An exoneration: On clean chit to Modi

Commissions of Inquiry are often seen as tools to manage public perception about lapses on the part of the state whenever an untoward incident takes place. Their reports are rarely submitted on time, many are not made public, and few stray from the ‘clean chit’ route mapped out for them by the regimes that appointed them. Often, the findings are made public so late as to make little difference. The G.T. Nanavati-A.H. Mehta Commission, constituted to probe the horrific burning of the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra in 2002, and the deadly communal carnage that followed, fits this profile of a judicial commission to a tee. Its exoneration of Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, should come as no surprise. Mr. Modi had already been absolved by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team. A judicial magistrate had accepted the team’s report. There were allegations that Mr. Modi had instructed the police to “allow Hindus to vent their anger” and that he had placed

Nation #194?: On Bougainville

With Bougainville’s overwhelming vote for independence from Papua New Guinea (PNG), the country has crossed a milestone in the peace process following the civil war that ended in 1998. The non-binding referendum, to ascertain a preference for either greater autonomy or separate statehood, was a promise enshrined in the 2001 Bougainville Peace agreement. In a province of fewer than 3,00,000, the voting process spanning two weeks underscored the challenges facing the regional administration in Buka and that in the national capital of Port Moresby. The Bougainville Referendum Commission undertook the commendable task of enlisting inmates in hospitals and prisons and non-residents to ensure that the conduct of the franchise was inclusive. A testament of the participation was the 85% turnout in the plebiscite. With 98% opting to secede, the people spoke emphatically at the end of an animated campaign.The demand for separate statehood in Bougainville dates back almost to PNG’s independence

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