Just completed reading Gujarat Files — Anatomy of a Cover Up, by young investigative journalist, Rana Ayyub. Before going further, a quick look about the book:
Gujarat Files is the account of an eight-month long undercover investigation by journalist Rana Ayyub into the Gujarat riots, fake encounters and the murder of state Home Minister Haren Pandya that brings to the fore startling revelations. Posing as Maithili Tyagi, a filmmaker from the American Film Institute Conservatory, Rana met bureaucrats and top cops in Gujarat who held pivotal positions in the state between 2001 and 2010. The transcripts of the sting operation reveal the complicity of the state and its officials in crimes against humanity.
With sensational disclosures about cases that run parallel to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s ascent to power and their journey from Gujarat to New Delhi, the book tells you the hushed truth of the state in the words of those who developed amnesia while speaking before commissions of enquiry, but held nothing back in the secretly taped videos which form the basis of this remarkable read.
[Taken From amazon.in]
As the name suggests, the book tries to bring to fore the dichotomy between the stands the politicians & State Officials took publicly (before Judicial Commissions, Conventional Media and Public), and before a hidden camera.
In a recent interview, the author, a former Tehelka Journalist, says that the dichotomy is such blatant that the 2002 Gujarat riots and; the encounters & killings which took place after that appear nothing but the complicity of the state and its officials in crimes against humanity.
According to the Author, when Tehelka, the employer, sensed Mr. Narendra Modi’s growing stature in National politics and his sure ascend as the Country’s next PM in 2014; it decided to shelve the sting. A decision which made the young investigative journalist feel betrayed, as she had risked her life to secretly video tape the top officials & politicians of the state to unearth the truth. Hence after much thought, she decided to compile & publish the sting & its revelations in the form of a book.
As expected, in the secretly videotaped conversations with top bureaucrats and cops, there are multiple mentions of the then CM Narendra modi, his Home Minister Amit Shah, Maya Kodnani, VHP and other politicians. But mostly in a not so positive; or if said more aptly in a sense of “I have been betrayed” manner.
About the Book
The 205 page long book is quite engaging and has all the qualities of an investigative thriller. I completed the book in 5 hours.
The author has gelled well her real Life, feelings, anguish, sadness, fear in the book. In short, you could feel how a young journalist in her mid-twenties would feel conducting such a risky sting. This makes the book more than just a wordy compilation of a sting operation. All this while you would keep admiring the woman for her bravado and resolve.
I liked the book.
Not because it brings to fore the complicity of top politicians in 2002 Gujarat Riots.
Not because it brings to fore the Politician-bureaucrat nexus.
Not because it bring to fore the way Police comply to any orders to please their political bosses.
These have become a common knowledge now. If you want to criticize or defend politicians, bureaucrats, cops you can use any of the above as a convenient, hapless, helpless excuse.
I liked the book because the book keeps asking you to what an extent you can go on the name of religion and political ideology.
The book keeps asking you to what extent a person can be brainwashed in the name of religion. For instance, while the top cops and bureaucrats talk of a sense of betrayal for not getting adequate help & support from their political masters when they had to suffer the legal consequences of the misdeeds done at their behest (Political masters), they justify the genocide. Why? Simply because the people killed were of the other religion. In the same way, those who criticize the pogrom, many a times praise the person(s) who took part in it or who encouraged it. Why? As he did this as a savior of religion. It’s no surprise that some of these people (who were being secretly taped) speak gloriously about their children studying in US, and Gujarat having as many up-market Malls, Multiplexes as any developed city in the World. Certainly, they do need to refer to a dictionary for the comprehensive meanings of genocide, pogrom etc.
Thus the book tests where you stand with respect to political ideology. Are you a Rightist, Centrist or Leftist?
Going by your ideology you will believe or not believe in what the author has to say.
Not to mention, if you’re a true Liberal only then you will be able to stand somewhere apart from Rightist, Centrist and leftist; and will be able to read the book from cover to cover. The idea is to see what you can believe and to what extent. If you’re in a habit of saying : “Yeh toh aise hi hote Hain” ; then you should not Buy the Book.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
The book is interesting & engaging. It makes you think. Although, it could had been edited better, as it has syntactical errors.