By B. Raman
The allegations made against Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, in connection with some incidents of violence against Muslims during the communal disturbances of 2002 were quite serious. They amounted to charges of conscious inaction amounting to criminal complicity.
These allegations warranted thorough investigation by a body of professional investigators and follow-up action in the form of criminal prosecution if the allegations proved to be correct during the investigation.
Such a body was constituted by the judiciary through the setting-up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by R. K. Raghavan, former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Raghavan is a highly distinguished officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) known for his professionalism, integrity, independence and objectivity.
He had been associated with many complex criminal investigations when he headed the CBI and continues to be associated with matters relating to the Police even after his retirement.
After a thorough and professional investigation lasting about two years, the SIT headed by him has reportedly concluded that its investigation did not unearth any evidence that could warrant the prosecution of Modi under any charge.
In other words, the allegations of criminal complicity against Modi stand disproved. The serious allegations against Modi were not pushed under the carpet. He was not exempted from facing the due process of the law in the nature of a criminal investigation. He was treated like any other citizen despite the high office held by him and subjected to a criminal investigation by a team of distinguished professionals.
When the SIT has cleared him of the charges levelled against him by some sections of the public—particularly from the Muslim community— and by some human rights activists, fairness of criminal justice demands that the demonization campaign against him should be discontinued and the sword hanging over his head should be removed. He has been cleared honourably and not conditionally.
Instead of doing so, his political and non-Governmental detractors seem determined not to accept the conclusions of the SIT and to keep up the campaign of denigration and demonization against him by recycling the allegations which have already been enquired into and found unproven by the SIT.
It is no longer a case of the law taking its own course, but one of malicious witch-hunt against a political leader by his political opponents and by sections of the media and lawyers and others who are not well disposed towards him. Even after having failed to prove the charges before the SIT, they are determined to keep their vicious campaign alive for political reasons and not for reasons of natural justice.
Their ill-motivated attempts have to be deplored by all right-thinking persons, who should demand that the campaign of demonization should stop immediately. Modi has so far not allowed this campaign to negatively affect his administration of the State of Gujarat for the last 10 years. The State has made considerable progress under his leadership. This is acknowledged by independent-minded observers and even by persons who are not comfortable with him as an individual.
His future should be decided by the people not on the basis of the re-cycled unproven allegations of his demonisers, but on the basis of what he has already achieved as an administrator, his ideas and vision for the future and his capability for achieving them.
Those who still have reservations regarding his style of leadership and do not agree with those who praise his governance should confront him politically and establish before the people that his achievements and capabilities are over-rated if that is what they feel.
But his detractors and demonisers find themselves on a weak ground in respect of a political campaign against him based on objective factors. They are, therefore, trying to keep alive the demonization in the hope of thereby damaging and destroying his future political career. This has to be strongly deplored and I have no hesitation in doing so.
I have never been an uncritical admirer of Modi. Nor am I in the ranks of his perpetual demonisers. I have always sought to judge him as objectively as I can. It is my view that the demonization campaign against him must stop now.