Skip to main content

2002 Gujarat riots "update": 1,926 lost their lives; "historic" efforts on to link violence with state culpability

Teesta Setalvad, Zakia Jafri at Gulberg Society
By Rajiv Shah
India's most renowned human rights activist who has taken up the 2002 Gujarat riots cases, Teesta Setalvad, has told Counterview that a fresh exercise by her NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), suggests that “as many as 1,926 lives were lost in the reprisal violence that broke out after the Godhra tragedy from February 28, 2002.”
Contesting the official figures of the Gujarat government, according to which 1,044 persons (790 Muslims and 254 Hindus) died during the riots, Setalvad says, CJP is now involved in a “major exercise to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Gujarat genocide”, which is to “account for the dead and missing to end for once and for all the falsification of figures by the state.”
In a note sent to Counterview on 2002 riots, she says, “Once compiled we shall seek through opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) that the figures on the record of Parliament are also corrected.”
Talking of CJP's “single most significant achievement”, Setalvad says, it has been “the convictions, at the first stage, of as many as 157 perpetrators (of which 142 were to life imprisonment) in over a dozen major criminal trials related to the Gujarat genocidal pogrom of 2002.”
“In appeal at the High Court, 19 of these have been since acquitted. CJP plans to challenge these further in the Supreme Court”, she adds.
Giving further details, she says, “Most of the 2002 criminal trials have reached completion at the first sessions court stage. Apart from the list of trials that CJP was directly involved in, Bilkis Bano, Eral, Ghodasar and Sesan reached adjudication.”
However, she regrets, “The Pandharwada gaam massacre trial and Kidiad (61 Muslims burned down in a tempo) have been aborted by the Gujarat Police.”
Then, Setalvad says, “Appeals to the trials CJP is involved in lie in the High Court. Sardarpura has been heard. Naroda Patiya has started”, though rueing, “The Special Investigation Team (SIT) has completely abandoned the survivors.”
Further, Setalvad says, “The Zakia Jafri Case that seeks, for the first time in criminal jurisprudence, to establish criminal and administrative culpability for the mass crimes that broke up in Gujarat is still pending, having charted an arduous course from the police, to the Gujarat High Court, down to the magistrate's court, and now is being heard in the Gujarat High Court.”
Insisting that it is this case which brought in “the perverse attack of state agencies” on CJP, especially she and her husband Javed Anand as CJP's office bearers, she says, the attack has been in “direct proportion to the furtherance of this judicial exercise.”
Characterizing the judicial exercise “an attempt to establish for the first time in Indian history a chain of command responsibility for the mass crimes that broke out in the state from February 28, 2002”, Setalvad says, these were “not contained until May 5-6, 2002, when KPS Gill was sent by the then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to oversee the law and order situation.”
Suggesting that things have intensified over the the last 10 months, Setalvad said, “the Gujarat police and administration have made several attempts to threaten, humiliate, and implicate” her “in a number of cooked up cases, and even held out threats of impending arrest.”
She adds, “Similar tactics have been used against police officers from Gujarat – RB Sreekumar (IPS, retired), Rahul Sharma and Sanjeev Bhatt (IPS) – for discharging their constitutional duties.”
According to her, it is an attempt “to divert the CJP secretary’s attention from her legal aid work to enforced self-defence, a price that human rights defenders must be prepared to pay”, insisting, though, “What is critical to understand in the progress of the criminal trials related to 2002 has been the reluctance to adjudicate on criminal conspiracy.”
“In that connection”, Setalvad says, “The Naroda Patiya judgement (delivered on August 28, 2012) by Judge Jyotsna Yagnik is historic, as it establishes clearly the criminal conspiracy behind the massacre.”
However, she says, “The Gulberg verdict dated June 17, 2016 delivered by Judge PB Desai discards that the Gulberg massacre was part of any conspiracy. As stated by Tanvirbhai Jafri it was as if one 12,000-15,000 strong mob had gathered 'to have chai and smaosa' that day!”
“Survivors Rupabehn Modi and Sairaben Sandhi supported by CJP have had their appeal admitted against this on February 3, 2017”, she said, adding, “Critically, the SIT has not challenged the special court verdict despite stating that it would (to the media) immediately after the judgment”.

Comments

Das said…
RB Sreekumar is a genius! This man is a CIA operative who falsely arrested and tortured ISRO scientist heading cryogenic programme in 1991. The scientist was found to be innocent and acquitted in 1996. But the cryogenic project was delayed by 23 years. But Sreekumar is extra smart so he used the most effective card that always works in India! He became champion of minorities and anti BJP champion. For this reason Congress protected him. Now Modi will be afraid to touch him because he will cry victimisation for his anti-Modi stand on post-Godhras riots.

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).