Tunku Varadarajan on Gujarat Riots Numbers

Assertion: In an article in the Daily Beast, journalist Tunku Varadarajan, brother of Siddharth Varadarajan the recently-resigned Editor of the Hindu, makes the following assertion about the Gujarat riots of 2002:

Before his promotion of gargantuan statuary, Narendra Modi was best known outside India as the man on whose watch about 1,000 innocent Muslims were massacred in 2002 by marauding Hindu chauvinist mobs.


First, the facts of what Tunku Varadarajan says in the context of what he alleges as the “massacre in 2002.”

1. In the early hours of 27 February 2002, a train named Sabarmati Express arrived at Godhra, a small town in the eastern part of Gujarat. This train was carrying a host of Hindu pilgrims (or Kar Sevaks) returning from Ayodhya. As the train pulled out of the station, some miscreants pulled the chain, halted it, and began pelting stones. Very soon, a huge mob of Muslims gathered around the train and doused the S-6 coach with petrol and other inflammable substances, and set fire to it. As a result, 58 persons inside the S-6 were burnt alive; this included 25 women and 15 children. For a detailed exposition of the Godhra train burning episode, head here.

2. As a consequence, Hindu-Muslim riots started the next day, on 28 February 2002. Sensing the gravity of the violence, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi issued shoot at sight orders in Godhra on 27 February, that is, the day on which the train coach was burnt. He also ordered the immediate deployment of police contingents in all the communally sensitive areas across Gujarat. On 1 March, he had already flown in the army, which staged flag marches in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot. For more information on Gujarat Government’s action, head here.

3. After the riots were brought under control and normalcy was restored, various Government agencies began their investigations. On 11 May 2005, Minister of State for Home Affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal tabled an official report in the Rajya Sabha which mentioned that a total of 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in the Gujarat riots.

These then are the verifiable facts in the public domain about the 2002 Gujarat riots.

From the aforementioned facts, it is clear that Tunku Varadarajan does four things:

1. He deliberately suppresses the root cause of the Gujarat riots–the burning alive of the 58 Kar Sevaks in the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express by a Muslim mob.

2. This suppression of facts enables him to mischaracterise a communal riot as a wanton massacre in which “1,000 innocent Muslims were massacred in 2002 by marauding Hindu chauvinist mobs.”

3. His claim that the “massacre” occurred under Narendra Modi’s watch is similarly, an act of suppression of facts. From the aforementioned facts, it is clear that Modi had already given shoot at sight orders on the very day the train coach was burnt, as also his speedy deployment of the army.

4. He fudges the number of the dead riot victims as 1000 Muslims whereas the then Union Minister of State for Home Affairs himself gave a far smaller number in his Rajya Sabha report. Additionally, Tunku omits mentioning the number of the Hindus killed in the riots (254) apart from the 58 Hindus already burnt alive in the train coach. The question that naturally arises: does Tunku regard the lives of those 254 Hindus so inconsequential that they don’t even merit a mention? Thus, while the total number of riot victims stands at 1044, one wonders from where Tunku derived 1000 as the number of Muslims killed in the riots.


It is clear that Tunku Varadarajan is biased against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. While he is entitled to his biases, it is both regrettable and unbecoming of a journalist of his experience and standing to base his biases on deliberate falsehood. The biggest giveaway is the fact that after almost a decade of investigations of the riots by various agencies including the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), all of which have exonerated Modi, Tunku chooses to demonise Modi by employing despicable journalistic tactics.

IndiaFacts verdict: Tunku Varadarajan is an Incorrigible Liar. 

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  • […] on facebook ? He also quotes certain fudged numbers with reference to the 2002 Gujarat riots but Sandeep Balakrishnan makes it very clear that these numbers have actually been fudged and the police reports do not […]

  • rakrishna1952@gmail.com'
    June 10, 2014


    Sanjeev Sabhlok, Tunku V. etc. are India’s worst enemies. The media demonised Modi because he made conversions to other religions very difficult. The Christian organisations of the USA, who control Indian media through their proxies, upped the stakes against Modi by unleashing relentless false propaganda against him. That Modi not only survived this assault but also came out triumphant in the recent elections must hurt them no end. But Vishnu and Shiva are great!

  • hm.evots@gmail.com'
    May 31, 2014


    He also tactfully forget to mention that 2(3?) congress ruled states’CMs refused to provide Police Force. ╰_╯
    Probably one of them was Digvijay Singh. ╰_╯
    NaMo did whatever was possible, for three days, with Police force available at disposal, until Army came in.

  • […] media campaign–which is now subtle–continues till date. IndiaFacts itself in a recent Fact Meter exposed how Tunku Varadarajan fudged the figures of the riot […]

  • patnaikt@gmail.com'
    November 6, 2013


    Good that this conceited moron was sacked from Hindu group!

  • toshiju@gmail.com'
    November 6, 2013

    Shiju Sugunan

    He has an uncanny resemblance to shahenshah.

    • ak1300937@sify.com'
      November 25, 2013


      more like a deadly beast

  • bvrane@hotmail.com'
    November 5, 2013


    It has become a great sport for anyone calling himself a reporter/ reporter-analyst to open his mouth and say Narendra Modi killed x number of Muslims. Everyone ignores completely the facts that he called the army in within 3 days and did exercise effective control. I do not know how many of the so-called secular [i prefer to call these pseudo-secular gentlemen as “SUCKULAR”] will admit to the fact that in any communal riot, the initial casualties are Hindus because the other community is normally well prepared and the Hindus get organised subsequently. How many of our secular intelligentsia are aware that one particular gentleman “OF A PARTICULAR COMMUNITY” in Ahmedabad who will remain unnamed had been offering a bounty of Rs.1,000.00 per uncircumcised penis during the 1969 and the 1985 riots?

  • ashish_bagrecha2000@yahoo.com'
    November 5, 2013

    Ashish B

    Hi Sandeep,

    Can you respond to sanjeev sabhloks godhra train burning facts?


    Ashish B