November 28, 2008
Further Subversion in Gujarat 2002 Cases
from Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai
behalf of our entire organisation, the Citizens for Justice &
Peace we would like to categorically refute all baseless and
scurrilous allegations being deliberately carried by certain
publications against us, an organisation that has provided
consistent legal aid to the victims of the Gujarat Genocide of
2002. To remind the general public, this is not the first time
that the CJP, particularly its Secretary,
Teesta Setalvad have come under attack from unholy alliance of the
Gujarat state, the accused in the mass carnage cases and dubious
defence counsel. The organistaion had to undergo a veritable trial
by fire in 2004 and we had then be cleared by the Supreme Court
of India through the registrar general of India's report (2005).
Again, as the Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Dr
Raghavan leads the re-investigation into major carnage cases (Godhra,
Gulberg, Naroda, sardarpur, Odh and Dipla Darwaza) –a process
ensured due to the gritty determination shown by the National
Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the CJP-- once more
allegations by some alleged witnesses have surfaced. One national
newspaper in particular is splashing the news mysteriously
"leaked" by defense counsel, day after day.
Over the past four days, the CJP has refrained from comment on the
merits or otherwise of the said allegations, respecting the
re-investigation process that is on and of which the report is yet
to be submitted to the apex court. We have since March 26, 20-08
when the SIT was appointed participated actively in the process,
expressed some reservations of the deep involvement in some
tainted officers in the re-investigation but held our comments
until the final report by the team is out. We believe in adhering
to the due process of the law (a principle which obviously neither
the state of Gujarat nor the so called defence counsel believe in)
. The CJP completes refutes all allegations as baseless and
malafide and reserves its right to give full details once the
report has been submitted to the apex court.
would however like to place on record our dismay at the
sensational, scurrilous and selective coverage of the issue
especially by one English language national daily that prides
itself on some conscience. We are shocked that the media, often a
self-appointed watchdog and conscience keeper has not, over the
past few days when this latest subversion of the justice process
in Gujarat broke out, not concerned itself with the implications
of more witnesses, especially rape victims from Naroda Gaon and
Patiya retracting their statements. The implications for the case
in which at least 120 persons were killed in cold blood after
girls and women were brutalised, raped and burned.
Inexplicable delays in the justice process, contributed by
repeated attempts by the state of Gujarat to stymie the process in
the apex court is the major reason that witnesses, even
rape victims tire. There has been no discussion or comment on what
it has meant for witnesses to live, day after day, in the shadow
of the politically influential accused, at Naroda while a cynical
media looks on. Babu Bajrangi, accused number one in this massacre
is not only on bail but continues to terrorise the neighbourhood.
Both he and other accused in the Naroda massacre, as the accused
in all major massacres of 2002 enjoy pet patronage of the state
government. Over 25,000 persons living in Gujarat, victims of the
carnage of 2002, live in sub-human conditions in camps where toxic
waste corrodes their insides. Many of the victims from Naroda have
been forced into such hellish living conditions. Others, beaten,
have returned to live in the shadow of the accused.
a democracy, it is the duty of the state to ensure the prosecution
of a mass crime. In the absence of any will by the Gujarat
government to ensure justice, organisations like ours have had to
step in. It is a shame that as we debate the merits and de-merits
of our political process, the subversion of the criminal justice
system by those in power, escapes scathing comment or reportage.
Naroda incident, of all those that shamed India during the ghastly
days of the carnage claimed maximum lives and was a brute reminder
of the narrative of sexual violence that underlined the state
sponsored genocide in Gujarat. Tehelka's Operation
Kalank recorded one rapist allegfedly being garlanded by chief
minister Narendra Modi for successful accomplishment of his crime.
Innumerable reports, not least of all those carried by the very
newspapers that have abandoned the narrative now, spoke of many
girls, and women were subject to near pornographic mass rapes just
outside Ahmedabad, in full public view as elected representatives
celebrated and the police watched.
is a matter of national shame that six and a half years on, as the
re-investigation process egged on by the NHRC and legal rights
groups reaches its end, yet another travesty is being played out,
wherein lawyers for the accused are playing the media,
discrediting witnesses and the process.
appeal to other sections of the media to focus on the criminal
justice system and its subversion by the state especially when
related to mass communal crimes.
Trustees: Teesta Setalvad, IM Kadri, Javed Akhtar, Alyque
Padamsee, Anil Dharker, Arvind Krishnaswamy, Cyrus Guzder, Nandan
Maluste, Rahul Bose, Cedric Praskash, Javed Anand, Ghulam Pesh