An Indian investigative journalist and author will be honoured in Surrey this weekend.
Rana Ayyub wrote Gujarat Files: The Anatomy of a Cover Up, about police involvement in the widespread killing of Muslims in 2002 in the western Indian state then governed by Narendra Modi.
She posed as a U.S. filmmaker and sympathizer of the right-wing Hindu paramilitary group Rashtriya Smayamsevak Sangh, and attended meeetings while wearing a concealed microphone.
At the time, she was working for the investigative magazine Tehelka, and even met Modi, an R.S.S. member who became India's prime minister in 2014.
Ayyub will speak in the Dr. Ambedkar Room at the Surrey Central library branch at 2 p.m. on Saturday (August 12). Afterward, the local publication Radical Desi will present her with a Courageous Journalism Award.
Nearly 3,000 Muslims were reportedly murdered in Gujarat in a three-day orgy of violence in 2002 that police did not try to prevent. It came after a train with Hindu pilgrims caught fire, leaving more than 50 dead.
The state government headed by Modi blamed the train deaths on Muslim extremists, but that was never proven. According to Ayyub, police killed Muslim men in staged "encounters", and later described them as jihadi extremists.
Ayyub is a Muslim who posed as a Hindu extremist to gather information, which made this work doubly dangerous for her.
Tehelka wouldn't publish the results of her investigation on these fake encounters, with one editor claiming it "did not meet the necessary editorial standards".
The well-regarded Indian Outlook magazine, on the other hand, listed her work as one of the 20 greatest magazine stories of all time around the world.
No publisher would touch her book so she decided to self-publish. Gujarat Files became a bestseller.
Because of the sting operation on Modi, she couldn't a full-time job in the media. She's also faced threats from rabid followers of the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party.
Ayyub continues speaking out against "majoritarianism" in India, whereby Hindu extremists within the BJP are trying to turn the secular country into a Hindu state.
This same majoritarian philosophy contributed to widespread attacks on Sikhs in 1984, particularly in Delhi, following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.