Dolores Chew


The genocide occurred in Gujarat, India, from the end of February 2002 and continued for two weeks. At least 2000 people were killed and many went missing. Many of those displaced during the violence have been unable to return to their former homes. While trials of the accused have gone ahead and sentences have been handed down the key individuals who orchestrated the genocide are still free. But the struggle for justice continues, with women at the forefront.


In June 2016, a verdict was handed down in the Gulberg Society case. A special SIT [Special Investigation Team] court in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, convicted 24 individuals, including a Vishwa Hindu Parishad [World Hindu Organization; one of a family of organizations committed to making India Hindutva, a Hindu nation] leader, in the 2002 post-Godhra Gulberg society massacre, which left 69 people including a well-respected former Member of Parliament for India, Ehsan Jafri dead. Thirty six other accuseds were acquitted. ZAKIA JAFRI, the widow of Ehsan Jafri dismissed the verdict. “This verdict is half justice to me.” She said that she will appeal in higher courts.


In May 2016 RANA AYYUB, independent Indian writer and journalist released her book, Gujarat Files: anatomy of a cover up. The content was so explosive that no publisher would touch it, and Ayyub had to publish it herself. Ayyub had gone undercover, posing as a young Indo-American film student, with ideological leanings towards Hindutva. She took many personal risks to carry out her investigations. The book involves individuals associated with the Gujarat genocide and its aftermath in which Muslims were killed in ordered hits and so-called encounter killings – of Sohrabuddin, Kauser-bi, Tulsiram Prajapati and Ishrat Jahan. The book makes for chilling reading and Ayyub has been lauded for her bravery in bringing what she uncovered to light. The reader learns from the individuals concerned (e.g. senior law and order officials) that though they are bound by the constitution to serve the public, they are completely under the control of the government in power. And the fingers point right to the top. The great contribution of Ayyub’s is that she got on tape what many had suspected. And she published it. In current political climate publishing this book takes immense courage.


TEESTA SETALVAD is a human rights activist who has been tirelessly working since 2002 for justice for the victims of the genocide. And for this she has been continuously harassed – charged with embezzling funds raised for the human rights work, most recently on 31 December 2016.   Teesta and her husband, Javed Anand, jointly run the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), a non-governmental organisation working for communal harmony. The couple has been accused of a range of offences by the Gujarat Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). They have been accused of, among other things, tutoring riot witnesses, siphoning off funds meant for the Gulberg Society victims, and violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. Setalvad says Modi as the Prime Minister is able to use Central agencies to persecute her. In the years since the genocide, Setalvad and Anand have fought at least 68 cases, resulting in at least 120 convictions. There has been a surge in support for her following the heat she is facing. Citizens’ groups, activists, politicians and former bureaucrats are speaking out as it becomes obvious that any voice of dissent or cry for justice is treated as anti-national. (Recently published, her memoir, Foot Soldier of the Constitution: a memoir, Leftword Books, excerpted in INSAF Bulletin (February 2017)

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