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

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.