Closure seems to have become an elusive concept in Gujarat over the last decade. Despite the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Supreme Court to look into the 2002 Gujarat riots giving chief minister Narendra Modi and 62 politicians and policemen a clean chit, the Gujarat High Court has not held back its anger against the Modi administration. Accusing the Modi government of inaction and negligence during the fateful riots, the court has held it responsible for the anarchic situation that arose after Godhra. So, neither Mr Modi nor those affected by the riots have got any closure 10 years after the ghastly carnage, which claimed at least 1,200 lives. This takes the sheen off the wondrous development model which, Mr Modi and his supporters claim, has put Gujarat in a class apart.
Gujarat's efficient governance has been showcased by the BJP as one of its crowning achievements. But try as he might, the endorsements from India Inc notwithstanding, Mr Modi has not been able to shake off the taint of the riots, arguably among the worst in post-Independence India. The Gujarat government has not till date been able to come up with a convincing explanation as to how a crime of such magnitude happened on its watch. Did it collude in the crime or was it hopelessly incompetent? Either way, it has not covered itself in roses. For those who lost relatives and property in those riots, justice has become nothing more than a mirage. Many people have not been able to go back to their homes or pursue their livelihoods without fear in Mr Modi's Gujarat. The high court has clearly held the government responsible for compensation for the destruction of houses, commercial establishments and places of worship.
Mr Modi's scorching pace of development would be all the more credible if his administration were to ensure adequate compensation and rehabilitation for those affected by the riots. But, so far it has done little apart from holding a number of sadbhavana fasts in various locations across the state. The fasts, the star of which is Mr Modi himself, are meant to promote communal harmony. But this can happen in the true sense of the word only if there is proper redressal for past wrongs. Most of Gujarat's surviving victims have given up hope that all the guilty will ever be brought to book. But the least that can be done is to make sure that they are able to live as normal a life as possible and are compensated for their sufferings. This would be true sadbhavana and might just bring both Mr Modi and the victims one step closer to closure.