Every picture tells you a story. A picture is worth 1000 words. A picture that was repeatedly shown during the 2002 Gujarat riots became the face of the riots. In the picture was Ashok Mochi, who was 29 then. He then became famous for his iconic photograph with a saffron band around his head and a steel rod in one of his hands. He also became a symbol of perpetrators of violence in February-March 2002.
How Teesta manipulated the picture
It has been 20 years since the Gujarat riots, and Ashok Mochi has still not forgotten the incident. He recently informed the media about how he was framed and his picture was manipulated for petty politics. He has also levied serious allegations against social activist Teesta Setalvad accusing her of misusing the picture. The picture was shown to other communities to incite feelings that further led to a collection of heavy donations.
Mochi, during an interview had said that “Meri tasveer ko riots se jod diya gaya, is ka mujhe afsos hai,” (I regret that my picture has been linked with the riots) saying that he did not take part in the riots at all.
Ashok Mochi, in a recent interview with Times Now, also stated that Teesta Setalvad associated my picture with Muslims to incite emotions. He says that they had attached the tag of Bajrang Dal with his picture. No one testified against him as everyone knew about how he was as a person. He wasn’t the one as shown against me in the media.
How he was photographed
Ashok Mochi, in his previous interaction with media, had said, “I had not posed for the pictures for publicity, or for earning money. I did so only out of anger.” While speaking about how he was photographed told that he was standing at a chowk (crossroad) in Shahpur area where a hoarding with a slogan “Hindu Rashtra Ke Karnavati Shahar Mein Aap ka Swagat hai” (You are welcome to the Karnavati city of the Hindu Rashtra) was put up by the VHP.
“As there was a saffron band around my head, some people took me for a leader of BJP/VHP or Bajrang Dal, and they raised slogans of “Jai Shri Ram” on seeing me. And I also responded to them by repeating the same slogans. Meanwhile, a photographer reached there. He questioned me about the Godhra incident, and I told him that what happened at Godhra was not good and Ahmedabad is burning due to that only. People have come out in the streets and are targeting the local Muslims who are innocent. However, I was speaking in extreme anger. The photojournalist said that my anger and ‘aakrosh’ are okay, but I should pose for a picture. So I expressed my “aakrosh” in front of the VHP hoarding while shouting slogans of Jai Shri Ram and stretching my hand that became an iconic picture representing the Gujarat anti-Muslim violence,” he elaborates.
While he was being projected as amember of Bajrang Dal, he says that he wasn’t affiliated with any of the group. It was Teesta Setalvad and her NGO, who, in order to oust the BJP government from power, tried every trick in the book and ruined the life of Ashok Mochi.
The crimes of Teesta Setalvad
For those unaware, Zakia Jafri, who had filed the petition claiming that a larger conspiracy behind the riots was there, had the support of Teesta’s NGO. Teesta Setalvad has been the lynchpin of everything wrong with the perception of PM Modi. She had used PM Modi and Gujarat riots for her pecuniary gains. From the best bakery case to the “macabre tale of killings” and duping the riot-affected Muslims, Teesta has done it all.
Reportedly, Ms Setalvad has been charged under the Section 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), Section 471 (usingas genuine a forged document), Section 194 (providing or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), Section 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure), Section 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture), and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
Teesta Setalvad is responsible for the wounds of Gujarat riots victims and thankfully, she is paying for her sins which she committed for her selfish reasons.
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