A prime ministerial candidate speaks at a political rally in a state run by a rival party. Nearly a million people attend. A series of bomb blasts take place at the venue. It results in a few deaths and multiple injuries. A catastrophic stampede is narrowly averted. Later, investigations show that it was a plot by a terror group that included an attempt to assassinate the PM candidate. Now imagine that the candidate’s name is Rahul Gandhi.
This is probably what would have happened: The news would have hogged the headlines for weeks. Congress leaders and supporters would have gone hysterical in TV studios and taken to the streets in protest. Heads would have rolled in various departments responsible for the grave security lapses. Home ministers of the country and of the state in question would have been forced to resign. The chief minister of the state would have been hauled over the coals. The personal security of the candidate would have been further increased. Leading ‘intellectuals’ in the country would have decried the death of democratic principles and ethics in politics.
But the man in question wasn’t Rahul Gandhi. He happened to be Narendra Modi, the man that many in the mainstream media and ‘intellectual’ class love to hate. So here is what happened in the aftermath of the serial blasts at the Hunkar Rally in Patna.
THE POLITICAL GAME
After hearing of the blasts, Sushil Kumar Shinde, the Home Minister of India, callously went for the music launch of a Bollywood movie. This insensitive act was justified by Salmaan Khurshid, Minster of External Affairs, who said that Shinde “has a life beyond Patna”.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh immediately reverted to his default reaction to all blasts and implied that BJP orchestrated the tragedy.
Then, Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, also tweeted, linking the blasts to BJP.
Although Tharoor later “clarified” his statement, one wonders how a celebrated writer could be unaware of the unmistakable implications of his language.
THE MEDIA GAME
Meanwhile, certain media professionals decided to abandoned ethical journalism and add their personal twists. Mihir Sharma of Business Standard skipped the time-honoured method of fact-finding and jumped to conclusions:
Shivam Vij of Kafila made irresponsible and partisan comments as well.
What is the possibility these low intensity news-targeted blasts in Patna are a false flag operation to create sympathy for Modi?
— Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) October 27, 2013
Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN started to pontificate as if this was a neutral philosophical issue.
Had he used logic befitting his media seniority, Sardesai would have considered the ramifications of a cancelled speech in an already tense environment, where any hint of fear could have resulted in panic, stampede and catastrophe. Indeed, he would have lauded the maturity of the leadership, which managed such a mammoth crowd in an exemplary manner despite obvious personal danger.
WHAT TRANSPIRED LATER
Two days after the blasts, Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister and Home Minister of Bihar, made a speech. There, instead of accepting responsibility, he attacked the very man his state had spectacularly failed to protect. His government had a series of prior intelligence warnings, yet nothing was done about it. Even basic drills such as sealing and sanitizing the venue, the use of sniffer dogs, and frisking of participants were not done.
It was later found that the attacks were carried out by the Indian Mujahideen and involved at least 18 operatives. Their Ranchi module was specifically set up with the objective of killing Narendra Modi. There were plans to use a suicide bomber, which fortunately went wrong. Astoundingly, one of the suspects Mehrar Alam who was being questioned, has now escaped from the custody of the National Investigation Agency!
To stress the gravity of the threat to Modi, I would like to inform my readers that at the end of the investigation, 18 bombs have been found in and around the venue! Some reports suggest that one of them was found under Modi’s dais. A bomb or two at the venue may be passed of as an oversight or a security lapse. But eighteen bombs? I leave you to think about the potential impact if the plan had succeeded. I ask you to consider the implications of the virtually non-existent security at the venue.
Till date, the public debate continues to focus on the blasts that happened and underplays the larger plan to cause a massive stampede and kill Narendra Modi in the ensuing confusion. The radio silence on a failed assassination has exposed the hypocrisy of various sections of India’s elite: the mainstream media, politicians and many so-called intellectuals. Human rights apply to them and their chosen ones; the rest are expendable. In fact, if the man in question is Narendra Modi, they might even consider it a case of good riddance.
This article first appeared on Tehelka, October 31, 2013: http://blog.tehelka.com/patna-blasts-the-radio-silence-on-a-failed-assassination/#sthash.RpZ161J3.dpuf