which she was convicted be tried again?
Even the remarks of Rajdeep that out criminal justice is poor sounded like the words of Boman Irani in another Bollywood flick – Jolly LLB. To save his client from conviction, the defence council says “It is a botched-up investigation by the Police. The case shall be investigated once again”. The investigation was botched up because of failed attempts at manipulating evidence – by creating, changing and destroying. Maybe now the conspirators recognised that their carefully schemed plan is being shattered into pieces and are praying from boomeranging onto them.
One point that was noted by all was Amit Shah did not absolve Maya Kodnani from anything. He simply stated the timings when he had seen here at two different timings. It is the other witnesses who were providing alibi to Kodnani for the time she was allegedly with the rioting mob. It is for the court to decide whether she is guilty or not. And, it is for the court to decide if she is not guilty, who conspired against her.
What Amit Shah destroyed with his deposition was exposing the ‘manipulation’ that resulted in the conviction of Maya Kodnani. Of course, like Rajdeep, I too cannot judge the involvement of Kodnani. But, when we talk of individual rights and ridicule media trial in Sunanda Pushkar’s murder case, how can we trample on the very same individual rights of Maya Kodnani and a sustained media trial over a decade?
From a neutral perspective, hundreds of Hindus too were killed in Gujarat riots. The irony is they were forgotten, as if their lives don’t matter. Were they not human beings? Don’t their families experience the same anguish that families of Muslim victims experience? Were the riots in Gujarat the only riots India had seen? Why riots happen only in places where minority communities are in considerable percentage? Why 1984 riots were not investigated with the same devotion? Why the callous statement by the then Prime Minister that ’84 riots were a reaction of people that was bound to happen? The ground may shake when a large tree falls. The same ground would shake when there was a detonation underground; in this case the Godhra attack.
There is a section of intelligentsia that exercises selective amnesia when it comes to the practical realities of how Hindus were subjugated time and again in their own country. The theoretical reality that this section preaches and practises has caused much turmoil in the already suffering nation. In Amit Shah, this section of people had met an opponent who was as determined as they were.
When asked why he had not deposed on his own earlier, he replied he never was asked. One Gujarat Congress leader wondered how BJP should feel shame on their President being called to court as a ‘witness’. I never thought going to court as a witness was a disgrace. Certainly not as disgraceful as going to court as an ‘accused’ which Sonia and Rahul had experienced. This double talk by Congress leaders and arrogance of self-proclaimed intelligentsia was the only reason why communal tensions still prevail in the country. And, it is exactly this hypocrisy that was exposed by Amit Shah, when he deposed exposing the ‘scheme’ to target his colleague with manipulated evidence based on heresay. By fighting for long with the arrogant intelligentsia, Shah has learnt the art of ‘their’ war.