Vir Sanghvi

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Vir Sanghvi (born 5 July 1956) is an Indian print and television journalist.


  • Do we realise how that hastily-ordered ban [on the book The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie] has changed India forever? .... When the Government promptly submitted to this illiterate hysteria, it convinced [Hindus] that secularism had become a code phrase for Muslim appeasement.
    • Vir Sanghvi: Liberal first, secular second. Sunday, 27.2.1994, also quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 32-33

One-Way Ticket, 2002

Vir Sanghvi “One-Way Ticket” in The Hindustan Times of Feb. 28, 2002. Also quoted in The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction by Nicole Elfi (2013) [1] also quoted in Deshpande, M. D. (2014). Gujarat riots: The true story ; the truth of the 2002 riots. Vir Sanghvi, Chief Editor of The Hindustan Times, One-way Ticket: My Take on the Godhra Tragedy When It Happened, February 23, 2011, Hindustan Times, also Quoted in Kishwar, Madhu (2014). Modi, Muslims and media: Voices from Narendra Modi's Gujarat. p. 209
  • There is something profoundly worrying in the response of what might be called the secular establishment to the massacre in Godhra. ... There is no suggestion that the karsewaks started the violence ... there has been no real provocation at all ... And yet, the sub-text to all secular commentary is the same: the karsewaks had it coming to them. Basically, they condemn the crime; but blame the victims ...
  • Try and take the incident out of the secular construct that we, in India, have perfected and see how bizarre such an attitude sounds in other contexts. Did we say that New York had it coming when the Twin Towers were attacked last year? Then too, there was enormous resentment among fundamentalist Muslims about America's policies, but we didn't even consider whether this resentment was justified or not. Instead we took the line that all sensible people must take: any massacre is bad and deserves to be condemned. When Graham Staines and his children were burnt alive, did we say that Christian missionaries had made themselves unpopular by engaging in conversion and so, they had it coming? No, of course, we didn't.
  • Why then are these poor karsewaks an exception? Why have we de- humanised them to the extent that we don't even see the incident as the human tragedy that it undoubtedly was ... I know the arguments well because—like most journalists—I have used them myself. And I still argue that they are often valid and necessary. But there comes a time when this kind of rigidly ‘secularist’ construct not only goes too far; it also becomes counter-productive. When everybody can see that a trainload of Hindus was massacred by a Muslim mob, you gain nothing by blaming the murders on the VHP 19 or arguing that the dead men and women had it coming to them. Not only does this insult the dead (What about the children? Did they also have it coming?), but it also insults the intelligence of the reader.
  • There is one question we need to ask ourselves: have we become such prisoners of our own rhetoric that even a horrific massacre becomes nothing more than occasion for Sangh Parivar-bashing?
  • The answer, I suspect, is that we are programmed to see Hindu-Muslim relations in simplistic terms: Hindus provoke, Muslims suffer.
  • When this formula does not work -- it is clear now that a well-armed Muslim mob murdered unarmed Hindus - we simply do not know how to cope. We shy away from the truth - that some Muslims committed an act that is indefensible - and resort to blaming the victims.
  • Any media - indeed, any secular establishment - that fails to take into account the genuine concerns of people risks losing its own credibility.
  • Even moderate Hindus, of the sort that loathe the VHP, are appalled by the stories that are now coming out of Gujarat: stories with uncomfortable reminders of 1947 with details about how the bogies were first locked from outside and then set on fire and how the women’s compartment suffered the most damage.
  • There is something profoundly worrying in the response of what might be called the secular establishment to the massacre in Godhra...Some versions have it that the karsevaks shouted anti-Muslim slogans; others that they taunted and harassed Muslim passengers. According to these versions, the Muslim passengers got off at Godhra and appealed to members of their community for help. Others say that the slogans were enough to enrage the local Muslims and that the attack was does seem extraordinary that slogans shouted from a moving train, or at a railway platform, should have been enough to enrage local Muslims, enough for 2,000 of them to have quickly assembled at eight in the morning, having already managed to procure petrol bombs and acid bombs.