in just 1 of 961 riot cases!
By Sourav Mukherjee &
Ahmedaba: What a year it
has been! A year that changed perceptions about Gujarat. And it all
began with that attack on the train in Godhra on February 27, 2002.
The next day and the coming days, weeks and months saw bloodbath in
But, a year later, the process
of justice is still crawling, unlike the Godhra case -which is witnessing
rapid developments - most of the 5,067 rioters arrested in Ahmedabad
are now out on bail. Law, as they say, takes its own course.
Of the total 961 riot-cases,
evidence against the accused could not be gathered in 414 cases, resulting
in non-filing of charge-sheets. Only one trial has begun out of the
remaining 509 cases in 30 police stations! In 38 other cases investigations
are yet to conclude.
None of the big names alleged
to have led the marauding mobs,which killed nearly 500 persons in Ahmedabad,
have been booked. The police officials say, "There is no evidence
against the big wigs."
The 'fall guys' in the riot
cases are mostly those from to the lower strata; like the case of 28
residents of Naroda's Chharanagar who are among 38 arrested for killing
While there is no move to
arrest the "master-minds", experts say that the cases are
far from reaching their logical conclusion. Trials in 509 cases are
yet to begin as not a single case has evidence and related documents.
According to officials in
prosecution department, not even 3% of the cases have been committed
for trial. "Most of the cases still continue to have lacunae due
to which they have not been able to pass the preliminary scrutiny of
the metropolitan courts."
These courts analyse charge
sheets and the case-related documents before allowing trial. Till date,
the metropolitan courts have found only about 25 cases fit for trial.
Of these 'fit' cases, hearing has begun in just one. The case pertained
to the massacre of 39 people, including former MP Ehsan Jafri, at the
Meghaninagar's Gulbarg Society.
Case documents of Gulbarg
Society were returned to the office of the principal judge of Ahmedabad
According to senior public
prosecutor, L Patel, "Hearing on Gulbarg Society case had to be
postponed because the crime branch filed supplementary charge sheet
during the trial. The court suggested that the case would continue once
the supplementary charge sheet which named more of accused is also committed
Though all the accused who
were arrested have secured bail, a large number still remains at large.
Of the named rioters, 180 are absconding in cases being investigated.
The list includes eight accused of Naroda-Patia, 11 of Gulbarg Society,
four for killing two at Rakhial and two for the murder of a government
employee Devanand Solanki, at Gomtipur.
The police is still publishing
advertisements threatening the absconders of strict action like attachment
of property. Defence lawyers feel that these accused may be declared
as proclaimed offenders.
Law minister Ashok Bhatt,
meanwhile, ruled out any special courts to try out the riot-related
cases. "We will be setting up fast-track courts but riot-cases
cannot be tried in them."