Special court verdict on 2002 Gujarat pogrom Provides some ray of hope in the judiciary-Thousands of victims still await justice while perpetrators roam around free
Posted on April 18th, 2012

By Latheef Farook

Last weekƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s special court verdict, ten years after the anti Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ convicting 23 people in the burning to death of 23 ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Muslim women and children in the Ode town brought some relief to the beleaguered Muslims. However confidence in the judiciary will be restored only after GujaratƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Chief Minister Narendra Modi, accused of being the main architect of this carnage, was brought to justice. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Gujarat massacre took place the day after fifty-nine Hindus belonging to Hindu extremist organization VHP were killed on 27 February 2002 when a coach in the Sabarmati Express train they were travelling in was burnt at the town of Godhra.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ A government inquiry set up by the Congress party-led government in January 2005, headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Umseh Chandra Bannerjee, refuted charges that a Muslim mob threw petrol bombs at the train stating that some people had been cooking in the carriage when it caught fire .Bannerjee also criticized the railway authorities for prejudging the incident and not conducting a thorough inquiry.





Ram Punyani

Yet Muslims were ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ attacked, killed and their property and businesses destroyed depriving them overnight of their livelihood. Commenting on the pogrom Prof Ram Punyani Ram Puniyani who works full time for communal harmony stated that;

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Dalits and Adivasis were mobilized to unleash the violence against the hapless innocent Muslims, accompanied by the propaganda which demonized the Muslim community as a whole. There was ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ active collusion of state machinery and the communal forces were on display. Backed by Prime Minister Atel Bihari VajpayeeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ BJP ruled central government, Narendra Modi ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ instructed the officials to sit back while the carnage was underway. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Leading light of socialist movement, George Fernandez, went to the extent of taking the violence against minority women in the stride by saying that rape is nothing new and it happens in such situations. What more was needed for the rioters to run amuck and to central BJP leadership to let the things go on. The pattern of violence against women was particularly horrific, targeting at their reproductive organs and shaming them to no endƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ VHP leaders led the attack in the heart of Ahmedabad. The mob used knives, axes, swords, iron and wooden rods, acids, gas cylinders andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  all sorts of inflammable materials and almost every possible other weapon to slaughter Muslims in the cities and villages. In some cases, they got the entire Muslim populations in certain areas electrocuted. In many urban centers, explosives were used to blow up houses, shops, dargahs and mosques. Structures that could not be razed by the mobs were mowed down by trucks.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Police investigations suggested that politically motivated plans had been made in advance to attack the train to trigger off the anti-Muslim pogroms. Many Hindus privately told media personnel that there was something far more sinister in the attack as the violence was part of a careful planƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  by the BJP to drive Muslims out of mainstream areas in Ahmedabad and other places.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Police sided with the mobs and turned a blind eye and in many cases, they were part of the mob. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Of the more than 45,000 cases filed, only around 75 have been pursued while the rest were closed down citing lack of evidence.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ An independent assessment ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ by a fact-finding team comprising representatives of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the All India Democratic WomenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Association (AIDWA) and the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (Sahmat), categorically stated that ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”the violence has mostly been constituted by state-sponsored attacks on Muslims, and that describing it as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-riotsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ would be incorrect, as people who tried to help the victims were prevented or discouraged by the police, who were seen in the company of the mobs. Shops owned by Hindus remained untouched while Muslim-owned establishments were targeted and eyewitness accounts ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ stated that two BJP Ministers led the mobs that indulged in looting and arsonƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ According to their reports, the carnage had several new features. Muslims were attacked by their neighbours,not only in the lower-middle class areas but also in the upper-middle class localities; seemingly urbane Hindus also participated in the looting; Muslims were attacked even in areas where they constituted the majority; and more than 500 mosques ,Muslim shrines and dargahs were vandalized or destroyed. It was also the first time that tribal people had turned against Muslims in rural areas. Survivors explained to the CPI(M)-AIDWA team how the VHP incited the tribal people to attack Muslims and their establishments. The RSS and certain tribal peopleƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s organizations affiliated to it, such as the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, directed violence against Muslims.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The reports of the CPI(M)-AIDWA team and the PUCL recorded sexual violence unleashed on Muslim women. Police personnel too perpetrated such crimes under the pretext of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-combing operationsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Maqsuda Bibi, at the Iqbal Primary School camp, told the delegation that her children were thrown into a well. Here are some of the comments appeared in the local dailies in India , websites ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ and blogsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  expressing the feelings of victims;

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ *Just before religious riots, Imtiaz Ahmed Hussain Qureshi gifted a silver necklace as a wedding present to his Hindu neighborƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s daughter. Qureshi saw this very same Hindu neighbor ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ set fire to his house in a rampage of looting, burning and killing that targeted the areaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s minority Muslim community on 28 Feb 2002.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ *Ten members of PathanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s extended family, including his mother, two nieces and two sisters-in-law, were hacked and burned to death. Pathan, who was 24 years old at the time, was doused with petrol but survived because he managed to pull off his shirt and run to the top floor of a neighboring house.

*Yakub Rasul PatelƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s wife, Bilkiz Bano, was 19 years old in 2002 and five months pregnant. She was gang-raped and 14 members of her family, including her infant daughter, were murdered.
*On a lonely stretch a few km away, one neighbour raped Bilkis and another shoved his foot into her mouth, even as she desperately wanted to tell them she was pregnant. They then tossed her three-year-old girl in the air so that she would smash her head upon landing on the rocky ground on that road to death in Panevala.

*ItƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s difficult to believe that the people who I supplied milk to each morning had raped my wife in turns and slaughtered my relatives. They knew who Bilkis was, their milkmanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s wife.

*How Bilqis BanoƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s daughter was snatched from her hands, flung against a rock, killed, and the pregnant woman raped repeatedly; how Zahira Sheikh survived the grisly burning of the Best Bakery in which her family was roasted alive; how limbs of children were hacked and little boys flung to their death in Naroda Patiya; how Ehsaan Jafri begged for the life of those who had sought his protection in Gulberg Society; how his widow Zakia Jafri still fights for justice and says her husband called the CMƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s residence for help. The photograph of Qutubuddin Ansari begging for his life epitomises the plight of an entire community in Gujarat.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Bilkis Bano. My struggle for
Justice will continueƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 





Best bakery case Zahira ShaikhƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 
struggling for justice

How does it feel to know and live day by day with the knowledge that Ehsan Jaafri, a secular intellectual, a poet, a man who had gone beyond identity politics, whose fair name was identified more by his calling in life than religion, was killed in the most despicable, medieval and barbaric manner during the Gulbarga Society riots? His RSS-VHP-communal murderers clasped a collar used to clutch a dogƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s neck around his neck; he was paraded around in this condition; he was dragged mercilessly; first his hands were chopped off; then legs; he was cut into pieces ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ imagine something that horrible happening to someoneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s father or mother or anyone.

We must thank the wife and children of Ehsan Jaafri for not demanding the public execution of Narendra Modi, who personally supervised what happened to Ehsan Jaafri.

Survivors speak of the use of numerous tiny bottles of foreign import which not only ate into the skin but scorched the walls indelibly.

The horrific gang rapes and mass murders ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ accompanied by arson attacks on everything owned by Muslims or associated with them including places of worship, would qualify the statewide pogrom as a crime against humanity if not genocide as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

What happened was not at all communal riot but an organized carnage, some calling it even genocide. It was not fight between two communities but well-organised attack by a section of majority community with full help from entire state machinery.

The Gujarat genocide in 2002 and subsequent pervasive subversion of governmental machinery to sabotage justice delivery to riot victims, has to be understood as a man-made disaster.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Muslims rushed to hills and jungles to escape deathƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  without food or water, eating only grass, before reaching camps situated in towns. Most found shelter in local Masjids and schools and hundreds of them were packed into small school buildings or tents. Several Muslims lived in graveyards.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The government didnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t set up a single relief camp for Muslims. Instead, the BJP set up ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Hindu relief campsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ for a handful of Hindus living in Muslim-dominated areas, which also fled when Muslims were attacked. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Serious lapses on the part of the state and the judiciary in Gujarat were later brought to light by the Supreme Court and the NHRC which played an active role in bringing out the injustices in the State. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Accused of unabashed complicity in the religious clashes, Narendra Modi, a tea boutique owner turned RSS activist before ending up as BJPƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Chief Minister of Gujarat, indirectly egged on the Hindu mobs who led most of the attacks. A favourite protƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚©gƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚© of L. K. Advani ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ who specially picked up Narendra Modi to join him in the rathyatra, or crusade which intensified Hindu-Muslim hostility all over the country giving the VHP and its youth wing, Bajrang Dal, a firm foothold in Gujarat.

Muslim victims had some ray of hope when a Congress government came to power in the centre. But even the Congress government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has so far not given the Muslims any relief. Instead hailed ModiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Gujarat as the best governed and most business friendly state in India.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Earlier Supreme Court established a Special Investigation Team, SIT, for further probe into Ode Massacre .However sacked IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt accused the state government which he described as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-laboratory of politics of hatredƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and the SIT headed by R.K Raghavan of destroying very valuable records related to the pogrom ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to shield powerful persons from legal punishment. Sanjeeva Bhatt insisted that ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Narendra Modi should be treated like a common criminal and must be brought to justiceƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 


ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Meanwhile the Human Rights Watch stated in itsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  24 February 2012 reportƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  that;ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Authorities in IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Gujarat state are subverting justice, protecting perpetrators, and intimidating those promoting accountability today. The state government has resisted Supreme Court orders to prosecute those responsible for the carnage and has failed to provide most survivors with compensation.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-The 2002 violence against Muslims in Gujarat persists as a dark blot on IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s reputation for religious equality,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Instead of prosecuting senior state and police officials implicated in the atrocities, the Gujarat authorities have engaged in denial and obstruction of justice.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Efforts to investigate and prosecute cases inside Gujarat were stalled and activists and lawyers involved in the cases have been harassed and intimidated, Human Rights Watch found. It has taken repeated interventions by the Supreme Court following appeals by activists and victimsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ families to order re-investigations, oversee independent inquiries in some cases, or shift trials out of Gujarat to ensure progress towards justice.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In the past decade, increasing evidence has emerged of the complicity of Gujarat state authorities in the anti-Muslim violence, Human Rights Watch said.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Columnist Praveen Swami said, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-with images of charred bodies and burned homes, what Gujarat witnessed was a fascist pogrom, conducted by organized death squads of the Hindu Right with the entire State apparatus at their disposal. The pogrom was initiated to ensure that the StateƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Muslim population remained confined to its ghettos, and that the authority of the Hindu Right remained stamped forever on GujaratƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s political landscape.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  If Hindu fascists ever wield unchecked power, Gujarat is what India might look likeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ten years later today this very same Narendra Modi continues to flourishƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  asƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  GujaratƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ chief minister for third term ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…”perhaps replaced Mahatma GandhiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s peacefulƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  India with Hindu fascism .His re-election as chief minister not only insults Muslims,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  righteous Hindusand shaming Hinduism violating all canons of human decency .

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Gujarat, which should have been a shining example for Hindu-Muslim unity, as the two communities had coexisted in harmony for centuries, had been foremost in their attacks on Muslims who were among the first traders to settle, prosper, assimilate and adopt a strong Gujarati identity. Unfortunately, it was this very success that made Muslims vulnerable to the communal carnage unleashed by Hindu extremists ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ from time to time. Once famous as the adopted home town of Mahatma Gandhi, an apostle of peace and non-violence, Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat, is today perhaps the most communally sensitive city in India. Ends

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ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Qutubuddin Ansari-Begging for life.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Imagine the plight of this frightened MuslimƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ woman during the pogrom in the largest democracy in the world.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ His hands begged for mercy as his eyes, filled with tears, spoke of his hope for survival. The red flecks of blood on his shirt are a grim reminder of the violent mobs that were on a rampage in Gujarat at the time. It was only a matter of time before they claimed their next victim.

The photograph was taken on Feb. 28, 2002 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, as deadly communal riots started spreading across the state the day after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was torched in Godhra. The weeks of violence that followed left over 1000 people dead, most of them Muslim.

The picture, taken by photojournalist Arko Datta, has since become the defining image of the Gujarat riots, embodying the horror of one of the worst episodes of communal violence in IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s history

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ModiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s saffron ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ thugs burning Muslim localities andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  thereby burning GandhiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s India


A Muslim youth begging forƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  life fromƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  murderous VH saffronƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  thugs..

4 Responses to “Special court verdict on 2002 Gujarat pogrom Provides some ray of hope in the judiciary-Thousands of victims still await justice while perpetrators roam around free”

  1. Voice123 Says:

    India needs to clean up its human rights record. Notice the silence from Mrs Clinton and the NGO crowd about these Indian thugs? The problem Sri Lanka has with India is that Indians are so communal minded, they only care about human rights when it affects someone from within their own community. The rest of the time most Indians dont care whether members of other communities live, or die or are burnt alive. The west, for all its drawbacks, does have a segment of their population, altruistic enough to care about human rights of other nationalities – misguided and misinformed though they may be. Instead of angrily screaming slogans at the entire West, it is more productive for us to have an organised campaign to educate the western voting public, those most likely to appreciate our position, about continuing discrimination and human rights abuses by the LTTE diaspora against Sri Lankans, and also about the appalling human rights situation in neighbouring India. If the voting public in these countries is better informed, politicians in those countries will start to pay more attention to this situation and it would be to the advantage of Sri lankans.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    The man behind the violence is one Mr Modi.

    He may become a future next Indian PM. He is very popular among the Gujarat people for all the WRONG reasons. Crazy!

    USA including Hilary Clinton LOVE him!!
    Foolish to expect USA including Hilary Clinton to punish him.

  3. Voice123 Says:

    Lorenzo, western politicians will do nothing out of the goodness of their heart. They think only in terms of their strategic interests. They may favor Modi now, but will readily stab him in the back later on if it suits them. Sri Lankan private groups (non government) have to learn to use the appropriate levers such as electoral pressure through their voters, the mass media, donations and the threat of exposure for their crimes and mistakes. We have to be more sophisticated in this war. It’s Not too late to learn.

  4. Lorenzo Says:


    Agree. But that is with everything. Everything has a use by date.

    What SL should learn is how to get the BENEFIT OF BOTH WORLDS skillfully.

    e.g. During war BOTH Israel and Iran helped SL, BOTH India and Pakistan AND China helped SL. BOTH USA and Russia helped SL.

    That is the right strategy.

    We cannot totally forget USA and India. Modi poses NO threat to SL for now. He may or he may not in future.

    I look at the Gujarat problem like this: HOW SL CAN MAKE USE OF IT? Certainly NOT how to resolve it!!!

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