‘Gujarat Files‘ By Rana Ayyub
Book Review By P Victor Vijay Kumar
08 June, 2016
Many of us, especially hailing from urban middle class, have this strange hope on governance of Indian society and its state. We have formulated our own Constitution in 1950 and , actually, turned it as a technical document scripting some rules of our living. We agreed on it, whatever it is ; we approved it, however it is, and we could not realize, when Ambedkar came back and said “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil whish is essentially undemocratic”. Many a times, we do not prepare ourselves to take away the much reposed faith on this State, despite being taught stringent lessons of failure.
Rana Ayyub, is one of the young lady journalists in India , took this responsibility to explain us how the State functions in its murkiest fashion using all abominable tricks, providing us with circumstantial evidences picked up from her sting operations. Who is RanaAyyub ? One can quickly recollect her name from the pages of Tehelka , which brought out the call records of then Gujarat State Home Minister, Mr. Amitbhai Shah, to the public arena posing suspicious shadows on Sohrabuddin killing by the state and the reasons behind the same raising for answers if Sohrabuddin is just a street extortionist or is he much beyond it into politics; why his wife Kausar Bi too needs to be killed ; and what role his aide Prajapathi got in entire episode who got killed after a month. She is presently seems to be a freelance journalist after exitingTehelkapost-developments on sexual harassment allegations on her super boss.
She went undercover for 8 months in 2010 to extract this information from top cops, bureaucrats, politicians etc. We have an idiosyncratic conscience in India. The cognitive comfort to speak to a person openly, though a stranger, emanates from his visual demographics and cultural image. She exactly encashed her having a fair skin to turn into a Brahmin girl with the name MythiliTyagi and brought another ‘ firang’ French guy alongwith her introducing him as her assistant to film a movie on Guajaratto augment her image for credibility. The thick-skinned bureaucrats and top cops started revealing their entire drama around riots and assassinations falling ‘ prey ‘ to her portrayed cultural image , intellect and tactics. This involved great deal of risk for life when humans were only reckoned as objects obstructing, or propitiating, the permeating bigotry in the state. Some times, there is a spine chilling account of events when her undercover was almost getting peeled offpossibly only to have death as a result.
The author should be given credit to carrying one of the most daring investigative journalist stories in India. She was able to get her food served by none other than Maya Kodnani revealing herself all secrets. She could manage to watch a movie alongwith thefamily of Ms. UshaRada, IPS officer. This brilliance of investigative journalism is quite not so common for Indian media sector. Reader would get an account of her narration of these tactics, though not the nitty-gritties of it, in the book.
She interviewed GL Singhal, main accused in IshratJahan case; Ms. Maya Kodnani, Minister in Modi’s durbar, prime accused in NarodaPatiya case; RajanPriyadarshi, Former Director- General ( Anti-Terrorist Squad); Ashok Narayan, then Home Secretary ; Chakravarty, then DGP; GC Raigar, Intelligence Head of Gujarat; P C Pande , who became DGP of State subsequently. The account of each individual on the appalling encounters of Sohrabuddin, IshratJahan and Prajapati and their involvement and experience during riots would totally let you loose confidence in the system. The manipulative functioning of political bosses and their fashion of operation not to get caught on record will let us realize how transparently we propose to operate Police system. There is account of police who are part of it, there is account of police who regret it, there is account of police who were greedy in the career ladder, there is account of police who are used like dust bins and there is account of police who went hand-in-glove with politicians in the book.
It is pertinent to take note that RanaAyyub could networked through these vile bureaucrats worked under Modi with the advent of the disheartened condition of Dalit police officers. She brings out a striking fact that the State has used the police officers mainly hailing from marginalized sections/Dalits only to reward them with nothing. GL Singhal, Priyadarshi, Vanzara hail from marginalized sections of society.RajanPriyadarshi is one who could not secure a house in a Brahmin locality and had to settle for a house in a locality close to dalits and muslims.The grotesque nature of Brahminism has crept up into every thought, every act and every deed of the State. To understand this in his own words of Priyadarshi “ It was very strange, you know it was like if you are a Dalit, anybody in the office can get away with saying anything. There was no dignity attached. I mean a Dalit officer can be asked to commit cold-blooded murder because he ( apparently) has no self-respect, no ideals. Upper castes in the Gujarat Police are the ones in ( everyone’s) good books“
A submission by a top cop during his interaction with MythiliTyagi alias RanaAyyub “ Yes, before that who knew him ? Who was Modi ? He came from Delhi, before that Himachal. He was incharge of the unimportant states, neither Haryana…nor Himachal “ indicates how nazi power mongers can stoop to a level of destroying the harmony amongst its people instead constructing it. When Mythili enquired with another “ What really went against Modi. I guess was the fact that he was form the RSS and he supported the RSS and the VHP during the riots ? “, to which a confirmed reply comes like “ The compulsion was inevitable. A person who has grown up as an RSS cadre, he has to bow down to their demands “. This reassures the hypothesis of political behavior emanates from the origin of brought up and the social group one is associated with apart from the dominant influential culture one is brought up from.
This doesn’t stop here. Maya Kodnani, a close aide of Modi, also keeps raising foul cry on Modi for being used. She reacts to a question on Modi “ Praise Him and his style of working, and then he will talk. You know what he will tell you, trademark answer “ I love Vivekananda, I love SardarVallabhabhai Patel”. Ask him about me and he will say “ Acha hum kyakarein, SIT was there, phone call records there “ or he will just give a short and sweet answer “ the matter is subjudice “. This would further reconfirm how Modimastered the art of technicalities to avoid, ignore or solve a problem, while dehumanised association in politics would obviously have scapegoats, though they arte unpardonable.At some point of time, the state of anarchy is Gujarat was so much that about 65000 people were snooped by the Govt. including opposition parties, rebellions in BJP, journalists etc. That marks a complete guised control of every tit bit of events happening to manoeuvre with them for power seeking.
This author concludes the book for why she goes for self-publishing of her investigative outcomes. She brings out that she had to drop the idea of going further when she got an appointment from Mr. Modi himself for a private interaction ( for her film) as she could not get adequate encouragement from Tehelka team , reportedly, due to a fact that they were alarmed at where this would eventually lead to , probably, dismantling their own existence looking to the aftermath of BangaruLaxman episode, despite protest by RanaAyyub. While this so , Tehelka disown the story carried by RanaAyyub. Media reports say “ TarunTejpal, then the chief editor of the magazine, said he never dropped the copy because of fear — “This is graceless, we did not carry the story because it was simply incomplete. It did not say anything. And in 2010-11, Modi was not even a PM candidate. So what are we talking here?”The publication — it needs to be mentioned here — once bore the brunt of the BJP government’s fury after a sting showed the then party president BangaruLaxman accepting cash from interested parties. Tejpal said he was pained to be maligned by Ayyub and wondered what had he done to deserve this disrespect. “She did her best journalism in Tehelka, neither before or after, and goes on to blame us for something we never did. Her story was full of holes, we told her to fill in the gaps. It did not happen”. For now, details of how the entire investigation has holes, as stated by Tehelka, is not known and unclear , as per the press reports.
One may like to discount her investigation by 50%, but, the fact remains that, even if 1% of it remains as truth, we need to indestructibly question the foundation of our Governance as this is a plain narration of collusion, conspiracy, manipulation, despotism, repression, human elimination and what not , its all about maximum possible grotesque nature of state in a democratic country like India.
Rana Ayyub, being a woman , that too from Muslim section, is being targeted with character assassination from the majoritarian fundamentalists. We need a diverse voice , we need a bold voice, we need an offbeat tone of issues, we need blatant lash against ghostly attitude of state which is steering genocides for the political survival. While that remains as the best reason why one should read this book, the other reason being not part of the dominant skewed collective conscience of India.
P Victor Vijay Kumar a CFO of an infrastructure group, by profession, is a writer cum critic . For any queries, he may be reachable at his mail id firstname.lastname@example.org or his face book ID ‘ P V Vijay Kumar ‘