The mainstream media’s radio silence over verdicts of Maliana Massacre and Naroda Gam Killings tells us that the art of building communal narrative for electoral incentives, lies in peddling falsehood, with utter shamelessness.

In last month, two significant verdicts related to major communal riots were pronounced.

1. March 31: The Meerut Court acquitted 40 people accused of arson, murder and rioting in the 36-year-old Maliana (UP) communal clash case for lack of evidence.

2. April 20: A special court in Ahmedabad acquitted all 68 accused in the Naroda Gam (Gujrat) massacre case, including an ex-BJP leader and former minister Maya Kodnani.

Ironically, the same mainstream media that was talking vociferously for an entire month about sporadic incidences of communal violence when the Ram Navami procession clashed with Ramzan, which feeds on communal riots, chose to remain silent on these developments. The radio silence over the acquittal of Maya Kodnani, whom they hounded for years, is conspicuous and deserves delving into. Hate and bigotry indeed feed on each other.

We must revisit these unfortunate incidences to understand the methodological approaches (primarily bigotry and untruth) of setting the political narrative of these communal clashes solely for electoral incentives and social capital.

The Era of the Resurgence of the communal wedge:

The most dramatic surge in communal violence took place during the period of Rajiv Gandhi’s Prime Ministership. The mainstream media narrated this visionary’s diverse qualities alongside beaming photographs of handsome Rajiv.

However, during that short period when Rajiv was also the President of the Congress Party, he and his party presided over the most extensive pogrom in India’s history. The most talked about of them are:

  • The 1984 Sikh pogroms in Delhi, and
  • The 1990 genocide of Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu & Kashmir.

But the same secular narrative peddlers brushed much more under the carpet.

Riding over the sentiments of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Rajiv came to power with an unprecedented majority. In 1985, when a poor 60-year-old Muslim woman Shah Bano went to the court seeking Rs.200/month to support her five children after her husband deserted her, the High Court and Supreme Court ruled in Shah Bano’s favour. Rajiv overturned the court with new legislation to appease the clergies.

When he appeared excessively pro-Muslim, in another bid in 1986, Rajiv’s Government ordered opening of the Babri Masjid. It allowed the activists of VHP to perform “Shilanyas” inside the disputed Babri. It led to severe communal tension across India. The Muslim extremists started making hateful speeches fuelling the uncontrollable communal frenzy and triggering multiple devastating communal incidents across India.

Here, I would like to remind the readers about the two most brutal incidence of communal violence, where the State was actively involved, but the noise hardly travelled outside the State.

Hashimpura & Maliyana (UP, 1987). CM – Vir Bahadur Singh (Congress). 

Meerut and other cities in Uttar Pradesh were on the edge as inflammatory speeches were made by Muslim extremist leaders that ultimately led to communal riots in Meerut (UP).

Hashimpura is a colony of Muslim Ansari weavers in Meerut. On May 21 1897, the brother of an Army Major was killed near Hashimpura and two rifles belonging to the UP-PAC were looted. The next day, the administration decided to raid Hashimpura and the area had been sealed. More than 600 Muslim men were arrested, to be sent to the Police Station Civil Lines in Meerut. It was a Friday in the month of Ramzan.

However, about 42 to 45 able-bodied men were separated and asked to board another truck with PAC. The truck led by PAC member Surender Pal Singh was stopped near the upper Ganga canal, and after bringing them down, they were shot by the PAC personnel in cold blood, and their bodies were thrown into the upper Ganga canal.

Another lot was taken at the pul/culvert of the Hindon Canal near Makanpur village in Ghaziabad. All the remaining were pulled down from the truck, shot at point-blank range, and thrown into the Hindon canal. However, as prosecution witnesses, Babuddin and three others miraculously survived to recount the horrific tale.

The Maliana massacre took place a day after Hashimpura, in which 68 individuals, all Muslims, were killed by a mob accompanied by personnel of the UP-PAC. While the Muslims of Maliana alleged that PAC opened fire at them for no reason, officials claimed that there was “resistance and firing from the roof-tops so the PAC had to take action”. (The Indian Express, May 27, 1987)

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited the riot affected areas on May 30 1987, along with his wife Sonia Gandhi, UP CM Vir Bahadur Singh, and MoS Home P Chidambaram. The UP Govt ordered an inquiry by the Crime Branch CID of Uttar Pradesh Police.

Hashimpura Investigation & Trial: In its report, submitted in 1994, the CB-CID recommended the prosecution of 37 employees of the PAC and the Police Dept., but the Mulayam Singh Yadav government permitted 19 of them only to be prosecuted.

In 2002, the Supreme Court transferred the case to New Delhi after an inordinate delay in the trial. But the trial couldn’t start, as the state government (both under Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati) only appointed a Special Public Prosecutor for the case in Nov 2004. 

Initially the trial court had acquitted the 16 PAC personnel giving them benefit of doubt. Interestingly, the same Trial court dismissed Subramanian Swamy’s plea to probe the alleged role of P. Chidambaram, then MoS Home, on whose orders the PAC had moved to Hashimpura. The court said that Mr Swamy has no locus-standi and it is only the police who can move an application for further probe. The UP police chose not to pursue the case.

Finally, after a 31-year-long legal battle, in 2018, the Delhi High Court convicted the 16 PAC personnel and sentenced them to life imprisonment, overturning the trial court’s verdict. It noted that the evidence against the PAC personnel was “clinching” and termed the massacre “targeted killing” of unarmed and defenceless by the police.

Except a few media reports, did anyone hear the brouhaha? Did you witness realms of Op-eds questioning Rajiv Gandhi for this heinous massacre? Why was Congress Party not asked, as it was ruling both in UP and at the centre?

Maliana Investigation & Trial: In this unfortunate case, even after a 36-year-long trial this year, the court had to acquit all 40 accused of arson, murder, and rioting for lack of evidence.

Why was Mulayam Singh Yadav’s name not attached to this deliberate denial of justice even though he came to power promising justice to the victims of these massacres and who has also been his core constituency? 

Bhagalpur (1989, Bihar). CM: Satyendra Narain Sinha (Congress).

Due to the Babri Masjid controversy and the proximity of the festivals of Bihula Puja and Muharram – communal tension was simmering in Bhagalpur. The riots started when (October 24 1989) one of the Ram Shila processions passed through the Muslim locality of Tatarpur, where miscreants lobbed bombs and brickbats at them, and the police opened fire on the crowd, killing two persons.

This communal violence continued for two months and affected over 250 villages around Bhagalpur. Officially, over 1,000 people (almost all Muslims) were killed, and another 50,000 were displaced, leaving a devastation trail. Not only did the local police fail to control the communal violence, but they also participated in targeting Muslims in several instances. The then Superintendent of Police K S Dvivedi’s involvement was so extensive that Bihar’s DGP had to call for Dvivedi’s immediate replacement. 

But during his visit to Bihar, PM Rajiv Gandhi, declared that K.S. Dvivedi would not be transferred, legitimizing a continuation of violence. Even today, survivors note that had Dwivedi’s transfer order not been revoked by PM Rajiv Gandhi at the time, many lives would have been saved since many of the worst atrocities took place after this.

Commissions of Inquiry:

Bihar Govt constituted a Commission of Inquiry. Ultimately, and due to disagreement, two separate commission reports were compiled – one by the chairperson, Justice Ramnandan Prasad, and the other by the two other members, Justice Ramchandra Prasad Sinha and Justice S Shamsul Hasan.

The Ramanandan Prasad Commission, in the most severe terms, condemned the apparent partiality of the Congress-led state administration. The Sinha and Hasan Report focused more on administrative culpability.

“We hold K S Dwivedi, the then SP of Bhagalpur, wholly responsible for whatever happened before October 24 1989, on 24th itself and [after the] 24th. His communal bias was fully demonstrated not only by his manner of arresting the Muslims, but also by not extending adequate help to protect them.” – (Sinha and Hasan (1995).

However, Lalu Yadav’s government accepted Justice Prasad’s report and chose not to probe the question of administrative culpability.

In 2006, Nitish Kumar constituted another commission of inquiry headed by Justice NN Singh. This report also holds the inaction by the Congress government responsible for the deadly clashes and recommended action against 125 IAS and IPS officers. However, the fate of the N.N. Singh Commission of Inquiry has been no different.

Though 34 years have passed, only a handful of cases have the guilty been punished. Most of the other cases today are already closed. The horrors are still alive amongst the survivors in Bhagalpur who are still awaiting justice and reparations.

Instead of facing investigation and prosecution, several officers indicted in the Commission of Inquiry were promoted. Even more reprehensible and condemnable is that the Nitish Govt. in 2018 promoted K S Dwivedi, who was indicted, as Bihar’s Director General of Police.

Bhagalpur, Hashimpura, and Maliana’s massacres of defenceless Muslims are constant reminders of just how many times the Congress party and later the so-called ‘secular parties’ has cheated minorities of justice and gotten away with it, scot-free. Worst, the secular commentators, every time, observed radio silence. 

However, for the Congress, it was curtains in UP and Bihar. 

The Muslim vote firmly shifted from the Congress to the so-called secular parties. In 1989, Mulayam Singh Yadav first came to power in UP riding on the Mandal-Kamandal politics but did little about justice for the riot victims.  

The glory days of Lalu Prasad began in the wake of the communal riots. Still, after coming to power, he denied justice to the riot victims and their families by choosing not to probe administrative culpability.

But as these men, who halted Rath-Yatra in Bihar and ordered police firing on Karsevaks in UP, Lalu or Mulayam didn’t need to prove their secular chops. The narrative peddlers happily projected them as the protectors of minorities.

Despite all their uncouth shenanigans, in UP and Bihar, for most of the ’90s, the Muslim-Yadav alliance ensured political gains. This alliance endured on false media narrative, and fake optics. If Mulayam Singh Yadav would always be seen with Azam Khan in UP, in Bihar, Lalu Yadav roamed with an Osama Bin Laden look-alike.

Despite promises during their election campaign, Mayawati and Nitish Kumar failed to go beyond tokenism after assuming office as CM.

It tells us how some political parties used the media and narrative and mined this communal wedge to perfection while others lost out.

Look at the most talked about communal riot in India’s post-Independence history.

Gujrat Riot (2002). CM: Narendra Modi (BJP)

The 2002 violence in Gujarat, was massively reported widely y the media, both Indian and Global discussing the nature of the violence, the role of the state government, and the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The findings of the Supreme Court-appointed SIT and trials under Courts established that the principal and immediate cause was the Godhra Train Burning.

On February 27 2002, a mob of 2,000 surrounded the Sabarmati Express bogey full of Hindu pilgrims and set it afire. Fifty-eight pilgrims, including women and kids, were charred to death. The Nanavati Commission in 2008 said that the train burning itself was a “conspiracy.” It incited a lot of communal anger.

The state-wide violence started that very day, and the entire State of Gujarat was rocked by communal violence. While government accounts reported around 850 deaths, more than two thousand people likely succumbed to communal violence. Both communities seem gripped by madness and strike out at each other equally ruthlessly.

Role of State Admin:

Looking back, one can argue that the State Administration could have handled the riots better. Just a few months into the office, CM Modi’s response to seek the army’s help within 48 hours of the riots was by no standard a belated action. Mr Modi had even reached out to neighbouring states for assistance. The response of the neighbouring states – all Congress-ruled, was interestingly delayed.

The Vajpayee Govt sent the most celebrated cop KPS Gill as Security Adviser to Gujarat CM, having full powers, to send a strong symbolic message. 

The Policemen did their best to control the mayhem. Officially, 262 Hindus and 863 Muslims were killed in the Gujarat riots, including those (61 Hindus and 40 Muslims) who lost their lives in police firing. Of the 25 thousand people identified as accused, more than 17 thousand were Hindus, while 8 thousand were Muslims. As of March 5 2002, 100 relief camps were running in the State, of which majority belonged to Muslims and a few also for the Hindus. 

Inquiry Commission and Status of Trials:

On March 6 2002, Gujarat Govt appointed a commission of inquiry (Nanavati-Mehra Commission) to investigate the adequacy or lack thereof of the administrative measures. It first submitted its interim report in 2008, concluding that the burning of the Sabarmati express coaches was a pre-planned part of a larger conspiracy. It also gave a clean chit to CM Modi, saying there was no evidence to show there was in providing protection, relief, and rehabilitation to the victims of communal riots.

But the mainstream media crooks and the Modi-baiting NGOs continued their unprecedented brouhaha. Following a rampant media campaign, the Supreme Court was forced to set up its Special Investigation Team (SIT) to reinvestigate many cases.

The SC lauded the work of SIT. While exonerating the Gujrat CM and State administration, it also talked about “disgruntled Gujarat officials and others trying to create a sensation by making false revelations to keep the pot boiling for ulterior designs”. 

In 2014, the Nanavati-Mehta Commission also completely exonerated the Gujarat administration. It said that the police in some places were ineffective in controlling the mob because of their inadequate numbers or not adequately armed. Still, it blamed local members of VHP, Bajrang Dal, for violence in their localities.

The Supreme Court also shared its satisfaction with all the trial cases in the court. A total of 9 significant cases related to the incident of Gujarat Riots were reinvestigated by the SC-appointed SIT. In all these cases, the trial is complete, and convicts have been sentenced. The Naroda Gram case was the only case where the trial was underway. The verdict came on April 20 2023, acquitting all the accused, including Maya Kodnani, then minister in the Modi cabinet.

Did any of the mainstream media houses that ran a hounding campaign against Kodnani write a single tweet that they were guilty of character assassination based on allegations, gossip, and innuendoes? No. That does not serve the agenda. 


The Narendra Modi baiters in media and NGOs suffered a significant setback when the Supreme Court-appointed SIT charged a leading activist, Teesta Setalvad, for tutoring witnesses and cooking macabre tales of killings. But Setalvad wasn’t alone in manufacturing grievances. 

A thriving industry had come up that worked overtime to manufacture Muslim dissent in Gujarat for a global audience, and the State was projected as “the laboratory of Hindutva.” However, it is interesting to note that post-2002, Gujrat has hardly witnessed any actual migration of Muslims out of the State.

One can see a stark difference if one compares Gujarat 2002 with Delhi 1984, Bhagalpur, or Hashimpura. While Gujarat had all the ingredients of communal violence in which both sides clashed and suffered, others had the semblance of being a state-orchestrated pogrom targeting one religious community.

However, even today, the mainstream media and other hacks from the Congress ecosystem call the Gujrat riots “a state-led pogrom.” For them, the actual state-backed pogroms remain forgotten incidents.

The level of manipulation and falsehood these frauds used to distort the narrative by manufacturing grievances and creating victimhood to serve the political aspirations of their masters is unheard of.

However, by distorting the communal-riot narrative, these frauds have achieved the incomprehensible – Today, an agreement between Hindu and Muslim residents for the procession to avoid passing by a local mosque is considered secular, banning and barricading the historical route of the Shobha-Yatras by the State is considered ‘maintenance of law & order, and chanting of ‘Jai Shri Ram,’ without any hesitation, is referred as a provocative communal slogan.

Bigotry, with a straight face, is a fine art.

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