Thursday, June 02, 2016

Verdict on Gulberg Society massacres: No ‘conspiracy’ has been found; this will not go unchallenged

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The long-awaited verdict on the Gulberg Society massacres is finally out today.
Thirty-six of the accused have been acquitted and 24 have been convicted; of the latter, only 11 have been charged with murder and the remaining 13 for lesser offences. The quantum of punishment for those convicted is expected to be pronounced on June 6.
The Gulberg Society massacres was one of the most gruesome acts of the Gujarat genocide of 2002 in which 69 innocent persons (including former MP Ahsan Jafri) were brutally killed, burnt alive on February 28, 2002.
The verdict needs to be respected: At least 24 people have been convicted. There is some justice which has been done, but the fact is that is not enough.
For Zakhia Jafri and her family, Rupa and Dara Mody, Sairaben and Salimbhai and the many other victim-survivors, who have lost a loved one, their kith and kin-there is naturally a feeling of dissatisfaction.
These heroic persons, have demonstrated sheer grit and determination – for more than fourteen years now, in their struggle for truth and justice. They have had to brave all hostilities, attempts at co-option and even betrayals- but they have stood resolute in their stand- as witnesses of what actually happened.
For them, when key BJP functionaries and a police official (who has also destroyed evidence) are let off, there is the expected feeling of unbelief and disappointment;like many others, they wonder how could only 11 persons be responsible for the murder of 69? Why have the big ones been allowed to go scot-free?
Whilst the judgement needs to be studied – media reports inform there no ‘conspiracy’ has been found. This will certainly not go unchallenged, when it is an established fact that around 20,000 people had attacked Gulberg Society –on that fateful day.
The mob was led, knew where to go, and some were completely armed for this heinous crime. As Teesta Setalvad says, “The option of appeal is still open”.
In the meantime, victim-survivors, human rights defenders and many others will continue their relentless pursuit of Truth and Justice- till the biggest perpetrators of the Gujarat Genocide are brought to book. Still a long way to go!
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*Human rights activist

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