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

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

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.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Gujarat religious freedom amendment bill 'pursues' votebank politics, is anti-minority

Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja  By Our Representative  A Gujarat-based minority rights organisation, taking strong exception to the state assembly last week passing the Gujarat Religious Freedom (Amendment) Bill, 2021, has asserted that the proposed law “is completely unconstitutional”, even as asking the Gujarat governor to give his accent to it.