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

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Hindutva founders, not Congress, were actual 'proponents' of two-nation theory

By Shamsul Islam*
No other organization, in the present world, can beat Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in double-speak. In fact, what George Orwell termed as "doublespeak" would be an understatement in the case of RSS. The latest proof of this nasty case was provided by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, de facto Prime Minister and senior RSS leader in the Lok Sabha (akin to the House of Commons in England) on December 9, 2019.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Ships recycling Bill 'allows' India to be turned into a landfill for foreign hazardous waste

Counterview Desk
In a letter to M Venkaiah Naidu, chairman, Rajya Sabha, senior activist Gopal Krishna of the Toxics Watch Alliance has said that the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 should be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change to "safeguard country’s maritime environment from harmful and hazardous wastes and materials".

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.