Political Underworld And Adventure Journalism


The people of my generation, particularly those who were associated with students’ movement in 1970s, still have memories of fascist terrorism unleashed during the Emergency. The book under review book that people having view a different to Modi, that is Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, have memories worse than those of seventies. In every area Modi’s undeclared emergency is more frightening than the Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi. He had obeying ‘committed’ bureaucracy, police, judiciary and backless, loyal, follower parliamentarians. But Indira Gandhi was depended on instruments of state for suppression. Modi also had para military organisations VHP, Bajrang Dal, ABVP, etc. After coming to power at the Centre attacks on democratic institutions and right of expression are an effort to expand fascist terrorism of Gujarat to the entire country. Arrest of Prof. Guru of Mysore University for criticising Ram, hero of epic Ramanayana, last year is latest in the chain of events.

gujaratfilesEmboldened by the arrest of Amit Shah following an expose in Tahalka, courageous (but adventurous) and daredevil young journalist Rana Ayub decided to target the impossible. Everyone knows complicity of the government, administration and police in 2002 holocaust and fake encounters post Godhara for electoral polarisation, but as the author said in the beginning that it could not be proved because of lack of solid evidence. “It was clear that the judicial process was distorted during the last 10 years. Those who were entrusted to protect people have been sold out. Many uncomfortable facts are hidden in cases of riots, encounters and political murders.” (Page 9). Following encouragement from the editors of Tahalka, she ventured out to reveal hidden truth. She hid her identity of reporter and became Maithili Tyagi, a student of a US based film institute. She had to work hard for this transformation. She met a 19 year old French as assistant. She continued to collect evidence for eight months endangering her life. When she was awaiting to meet Modi , the editors called her back. Echo of fascist terrorism of Gujarat was heard in Delhi. Frightened by the echo, Editors of Tahalka asked her to drop investigation. And they (Tarun Tejpal and Shoma) agreed not to print the ‘story’. As Rana recalls debate with editor on morality and values in journalism during her initial days of job in a channel, “they heard me patiently and I have not forgotten what they said. A good journalist should separate himself/herself from the ‘story’. I have regret that I have not gained expertise in this art because this becomes an excuse to ‘kill’ the ‘story’ on the signal of corporate or political powers. But Rana Ayub was not going to be stopped once she shed identity of Maithili Tyagi. She has progressed ahead with self-confidence. The result is this unique work “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover up” containing rare confessions of important people in Gujarat during 2001-10 captured in secret cameras.

A reader who is not aware of the recent political history of India and Gujarat will feel,while reading “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover up”,like reading an interesting detective novel. It is a novel whose curiosity of next mystery forces one to read it in one go. The difference is that its underworld is political and characters real and alive. Leave aside officials participating in political crime and conspiracy like loyal agents in a corrupt and ruthless system and universal fear, even honest officials do not open their mouths against injustice owing to helplessness. Rana Ayub makes efforts to open these shut mouths and in the guise of a non-resident Indian she captures them in spy cameras hidden in kurtas, diaries and watches. Gujarat Files is a sum of risky investigative eight month long journalism of disguised Rana Ayub into 2002 holocaust and resultant fake encounters. A documentary film producer from an American film institute, ‘Maithili’ stings those administrative and police officials who were on important positions in Gujaratduring 2001 and 2010. Dialogues recorded in hidden cameras are live evidence of active involvement of the government and its officials in most heinous crime against humanity. But the Gujarat High Court which could not see any conspiracy in Gulbarga Society genocide will not prima facie take cognizance of these evidences. The book is an evidence of the reality accepted by insidious devotees that because of these genocides and fake encounters and resulting polarisation Narendra Modi and Amit Shah reached the throne of Delhi while crossing labyrinth of power. This book is also a strong slap on social awakening of the country which instead of being furious over such a holocaust and rape made the sponsors of the crimes adorable. This book reveals the truth which the power is trying to prove otherwise by all means. This revealing truth (I am not saying revelation because these are universally known truths) is from those officials who chose to keep mum before the probe commissions.

While reading the book describing the story to attain power through communal polarisation through holocaust and fake encounters done by daredevil young journalist Rana Ayub putting her life at stake I thought of Machiavelli, European political philosopher belonging to renaissance period. I felt like reading neoliberal Indian edition of a political novel of a renaissance period novel. Machiavelli used to recognise success in politics as a virtue and morality as a luxury of the ruler. But he does not forget to advise the successful ruler to decisively act like the best priest of morality. All the writings are concurrent and great writings are timeless. His timeless book Prince written in solitude of political exile in 1513 belongs to this category. Machiavelli defines politics as an art to achieve, maintain and enhance power and looks at rationale of impiety of mean as sanctity of the target. Whatever ends well is well. Achievement of power, its care and its nurturing are the target of politics, no matter how is that attained – by deceit, fraud, or sloganeering.

Thinker of philosopher does not build justice, injustice, good and bad in the society, rather they are present beforehand. He only explains them in a context. Idealist thinker hides reality of social/political obscenity in abstract spiritual rhetoric. Machiavelli did not invent deceit, murders or coup in politics. They were common in monarchies of renaissance period of political transition. Machiavelli has just advocated to execute political tact and shrewdness beautifully. Political rising, ascent and definite setting  of Modi is a burning example of timeless relevance of Machiavelli. Definite setting because he prohibits the king to refrain celebrating his victory that this is not an end, but a beginning. Real work begins after it, art of governance. Ruling the conquered public and preparing forces for future battles has to be done with the taxes paid by them. Because of this neither burden of tax has to be increased, nor new tax has to be imposed nor their religion and customs are to be meddled with. But Modi Government is continuously in war (election) mode to increase financial burden on public under pressure from World Bank and corporate masters. Same weapons of deceit in the war may not succeed repeatedly.

Prince is a political counselling treaty for understanding rulers. It gives practical tips to attain power beyond moral-immoral, just-unjust, sacred and profane, religious-non-religious, etc., maintaining monopoly on it and increasing hold over it. While Prince of Machiavelli advocates acquiring power through treachery, fraud, murder, genocide, come-what-may, anyway, etc., adventurous journalist Ayub Rana’s decoy spying putting her life in danger has resulted in Gujarat Files which discloses attainment of power through Machiavellian means like treachery, fraud, murder, rape, communal displacement, fake encounter, etc. The purpose of this article is not to discuss Machiavellian attributes of Modi as that is a matter of separate discussion. Here the purpose is to point of relevance of Machiavelli in neo-liberal era with reference to Modi brand of politics.

Machiavelli’s Prince is neither a representative of God armed with “god like qualities” like medieval kings nor he is a prince. He is a warrior coming from ordinary background like Modi or Hitler who establishes kingdom with his wisdom. He advises that “understanding” ruler that he does not have to anything new, instead he has to select from the examples of wise rulers in the history. He gives one example to follow from ancient classical period and another from concurrent one. It seems that Modi has selected joint model of Hitler-Mussolini. After death of Hegdewar, life Sarsanghchalak of RSS and thinker SS Govilkar has suggested to follow Hitler who destroyed Jews and established purity of Germans. [1]

In Fourth Century BC there was son of a potter at Sicily named Agathoklis, who joined army at Saairakas. He married widow of a noble, rich protector and raised his army. Once he organised a discussion at city auditorium on ancient jurist Solon. All noble people from the city were invited. As soon as they entered the auditorium they were murdered en mass by the troops hiding there. Agathoklis declared himself as emperor. He gives example of Rodrigo Bourgios. Rodrigo was a Cardinal in Roman Church, who became Pope by the name Alexander Sixth in 1492. He appointed his two sons Cardinal and his daughter used to administer Vatican City in his absence. He had his executioners, jails and poisoners. The poisoners used to be very busy. Their victims included many Cardinals. “Alexander Sixth did nothing except deceit. He used to think nothing beyond this. He used to make lofty promises, but never used to fulfil one. Whatever be, he was always successful in deceit because he knew this art well.” When Ayub Rana turned Maithili asked Director-General of ATS Rajan Priyadarshi in 2007 about popularity of Modi in Gujarat his answer reminded the above quotation of Machiavelli, “He makes fool of everyone and people become fool.” This is lamentable as far as social awakening of the country is concerned.

The purpose here is not a neoliberal explanation of statecraft of Machiavelli. That is an issue of separate discussion. In this document the question arose in my mind while reading heinous crimes committed for power had Machiavelli been writing Prince today, he would not have to work hard in selecting concurrent example. Otherwise too Modi and Amit Shah pair has ruined hopes of the rest. Given my choice he would have selected Modi. Amit Shah often speaks from his heart in over excitement of power like publiclyaccepting that Modi’s talk of bringing back black money was a slogan. Modi does hypocrisy when he says “Man Ki Baat”. Machiavelli has a suggestion expose others while getting masked. As has been revealed in this book, Modi never ordered anything in writing. His oral orders were illegal.

Gujarat Home Secretary at the time of 2002 riots Ashok Narayan who believes in “live and let live” says, “He never writes anything on paper. He has his own men. His messages used to reach lower level police officials through them and members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (page 86)… Otherwise too he does not come in front. He is so clever and talks so cleverly on phone – he rings officials and says ‘OK take care of that area’. For ordinary person its meaning is ‘keep in mind that there is no riot in that area’, but the hidden meaning is that ‘take care that a riot has to be started there’… He does not do anything himself. For this there is a chain of the agents. Then case is registered against the crowd. Now how will you arrest crowd?” (page 88) When a high level official like Home Secretary is so helpless, one can only regret the murder of democracy. He tells ‘Maithili’, “When I was Home Secretary I ordered no step will be taken without written order. When a bandh was declared (27 February 2002), the Chief Secretary Subbarao told me that VHP leader Togadia wanted to hold a rally and wished to know my opinion. I suggested him that such a rally cannot be permitted as the situation will go out of hand. When the Chief Minister got to know about this, he questioned how could I do like this. The permission has to be given. When I asked for a written order, he (Modi) started staring me.

An honest police official hearing his soul who was silent before the inquiry commission, was vocal in front of an NRI film maker. A long quotation from the dialogue will not be out of context. Rajan Priyadarshi was in 2007 ATS Chief that was conducting CID probe in encounter murders. He was IG of Rajkot during 2002 riots. “His Dalit tag always stuck to him. Many times he was forced to do dirty works of seniors.”

“Ever since I have come here, everyone is taking about Sohrabuddin encounter?”

“Entire country is talking about the encounter. Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati were murdered on instructions of a minister. This minister is Amit Shah, who does not believe in human rights. He used to tell me that he did not have a faith in human rights commissions…”

“Have you ever worked under him?”

“Have worked, when I was Chief of ATS… I believe in human rights. This Shah once summoned me to his bungalow. I have never gone to the bungalow or office of anyone. I told him sir I have not seen your bungalow. He was exasperated, said why have I not seen his bungalow. Then he said he will send his private vehicle to fetch me… As soon as I reached, he said, “See you have arrested a person, one who has just came to ATS, he has to be killed.” I did not react. The he said, “Look kill him, such a person has no right to live.”

“I immediately returned to my office and convened meeting of subordinates. I had fear that Amit Shah will give directive to them directly and get him killed. I told them, look I have been ordered to kill him, but no one will touch him, only enquiry has to be made. I have been told, but since I am not doing, therefore no one else will do so.”

“This was a very brave act?”

“This Narendra Modi called me the day I was retiring… Just asked many questions… Then asked, “OK tell who are the people against the Government, means how many officers are against the Government?…”

“Why is there no DG in your State?”

“Because Modi has to take revenge on an official named Kuldeep Sharma.”

“I have come to know that there is a team of his officials?”

“When I was IG of Junagarh, a riot occurred there. I registered FIR against some people. The Home Minister phoned me, ‘Where are you Rajan ji?’ I replied, ‘Sir I am in Junagarh itself.’ Then he said, ‘OK write down three names. You have to arrest them.’ I said, “Sir these three are sitting with me and I would like to tell you that these are Muslims and because of them the situation has normalised. These people have unified Hindus and Muslim with their efforts and put an end to riots.’He said, ‘Look CM Sir has said.’ At that time this Narendra Modi was Chief Minister. He said these are orders of the CM. I replied, “Sir, despite orders of the Chief Minister, I will not do because these three are innocent.”

“Who was on Phone?”

“Home Minister Gordhan Jafadia.”

“When it was?”

“Around July 2002, then Jafadia said he will himself come.”

“Who were these people?”

“These were good people. They were Muslims, who wanted to end the riots. Had there been any person other than me, they would have been arrested.”


“Was the person whom Amit Shah asked to finish a Muslim?”

“No he wanted to get rid of because there was a pressure from business lobby.”

“I have come to know that a few officials were forced to kill Ishrat Jahan?”

“Look this is between you and me. These people… means Banjara gang arrested 5 Sardars, including a constable. Banjara used to say all these were terrorists and they should be encountered. By their luck Pandiyan was SP at that time. He refused and all of them were saved.”

“Means all these officials are not anti-Muslim?”

“No they do so on the prompting of leaders. Those who do not follow, they are thrown in remote areas…”

“This government is corrupt and communal. Take this Amit Shah. He used to boast how he incited riots in 1985. He was very fond of organising a durbar of each big official at his place…”

“But it is surprising he told you all this?”

“He had faith on me. In fact he told me about Ishrat case. He said that before killing Ishrat was kept in custody and all those five were killed, talk of encounter is totally absurd. She had told that she was not a terrorist.”

“It is surprising that you were allowed to continue as head of an agency as important as ATS?”

“Till that time he used to think me as how man. He thought I will do as he will say…”

“PC Pande did not act against the rioters, in fact he is responsible for genocide of Muslims. He is a favourite of the Chief Minister…”

Machiavelli suggests in Prince if integrity is attained by love, it is better, but love is not a reliable mean. Fear is the most reliable mean. When you catch neck, heart and mind will give up automatically. He tells through Kailigula, “People’s hatred does not make a difference, provided they continue to fear me.” A few have to be murdered to create fear. Murder swiftly and nurture injuries slowly. But the orgy of murder should end quickly. Hand over the responsibility of murder to such an office-bearer whom you think may be threat to you. Like Mira Ben Kodnani. As soon as orgy of murders end, murder the murderer. Leave aside the fear that Modi created among bureaucrats and policemen of Gujarat, editors of the magazine for which I arranged rare evidence through spying journalism endangering my life for eight months could not print the report. When Ayub Rana in the guise of Maithili phoned editor of Tahalka for next step of sting, she was called back.

“Next day I directly reached Tahakla office in Delhi. I had transferred Modi’s footage on my laptop. Tarun (Tejpal) was in his cabin. Shoma also came there. I showed them footage. They were laughing seeing Obama’s book.”

“I asked, ‘Why I have been called back. I am about to receive a phone call from his (Modi’s) office for second meeting.”

“Tarun said, ‘Look Soma, our office was closed after Tahalka sting on Bangaru Laxman. Modi is all powerful person, on the brink of becoming Prime Minister. If we touch him, we will be finished.”

“I did not agree to what they said. Was not the entire sting operation a risk in itself? But they negated all my logic with emphatic no.” (Page 203)

When the leaders of the journalism famous for investigative journalism were so fearful, an idea can be made about the role of sycophant channels, newspapers and newsmagazines.

“After two days, I took out Uninor Sim from the phone and threw that in waste bin and did the same with phone. On that day Maithili vanished from the scene forever. The editors took decision not to print the story.” One can only imagine what Rana felt.

“Since then I was silent. Till now.” And when she decided to print it as a book, she did not get a publisher. If she published it, she did not get a distributor. What else will be fascist terrorism?”

As I have written in the preface of the book quoting Justice BN Srikrishna[2]through Mark Twain that truth is stranger than fiction because there are alternative probabilities in fiction, but not in truth. The heroine/spy of this novel is the author is the same – “daredevil” investigative journalist Rana Ayub, who brings out truth of political Mafia endangering her life as NRI filmmaker Maithili Tyagi. It may be noted that it is the same Rana Ayub whose sting in Tahalka sent Amt Shah to jail in fake encounter case. That is another thing that he got a clean chit from a Mumbai court. It is also another thing that the judge giving clean chit was gifted governorship. When the spying reaches in last stages to implicate the don, the agency calls back the spy fearing the don’s power. By that time the don becomes so powerful and creates so much of fear that she does not get a publisher for her story. When she prints the book herself, she does not get a distributor. Verizon Kindle online book should be praised that such an important book is reaching the people freely.

From sponsoring Godhara[3]in 2002 to polarisation of elections to attaining power to unfavourable observations of commissions all the major characters are there on the posts except sacrifice of some pawns. “Probably encouraged by this, fake encounters increased in Gujarat, all of which were fake.” In view of the lack of any constructive socio-political policy, these “encounters” are “part of efforts” to maintain polarisation in the name of danger to “Gujarati ethos” from the Muslims (Page 33). The author tells through a report of Tahalka that Sohrabuddin was an acquaintance of Shah and was shot dead by branding as terrorist. A hero of this encounter Girish Singhal has remorse. His discussion with the author is quite interesting, but I shall quote only 2-4 sentences. “Most of the officials involved in (fake) encounters are from lower castes. Politicians used and threw them.”(Page 42) He accepts of 10 encounters even as Modi used and sidelined him. The situation of the country is so worrisome that instead of doing their constitutional duties the bureaucrats and police officials commit crime instead of stopping crime. As the writer has shown through the statements of Ashok Narayan and Rajan Priyadarshi, “Singhal is not an exception, he is rule.” It has been stated in long quotation that all these encounters took place at the place of Amit Shah. When an honest officer GC Raiger was handed over the task of Sohrabuddin encounter, he got himself transferred instead of working under Shah’s pressure. On being asked about honest officials in the State, he said, “There are many, but only one rotten fish is sufficient to make the pond dirty.” The vamp of Narod Patia Mayaben Kodnani also laments that Singhal used and threw.

Under these circumstances when economy of the country is on downward slide and people’s attention to auction of imperialistic global capital has to be deflected and when Sangh and Brahminical powers are trying to polarise the society by spreading rumour of Hindus migration keeping in mind Uttar Pradesh election, this book is an important document, which should reach maximum people. This invaluable document is filled with so many evidences that the Supreme Court must prima facie take cognizance of and initiate proceedings against culprits. This document is also an evidence that no riot is apolitical and not unsponsored. This is also evidence that any riot can only stretch with the backing of the Government. In the words of Ashok Narain, “The reasons behind murders in encounters are more political than religious. Look at Sohrabuddin case. He was killed on the prompting of leaders. Amit Shah is in jail because of this. It is happening everywhere. It is happening here also. Fake encounters are either politically motivated or are result of over zeal of policemen. The question is why people become victim of their electoral move of religious fanatism. Martyr Ganeshshankar Vidhyarthi wrote in the editorial titled “In the Guise of Religion” in Pratap, “A few men misuse power of crores of men to meet their petty selfishness in the guise of religion… First they cover up wisdom, then take the place of soul and God for them and then make each other fight. The fools cry of religion and cry about sect, they play with their life, enhance seat of a few deceivers and strengthen them.” As long as people do not get rid of bigotry, religious superstitions and prejudices, some cunning people will make fool of them and fulfil their ulterior motives.

Review of the Book

Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up

By Rana Ayub

Published by Rana Ayub, New Delhi 112016

Ish Mishra, Associate Professor, Dept. of Political Science, Hindu College, University of Delhi

[1]SS Govilkar, We Are Our Nation Defined

[2]Chairman of Srikrishna Commission constituted in Mumbai to probe communal holocaust by RSS and Shiv Sena after Babri demolition. The commission report is resting in cold storage of the Government.

[3]As Banerjee Commission had said that it was impossible to set the coach afire from outside. Just think is it possible to set afire a coach, having one-and-a-half feet door, full of Kar Sevaks armed with trishuls and swords from outside that the whole coach turns into ashes?

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