Featured

Modi Wants to Give Muslim Women Their Rights. So Why Did He Abandon Bilkis in Her Hour of Need?

Bilkis Bano got justice because the rest of India and its institutions were not infected by the virus of lawlessness that Modi bred in his home state. Today, that virus is going national.

Bilkis Bano and Narendra Modi. Credit: PTI

Bilkis Bano and Narendra Modi. Credit: PTI

In a speech last month, Narendra Modi said he wants Muslim women to get the rights promised to them by the constitution. Bilkis Bano is a reminder that he didn’t always want that.

Just when the prime minister thought the stain of 2002 was well and truly behind him, the Bombay high court has upheld the conviction of 11 persons for the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and mass murder of 14 Muslims in Limkheda and also convicted the policemen and doctors who attempted to cover up the crime – one of the most heinous to take place during the post-Godhra violence in Gujarat that year.

For the record, Bilkis’s charges were investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, not the Gujarat police, and the trial of the accused was held in Mumbai because the Supreme Court decided a fair trial was not possible in Gujarat.

So what does this have to do with Modi, the BJP is likely to ask, apart from the fact that he happened to be chief minister at the time. After all, the allegation that Modi orchestrated the anti-Muslim violence was probed by a Special Investigation Team set up by the Supreme Court but no evidence of his complicity emerged. The SIT’s controversial findings are being appealed by Zakia Jafri but as matters stand, Modi still has the “clean chit” the SIT gave him in 2013. Only the Gujarat high court, or the Supreme Court, can take that away from him.

The BJP would be right to note all this, but it would also be wrong.

Modi is not the first Indian leader to face allegations of complicity in mass murder. In 1984, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao, as prime minister and home minister of India, respectively, had direct control over the Delhi police but did nothing to protect the lives of thousands of Sikhs who were killed in the national capital following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The Delhi and Gujarat pogroms had a lot in common: inflammatory statements by leaders, including those at the very top; the political mobilisation of goons; the refusal of the police to protect minority communities under attack; the rewarding of politicians involved in the killings – people like H.K.L Bhagat and Maya Kodnani – with plum cabinet berths.

There may be no evidence of direct criminal liability in the execution of the violence but Modi confirmed his own guilt many times over by running a government that did everything in its power to ensure the guilty got away and the victims were denied justice. This is not the way a leader who has nothing to hide would behave.

And Exhibit Number One is Bilkis Bano.

Long quest for justice

Bilkis and her family were attacked by a mob on March 3, 2002, as they fled their home in the wake of the mass violence against Muslims that erupted across Gujarat following the Godhra train incident in which 57 Hindu passengers were killed on February 27.  She was five months pregnant at the time, yet was subjected to gang-rape, as were other women with her. Her three-year old child was murdered along with 13 other family members. When Bilkis managed to reach a police station, the police refused to include the names of the attackers in the FIR. One year later, in March 2003, a local court in Limkheda directed that her complaint be closed due to “inconsistencies”.

At this point, Bilkis approached the National Human Rights Commission, which in turn moved the Supreme Court. The minute the Supreme Court got involved, the Gujarat police swung into action – not to conduct a proper investigation or go after the accused men but to harass and intimidate Bilkis and her family. So much so that on September 25, 2003, the Supreme Court was constrained to direct the Gujarat police to keep away from the victim. Eventually, in December 2003, a three-judge bench of the apex court, in a major vote of no-confidence in the Gujarat government and police, asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the case.

‘Any place but Gujarat’

The CBI conducted its investigation swiftly and professionally, filing a charge sheet on April 19, 2004 against 20 persons, including six Gujarat police officers and two state government doctors. On May 12, 2004, the CBI submitted its final report to the Supreme Court in which it catalogued the complicity and involvement of the Gujarat government in the cover-up which followed the March 2002 crime. Most significantly, it asked that the criminal trial be held outside the state, i.e. that the government of Narendra Modi, who was chief minister at the time, could not even be trusted with the conduct of court proceedings in the matter.

The Supreme Court concurred and on August 6, 2004, ordered the trial venue shifted from Gujarat to Maharashtra. On January 18, 2008, the court found 13 of the accused guilty (one of them had died before the verdict was pronounced), but acquitted the two doctors and five police officers. The CBI went in appeal to the Bombay high court, which on May 4, 2017, not only confirmed the convictions of the 11 main accused but also reversed the seven acquittals.

“I am happy that the state and its officials who emboldened, encouraged, and protected the criminals who destroyed the life of an entire community, are no longer unblemished, but today stand charged with tampering of evidence,” Bilkis Bano said on Thursday. “For officers of the state, whose sworn duty it is to protect citizens and enable justice, this should be their great moral shame, to bear forever.”

Vajpayee-era probe, not Congress 

Now step back and consider the following. The government at the centre during the entire period when the CBI investigated the case was that of the Bharatiya Janata Party, so the agency can’t be accused of being a ‘caged parrot’ that was simply doing the bidding of, say, the Congress party. Since investigative agencies in India are normally reluctant to act against the interests of a ruling party, the state government’s attempts to derail the Bilkis Bano case have to have been pretty brazen for the CBI to say and do what it did.

The NHRC, which played a crucial role in highlighting the Modi government’s wilful violation of its constitutional duty to enforce the law in Gujarat, was headed during this period first by Justice J.S. Verma (1999-2003) and then by Justice A.S. Anand (2003-2006). Both men were appointed by the BJP-led government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Verma is the judge the BJP never tires of quoting for his Supreme Court judgment on Hindutva as “a way of life”.

In other words, no part of the process that led to such a decisive vote of no-confidence in the Gujarat goverment of the day can be put down to a ‘pseudo-secular conspiracy’, to ‘Modi haters’, or ‘Congressis’.

Change of heart?

Whatever he may say today, it is a part of our history that Narendra Modi as chief minister did the very opposite of  the ‘sabka saath’ – standing with all –  he now swears by.

Fifteen years on, it would be comforting to believe Modi has had a change of heart. The truth is that he has not. He is vocal about wanting to save Muslim women from the evil of triple talaq, or instant divorce, as every sensible Indian and Muslim also wants. But he has yet to say anything comforting to Muslim women like the widows of Pehlu Khan and Mohammad Akhlaq, whose marriages were brutally dissolved by the sudden, instant violence of ‘gau-rakshaks’. He talks of the constitution but then helps select as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh a man whose hatred of women and of Muslims is well documented. He calls himself a ‘born Hindu’ and a ‘nationalist’ but cannot bring himself to react to the shocking incident in Reasi, Jammu last month when a crazed mob shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ as they tried to lynch three defenceless Muslim women.

From Rajasthan to Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand to Jammu, wherever the BJP is in power, we can see the same hideous indulgence towards violent thugs and the same indifference towards their minority victims as the NHRC, the CBI and even the Supreme Court saw back when Modi ran Gujarat. Bilkis Bano got justice because the rest of India and its institutions were not infected by the virus of lawlessness that Modi bred in his home state. Today, that virus is going national.


  • Rohini

    Hoo boy!!!! Really, after the judgement , this is what can be written? Hmmm..is justice also coloured saffron vs green? Are women’s rights coloured saffron vs green? Pathetic, convoluted, desperate, monkey balancing piece. Doesn’t even just question Modi, the author has to bring in the Congress too. It Maybe news to you but in India, ALL people who go up against the state machinery and ask for justice are harassed and it takes years to get justice, if ever, Mr. Varadarajan. Not just Bilkis.
    ANYONE who questions the abolishing of triple talaq asap based on some convoluted logic…their motives are strongly suspect. Their motives are NOT women’s empowerment but purely political partisanship. shame on such pretenders.
    i wish Muslim women in this fight all strength. Their adversaries are not only the mullahs and the AIMPLB..their hidden adversaries are those in the womens rights lobbies, the journos etc who pretend to be their friends but are working against their cause.scary!!!!

    • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

      Madam, with due respect, I feel that your annoyance, while no doubt heartfelt, is a trifle misplaced, on the following counts:

      1. The article in fact DOES raise the right question against the system, that being: In matters where the state is under a cloud, how can the state get away with blatant obstruction of justice – so much so that the case needs to be transferred to a different place and it takes years for some form of justice to be done because the state obstructed the pursuit of that justice in the first place? Isnt that one of THE biggest questions against our system? It holds true as much for the Delhi Sikh riots as for the Gujarat riots as for the Delhi Uphaar fire case as it is for a million other cases.

      2. Nowhere does the article have the phrase ‘sudden interest on Muslim women’. Nor does the author imply what you are insinuating that it implies – that Muslim women should not expect their rights from this govt, or that the author is dictating what Muslim women should expect from this govt, or that he is questioning the abolishing of triple talaq. The article merely compares Modi’s support for justice for Muslim women on the matter of triple talaq with his studious silence on Pehlu Khan’s and Mohammad Akhlaq’s widows. Has he spoken a word of comfort to them, offered them a job or any other form of state support, or even promised expedition of justice? Why this obvious dichotomy? Dont you think that’s also another valid question to ask of our political system? Dont you think that this silence on the part of the leader of the state actually OBSTRUCTS justice for these two Muslim women whose lives have been shattered forever?

      • Rohini

        I will try once more to explain why I find this article problematic. When a senior journalist like varadarajan rouses himself to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, if you will), I expect a non-partisan article. You are probably not going to read my very lengthy reply but I hope Varadarajan does. Not that it will change things one whit, more the tragedy.

        EXHIBIT A
        “Bilkis Bano got justice because the rest of India and its institutions were not infected by the virus of lawlessness that Modi bred in his home state. Today, that virus is going national”
        Varadarajan starts off by doing EVERY Indian that ever walked this country’s path post independence a HUGE injustice with this statement. He is clearly saying that it is MODI and the BJP that are lawless and hence the VIRUS will spread NOW that they are in power.
        By inference, all institutions in India have functioned beautifully, people have got justice with no problems and that state machinery has NEVER EVER harassed Indian citizens, people in power have never used their power to subvert justice and intimidate the ordinary man earlier under the Ram rajya that existed pre-2014. EVER. I challenge him to PROVE this assertion using the last 69 years.

        Exhibit B – “He is vocal about wanting to save Muslim women from the evil of triple talaq, or instant divorce, but has yet to say anything comforting to Muslim women like the widows of Pehlu Khan and Mohammad Akhlaq, whose marriages were brutally dissolved by the sudden, instant violence of ‘gau-rakshaks’.”

        The editorial line of this outlet on triple talaq issue is crystal clear – i.e. Modi and the BJP are actually ‘anti-Muslim’, so their support for Muslim women in the triple talaq issue is hypocritical and questionable. Also, they don’t seem to believe that triple talaq actually has any harmful effects on Muslim women…the Wire has run a series of articles outlining this editorial line. THIS particular article is only another in that series. He links it specifically to triple talaq and I see that as problematic. VERY VERY VERY problematic.

        Whataboutery from one the most senior journalists in this country is unacceptable as a line of argument! The arguments he has produced open him up to some very pointed questions that he will have to defend.
        a) what does triple talaq, crazy, tribal, backward Muslim practice of divorcing women, nay, just kicking them out without due process, have to do with a P. Khan’s widow? i.e Other than the fact that they are both Muslim.
        b) are Muslim widows and children the only ones who feel the pain of the deaths of their husbands & fathers? If the PM has not spoken about Pehlu Khan, he has also not spoken about the Muslim-turned-atheist Farook’s widow either (who was killed by fellow Muslims)! Or to Kalburgi’s widow! Or to the widows and children of ALL those dozens of RSS workers that are being killed everyday in Kerala ! Or to the wife of the Dalit man who was murdered by his wife’s family in TN for marrying their daughter (honor killing)..etc
        All those men were murdered. WHERE is Varadarajan’s voice-of-conscience for those other widows? It’s hidden! Why? because they go against the narrative people like him are trying to build. I just want fairness, that’s all. Speak for everyone, not just for anti-modi stories. It’s not fair to others.

        3. By labelling this govt ‘pro-Hindu anti-Muslim’, the press and media are playing a dangerous game. By implication, the UPA govt becomes anti-Hindu, pro-Muslim. It implies that Hindu women should find any move to change their personal laws based on religion by any non-BJP ‘anti-Hindu’ govt suspect. And does this also imply that the BJP will keep Hindu laws unchanged no matter how regressive?
        If the BJP govt come to power in 2019, what happens to triple talaq and Muslim women’s issues if not solved by Modi’s govt now? Oh, let them stay in cold storage!! (because the Congress will never ever ever change a thing for their Muslim vote bank…doesn’t have the gumption!). Our political patronage is more important – THAT’s the message I am getting from this editorial line of the Wire.

        4. EXHIBIT C – “Fifteen years on, it would be comforting to believe Modi has had a change of heart. The truth is that he has not. ”
        This sort of argument can be brought for ANY leader in the future, of any party. People can find such issues to dig up from the past of each and every politician. So, how do we move
        forward, if this is the logic one is going to use to attack measures being taken by a govt that are important to a segment of society? ….are we to be held hostage of such partisanship by the powers that be who try to scuttle initiatives by govts they dislike?

        5. EXHIBIT D – “He calls himself a ‘born Hindu’ and a ‘nationalist’ but cannot bring himself to react to the shocking incident in Reasi, Jammu last month when a crazed mob shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ as they tried to lynch three defenceless Muslim women.”

        Selective outrage will not do. Where is your outrage for those Hindu women whose husbands are brutally being murdered in Kerala? Oh Shame, now I am using HIndu-Muslim about deaths and tragedy without batting an eyelid. Such communalising of people’s personal tragedy!! I feel disgusted, like I need a bath to wash off the dirt from this type of talk.
        Turning Varadarajan’s argument on it’s head, I would LOVE to believe that Varadarajan’s heart bleeds for all women BUT going by his paper’s and his track record, I must say that he is SELECTIVE in his outrage. This will not do in a country like India.

        It signals to me that I, a HIndu woman, can expect very little from this sort of media for my causes UNLESS it serves their political partisanship. Perhaps I am born in the wrong religion? What a curse it is to be Hindu in India!!! Perhaps I should convert to Islam or Xtianity, because else, it looks like I Can expect no justice through media at least.

        I am a woman – I’ll take whatever scraps whichever govt happens to throw my way in this country after terrible fighting. I’ll thank the privileged Varadarajans of the world to not try to ‘help’.

        • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

          Madam, thank you for the reply – lengthy indeed! Most of it was directed at SV, so I shall let him ponder about it. From my side, just two points:

          1. You said the PM hasnt spoken about many widows, not just Pehlu Khan’s. Fair point. But my question is: WHY HASNT HE? I expect – no, DEMAND – that as the leader of this nation it is his SOLEMN DUTY to apply the healing touch of peace and unity whenever there is violence, ESPECIALLY when it is between communities. For someone who is otherwise so willing to speak to the nation and has all the means to do so, why DOESNT he speak out? Do you realize how just a few soothing words from him – one who is perceived as a SUPREME leader – can reduce the tension and the aggression from all sides? Of course, this MUST be followed up with justice, but the head of state seen to be standing beside victims of violence sends out such a powerful message that it can not only help in justice delivery but also prevent future violence. By remaining silent, he appears to be out of touch with what’s happening on the ground, and that is inexcusable.

          2. You say you just want fairness, not just anti-Modi stories. Madam, the Modi government is in power and I believe it is the duty of a free media to be ALWAYS ADVERSARIAL, ALWAYS IN CONFLICT with the government, especially when there is no political opposition to speak of. I am sure you are aware how aggressive the US press is towards the Trump administration, so much so that he calls them the opposition! In a democracy we dont WANT the press to be fair (as long as they are not faking up news) – democratic power was never meant to be fair, and we would much rather have the media be over-critical of the government than be fair. Let the state defend itself. Which government did what in the past cannot and should not cloud the critical assessment of the present government in the media. If we as consumers of the media feel that it is unfairly partisan, then we should simply tune out (as I have from Indian mainstream media).

          Thanks!

          • Rohini

            I agree with you about the press being adversarial but it should do so without selectiveness.. And by fairness, I do not mean highlight the ‘goodness’ of the govt..I mean speak up for ALL atrocities, not only ones that serve serve partisan politics.
            Indian media is one of the worst, truly the worst. And what do you mean they don’t run false stories? Have you not been following what’s happening in the press and the number of fake stories they churned out and continue to churn out? The latest is that ‘donkeys’ in UP one…how they can hold their heads up and walk, I fail to see. Indian media does NO factual data or analysis.. In any organisation that prides itself on factual data and analysis, that reporter would have been sacked. HELL, it would never have happened, in the first place. They are not accountable to ANYONE, that’s the problem. They are not the fourth pillar, they are an unelected and unaccountable power centre.
            And you expect citizens to TRUST this trashy media? Not going to happen.

            Second, fairness means to raise questions without being selective. Pehlu Khan is no more special than Farook or Kalburgi or those RSS workers or many others. This ‘why hasn’t he spoken’ is something that can be asked for EVERYONE. of those tragedies But, where is farook?????? Where are those RSS workers in the media?? hmm? Or the HIndu man who was forcibly circumcised by a mullah after ten years of marriage to a Muslim – he was kidnapped and circumcised to force him to convert to Islam. Is THAT not to be spoken of? And what of those carefully hidden riots in begal? isnt Mamata to be called to book by bleeding hearts like varadarajan and the media leading lights?

            Like I said, I will need to convert to Islam if these media vultures are to speak for me. As a Hindu, and a woman (double whammy for me) I can expect nothing from them.

          • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

            “This ‘why hasn’t he spoken’ is something that can be asked for EVERYONE”:::::Madam, sorry, NO. It is a head of state’s DUTY to speak up and try to heal rifts between communities – it is what he has been ELECTED TO DO. Whether the media speaks up or not – selectively or otherwise – has no bearing on whether the head of state does so or not! The HoS cannot be excused by saying “Well, the media hasnt spoken up, so why are we targeting him alone”! That is no argument.
            Surely you are not equating the media with the head of state.

          • Rohini

            Er, MR. Gonsalves, My grandmother always said – don’t jump in the dirt, it’s my face that will be covered in shit. So heeding that advice, I will stop jumping in your mud and save my face.
            bye.

          • Anjan Basu

            I could not have thought of a more cogently-argued, and soberly-worded, response! Brilliant!

          • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

            Thanks, sir.

      • Anjan Basu

        I dare say you are wasting your breath on the undoable. Obtuseness is difficult to handle at the best of times, and when you are dealing with the saffron variety of obtuseness in these troubled times, you are breaking your head on the unbreakable. But there is still a silver lining to the dark clouds hovering over our heads today, the home truth which is as follows: ” You can fool some people for all time and all people for some time, but not all people for all time”. So, whatever the purveyors of the saffron gospel may throw at you today, Ashok Akbar Gonsalves, please remember that “the truth is incontrovertible: panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it — but there it is”. However ‘pure’ the ignorance and the malice and the panic that confront Siddhartha Varadarajan’s brilliant piece on Modi’s verbal acrobatics, there is this ultimate comfort still: Truth will out some day. We live in the hope of seeing that day yet, you and I and countless others, too.

        • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

          “I dare say you are wasting your breath on the undoable. “:::::: That’s the sanest advice I have heard today – thank you, sir 🙂

          • Rohini

            In the face of a strong convictions, weak thinking like yours will have to go. Sorry. And of course, your cosy little boy’s club can give each other high fives and talk about politics and how liberal you are.

          • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

            Madam, I apologize for any distress this discussion may have caused you. I can assure you neither I nor Mr Basu intended any such thing. Rather, I think it is you who became a tad bit offensive towards us at the end.
            But no matter – thanks for the lively discussion and hope to catch up with you again soon!
            Pleasure as always.

        • Rohini

          Mr Basu, you are a troll. If you have nothing to say but ennumerate the colours of the rainbow, take yourself off to a nursery class.
          Of course, being a man, calling an outspoken woman names come easy to you. To shut her down. And sitting on your privileged perch, you can safely attack a woman for her views. Misogynist is too soft a term to use on you. Blind, wilful, arrogant, feeble-mindeed communist is probably a more apt description for you. I’m tired f being stalked by you and being called names for not genuflecting before your assumed superiority.
          So, here I go, I block you. tata.

          • Anjan Basu

            That’s a lot of praise, indeed! There is that one give-away, though: calling me a ‘communist’. I knew that was coming. How can you rail against somebody without calling him that? Interesting how communists are supposed to be an extinct species altogether, but every ‘adversary’ is still made out to belong to that non-existent category.

      • kujur bachchan

        May I dare to intervene and confess that the statement ‘sudden interest on Muslim women’ was in fact made by me in my observations on an earlier article, “There is Nothing ‘Nationalist’ About Denying Fellow Indians Their Basic Rights” by Mariya Salim. This was my first sentence, “I find it incongruous or rather ominous the sudden outpouring of concern and sympathy for Muslim Indian women by the whole ragtag groups of Muslim hating Hindutva outfits and their armchair sympathisers over the issue of the practice of so-called triple talaq.” Ms Rohini had posted a brief and fair reaction to it.

  • K SHESHU BABU

    Intention was to ‘ selectively’ give Muslim women their rights! A carefully charted out election ploy to divide Muslim community … Bilkis was not on the list ….many Gujarat people are involved ….

  • Rohini

    Article by Barkha Dutt in the WaPo “What India’s liberals get wrong about women and sharia law”
    The CRUX is: “Yes, there are many reasons to protest majoritarian politics that marginalize the rights of India’s Muslim minority…..But the call to scrap triple talaq and demand secular laws that privilege the rights of women should be endorsed without prevarication. It’s a fundamental question about the rights of women of all faiths……..
    In India’s case, the scrapping of triple talaq, should it happen, would not only be an opportunity to demand the end of all religious laws but also could usher in the birth of a post-religious constitutionalism that upholds equality above rituals. Yes, a common legal code must not be a Hindu charter or hegemonic in character; it can draw from the ideals of all religions, but it must be rooted in agreed principles of justice and parity. Feminism must triumph over faith.”

    Read and learn. What women want!

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/05/05/what-indias-liberals-get-wrong-about-women-and-sharia-law/?utm_term=.ca2922c99c46

    As I said earlier, and to all my haters – I will continue standing tall for women’s rights irrespective of religion – you make women like me stronger.

    • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

      Madam, you have gone completely off the rails here. This article does not utter a single word in anger against the abolition of triple talaq, nor does it even hint at denying Muslim women their rights.You have utterly mutilated the narrative and gone on to a different track altogether.
      Secondly, you insult our (I mainly refer to myself and Mr Basu here) intelligence and good sense by insinuating that we hate you, and that we are misogynistic deniers of women’s rights! What sanctimonious rubbish! You were the one who suddenly turned personally offensive against us whereas neither of us have uttered a single personal remark against you!
      At least lets keep it civil, madam.

      • Anjan Basu

        To be able to engage with others in a serious discussion, one needs to remember that others have as much claim to reasonableness and rationality as one’s own self. The moment

      • Rohini

        Sir, you do provide me with the greatest entertainment – Before worrying about my going off the rails, I suggest you worry more about your English comprehension.
        The article tells liberals WHY their OPPOSITION To the abolition of triple talaq because of an anti-BJP/Modi stance is WRONG..and how it is important for women to get this done asap. This is EXACTLY what my long posts to Varadarajan on his recent article articulated as well – people like him oppos triple talaq because of anti-BJP/Modi stance and that this is wrong.

        I beg you not to make a further spectacle of your weak comprehension abilites. Also, please expect strong retaliation from me when you preface your comments with sentences like ‘you have gone off the rails here’….don’t cry victim when I come after you with strong rebuttals.

        • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

          Madam, you are obviously reading a totally different article. Nowhere does SV indicate that he is against triple talaq abolishment. In fact, he brings up that term only once, and that right near the end of the essay.
          But it doesnt matter anymore. Now that you have chosen to play the “hated/heckled woman” card, our discussion has moved into territory which it is below my dignity to enter. So you may bask in the triumphant glow of having silenced a misogynist heckler.
          Have a good day, madam.

          • Rohini

            Good morning!

          • Rohini

            You tell your mom or wife (if you have one) she has ‘gone off the rails’ and get a different reaction, I challenge you. Now, am off for a great weekend vacation. Cheers.

          • Anjan Basu

            You are right again. Obviously, we are talking past one another. It is as though we are not only not speaking the same language ( in any case, your language

          • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

            Sound advice from a wiser man that I should have taken yesterday! Lesson learnt, sir – never again!

      • Rohini

        “”I dare say you are wasting your breath on the undoable. “:::::: That’s the sanest advice I have heard today – thank you, sir :-)”

        I DON”T think this was very civil, dear Akbar! My comments came in connection to this. Till then, I was perfectly civil with you. By which definition of civility is your invidious online bullying acceptable?

        As for the Basu chap, he has consistently called me names that I find objectionable …look up his vocabulary used against me on this very thread..and
        I don’t take kindly to bigots who come after me online for views I hold.

        I have walked the streets of this country, studied in our universities and work in coprporate India, Trust me, I can recognise misogyny when I encounter it – no matter HOW carefully disguised.

  • Anjan Basu

    I am an Indian. Do you need to know more? I don’t see why you might. Aren’t we all ‘nationalists’, living in this great era of all-embracing ‘nationalism’?

  • S.N.Iyer

    In most cases relating to the 2002 riots inGujarat, the sinister hand of the CM and his deputy in the Home ministry is apparent. The SIT headed by a celebrated ex RAW chief can only be credited with making a report on what evidence was permitted to be presented and excluding crucial evidence resulting in giving a”clean” chit to the CM. To cap it, instead of just forwarding the SIT report to the concerned Court, the CJI of Supreme Court declared that the CM was innocent. Although the report and appeal of the plaintiff is yet pending, it is very doubtful if the matter will be heard for another few years. Similarly in their fake encounter cases, the accused has already been declared to be innocent. One wonders if there is a pattern in the manner in which ” justice “is being rendered during the present regime

  • S.N.Iyer

    On the issue of triple talaq, there is a single question that one may ask. We do not know the status of the marriage of the PM vis a vis his wife. I agree that It is a personal issue and should not be discussed. Why is the issue of triple talaq given different positions when the matter is in the SC?

    • Rohini

      “We do not know the status of the marriage of the PM vis a vis his wife.”

      I don’t think it’s anyone’s business and certainly, your ‘concern’ for the lady does not hide your disgusting political aims in ‘worrying’ about her. If you truly worried about
      woman, any woman, this woman in particular, you would NEVER EVER use her as a tool for your political opposition. And since when has she come crying to knights in shining armour like you for your ‘support?
      Leave her alone, stop dragging her onto these boards, you cheap men. Your true ‘respect’ and ‘concern’ for women is shown by this cheap tactic. Shame on you.

      • S.N.Iyer

        I certainly respect their privacy. But the doublespeak of someone who used the triple talaq issue in the UP elections and then says öne should not politicise” the issue made me feel that there was another angle to the matter.. Am sorry I seem to have offended your loyalty

        • Rohini

          You think triple talaq is a personal matter, not a political and religious one? What’s that sound I hear? Oh, the stones rattling around in your head.
          Stonehead..

  • Rohini

    Whatever you may feel about Modi, it has nothing to do with the call to abolish triple talaq. Why link the two?

  • Rohini

    “How Bilkis falls in this category? You feel that poor lady who was gang raped along with her sisters and mother,17 members of whose family were butchered, whose 3 years old child was brutally killed in front of her eyes went against state machinery?”
    It’s ridiculous that you should think ANYONE, let alone a woman like me, would be blase about a horrifying gang rape about a woman and all that went with Bilkis. And then you go on to challenge me, exposing your lack of understanding of the use of the word ‘state’ in this context.
    But, I will try to explain…can’t say if I will make much impact.
    My observation is not about the rape which is a VERY heinous crime and should have never taken so long to come to conclusion in the courts. My comment is to rebut varadarajan’s observations about how Bilkis was harassed by the state machinery in her quest for justice. I am specifically saying to Varadarajan that not only Bilkis, everyone in India who tries to get justice when they go up against the state (‘state’ here does NOT refer to the rape but to legal cases where a citizen is about to expose the system), each and every such citizen has a horrifying time getting justice – many die waiting, some are murdered by the politicians or the police or whoever they are fighting against

    next time, I will try simpler English. Best of luck.

  • Rohini

    The system is not Gujarat and Modi alone. By singling lawlessness out as a MODI-BJP induced VIRUS of lawlessness, he is clearly saying that MOdi and BJP alone (not any others) will bring lawlessness to India, going forwward. That it’s a new issue for india, introduced by Modi-BJP combine.
    Any logical person (which I hope you are) will realise that this assertion implies clearly that when Modi & BJP were not there, India had law and order and the system functioned perfectly. People were never harrassed by the state, everyone got justice etc etc.
    It also implies that ALL non-BJP rules states functioned welll and there was no VIRUS of lawlessness anywhere EXCEPT in Gujarat, thanks to Modi.

    Now, this is a laughable assertion, and completely motivated of Varadarajan to at write tripe like this. What price Bihar and laloo for e.g., or Indira jeeee? Or Kerala under the communists or TN or haryana or UP? I can go on….but if you don’t get what I mean even now, I am fighting a lost cause.

  • Rohini

    “Instead, Bilkis, a victim, has been equated with anti-state actors.”

    Wow, really, where? Show me. That would be a pity and an article worth rebutting. Can you point me to the link?

    “When it comes to asking Modi ji, Bhakts often have difficulty understanding the questions.”

    Who are these ‘bhakts’ you constantly refer to? Are they your political shadows?
    In any case, I don’t think ANYONE can have as much difficulty as you understanding simple logical points. Grandstanding is a great virtue on the soapbbox, not in real life.

    ” courts are everything, then why do Bhakts keep spreading hate in the
    name of incidents of (for the most part non-existing) selective atrocities against
    Hindus instead of going to courts?”
    I have no freaking idea. maybe you should get off your armchair and go ASK them yourself instead of making vacuous comments that mean nothing on the internet?

  • Rohini

    “Assuming you are reading the same article that I am, I don’t see the author questioning abolishing triple talaq. So this whole statement is unwarranted and out of place. And so is your eloquent 2nd para.”

    I request you to get in tune with the current affairs in this country, the big issues being debated in the courts, what line the liberals of this country are talking wrt to triple T.
    I also request that you undersatnd what the HEADLINE and BY_LINE of this artcile mean and imply. You have also obviosuly not read the series of articles opposing the move on triple talaq by this paper – their editorial line is clear – the Modi govt is ‘suspect’ and so is its ‘intention behind the abolition of triple talaq’, so we must not support it.

    Read my link from the WaPO by Barkha Dutt – she correctly chastises people like Varadarajan (liberals, so-called) for going against Modi on the triple talaq issue.

  • Rohini

    “Earlier there were just one or two states with Goonda raj and now under BJP it spread to different parts of the country. Hope people will realise sooner the better”

    ONE or TWO states? I challenge you to prove this….This is the sort of discourse that is lettting politicians get away scot free with complete lack of governance. haryana? Delhi (rape capital???)?? TN???, Bihar?? UP?? kerala??West Bengal??
    Andhra, Talangana, Orissa – naxal problem????
    Wow, is your memory gone or do you not live in India?

  • Rohini

    “wonder how much you would be screaming if you were in Pehlu Khan’s or Akhlaq’s or Bilkis Bano’s shoes”

    Implying I would support the killing and rape of human beings because of their religion being different from mine? How do you know my religion? because of my name vs their name. What a bigoted, sad, pathetic, delusional, reductionist ideology you must be brainwashed by. Unable to see anything without tagging Hindu-Muslim-Christian to it.

    Btw, how do you KNOW I’m Hindu? By my name? So, not aware that Christians also call themselves Rohini, revati, Amala, Sneha, Shilpa, Radhika, Sruti, etc?
    Must live in your own red red world, not multicultural india. 🙂

  • Rohini

    Btw, about the capitals – it’s a substitute for the ‘bold’ function, which is missing on this website. If it offends you, I suggest you recommend a bold function tothe Wire…

    As for the use of the world SCREAMING if I were Bilkis, are you threatening me with my rape, for daring to post online with views you don’t agree with?
    Please delete your comment else I will be forced to take action.

    The WIRE – is this your moderation? How did you allow this comment to come online in response to me? And with such alacrity? Shame.

  • Sumanta Banerjee

    Siddharth – congrats on taking off the mask from the face of the best political impostor that we had ever had as a prime minister. Let’s continue to expose his hypocrisy – with the hope (faint perhaps ?) that Rohini & Co. may some day be able to detoxicate their minds from their present addiction to a sneaking admiration for him. But you must acknowledge, Siddharth, however we may denounce him, Modi has succeeded in gaining entry into the historical list of pathological liars (“liar of the first magnitude” as defined by the 17th century English dramatist, William Congreve, when describing his contemporary political rulers), and of sanctimonious frauds (“a saint abroad, and a devil at home,” as defined by John Bunyan, another 17th century English writer).

    • Anjan Basu

      You could not be more right about the ‘pathological liar’ appellation. Prof Apoorvanand of the DU also hit the nail on the head when he once called our PM ‘ ‘the chief of counterfeit grief’. I have come across sundry other descriptions which also fit the bill eminently well. Which only goes to prove that the PM is indeed a many-hued splendour. Only I am not so sure about that bit about the ‘sneaking admiration’ that you refer to here. If this is the ‘sneaking’ variety, I have not heard anything louder than a pin-drop all my life.

    • Rohini

      Hilarious. This comment translated – “The woman who was single-handedly able to start one of the largest discussions EVER on this website based on her one comment needs to be detoxicated, AND, she is under the spell of some 65 year old man she has never met, never seen in her life. Any comments she has posted is because she is brainwashed by said person who happens to be the PM of the country.
      While I, little Sumanta, with my genius, will show how I contrast with her by name dropping Bunyan and Congreve to prove my erudition. Other than that I have tittle to contribute to this thread. Not a single original thought. ”

      Dear Sumanta – this article is now trending on this website as the MOST READ 🙂 65 of the 90 comments are responses to my comment. Hows that for smart digital engagement and driving traffic to the website?
      I know someone who will be happy – after seeing the metrics on engagement on this article.

  • Anjan Basu

    You are right, of course! And when many of us are more than glad to be fooled, it is easy to be a ‘democratically elected’ dictator.

  • Anjan Basu

    I don’t see how such research into my ‘ancestry’ becomes relevant in the context of an article about the Indian govt’s communal agenda. I am flattered by all this attention, though. Disappointingly, however, I live neither in ‘chaotic’ Delhi nor in’green’ Bengal. Nor, for that matter, in that model state — Gujarat.

  • Rohini

    I am well aware of the history of women’s rights in India, I’ll thank you for this. Learnt it at my mother’s knee, you see, because it was important to us. Your history is incomplete. You need to look up how many Congressmen also opposed these reforms. And look up the Shah bano case..who was responsible?
    n fact, it is the Congress who should be held wholely and solely responsible for the slow progress in these laws as thye ruled for decades. Why are we STILL debating these rights? They should ahve been completely sorted out by now, by the Congress govt that was in majority for decades. It should have been done in the last gen, 40 – 50 years ago. Why is it not yet done?

  • Rohini

    Certainly, has advantages for the man. Wonderful male perspective, very expected. Likewise, polygamy has advantages – why not change the law to allow that, sir?

  • Rohini

    Where common sense is lacking is seen from your inane comment which does not do anything but make a personal attack on me. Weak.

  • Rohini

    You want to know why what Anjan Basu and Gonsalves chap were accused of misogyny- well, here’s why.
    I hope you notice that I am the ONLY woman who comments regularly on this entire website? If you are a regular reader, you would know. I have not seen any other woman comment as boldly and openly as I have on this website and I have been on it for months!!
    Seeing a woman, they probably ssee me as a ‘soft; target. Please notice the follwoing:
    – Gonsalves comments on almost 90% of my comments. He NEVER comments on any guy’s comments or rarely does, when my threads appear.
    – for the most part he was civil, and I was happy to engage
    – The Anjan Basu guy tried to bully me on one thread with some very rude behaviour, called me names, so I blocked him.
    – He didnt take kindly to it – so he then came onto my conversation with Gonsalves here on this thread and started to call me names – saffron, thick, insane etc etc.
    – Here, Gonsalves made the ccardinal error of joining in with him.
    I am not going to take kindly to that.
    The main point here is that these two guys have no GUTS to talk or engage with any other man on this thread – they target only me across threads.
    There is another guys whom i reported as he literally threatened me with rape like Bilkis.
    This is misogyny – women are perceived as soft targets for man like this.

  • Rohini

    “what’s wrong in accepting the shortcomings and mistakes ( leading to crimes) committed by Modi?”

    Nothing wrong, accept whatever you want, by all means.
    My objection to the article is that he linked it to triple talaq and the idea that the system functions everywhere, except now. My agenda is to tell Varadarajan that he should not be excusing the system pre-Modi or outside Gujarat, not be linking Bilkis to tripletalaq and should not do an injustice by to women by taking this editorial line on triple talaq. He should also not be selective in his outrage about deaths. All deaths are tragic. He must demand justice for all.

  • Rohini

    And this is your business because? and how do you know whom I have blocked? Anjan Basu in another guise or are you stalking me?
    I see a solidarity among ‘birds of a feather’ here!!

  • Rohini

    “Similarly your charge of miscarriage of justice of other parties or leaders are equally valid.”
    Never ever spoke about parties or leaders or Modi. I spoke ony about triple talaq, the system and how broken it is, and fainess for ALL victims of ALL atrocities.
    You will not find ONE point in my comments that support any politician or party.

  • kujur bachchan

    A fair observation. Kindly see my observations on an earlier article, “There is Nothing ‘Nationalist’ About Denying Fellow Indians Their Basic Rights” by Mariya Salim.

  • kujur bachchan

    May I dare to intervene and confess that the statement ‘sudden interest on Muslim women’ was in fact made by me in my observations on an earlier article, “There is Nothing ‘Nationalist’ About Denying Fellow Indians Their Basic Rights” by Mariya Salim. I had stated, “I find it incongruous or rather ominous the sudden outpouring of concern and sympathy for Muslim Indian women by the whole ragtag groups of Muslim hating Hindutva outfits and their armchair sympathisers over the issue of the practice of so-called triple talaq.” Ms Rohini had posted a brief and fair reaction to it.

  • Shivam

    He does “निंदा” (condemn) Pakistan attacks from time to time ain’t that enough why are you being to demanding.

  • Anjan Basu

    Very well-argued! This, indeed, is how a debate should proceed, not by shrieking, nor by trying to shut other view-points out. And certainly not by calling others vile names (misogynist, ‘communist chap’, feeble-minded, cowardly et al).

  • Anjan Basu

    “I did not read your reply… but I need to tell you this”. Well, that’s not most people’s idea of a debate, of a civilised debate at any rate. A debate is also not about soothsaying of the kind that predicts that someone will ‘rule’ for millennia. Nor about sermonising ( ” Accept your cruel destiny”)

  • The Wire
    • Rohini

      Thank you. I genuinely had missed those – wheneevr I haev come onto your site I have only encountered the bigoted side saying ‘its all a conspiracy’. .Howevet, none of those articles are by powerful voices like Varadaran’s. I still think it was unfortunate to link the triple talaq issue to his article which questions the state and its leaders on Bilkis.
      I read the Article posted by Rohini from WaPo – by Barkha Dutt.
      I believe that is what is needed – an open, strong, vocal support for the call to abolish the practice.
      It is missing in media, currently. And that’s the truth. Hardly any liberal voice has come out openly in support, except Barkha, now.

    • Rohini

      Very prompt response to a challenge , indeed. Interesting how the Wire swung into action to defend itself.

      Now, how about deleting that comment by Chacko that says I should be raped like Bilkis, so I would learn a lesson and scream like her – with equal promptitude?
      I sent you two emails about it AND flagged it as inappropriate about 48 hours ago. Or are your standards of ‘inappropriate’ flexible? Based on what?

      • The Wire

        Siddharth Varadarajan replies—I don’t think that is even remotely what ‘Chacko’ is saying, Rohini. He mentions three victims of communal mobs—Akhlaq, Pehlu and Bilkis—and urges you to think about what it would be like to be in their shoes. If you disagree with my assessment, you are free to take this up with The Wire’s Public Editor, Pamela Philipose, at [email protected]

        • Rohini

          I disagree indeed with you assessment.

          The man is envisaging a scenario where I would be screaming if I were to be GANG RAPED (like Bilkis Bano) and then, he suggests then perhaps I would be outraged. I want to understand what first of all warrants a comment which says I need to be raped in order to empathise with a rape victim?

          EVEN if I were to be a person who absolutely did not CARE what happened to any of the folks mentioned (no evidence of that, anywhere here, in any case)…what could possible justify calling on such imagery of rape when speaking to a woman?
          This is exactly where your moderation should be coming in. Words are meant to convey meanings and imagery and whichever way you slice it, these words convey violent, threatening, cringe-worthy imagery – especially in the context of a random online discussion.

          I don’t know WHO Pamela Phillipose is and neither is she relevant. YOU are the moderator and you have shown what the ethos of folks like you is. It would be VERY naive of me to expect that Pamela Phillipose would ever go against what you, Mr. Varadarajan, her employer and paymaster, has already decreed,

          None of this is worth my time or energy. It’s what is expected of Indian men – hit and run. except they would never have gotten away with it, had he said it to my face. Trust me, I know how to deal with abusers in real life.

        • Siddhartha

          Siddharth: The comment by “Chacko” can be diluted or amplified in its interpretation depending on the vantage point. Bottom line, it seems inappropriate and should be excised in my view. This is not censorship at work, but prudence and hygiene.

          • Rohini

            Thank you. I appreciate your neutral assessment of the situation.

  • Rohini

    “o save the adivasi women who are mercilessly stripped,beaten,raped and bumped off by the security forces in BJP ruled states.”

    Yes we can talk about that when there is an article by the powerful journalists about such adivasi woman. What do they have to do with triple talaq?

    ” Instead the triple talaq conundrum is to entice the Muslim women votes. ”

    And those women who have been triple talaqqed and have moved the supreme court are actually ‘Modi-drug induced’ hallucinations!
    And the fight of the Muslim mahila Andolan is not real – they are ALL Modi-BJP stooges!
    Is that your line of argument?

  • Rohini

    Do you have any point to make about the discussion or are you here to support your ‘brothers-in-arms’?

  • Rohini

    “When people express a view that runs counter to yours, don’t worry yourself with conspiracy theories. Be happy and debate happy.”

    I suggest you stop giving me advice.

  • Rohini

    Whatever your impressions of Narendra Modi, why are you sharing your fanboy dreams with me?

  • Rohini

    Again, if you CARE to read my very detailed responses, you will find that you are whistling in the wind. My stand is clear
    You say why should Bilkis suffer for 15 years? Exactly! Why should she have suffered for so long? When she did indeed suffer, how can varadarajan say the institutions are functioning? And then go on to link it to triple talaq. When we have a lalloo sitting around, a Jayaaitha & a Shashikala, we have scams galore, deaths galore, rapes galore, how on earth did Varadarajan say that it is a virus of lawlessness that is spreading ONLY now, thanks to Modi? Isn’t he insulting ALL those victims who are still crying for justice? ..This is what I found problematic.

  • Rohini

    .Is it possible for you to imagine that a person is politically non-partisan and couldn’t care less who wins or loses? Politics is of no interest to me.
    I want a few things from each democratically elected govt…whichever one it may be. Rule of law, safety, equality for women, reform in society, better quality of life overall. These are paramount issues for me. I don’t reallyc are two hoots about whether it is a congress or a bjp or what have you. So, I am not interested in all those histories about politicians that so many people seem to have at their fingertips, so I cannot comment on them.
    on ‘abandoned’ women…it’s a creepy line to take and really, no one’s business.
    Please respect her privacy, she is a private citizen. That’s my stand.

  • Idli Mind

    Mr Ranjan: Agree with you that the perpetrators of the arson event in
    the bogie should be caught, investigated, prosecuted and the guilty
    convicted. That principle should apply to any crime, anywhere in the
    country.

    But alas, that is not how things work in India.

    The police do not investigate crimes based on modern forensic techniques or
    investigative methods; politicians enter the fray and muddy things even
    more and resort to blaming an entire community for the crime committed by a few individuals.
    Rabble-rousing by politicians shifts into high gear and there is clamour for collective
    punishment, a method the Nazis perfected. So rather than catch the
    criminals responsible for the arson deaths, mobs are mobilised and let
    loose upon innocent members of a community. What crime did Bilkis Bano
    and her family commit to warrant the despicable acts unleashed upon
    them? What crime did Ms Bano’s 3 year old daughter commit to warrant
    having her head smashed upon a stone? Or for that matter the family of Ehsan Jafry which was brutalised and slaughtered? Or the many innocent Muslims who were killed in Naroda Patiya, instigated by Dr (!) Maya Kodnani?

    No Mr Ranjan, unless politicians step in and stop this “collective punishment”, especially of whoever is suspected of belonging to a minority, India will never move forward and anybody and everybody is in danger.

  • Rohini

    This discussion has run its course. Not a single useful comment is being made, so why take the trouble to come online, log in and write come tripe?
    So much politicking will leave you forever scarred.

    Can you say anything you have said here face to face to anyone? And really, why don’t you go out and tell Narendra Modi what you think of him – he has a website, twitter handle, this that – many ways of reaching him. Put your money where your mouth is and do it- , instead of posturing here to the admiring gaze of the other morons here.

  • Rohini

    I completely agree with you. I too am of the opinion that Bilkis has gone through a terrible trial by fire and that those concerned must be questioned. BUT, I object to various other parts of the article.
    My objections are learly stated. I pray that you are able to understand them – go through my detailed responses.
    Even after that, if your view remains unchanged, well, there’s nothing more for me to say.

  • Rohini

    Mr. Idli:
    First, it’s really none of your business. Second, it’s really none of you darned business. Third, It’s certainly not any of your blessed business.

    I hope my explanation is clear. Butting in here makes you also a troll, just so you know.

  • Rohini

    No, Most mainstream papers and the Wire have NOT spoken up about all atrocities. There are many in the recent past that have not even been mentioned in the papers.

    if you are unaware of these, fault the msm and the Wire for misinforming you or hiding this information from you.

  • Rohini

    IIt’s beyond parody that you accuse a random commenter on the internet of being a rss pracharak etc etc and then giving an inane disclaimer! (hahahahah)

    Oh – talk about burlesque! These boards are great comedy!
    Try another tack. Perhaps then you’d be interesting enough to read till the last line. As of now, yaawn!

  • Rohini

    I am going to demonstrate why using retrospective negativity will lead to situations that are untenable in a democracy.

    for e.g., If I take your argument and extend it to the Congress, here’s the conclusion I come to.

    1. By your argument: Many prominent governing party Congress leaders openly opposed Hindu law when it was being made. Because of their opposition, it took 20 years to happen. So, the Congress is hypocritical about its ‘concern’ for women, especially Hindu women.
    2. Given that Rajiv gandhi covered himself in glory with the Shah bano episode, as recently as 1989, teh Congress is completely hypocritical about women, especially Muslim women. In fact, given that this is more recent history, this should be very relevant to us.

    By this logic, Muslim and Hindu women should NEVER ever trust the Congress for their issues. But is this viable? maybe they will form a govt someday? Then, what? Should women not demand their rights from a govt that is legally theirs per our democracy, because of this narrative of INC being against Hindu and Muslim women?
    Your line of argument suggests that they shouldn’t, that they must conclude the INC are hypocrites because of 1950s and 1989.

    . So, where does it leave us?

    We can tie ourselves up in knots like this. History is useless when you want to study it for stagnation and politicking.
    We need to look at the present an the future. Now, Muslim women want something from their govt, which happens to be BJP led. It’s the BJP’s duty to make it happen for them. Just as it was INC’s duty to help Shah Bano, but they didn’t. Let history not repeat itself because of cheap politics. It’s women who suffer.

  • Rohini

    “wonder how much you would be screaming if you were in Pehlu Khan’s or Akhlaq’s or Bilkis Bano’s shoes”

    Time has come, after 7 days, to respond to you, filthy roadside sado-masochistic freak of a psychopath. .In language you understand.
    The rapes you experienced must have hurt a great deal. And such experiences are probably required for the psychologically impaired, like you, to empathise with others.
    Normal, whole, sane human beings like me can empathise with not just other humans but also animals without having to be assaulted or even having to imagine it – because that’s how normal people are wired. But you wouldn’t know that – you sado-masochistic freak.
    Any issues with my post, please feel free, come meet me. Will arrange a face to face with you, anywhere, tell me. Will fly to meet your esteemed personality. Tell me what you said face to face and then watch the fun. Who do you think will be screaming on the floor?????