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Gujarat: Cry For Justice!

By Ram Puniyani

04 April, 2008

The Supreme Court order for fresh probe into some
Gujarat riot cases, like Naroda Patia, Naroda etc.
(March 25 08) comes as a welcome relief in the dark
times where most of the times justice is conspicuous
by its absence. In Gujarat, we witnessed the case of
Zahira Sheikh, going for a toss, the judiciary quietly
watching and ignoring all the witnesses turning
hostile, but preferring to accept the version of the
state despite all the holes in its argument. It was
the transfer of the case to Maharashtra that brought
forward the truth. Same was repeated in case of Bilkis
Bano. The transfer of cases away from the state gave
some justice to her. Now with the intervention of
National Human Rights commission and Teesta Setalvad
many other cases with serious portents on the fate of
justice for the victims will be reinvestigated

By now it is clear as crystal that communal carnage is
the total violation of the democratic norms and laws.
To begin with some political forces that stand to
benefit from this violence, post violence polarization
and electoral strengthening, look for a pretext to
launch the carnage. By now the biases against
minorities have become ingrained very deeply into the
social psyche and so during the carnage large sections
of society come to believe that since the major
victims are minorities, what is going on is OK! A
silent sanction for the violence prevails in the air.
This social, communal common sense against minorities
makes the job of communalists easy as their image has
been demonized through various mechanisms, globally
and also at home here in India.

As far as political leadership is concerned there are
three types of attitudes. One, at times the ruling
party workers lead the carnage from the front e.g. the
Delhi Anti Sikh massacre (Congress) or Gujarat carnage
(RSS combine). Second type of leadership is that,
which keeps quiet and lets the leader of carnage of
dastardly designs do his job, like the one in Mumbai
(92-93), where Shiv Sena led the charge, BJP assisted
and Congress, the party in power, watched. Most of the
riots in India fall in this category. It is one of the
reasons as to why BJP was claiming till Gujarat
violence that there are no riots when it rules. Some
people bought this and projected that BJP is better
than Congress. And then Gujarat happened. Even in the
majority of cases where Congress ruled and violence
took place it was the BJP which was spearheading the
violence while Congress leadership was letting the
violence take place, even when it could have put a
stop on that. This is silent collusion.

In the third variety the political leadership ignores,
looks the other way when violence is on and there by
lets the communal brigade do its job like Samajvadi
Party letting the communalists rampage in Mau in Uttar
Pradesh. There is another variety also, the one of
communists. They have ensured that violence against
minorities does not take place when they are ruling
but they have also not prevented the communalization
of minds, which is the base of communal riots. CPM led
coalition in West Bengal or Communist coalition in
Kerala falls in this category.

The role of police is fairly along a set pattern. Its
partisan attitude has been shown in most of the
inquiry committee reports. It actively aids the
rioters, as in Gujarat, or keeps quiet to let the
rioters do their work, with its blessings. During
Mumbai violence many a Muslim minority victims said
that we are capable of protecting ourselves but for
the police which shields the attackers and paralyses
us. Both these roles are supplementary. Research by a
police officer, Dr. V.N. Rai shows that no riot can go
on beyond 48 hours unless it is blessed by political
leadership and supported by police officials.
Bureaucracy also has powers which can put a stop to
the violence but it prefers not to use these powers as
its large section is already busy using its powers in
different directions.

During and after the violence, another role of police
comes to fore. The one of registering cases, First
Information reports, FIRs. In such situations it
prefers to believe in, 'forget it' policy by not
registering the FIRs as far as possible. If forced to
register the same, despite its reluctance, it ensures
that there are sufficient clauses in built in the FIR
which should act as escape route for the guilty. After
this come the investigation done by police and here
again the work is deliberately meant to protect the
guilty. It is at this stage that SC has now
intervened, and set up a committee with some
forthright official from outside the state. In all
such cases in Gujarat, by now it is clear that the
communalized state apparatus is politically biased,
and so its justice is impossible to get through its
machinery. A real achievement of Hindu rashtra's first
state! Bravo Modi, now one knows beyond any shadow of
doubt as to why he is darling of RSS bosses and the
heir apparent of the current Prime Minister in
waiting, Lal Krishna Advani!

The role of police in particular has come under
investigation by different inquiry commission reports,
(Madon-Bhivandi Jalgaon, Jagmohan Reddy-Ahmadabad,
Vythyathil-Tellicherry, Shrikrishan-Mumbai) and most
of these point out that police has without any
exception aided and abetted the riots. These reports,
meticulous and sincere to the core also highlight the
rot, which has set in the whole system from the
political leadership, bureaucracy to the police. One
significant observation is that most of the planning
of the carnage has been done by some or the other
affiliate of RSS, which has also been taking the
leading role.

Even the judiciary has not remained unaffected by the
communal virus as witnessed in Gujarat. So by now, the
basic dictum of a just society, punish the guilty and
protect the innocent, is under cloud. This step of
Supreme Court rekindles the hope that the process of
degeneration of justice delivery system may be halted
at various stages. One has been waiting for years for
the justice to be done for the victims of anti Sikh
pogrom. One also is witnessing the deceptive attitude
of Maharashtra Government in implementation of
Shrikrishna Commission report. In a shrewd and
dishonest manner it promised that the implementation
of the report will be on the top of its agenda, if
elected to power. This election promise was made
twice, but after winning, it has been throwing dust in
the eyes of victims and human rights activists by
dodging the issue one way or the other.

Gujarat of course is the worst case as far as justice
delivery is concerned. With polarization along
religious lines more or less complete, there are few
victims who will dare to speak out for justice to them
as their very survival is at stake. The chief
perpetrator of the crime, Narendra Modi, with his
second victory due to polarization, is bloating his
chest to 56 inches and hiding his blood stained hands.
Will or can justice catch up. Will there be a
possibility of putting in dock the twin 'Emperors of
Hindu Hearts', Thackeray and Modi, who were anointed
so in the aftermath of their leading the carnages in
Mumbai and Gujarat respectively. Will they be put on
trial as per the laws of the land and restore a sense
of justice in the country where communalization has
eroded the values of our freedom movement, the values
of pluralism, the values of syncretism, the values of
'diversity as celebration'!

One sees a ray of hope in this move of Supreme Court,
one sees the human rights commission and social
activists staking all to ensure that the democratic
norms survive in the face of creeping 'Hate politics'.

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