In a bid to counter the Congress gameplan to target Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the riots in his state, the BJP think tank, Public Policy Research Centre (PPRC) was re-launched on October 21. Headed by director Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, the think-tank drafted a nine-page document on the history of communal riots in India.
Recording India’s long history of communal strife, the think-tank has presented a comparative study of causes and responsibilities regarding other major riots. The comparative graph forms a virtual arsenal to attack the Congress’s failed record of maintaining communal stability in states it has ruled. In the 1983 Nellie Massacre (result of clashes between ethnic Assamese and Bangladeshi settlers), 1,819 Muslims were killed on Congress watch. During the 1984 Delhi riots that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination, around 2,733 Sikhs were butchered. In the 1969 Ahmedabad riots in Congress-ruled Gujarat triggered by an attack on a temple, the toll was 512, out of which 430 were Muslims. During the 2002 Gujarat riots, 1,267 Hindus and Muslims were killed and 223 were reported missing. The comparative analysis notes the convictions of rioters. The paper says that not one rioter or killer involved in the Nellie holocaust was convicted. Many were acquitted for participating in the Delhi riots. In the case of those arrested for involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots, there have been 294 convictions in 19 cases till date; 184 Hindus, 65 Muslims (31 for Godhra and 34 for post-Godhra violence) have been sentenced including the powerful former minister in the Modi cabinet, Maya Kodnani.
The comparative graph also notes the way prime ministers were regarded in the aftermath of riots. It concludes by saying that no probe was initiated against Indira Gandhi after the Nellie riots; there were no SITs, Supreme Court intercessions or media trials. In 1984, as Congress goons hunted and massacred Sikhs, Rajiv Gandhi commented that when a giant tree falls, earth shakes. It took 25 years for the Congress to apologise. The research paper notes that the party is still protecting Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar for their complicity. But in the case of the 2002 riots, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi continued to be blamed for 11 years, the report says.
The paper records 58 major communal riots as having taken place in 47 places since 1967, of which 10 were in South India, 12 in the East, 16 in the West and 20 in North India. The overall number of riots stood at 12,828 (South (597,) West (3,426) East (3,581) North (5,224). Referring to 18 major (where over a 100 people died) riots, the PPRC document says 10 took place under Congress or allies’ rule; three under President’s Rule (President’s Rule was imposed in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh after the Babri Masjid demolition), four under other parties and only one under BJP rule in 2002.
“There were 1,194 communal violence incidents documented in India from 1950 to 1995. Out of these, 871 or 72.95 per cent were during Nehru, Indira and Rajiv’s PM-ship,” the paper added. On the UPA’s rule, the research paper says, the “Sonia (Gandhi)–Manmohan (Singh) led UPA regime witnessed 5,921 communal incidents causing 943 deaths.”
“Congress-ruled Assam witnessed the bloodiest violence in Bodoland territorial districts in July-August 2012... The local Bodos clashed with illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. An estimated 97 people lost their lives... The Congress’ alliance partner Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh witnessed 27 incidents of communal violence since it formed the government in the state. Among these, three incidents were big, which occurred at Mathura, Bareilly and Faizabad,” the paper argues. Specifically referring to riots that occurred during Congress rule in Gujarat (1950-1995), the PPRC paper notes that the state reported 244 cases of communal violence with casualties numbering 1,601; Ahmedabad alone reported 71 incidents claiming 1,071 lives.
Sahasrabuddhe, the main architect of this document, told The Sunday Standard, “The idea behind the research and the institute is to help the party formulate its views. The current political discourse is skewed and does not present a holistic picture... The discourse is biased against Gujarat, as it was clear from (Rahul) Gandhi’s recent speeches... The BJP is portrayed as an aggressor who has done more wrongs. The research would help clear this misconception, help functionaries and party leaders to formulate their views so that we have the arsenal ready to influence the discourse.”
Sahasrabuddhe explains that the current political discourse was media-driven. Due to shortage of space and time, it presents only the contemporary context and fails to present a holistic picture. PPRC is currently funded by party affiliated trust Bharatiya Lok Kalyan Nyas. Along with him, the body has two more board members—Nalin Kohli and Dr Sumeet Bhasin who are assisted by two researchers.
The research institution intends to broaden its horizons and engage with academia. It will employ interns to help in research and even assist academics who adhere to party ideology. “Our purpose is to strengthen them so that they should not feel alone,” Sahasrabuddhe added.
The Centre was launched by former BJP president Nitin Gadkari in 2011 and functioned out of a humble basement in Lajpat Nagar. After bringing out a series of papers and “feeling confident” that it can become a full-fledged research centre to help the BJP, the PPRC was re-launched last week, and shifted to its current upmarket Subramania Bharati Marg address, a few meters away from the world’s costliest market Khan Market, which is home to many other party-affiliated trusts.
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