Vinod Mubayi and Daya Varma


Ten years ago in Gujarat, several thousand Muslims were brutally killed; their properties torched while many more were driven from their homes and forced to live for years in squalid refugee camps.  As has become the hallmark of the Indian justice system, the main perpetrators of this atrocity, amounting almost to genocide, have remained unpunished and continue to enjoy all the perks of power.  Ironically, the principal targets of the perverted legal system in the state were initially the victims themselves.  Over 90 Muslims in Godhra were arrested soon after the fire in the coaches of the Sabarmati express that killed 57 Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya.


The only piece of scientific investigation done by the forensic laboratory of the government established that no fuel could have been thrown from outside and ignited, which would, normally, exonerate those suspected of having committed arson.  After that finding, there was a report of the committee headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Banerjee, which deduced that the fire inside the railway coaches was an accident caused by the kerosene cooking stoves carried by the pilgrims.  None of these, however, made any impression on the judicial system in the state of Gujarat that has become widely known as the “laboratory of Hindutva.”


It was ultimately left to the Supreme Court of India on an appeal by Mrs. Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri a former Member of Parliament whose house was encircled by a howling mob for several hours before he was brutally killed despite many phone calls for protection to the police and the Chief Minister, to attempt to provide justice by constituting a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the crimes that were manifestly committed in February-March 2002 and bring the guilty to book.  However, according to press reports and the appeal issued by various members of Indian civil society including the distinguished human rights activist, Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, that we reprint below, the SIT report due to be issued soon will whitewash the role of the leading politicians in Gujarat, headed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in the affair.


The retired Director-General of police in Gujarat, R.B. Sreekumar, in a public statement issued on February 2, 2012 said that “The news about the Apex Court appointed SIT…filing a closure report to the judiciary…to treat complaint by Mrs Zakia Jafri against the Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi and 62 others for their culpable role in 1) planning and execution of the 2002 anti-minority genocide, 2) subversion of the State Administration to deny and delay justice to riot victims, and 3) intimidation of witnesses to block the flow of evidence against the State Government functionaries to the judicial bodies as false” prompted him to issue an appeal.


Mr. Sreekumar went on to state: “I have submitted through my Nine Affidavits (618 pages) and numerous suggestion letters to SIT a great deal of unchallengeable and substantial evidence about the sabotage of the criminal justice system, intimidation of witnesses, use of reward and punishments by the Government to coerce officers to implement Modi Government’s covert illegal agenda of Hindu sectarian mobilization in the wake of 27 February 2002 Godhra train fire incident (for electoral purposes), anti-minority violence, fake encounters, fabrication of evidence and so on.  But SIT has been turning a Nelson’s eye to any evidence incriminating to CM Modi and his collaborators in various crimes.  I had requested the Apex Court in March 2011 to intervene in this matter and correct the deviant tactics of SIT.  But the Apex Court had dismissed my petition without any hearing.  Further, the decision of the Supreme Court on December 9, 2011, in Mrs. Jafri’s petition, to stop any further monitoring of riot cases relating to this petition, is in sharp contrast to its stance to continue invigilation of corruption related cases like 2G spectrum case.  Is the offence of illegal gratification pre-eminently graver and more serious than the crime of denial of right of life and liberty to thousands of citizens (nearly 2000 persons were killed in the anti-minority holocaust in Gujarat)?”


If this purported report of SIT is allowed to stand and its conclusions are accepted by the Supreme Court, there is no end in sight to the shame that pervades the Indian legal system in dispensing justice to the victims of outright criminal acts perpetrated by powerful politicians.

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