Bait Modi, get rewarded by central govt!

By Sanchit on Sunday, June 20, 2010

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Narendra ModiIt may be coincidental, but what a coincidence! A number of public figures who openly criticised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the recent past have been rewarded by the UPA Government, either in the form of a Padma or even a Rajya Sabha nomination.

The recent nomination of noted lyricist and screen play writer, Javed Akhtar, to the Rajya Sabha is one such coincidence. He has time and again proved his worth by scripting classics and authoring memorable songs. But equally significant has been his petition filed in the Supreme Court that put the Narendra Modi Government on the mat, by raising a stink on all encounter killings in the State.

Filed in 2007, the petition is pending in the apex court. It was the same year when Akhtar added another feather to his cap — the Padma Bhushan — in the field of literature and education. With notice issued on his petition by the Supreme Court, the petition assumed significance after the Gujarat Government was pulled up by the Supreme Court after the State police admitted its mistake in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter killing.

With two other instances of Ishrat Jahan and Javed Sheikh alias Pragnesh Pillai also coming under the spotlight, Akhtar’s petition was separated from the bunch of petitions filed on the Godhra riots and is slated for further hearing on May 14 this year.

Akhtar’s case alone is not a coincidence. The same year when he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the Government awarded Teesta Setalvad with Padma Shri — in recognition of her ‘fight for justice’ for Godhra riot victims. Her NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace, was formed in response to the 2002 Gujarat carnage and her petition filed in the Supreme Court laid the foundation for reopening of riot cases, shifting of trial outside Gujarat in several cases and protection to witnesses. The apex court is seized of the petition.

Another public figure that shot to prominence with her classical dance and won recognition and several awards, is no less known for her tirade against the Modi establishment. Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai too is on the list of Padma Bhushan awardees this year. In 2009, she stood in the Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate from Gandhinagar (Gujarat) challenging the might of BJP leader LK Advani. For Mallika, who has earlier been endowed with the Padma Shri, the recent accomplishment has come as an added privilege. It was after the Gujarat riots that Sarabhai was vocal in her criticism against Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

One other awarded personality who has found fault with Modi, accusing him of conniving with the perpetrators of the post-Godhra riots, is former Chief Justice of India VN Khare.

As Chief Justice, Khare had castigated Modi Government for failing its “raj dharma” of protecting the life and liberty of its citizens. On his retirement in 2004, Khare gave an interview to a leading national daily where he commented particularly on the State’s ‘collusion’ that he claimed forced him to react to the petitions filed by Teesta and her NGO. He was quoted as saying, “I found there was complete collusion between the accused and the prosecution in Gujarat, throwing rule of law to the winds. The Supreme Court had to step in to break the collusion to ensure protection to the victims and the witnesses.”

It was under him that the riot cases began to be monitored on a periodic basis and the Best Bakery case, where 21 accused were acquitted, got reopened. Khare was the recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award for his contribution in the field of public affairs in 2006.

Daily Pioneer link