URGENT: A Letter from Indian Muslim Youth to #ChetanBhagat


JULY 1, 2013

If you agree with the following Text and wish to be one of the signatories of this letter, please send your signature (Name, Profession , City/State) at activist.journalist@gmail.com by 12 PM tomorrow (2nd July 13).

Dear Mr. Bhagat,

At the very outset, let us make it clear that we are not fans of your regressive fiction. Therefore, we write to you not as crazy fans but as Indian Muslim youth, who felt utterly patronized, insulted and hurt after reading your article, ‘Letter from an Indian Muslim Youth’ . You might have not realized this, but in pretending to render “a strong modern Indian Muslim voice’’ to the youth and the Muslim community at large, you have ripped them of their agency. You have reaffirmed stereotypes that many in the community have been fighting against. Heard of the Muslim god and his flock?

Sir, one does not need a name like Ahmed or Saeed or Mirza, or even be a Muslim to show one’s genuine concern for the community. One just needs to see beyond one’s own prejudice and biases. Believe us, this disgusting piece of your writing made us more nauseous than any of your (or Madhu Kishwar’s) love-verses to Modi. Your article is nothing but an extension of the thought process that anything Muslim is backward and regressive. Since you have assigned to yourself the task of bearing the moral burden of the community, would you care to explain what a ‘Muslim cap’ is?

We agree with you when you say political leaders make promises that go empty post elections. And that there are Muslims who have achieved much without any ‘’cap-wearing politician’’ helping them. But who is this leader that you are suggesting; one who would understand ‘’the desire’’ of the Muslim youth ‘’to come up in life’’ and ‘’inspire us to do better’’? Is it by any chance the mass murderer, Narendra Modi?

You know what hurts? That people pretend to care for you when they don’t. When in fact they use you to grind their own axe. How cleverly you turn everything that the Muslim youth face today – “being frisked with greater attentiveness, denied renting an apartment” – into a product of the community’s inherent backwardness, as if it bears no relation to the increasing communalization of our polity and society.

What makes you think that the ‘cap’ wallahs exercise a great deal of influence within the community? Interestingly, one particular party has been lately seeking a lot of photo-ops with precisely these kinds of community leaders. Make no mistake Mr. Writer. They don’t.

“Because of you”, you write castigating an imagined Muslim leadership, “people feel we vote in a herd.” Now, isn’t that really clever, Mr. Bhagat. People feel we vote in a herd because certain parties never tire of screaming hoarse about ‘minority appeasement’ and ‘vote banks’, even though, any psephologist or political scientist, or even an ordinary Muslim youth at Chai dukaan will tell you that Muslims vote just like any other community does: according to a mix of factors: local, national but above all, keeping in mind who will preserve their interests best. And their interests do tend to include the safety of life and livelihood.

We are sorry, Mr. Bhagat, but the ‘’democratic republic’’ you talk of is not so democratic. If it were so, Afzal Guru wouldn’t have been executed to ‘’satisfy the collective conscience of the nation’’. Muslim youth would not have fallen prey to minority witch-hunting, and their killers not decorated with gallantry awards. Adivasis in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa would not have been ripped of their fundamental rights to live with dignity. Dalit poets would not have been falsely charged under sedition laws.
Loving one’s nation is well and good, but being blinded by patriotism is not. Why do Indian Muslims always have to prove their allegiance to India? Why can’t they also be critical of their country?

The party whose path you are treading has had Indian Muslims pass through too many Sita-like ordeals of fire, Agni Pariksha. You may have the privilege to turn a blind eye to the post-Babri Masjid Demolition violence, the Gujarat pogrom, but many others don’t. How then do you think a leader who doesn’t even have the integrity to apologize for his complicity in the Gujarat pogrom represent Muslim youth’s aspirations for ‘’scientific way of thinking, entrepreneurship, empowerment, progress’’ and above all, ‘’personal freedoms’’? And just by the way, have you heard of the word, ‘Justice’?

Sd/-
Name Profession City (State)
1. Rafiul Alom Rahman, Student, Delhi University, Delhi
2. Mahtab Alam, Civil Rights Activist and Journalist, Delhi
3. Javid Parsa, Student, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad
4. Zulaikha Jabeen, Researcher and Activist, Raipur, Chhattisgarh
5. Shahnawaz Malik, Journalist, Delhi
6. Abdullah A Rahman, Student, TISS Tuljapur
7. Abu Zafar, Journalist, Delhi
8. Mahtab Azad, Development Consultant, Araria (Bihar)
9. Ali Amir, Student, TISS Mumbai
10. Gauhar Iqbal, Eauntropneur, Delhi

Gujarat- Voice of Victims #Narendramodi


Frontline- May17,2013

GUJARAT CHIEF MINISTER NARENDRA MODI’S SPIN doctors have been portraying him as the new messiah of the country. In their enthusiasm to project him as the next Prime Minister, they even claim that he has appeased the minorities (read Muslims), and that they have apparently begun to accept him as a leader worth reckoning.

But the ground reality is something else. “If he becomes the Prime Minister, he will turn the country into another Gujarat. He is the country’s biggest enemy. He does not believe in democracy, peace, communal harmony or anything that India stands for. He has brought so much suspicion and distrust in Gujarat that he will ruin the country,” says Yusuf Pathan, a survivor of the 2002 communal riots in Mehsana district. “Modi is no messiah. Whatever development is seen in Gujarat has come from the Central government. He is fooling everyone by making them believe it is he who is taking Gujarat forward.”

The majority of Muslims across Gujarat will concur with Pathan’s views. Frontlinetravelled to several parts of the State to understand the condition of the minority communities, particularly Muslims, who are perhaps the most persecuted community in Gujarat, and check the veracity of the development claims.

Whether it is access to housing, employment and education or the exercise of fundamental rights, Muslims, who constitute about 9 per cent of the population, are marginalised or treated as second-class citizens. The injustices done to them are so blatant that it is hard to believe that Modi has any desire to appease these sections.

There are plenty of indicators to prove that Gujarat under Modi has no place for minorities. Several recent reports and analyses show that the Muslims of Gujarat are among the poorest and most discriminated against community in the country. Additionally, the employment of tactics such as amending laws to suppress the community establishes Modi’s agenda.

 

 

The Chief Minister sought to curb the freedom of choice of religion by passing the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Law, 2003. This law stipulates that anyone wanting to convert to another religion must take the state’s permission. In 2009, he introduced an amendment to the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, purportedly to check illegal transfer of property in the communally sensitive areas of Ahmedabad and Vadodara.

The law essentially requires people from one religion to take permission from the state to sell their property if the buyer is from another religion. Modi has ensured that Muslims and other minorities do not benefit from the various Central government schemes. He sought to prevent the implementation of the Centre’s pre-matriculation scholarship scheme for students from minority communities. The scholarships were not disbursed in Gujarat because Modi felt it would be discriminatory against other religions. Gujarat has been allotted 55,000 scholarships of which 53,000 are for deserving Muslim students. On February 15, the Gujarat High Court, hearing a bunch of public interest petitions, ruled in favour of the scheme.

The danger of having Modi at the helm is that he will divide and rule, because that is the only language he knows, people belonging to the minority community say.

Pathan lost 11 of his family members in the post-Godhra riots at Dipda Darwaza in Mehsana district. This was one of the nine cases into which a further probe was conducted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). In July 2012, a special court convicted 21 people for rioting and attempt to murder in the Dipda Darwaza case. Pathan earns a living by running a paan shop in Visnagar in Mehsana district. Several riot-affected families have been provided some manner of housing by the relief committees. But, relief and employment and education opportunities are still not available for the victims.

“Though they have been given houses, there are no amenities. There are open sewers and water stagnates in them. One tap has been provided for running water, but it is defunct,” Pathan says. The majority of Muslims in this area are poor. They work as farmhands or as manual labourers at construction sites. Some of them take up odd jobs in small industrial units.

“Whoever wants Modi to become the Prime Minister wants the country to be ruined,” says Abid Khan, who works in a timber yard and also drives an autorickshaw. “Modi does not listen to the poor. He only listens to the rich Muslims who only have their business interests in mind.”

“What has Modi done in the name of development? The human development index of Gujarat is declining,” says Iqbal Sheikh, who is also a complainant in the Dipda Darwaza case.

 

 

An hour’s drive from Visagar is Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha district where families of victims in the Sardarpura massacre have been provided protected housing. This small colony, tucked away from the main highway, has 22 families. Here again there is no sanitation or regular electricity or water supply. About 10 people live in each 10×10 feet room. This small lane of houses borders the Dalit colony on the fringes of the village, and those familiar with the caste system will realise that this is nothing but social exclusion.

“You have visited us before. Nothing has changed since then,” says Basheera Bibi, who lost her husband in the riots. “There is still no public health clinic in the vicinity. The only school, which has up to class VIII, is located far away. We work in the fields. But this year, the agriculture season has been very bad.”

Abdul Khan, a 40-year-old labourer from Himmatnagar, says, since the area is affected by drought there is no work throughout the year. Our rozi roti [daily bread] depends on daily wage employment. For this we have to travel quite far. If I am lucky I earn Rs.50 a day.”

Discriminated by the state

A report by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), authored by Abusaleh Shariff in 2011, sums up the discrimination best. The report explores “the relative development of Gujarat, followed by the socio-religious differentials in the standard of living in the State”. Shariff, who has drawn data from the National Sample Survey Organisation, the Sachar Committee report and the Reserve Bank of India, provides some crucial and telling statistics that testify to the fact that Muslims in Gujarat are marginalised largely because of state policies.

Says the report: “Poverty amongst the urban Muslims is eight times (800 per cent) higher than high-caste Hindus, about 50 per cent more than the Hindu-Other Backward Classes and the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes [S.Cs/S.Ts]. Note that over 60 per cent of all Gujarati Muslims live in urban areas and they are the most deprived social group in Gujarat. On the other hand, rural poverty amongst the Muslims is two times (200 per cent) more than high-caste Hindus.”

He observes that educationally, Muslims are the most deprived community in Gujarat. A mere 26 per cent reach the level of matriculation, whereas the proportion for others, except the S.Cs/S.Ts, is 41 per cent. A large number of Muslim pupils drop out around class V. A disturbing trend was noticed in respect of higher education. Muslims who had the same level of education as other categories in the past are left behind compared with even S.Cs/S.Ts. A startling fact revealed by the study is that upper-caste Hindus have benefited the most from the public provisioning of higher education in recent years.

 

 

On the employment front, it found that a larger number of Muslims in Gujarat are self-employed or do petty trade. Self-employment and petty trade have shown only a marginal income growth in the past two decades in comparison with other sectors of the economy. In Gujarat, foreign direct investments and public investments are channelled into the organised sector where Muslims do not find employment.

Shariff says it must be noted that Muslims generally have better employment opportunities in State public sector enterprises across India, whereas in Gujarat they do not have access to organised and public sector employment.

“There exists deep-rooted poverty and income inequality in Gujarat. Putting the Muslim situation in this larger framework, the empirical evidence suggests that relative to other States and relative to other communities, Muslims in Gujarat are facing high levels of discrimination and deprivation,” he says.

Sophia Khan, a women’s rights activist in Ahmedabad, says, “All the challenges remain the same. Just because there is no visible violence on the streets does not mean that we are not targeted.” She says the issue is about internally displaced people. Severe polarisation has happened during Modi’s tenure and this will continue because he has ensured distrust between communities.

There are few options by way of leadership for Gujarat’s Muslims. Sophia Khan says it is unfortunate that the community cannot mobilise itself, find a voice and provide some able leaders. She says it is inaccurate to say that Muslims are voting the BJP. Where they are a minority, they have no option, mostly because there is no alternative. However, she says, Juhapura, which has three lakh Muslims, is a case in point. The area, which was a ghetto providing refuge to riot-affected people, has become a suburb of Ahmedabad and looks after the needs of the city’s Muslims, who, over a period of time, have literally been hounded out of “Hindu areas”.

She says the BJP fielded a retired Muslim Indian Police Service officer from Juhapura in the Assembly elections, but he lost. “This shows that we will not vote the BJP even if they put up a Muslim candidate. Modi will soon realise the country does not consist of only Gujarati middle class. He does not understand or follow the Constitution. How can he become the Prime Minister?”

In fact, in Modi’s Gujarat, even Christians, Dalits and S.Ts are not spared. For instance, Gujarat’s Christian population is 0.53 per cent. Even that is a threat to the Chief Minister.

The human rights activist Father Cedric Prakash told Frontline: “Christians in Gujarat [especially those who are from the tribal communities or belong to the backward classes] are subject to intimidation and harassment. Recently, the police visited one of our spiritual centres demanding to see the baptism register. This does not happen anywhere else in the country.”

On Easter Sunday, a huge right-wing Hindu rally demanding that Gujarat be declared a Hindu state by 2015 was held in Maninagar, Modi’s constituency, he said.

The plight of the minorities in the State never seems to improve.

 

 

 

LIFE and death of Ghulam Yazdani


In this opaque netherland of terrorism-counter terrorism, it is not just loyalties that change sides, but entire sides overturn and mirror each other in grotesque ways. The good guys battling the evil ones is a fantasy manufactured by think-tanks and the ‘experts’ industry 

Manisha Sethi Delhi 

There are two ways to recreate the short life of Ghulam Yazdani, or Naveed, as he was called at home. The first relies on Intelligence Bureau (IB) dossiers, interrogation reports and news reports in the media based on the first two. In this narrative, Yazdani appears as an engineering student who turned to a life of terrorism and met his ‘well-deserved’ end at the hands of the police in 2006. A native of Nalgonda, Yazdani was said to have been among the 14 men from Andhra Pradesh (AP) who were recruited to be trained by the Lashkar in Pakistan after the Gujarat killings in 2002. The alleged mastermind of Hyderabad’s Dilsukhnagar Saibaba temple blast in 2002, the Haren Pandya murder in Ahmedabad in 2003, the suicide attack on the STF headquarters in Hyderabad in 2005, and the bombing of the Delhi-Patna Shramjeevi Express at Jaunpur in 2005, Yazdani quickly rose to head the Lashkar’s South India operations and was among the most wanted men on the AP police list. He had also allegedly hatched a plan to blow up a Ganesh temple near Secunderabad railway station.(1)

And then, there is a more complex plot.

Leave, for the moment, these secret documents and look at the court records. In late 1999, Manik Prabhu Medical Stores, Hyderabad, owned by an RSS worker, witnessed a shootout, leaving the owner’s brother, Devender, dead. An FIR was lodged in the Saidabad police station.(2) The New Year brought the Task Force to Yazdani’s house. He was taken away but not produced before a magistrate. Precisely a month after Yazdani had disappeared, he was formally arrested by the Saidabad police.

The investigation was transferred to the CID in the month of May. The new agency booked a completely different set of accused; among them was Syed Maqbool, recently in the limelight for apparently revealing that Dilsukhnagar was on the hit-list of terrorists.

In the period when Yazdani was in the custody of the Task Force, two more cases were slapped against him. In the first, which was also transferred to the CID, Yazdani was charged with conspiracy and waging war against the nation; in the second, lodged just a day before he was produced in court, the police showed recovery of detonators and pistols, and booked him under the Arms Act and Explosive Substances Act.(3)

Released on bail, Yazdani was ultimately discharged from the Devender murder case and acquitted in the other two cases.

It is not clear how Yazdani came to be called the architect of the Pandya murder, but in circles whose denizens go by the label of ‘security experts’, this has become an article of faith. Yazdani, in fact, is not named an accused in the Pandya murder case.

 We do not know what he did in those intervening years. How he lived, where he lived. We will never know perhaps 

In the years closely following the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, the cult of the Hinduhridaysamrat was being crafted. The numerous conspiracies directed against Narendra Modi were crucial in fashioning the principal Hindutva icon and cementing the loyalties of his followers.

This was the period when the police and investigating agencies in Gujarat claimed to have foiled a series of potential assassination attempts on Modi by liquidating ‘terrorists’.(4) Most of them are turning out to be fake encounters, with several of Modi’s top cops currently in jail, or under scrutiny. Registration of POTA cases also surged: all those booked under POTA were Muslims accused of either plotting to kill BJP leaders or conspiring to terrorize Hindus of Gujarat.(5)

The most gargantuan of these was the Gujarat ISI Conspiracy Case, more popularly known as the ‘DCB 6’ case, registered in April 2003, a month after Pandya was killed. It had a mammoth list of over 80 accused — a list which kept swelling well after the chargesheets had been filed, and POTA had been repealed.(6)

Yazdani was at home when the news of ‘Hyderabad boys’ being herded to Gujarat in the DCB 6 case started appearing. Similar conspiracy cases were filed in Andhra against all those implicated in the DCB 6 case. Two cases in Nalgonda district were registered against Yazdani where he was declared ‘absconding accused’.(7) One evening, Yazdani did not return home. About 15 days later, his father, old Ghulam Mustafa, received a call from him. Yazdani said he had fled to escape being ensnared in another case again. He refused to divulge his location for fear that he would be arrested.

“I never saw my brother after that,” Ghulam Rabbani tells me over the phone. “We only saw his dead body.”

We do not know what he did in those intervening years. How he lived, where he lived. We will never know perhaps.

Intelligence reports say he rose to prominence in the Lashkar ranks, planning, for example, the suicide attack on the Special Task Force (STF) headquarters in Hyderabad. Did he?

A man with backpack walked into the deserted STF headquarters — Dussehra eve had kept most STF personnel away from office — and blew himself up. His severed head and torso were recovered from outside the office. How he was identified as Mohtasin Bilal, a Bangladeshi national, carrying out the HUJI-B’s first such operation,(8) is itself interesting.From the charred debris of this human bomb, investigators recovered a suicide note(9), and a rubber slipper with a tell-all price tag that read ‘Taka 100’.(10) These clues, salvaged extraordinarily from the burnt body, disclosed to the investigators his identity!

“Two and half month’s later, on December 27, 2005,” we learn that “three HuJI-B militants involved in the Hyderabad attack were arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.”(11)Less than two weeks later, Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA) Vijay Nambiar and National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) Additional Secretary SD Pradhan met US Deputy Chief of Mission in Delhi Robert Blake to “pledge to seek the NSA’s approval for greater intelligence sharing on terrorism threats within India”. The discussion fixated on terror threats in the South.

It is not clear how Yazdani was branded the architect of Haren Pandya’s murder, but in circles of ‘security experts’, this has become an article of faith. Yazdani, in fact, is not named an accused in the Pandya murder case

Blake, in his confidential cable dispatch that day, wrote: “Pradhan also noted that the terrorists themselves are different and more adaptable. For example, ‘Arshad,’ who was arrested on December 18 in connection with the October 12 suicide attack on the Hyderabad Police Special Task Force office, ‘was a police informer who benefited from a police security escort’.”(12)

Interrogation reports made their way into expert commentary and created ‘mounting evidence’ of Yazdani’s guilt:

“Previously in August 2005, police had arrested Mohammad Ibrahim, a resident of Hyderabad, who revealed details of his travels in Bangladesh in 2004, his meetings with Ghulam Yazdani, the person involved in the Pandya murder in Gujarat on March 23, 2003, and his encounters with several HuJI terrorists from India and Pakistan. Four months before his arrest, in April 2005, Ibrahim had been sent to Karachi on a Bangladeshi passport, from where he was taken to an ISI camp in Balochistan.”(13)

Ibrahim had been arrested on charges of conspiracy and sedition.(14) In November 2005, Yazdani’s brother, then a first-year student of MCA at Osmania University PG College at Saidabad, was arrested in the case and charged with financially supporting Ibrahim in his terrorist activities.

He learnt later that he had been declared ‘absconder’ even as he was attending classes at his college.
In 2009, the First Additional Metropolitan Magistrate acquitted both Ibrahim and Yazdani’s brother of all charges
, as the prosecution could bring forth no evidence to substantiate the charges.(15) Meanwhile, however, Ghulam Rabbani’s arrest — added to the legend of the ‘dreaded absconder’ Yazdani.(16)

Yazdani’s father’s impassioned plea to his son to return home in January 2006, at the office of the then ACP, Rajiv Trivedi, was widely reported in the press. The following month, Ghulam Mustafa received a call from Trivedi. He enquired about Yazdani’s physical features and identification marks, and very specifically, if he spoke haltingly. When Mustafa confirmed this, he was advised to forget about Yazdani and focus on the other sons. Trivedi’s words, says the family, appeared ominous to them even then.

Yazdani’s brother learnt later that he had been declared ‘absconder’ even as he was attending classes at his college

On the evening of March 7, three bombs exploded in Varanasi. The next morning, news agencies flashed the encounter killing of Yazdani and another man at the hands of the Special Cell of the Delhi Police. Lashkar terrorists had been gunned down in the early hours of the morning in Bawana, the last outpost of Delhi.(17)

This is how a Delhi Police press release announcing gallantry awards for the architect of the encounter — and the hero of the current Liyaqat Ali Shah arrest(18) — described the encounter:

“Information was received that 2 Let militants namely Ghulam Yezdani and Kajol would be arriving at Alipur Narela Road, Holambi Kalan T Point on 8.3.06. Police team headed by ACP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav along with Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma reached Alipur Narela Road and took positions at the strategic points. When terrorists reached the spot, ACP Sanjeev Yadav and Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma disclosed the identity of the police team and asked the militants to surrender. Both the militants were later on identified as Ghulam Yazdani @ Naved … Ahsan Ullah Hasan @ Kabab Mohd @ Shahbaz Mohd @ SajidMehmood @ Shumon @ Jamil @ Ahmed @ Kajol r/o Chorangi Mor, Jheel chuli, Faridpur, Bangladesh. The militants did not pay to the heed and started firing at the approaching police party. ACP Sanjeev Yadav without caring for their life, faced hail of bullets fired by terrorist Ahsan Ullah Hasan @ Kajol and gave chase to him. The militant was constantly and indiscriminately firing towards him. Unfazed and undeterred Sh. Sanjeev Kumar Yadav in self defence and in order to apprehend the militants returned fire and shot dead Kajol. Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma on the other hand was facing indiscriminate firing from other militant Yezdani who had taken position behind a wall in the field. Inspector Sharma crawled on the road without caring for bodily injuries and took position so that the militant could not take the benefit of boundary wall.  During exchange of fire the militant was shot dead… …Recognizing the gallant act, ACP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav has been conferred President Police Medal for Gallantry while (Late) Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma has been awarded 1st Bar to President’s Police Medal for Gallantry.”(19)

This sparse prose is the template for almost all encounter killings in Delhi. Only the names of the victims change. 

The family says that the body bore marks of torture, there were deep holes as though he had been drilled into and the head was misshapen. In the absence of a post-mortem report, and the reluctance of the Delhi Police to hand over Yazdani’s body to the family, despite a High Court order directing them to do so, is there any reason to disbelieve them? (20)

Let’s return briefly to Syed Maqbool. A small news item, which has not rivalled the popularity of his interrogation report leaked by Delhi Police, quotes ‘sources’ to say that Maqbool had become a police informant after his acquittal in the Devender murder case, and that his arrest was a consequence of rivalry between the Delhi Police and the Maharashtra ATS.(21) Recall also Pradhan’s frank admission to the US Deputy Chief of Mission that the accused in the STF attack was a police informer.

The family says that the body bore marks of torture, there were deep holes as though he had been drilled into and the head was misshappen

Did persistent implication in terror cases push Yazdani to seek refuge with groups he was accused of being associated with? Did the police force him to turn informer for them? Was Yazdani used cynically by agencies and then disposed of when it suited them? Was he already in the custody of one agency or another when the telephone call was made to his father?

These are not answers likely to emerge from the dossiers of the IB, reproduced endlessly till they acquire the sanctity of truth.

In this opaque netherland of terrorism-counter terrorism, it is not just loyalties that change sides but entire sides overturn and mirror each other in grotesque ways. The good guys battling the evil ones is a fantasy manufactured by think-tanks and the ‘experts’ industry.

In the confidential dispatch that Blake, sent home, he quoted Nambiar’s assurance to him that the author of Behind Bangalore: The Origins of the Long Jihad(22), “obviously has been briefed, most likely by the Intelligence Bureau (IB)”.

 

References:

(1)For typical stories, see ‘Yazdani belonged to Nalagonda’ by S Ramu, March 9, 2006, The Hindu; ‘The story of LeT’s south India chief’ by SyedAminJafri in Hyderabad, March 16, 2006, Rediffnews, http://www.rediff.co.in/news/2006/mar/16let.htm and Praveen Swami (2008): The Well-Tempered Jihad: the Politics and Practice of post-2002 Islamist terrorism in India, Contemporary South Asia, 16:3, 303-322.

(2)Crime number 195/1999, Saidabad PS.

(3) Crime No. 1/2000, Saidabad PS and Crime No. 33/2000, Saidabad PS.

(4)For an exhaustive list, see Amnesty Document, India: A Pattern of Unlawful Killings by the Gujarat Police, Urgent Need for Effective Investigations, AI Index: ASA 20/011/2007 (Public).

(5) See ‘Production of Terrorists Act’ by MukulSinha for a full list of POTA cases in Gujarat. http://nsm.org.in/2008/09/29/pota-production-of-terrorist-act/

(6) ISI conspiracy case keeps draconian law alive in Gujarat, TNN, November 24, 2004.http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2004-1124/ahmedabad/27156186_1_conspiracy-case-pandya-murder-hn-jhalaTOI.

(7) One Town Police Station and NarkepalliPoilce Station. These were also cases of sedition, including sections 120 B, 121, 121 A, 124 A, 153 A, 153 B etc.

(8)Swami, ‘Well-Tempered Jihad’, p. 309.

(9) ‘Human Bomb in Andhra’, The Telegraph, Friday, October 14, 2005.http://www.telegraphindia.com/1051014/asp/nation/story_5352734.asp

(10) ‘Terror’s southern gateway’ By NeenaGopal, Gulf News, February 9, 2006. http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/terror-s-southern-gateway-1.224519

(11) HUJI: Lengthening Shadow of Terror’ by Bibhu Prasad Routray, SAIR 31/7/06

Aug 1, 2006. http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sair/Archives/5_3.htm

(12) ‘D/nsa Supports Intel Sharing On Terrorism; Says Terror In South Not New But Tactics And Targets Are’; Jan 9, 2006, Confidential Section 01 OF 06 New Delhi 000161. Accessed at: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/01/06NEWDELHI161.html

(13) ‘HUJI: Lengthening Shadow of Terror’ by Bibhu Prasad Routray, SAIR 31/7/06

Aug 1, 2006.

(14) Crime no. 234/ 2005, Gopalapuram PS, Secunderabad.

(15) Sessions Case no. 192 of 2006, Judgement pronounced by ShriSreeram Murthy, First Additional Metropolitan Magistrate, November 12, 2007.  See also, ‘Court lets off 3 in conspiracy case’, TNN, November 13, 2007,http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2007-11-13/hyderabad/27976059_1_conspiracy-case-delhi-police-office-bomb-blast-case. Rabbani’s experience in the interrogation room left him a
changed man.  Upon receiving bail, he quit his MCA and enrolled in a law college, and
is today a practising lawyer.
Personal conversation.

(16) See for example, ‘Yazdani belonged to Nalagonda’, The Hindu, op. cit. Also, “Nalgonda supplies ‘terrorists’ in hordes” by Koride Mahesh, TNN, March 10, 2006. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2006-03-10/hyderabad/27824815_1_nalgonda-isi-activities-terrorist-activities.

(17) ‘Two LeT Ultras shot dead in Delhi Encounter’, March 8, 2006, PTI. Accessed at:http://news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=368758.

(18) “‘Delhi Cops’ ‘fidayeen’ Liaqat Shah is ex militant travelling with family”, Mir Ehsan, Vijaita Singh, March 26, 2013. http://m.indianexpress.com/news/delhi-cops-fidayeen-is-exmilitant-travel…

(19) Gallantry Awards to Delhi Police Personnel (Delhi Police Press Release; 25.01.2009) accessed at: delhipolice.nic.in/home/backup/25-01-2009.doc.

(20) ‘Encounter victim’s kin stage dharna, seek CBI probe’ by Omer Farooq, The Pioneer, 08/05/2007. Reproduced at:http://www.indiarightsonline.com/Sabrang/relipolcom16.nsf/5e7647d942f529c9e5256c3100376e2e/d9fa52a5d7ec4c03652572f00044105f?OpenDocument. Also personal conversation with family.

(21) See ‘Murder accused spilled the beans on Indian Mujahideenrecce’, TNN, 23
February 2013, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-02-23/hyderabad/3725665….

(22) Praveen Swami, 9 January 2006,http://www.hindu.com/2006/01/09/stories/2006010904441000.htm

 

From the print issue of Hardnews :

APRIL 2013

 

Truth About Narendra Modi


 

Teesta SetalvadTeesta Setalvad

Guest Writer- Teesta Setalvad

Narendra Modi, the controversial chief minister of Gujarat was invited to be the keynote speaker at Wharton at its 17th Economic Forum on March 23, 2013. The Civil Rights groups across the world and especially in India were shocked and dismayed at such reports given the fact that the US administration had firmly stated weeks ago there was no question of any reversal of its decision to grant a visa to a man against whom serious charges of criminal conspiracy, subversion of justice, mass murder and destruction of evidence are still pending judgemnent (see report attached at the end of this report)

From March 18, 2005 onwards, the United States State Department refused a diplomatic visa to a politician, who, as chief minister, did nothing to prevent a series of orchestrated reprisal killings that targeted Muslims in Gujarat. The most conservative estimates are that over a thousand people, mostly Muslims, died in the premedidated violence while actual figures peg those dead and missing at 2,500. Over a hundred thousands were rendered displaced in their own homeland of which close to 18,000 still live in sub human conditions. Over 10,000 small and large businesses were systematically targeted causing a loss of Rs 4,000 crore and 297 places of worship of the minority (Mosques and Durgahs) were specifically targeted and destroyed. In the 11-year old struggle for justice, the state of Gujarat through its police have systematically tried to attack and even jail human rights defenders assisting the Survivors in their struggle for justice. In 2002, Human Rights Watch (among other international and Indian bodies) showed that politicians and the police in the state abetted the slaughter and displacement of Muslim Gujaratis:http://www.hrw.org/news/2002/04/29/india-gujarat-officials-took-part-anti-muslim-violence.

Apart from the allegations of criminal conspiracy to commit mass murder, destroy records, subvert justice that the chief minister faces (moves to frame charges will be filed in a Court by April 15 2014), the unrepentant chief minister has doggedly fought efforts by minority groups to get the 297 shrines that were destroyed, restored. The High Court of Gujarat and the Supreme Court of India http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-07-31/india/32960235_1_religious-structures-tushar-mehta-kandhamal-riots)

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/sc-seeks-details-of-religious-sites-damaged-in-2002-gujarat-riots/972413 (SC seeks details of religious sites damaged in 2002 Gujarat riots ). Modi is not simply about what happened eleven years ago but represents a discriminatory mindset that is medieval and anti-Constitutional.

Since 2002, the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly faulted the Gujarat government led by Modi for failing to prosecute those guilty of the crimes in 2002 and instead prosecuting whistle-blowers and activists who had tried to bring the guilty to justice. In February 2012, the Supreme Court again criticized the Modi government for harassing activists fighting for justice with trumped up charges. What this sordid record proves is Narendra Modi’s callous disregard for the life of Indian citizens and for upholding the Indian constitution.

In taking cognizance of Modi’s culpability, the State Department also revoked his “existing tourist/business visa under section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” As David C. Mulford, U.S. Ambassador to India, explained then, “Section 212 (a) (2) (g) makes any foreign government official who ‘was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom’ ineligible for a visa to the United States.” Ambassador Mulford went on to say that the State Department’s decision was “based on the fact that, as head of the State government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, [Modi] was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time. The State Department’s detailed views on this matter are included in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report. Both reports document the violence in Gujarat from February 2002 to May 2002 and cite the Indian National Human Rights Commission report, which states there was “a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state”

(http://2001-2009.state.gov/p/sca/rls/rm/2005/43701.htm).

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-04-27/news/31424552_1_visa-issue-narendra-modi-nationality-act

The US state department had indicated it will continue to deny Narendra Modi a visa even as European Union recently ended its decade-long boycott of Narendra Modi. http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Still-no-visa-for-Narendra-Modi-US/Article1-1013974.aspx(US assistant secretary of state Robert Blake told CNN-IBN on Tuesday: “Our policy has not changed. Anyone can apply for a visa anytime, but we never prejudge the outcome of the decision… a lot of this will depend on some of the decisions that are made in the Indian courts and many of those decisions are still outstanding.” In December, American lawmakers had urged the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to continue denying visa to Modi on the ground that his government had not adequately pursued justice for 2002 Gujarat riot victims.)

It became incomprehensible to us that Modi was the man who the Wharton India Economic Forum wished to celebrate as an exemplar of economic and social development. It was astonishing for us that any academic and student body at the University of Pennsylvania can endorse ideas about economic development that are based on the systematic oppression of minority populations, whether in India or elsewhere. Their role as scholars and students—and indeed as would-be entrepreneurs and business managers—must be to develop conscientious and efficacious modes of economic organization, not to piggy-back onto the inhuman policies of politicians who not only lack a commitment to human rights and to ideals of social justice, but whose political success is based on the suppression of substantial sections of their own citizens. Modi still does not have a US visa to enter the US, but Wharton had plans to present him on Skype to the audience. Recently there have been efforts to whitewash Modi’s grim record and to grant him respectability. Wharton’s invitation had lent itself to doing just that.

We are relieved the Wharton India Economic Forum has revoked their invitation to Narendra Modi. If it had not done so, we had pledged to protest his presence—virtual as it might have been, given that he remains ineligible for a US visa—in a variety of ways, including at the meeting of the Forum.

We urge educational institutions and entrepreneurs of tomorrow to understand the incalculable and continuing harm done by Modi’s brand of politics to India’s constitutional secularism.”

 

‘I would have lodged an FIR against Narendra Modi on charges of genocide and manslaughter’ #JusticeKatju


Editor’s Note: Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge in the Supreme Court, is not really off the mark on Narendra Modi, especially on his role in the Gujarat carnage of 2002. We reproduce an interview with former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, VN Khare who makes equally scathing observations. This interview was carried in print edition of Hardnews, March 2012.

Sadiq Naqvi Delhi 

More and more issues are going to the courts. Is it a failure of the other institutions of our system? 

No, it will be wrong to say that. With economic progress and development, all these things are bound to come. It is human nature and there will be disputes. It is part of the system. You can’t visualize a society without the judiciary. You can’t imagine a democracy minus the judiciary. You can as well go to China then. Once I was in Beijing and I happened to meet the Chief Justice of China. I asked him, “What do you do if your prime minister or other top officials don’t follow your order?” He said nothing. He asked me, instead, so what would you do? I told him that I can send them to jail for six months if they don’t follow the court verdict. He was surprised. So, if you have a democracy, you have to have a judiciary.

Do you see any flaws in the current judicial set-up? 

You can’t say that any institution is flawless. There is a difference between the judges and the judiciary. Some judges may be proper, some may be corrupt. Judges come from the same society from where you come. He must be having someone in the family who is a politician or a bureaucrat. We don’t import judges. So the aberrations we are seeing are a reflection of the society. It’s not a failure of the institution. If you compare the judiciary with other institutions, then I can very proudly say that it is much better. People still have confidence and faith in the judiciary. They have not started saying that going to the court is going to be useless. So, till the time people have this confidence, I feel we need not worry much. The only thing we should be worried about is this: whatever corruption has seeped into the judiciary, as a reflection of the degeneration of the society, the judiciary as an institution should try to rectify it.

          ‘I would have lodged an FIR against Narendra Modi on charges of genocide and manslaughter. I said it in the open court’

 

What are your observations on recent judgements on PILs, like the one on 2G? 

I have entertained so many PILs during my tenure. I started doing it after the Gujarat riots in 2002. A State-sponsored genocide was on, and nobody had the courage to speak against it. The prime minister was quiet, the deputy prime minister did not utter a word, the president also did not say a thing even after so many people had been killed. All the accused were being let off. It was then that I took it up. There were 400 cases and I read the FIR. I am amazed that even after carrying out such a big investigation, they did not find anything. I just read the FIR and concluded that it was a State-sponsored genocide.

I will tell you two cases. Best Bakery was set on fire at 6:45pm. There was a thousand-strong mob which had surrounded Best Bakery and set it on fire. Understand the topography and you can easily conclude that it is a State-sponsored genocide. At a furlong a police patrol van is stationed, it is also mentioned in the FIR. One-and-a-half-kilometre away is the police station. An ACP is sitting there, according to the FIR. Then it goes on to say that at 11:45pm the fire recedes on its own. These are the broad facts. Now, tell me, a fire brigade could have gone and doused the fire? Some lives could have been saved. Why didn’t that patrol police van go and intervene? I read the FIR and concluded that it is a State-sponsored genocide. I said, had I been in a position, I would have lodged an FIR against Narendra Modi on charges of genocide and manslaughter. I said it in the open court. So, in such circumstances, what inquiry do you need – when even one fire extinguisher couldn’t come, nobody could even throw a bucket of water!

Now, see the Gulbarga society case. Ehsan Jafri calls the police and an ACP comes. Jafri is not the only one there; there are many more people in his house. The ACP tells Jafri, I can take you from here. He refused and said, how can I go alone when there are so many others? He said, I will go only if you take the others. The ACP just refused. The moment this ACP leaves, Jafri’s house is set on fire. Why didn’t any fire extinguisher come to this society which is in the heart of Ahmedabad? Scores of people were charred to death.

So, at this stage, I took the PILs. If democracy has to function, then it is the duty of the majority to protect the minority. Who constitutes the government? It is the majority. And when they failed in this duty, that is when I took up theGujaratcase. So, when you see the system has failed, then you have to take up such causes.

Some recent judgements have faced a lot of criticism. Top legal luminaries have termed as ‘hyper-activism’ the way in which the judiciary is intervening in policy-making. What do you think? 

I, too, believe that in a couple of cases they went too far. They should not push their ideology in deciding cases. They should not colour the judgements with their ideology. It is going too far. It may sometimes rebound. But in their wisdom they have done it.

What about the 2G case, the way licences have been cancelled? 

In the 2G case, you can’t say that all the private firms bribed their way in. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the trust of investors, that their investments are safe. But when you engage in misappropriation, then it reflects on other clean deals as well. This has very bad implications on investments coming into the country. Firms from Norway and other countries have started to show their apprehensions already.

How does one maintain checks and balances? 

Everyone has to work on his own turf. There should be no intrusion. Only in cases where there is inaction, if the executive is not enforcing law, or not fulfilling its duty, then the judiciary can step in and direct it to enforce the law.

The way they have done in the black money case, by laying down a policy… 

Black money and all, you can’t lay down a policy. You can direct them to change the policy. But even that is going too far, stretching it too far. Judiciary is not supposed to run the government. They could have checked whether the government is acting upon it, they could have asked them to submit progress reports to the court. But what manner it is to be done, the policy matters, are to be decided by the government.

Again, in the 2G case, the court said only auction should be done… 

It is all right, when there is so much corruption, then auction seems to be the only viable option. In the auction system, it is to be seen whether it (auction) is for everything, and then, how will the poor cope up with it in front of the moneybags…

Don’t you think that instead of directing for an auction, in this case where a national resource is involved, the court could have left the decision to the government? 

Yes, I too feel it should have been a little flexible. Suppose you want to part with government resources to develop weaker sections of the people, the minorities etc, there you can’t impose this system, this won’t work. Suppose you have to give houses to the poor, you can’t auction them.

In the 2G case, one of the defences was that this has made mobile telephony cheaper for the masses… 

There, you see, the corruption is so apparent. Some hundreds of crores have been transferred in the accounts. Had all this not happened, then I think the court would have been lenient. The court, perhaps, took all that into consideration. And it is not final, it can be reviewed sometime later.

You think it should be reviewed? 

I wouldn’t say it should be. A case can be reviewed on the basis of the circumstances prevailing in that particular period of time.

There is a larger belief that the powerful get away easily even in the judicial system. However, we saw in recent cases that many powerful people were kept in pre-trial detention for a long period. Do you agree that the courts got influenced by public pressure?

(Laughs) You must never say that. I think they act on the content of law rather than public pressure. I never got swayed by public pressure. You have to give justice based on the law.

Do you think they should have got bail? 

Yes, because, normally, in economic offences people get bail. But, as I told you, the reflection of society can be seen on the courts as well. There was a wave against corruption, this scam, that scam, and then, as you said, the feeling that the powerful get away easily. Sometimes the powerful don’t get bail, like in this case. All these contradictions are there. These are all opinions of society. The best way is to act according to the law.

Do you feel that many of the judgements are politically coloured? 

I wouldn’t call it political. They are perhaps coloured by public opinion.

What about the Ayodhya judgement? 

(Laughs) The original suit was a civil suit and they partitioned it. Partition suit is different. Where did the question of partition arise? But, then, as I said, they must have, perhaps, acted as per public opinion and gave something to all the aggrieved parties. Legally, it is not correct.

Then there is this whole debate on frivolous PILs… 

Yes, it is very rampant. During my tenure, I even constituted a committee to scrutinize and look into the merits of a PIL, and whether it is fit for consideration. We made some norms. The committee of judges was to decide if the PIL has merits for the benefit of society, for people of the country. Otherwise, it was rejected.

There are allegations that some lawyers act at the behest of corporates… We have seen allegations against people like Subramanian Swamy that they are targeting one political party. Does any such thing exist? 

It may be. Because even I used to get a lot of complaints that there are certain lawyers who are sponsored by corporate houses. Some corporate house gets a licence, and then the other party takes recourse to PIL. And the lawyers make a lot of money. I got many such complaints. But I did not have the power to investigate lawyers on any such complaint. I could have investigated the judges, but I could not investigate the lawyers.

How does one deal with this menace? 

Actually, it is because the Bar Council is weak. The disciplinary authority in this case is the Bar Council, and it doesn’t do anything. What does a judge know if the lawyer has taken money? And then, even the media highlights (some cases).

What about the 2G case, the way licences have been cancelled? 

In the 2G case, you can’t say that all the private firms bribed their way in. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the trust of investors, that their investments are safe. But when you engage in misappropriation, then it reflects on other clean deals as well. This has very bad implications on investments coming into the country. Firms from Norway and other countries have started to show their apprehensions already.

How does one maintain checks and balances? 

Everyone has to work on his own turf. There should be no intrusion. Only in cases where there is inaction, if the executive is not enforcing law, or not fulfilling its duty, then the judiciary can step in and direct it to enforce the law.

The way they have done in the black money case, by laying down a policy… 

Black money and all, you can’t lay down a policy. You can direct them to change the policy. But even that is going too far, stretching it too far. Judiciary is not supposed to run the government. They could have checked whether the government is acting upon it, they could have asked them to submit progress reports to the court. But what manner it is to be done, the policy matters, are to be decided by the government.

Again, in the 2G case, the court said only auction should be done… 

It is all right, when there is so much corruption, then auction seems to be the only viable option. In the auction system, it is to be seen whether it (auction) is for everything, and then, how will the poor cope up with it in front of the moneybags…

Don’t you think that instead of directing for an auction, in this case where a national resource is involved, the court could have left the decision to the government? 

Yes, I too feel it should have been a little flexible. Suppose you want to part with government resources to develop weaker sections of the people, the minorities etc, there you can’t impose this system, this won’t work. Suppose you have to give houses to the poor, you can’t auction them.

In the 2G case, one of the defences was that this has made mobile telephony cheaper for the masses… 

There, you see, the corruption is so apparent. Some hundreds of crores have been transferred in the accounts. Had all this not happened, then I think the court would have been lenient. The court, perhaps, took all that into consideration. And it is not final, it can be reviewed sometime later.

You think it should be reviewed? 

I wouldn’t say it should be. A case can be reviewed on the basis of the circumstances prevailing in that particular period of time.

There is a larger belief that the powerful get away easily even in the judicial system. However, we saw in recent cases that many powerful people were kept in pre-trial detention for a long period. Do you agree that the courts got influenced by public pressure?

(Laughs) You must never say that. I think they act on the content of law rather than public pressure. I never got swayed by public pressure. You have to give justice based on the law.

Do you think they should have got bail? 

Yes, because, normally, in economic offences people get bail. But, as I told you, the reflection of society can be seen on the courts as well. There was a wave against corruption, this scam, that scam, and then, as you said, the feeling that the powerful get away easily. Sometimes the powerful don’t get bail, like in this case. All these contradictions are there. These are all opinions of society. The best way is to act according to the law.

Do you feel that many of the judgements are politically coloured? 

I wouldn’t call it political. They are perhaps coloured by public opinion.

What about the Ayodhya judgement? 

(Laughs) The original suit was a civil suit and they partitioned it. Partition suit is different. Where did the question of partition arise? But, then, as I said, they must have, perhaps, acted as per public opinion and gave something to all the aggrieved parties. Legally, it is not correct.

Then there is this whole debate on frivolous PILs… 

Yes, it is very rampant. During my tenure, I even constituted a committee to scrutinize and look into the merits of a PIL, and whether it is fit for consideration. We made some norms. The committee of judges was to decide if the PIL has merits for the benefit of society, for people of the country. Otherwise, it was rejected.

There are allegations that some lawyers act at the behest of corporates… We have seen allegations against people like Subramanian Swamy that they are targeting one political party. Does any such thing exist? 

It may be. Because even I used to get a lot of complaints that there are certain lawyers who are sponsored by corporate houses. Some corporate house gets a licence, and then the other party takes recourse to PIL. And the lawyers make a lot of money. I got many such complaints. But I did not have the power to investigate lawyers on any such complaint. I could have investigated the judges, but I could not investigate the lawyers.

How does one deal with this menace? 

Actually, it is because the Bar Council is weak. The disciplinary authority in this case is the Bar Council, and it doesn’t do anything. What does a judge know if the lawyer has taken money? And then, even the media highlights (some cases).

What about the long list of pending cases? Even in the riots cases, the victims still await justice. Be it the 1984 riots, the 1992 riots in Mumbai, or even theGujaratgenocide of 2002… 

This is a blot on the judiciary. But what can the judiciary do? In our country, the ratio is 13.5 judges for one million people. In the developed countries, we have 130-135 judges for every one million people. A judge has to go into the facts, the evidence, the law, before deciding a case. I even put this question to the then president, APJ Abdul Kalam. I asked him, “People say that there has been so much modernization and computerization, but can the computer decide a case on the merits of it?” No! Each fact in each case differs from the others. So, if in our country the ratio is increased to even 40 judges per million people, then things can improve a lot.

We have no infrastructure. You go to a court, you have all kinds of people roaming freely. From booksellers to the ones selling tea. Some lawyer is sitting under a tree, some others in a tea shop. You have dogs and stray cows roaming freely. Have you ever gone to the Tees Hazari Court (in Delhi) and seen how hundreds of people pile up in the court room?

I did talk to many former prime ministers, including Mrs Indira Gandhi, in this regard. But they don’t have the finances to do it. Every year there are as many as 30 lakh cases of bouncing cheques. Every year 10 lakh people die in road accidents. Each accident makes two cases. One civil and one criminal. Then, you have dacoity, murder and rape cases. And you know the kind of police we have in this country.

What are your views on the reported corruption in sections of the lower judiciary, the high courts and the Supreme Court? We have seen affidavits filed in court which accused even some former Chief Justices ofIndiaof corruption. 

There is corruption. But judges come from the same society which is corrupt. It is not institutionalized. Some judges may be engaging in corrupt practices. But it is very less in high courts, and I did not see any corruption in the Supreme Court. At least till the time I was there, I did not see any case. What happened after that, I do not know. They may be giving judgements according to their ideological beliefs, some judge may be pro-tenant, some may be pro-labour, but I don’t think they are involved in any monetary corruption. After I retired, there were all these cases of corruption on Justice YK Sabharwal, Justice RC Lahoti.

Coming to the subordinate courts, it is the Chief Justice of the state’s high court who has been delegated with powers to deal with corruption. If you see states like UP, it is so big, how much work can one Chief Justice do? The moment you enter a subordinate court, you have the clerk asking for money. I have information that even some judges are corrupt. To deal with it, the institution has to come up with some mechanism. A Chief Justice can’t deal with so much work.

We have judges who suffer from all kinds of weaknesses. You give them any power and they start feeling as if they are king. And it is the subordinate courts where a common man goes. How many people are able to come to the Supreme Court or high court? A mechanism to deal with corruption in the lower judiciary is very important.

Judicial Accountability Bill also doesn’t address it… 

There is no provision for the lower judiciary since it is a state subject. If you bring it under this, then the states will say it is an attack on the federal structure.

Coming back to the Supreme Court, there are allegations on former Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan? Do you think he should have resigned? 

I have not seen the facts, so I can’t say much. If there is any substance in the allegations, then he should have resigned.

Now we see that even petitions are loaded with the opinions of former judges. Don’t you feel that judges, once they retire, should not give such opinions? 

What will the judge do then, once he retires? The retirement age is 65. What does he do after that? He can’t practise. How can you stop him from giving opinions? It is for the courts to tell the petitioner to not get such opinions. Yes, a judge should not take up any government assignment post-retirement.

Any concluding remarks… 

There is need for a code of conduct for judges. There should be an element of restraint. They should exhibit honesty, impartiality and fairness, and should strive for the promotion of the weaker sections of society.

The way the situation is currently unfolding inPakistan, with the Supreme Court indicting the democratically elected prime minister – will it have any repercussions here?

No, I don’t think so. The courts here debarred Indira Gandhi from contesting elections. It is not bigger than that.

From the print issue of Hardnews :

MARCH 2012

How do we remember Gujarat 2002 #Narendramodi


  • http://infochangeindia.org/images/2013/gujarat.jpg

Oishik Sircar analyses the sophisticated spectacle of economic development that has insidiously annihilated memories of the Gujarat riots

 

A history-vanishing event

The spectre of Gujarat 2002 inhabits public consciousness in India in a way where memory and forgetting are not racing against each other, but are constantly on a collision path. Like magnets, when they reach the point of collision they repel each other. Their paths are located on a Mobius strip: so if you start with memory you encounter forgetting racing at you with a vengeance, and if you start with forgetting, the phantom of memory will always be lurking. The consequence is an uneasy co-existence where the primary concern is not whether Gujarat should be remembered or forgotten, but how do we remember whathappened in 2002. While forgetting here is not about denying what happened, memory is about selecting which story to tell. And every story claims to be ‘the truth’: in which forensic truth is competing against experiential truth is competing against neoliberal truth is competing against electoral truth is competing against artistic truth.

With the competing narratives of ‘truth’ that have been in circulation since the burning of the Sabarmati Express compartment S6 in Godhra on February 27, 2002 to the recent death of Maulana Hussain Umarji on January 13, 2013, there are stories after stories: official, legal, colloquial, fabricated, imagined, hopeful, utopic, devastating, disgusting. Umarji, who was instrumental in organising relief work after the 2002 violence, was falsely accused of being the “mastermind” in the train-burning incident, spent eight years in jail, fell seriously ill while in prison, and was released in 2011. With his death things haven’t come full circle. Events that have transpired between then and now have only proliferated spirals of impunity, the celebratory hand-in-hand march of Hindutva and neoliberalism, the spectacular rise and rise of the idea of Narendra Modi, the co-option of the Muslim vote-bank by the BJP, the sophisticated marketing and distribution of fear, the sanitisation of the public sphere in Gujarat, and the unending trials: legal and personal.

I was a young law student in Pune when news of the Godhra train-burning and the later events of a violent Hindu ‘revenge’ against Muslims started coming in. Most of the English language media was critical of the Modi government, but their characterisation of what was happening in Gujarat followed the standard cause and effect explanation: the Muslims burnt the Hindus in the train, so now the Hindus are taking their revenge on Muslims. The Newtonian physics of Narendra Modi’s immediate response was to say: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” And Godhra was marked (almost for eternity) as the flashpoint. The art of mobilising public opinion through the marking of a singular event as history-vanishing was mastered by the US government when September 11 happened, and it has been used to justify all the military aggressions and invasions that the US has carried out in the name of self-defence and democracy since then. Godhra has been made to occupy our memories in an identical manner: it is the flash that blinds us to the history of how the pogrom was meticulously planned much before the train caught fire. It also blinds us to the historical roots of Hindutva in Gujarat that did not erupt only as a response to Godhra.

The ability to apply nuance, to see through the spectacle of this blinding flashpoint at my first experience of surrogate consumption of real-time communal violence, was pretty low. A mix of bewilderment, anger and numbness was what I felt. The only previous occasion in my lifetime when I had heard about ‘communal’ violence was a decade ago in 1992 when the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished by militant Hindu mobs followed by an anti-Muslim killing spree. At that time, as a school student, all I looked forward to in the distant city of Calcutta, was the curfews, because that would mean not having to go to school. During the long periods of curfew, I would enjoy cricket matches on TV without my mother constantly asking me to go study (because exams were indefinitely postponed), and playing cricket on the street with friends during the two-hour curfew breaks that were allowed once a week. The brutality of the violence was conveniently censored by my parents as well as by state television. While some of it did reach me, the lack of discussion about it at home didn’t make it so obvious. Some unrest was happening somewhere else in India, and the curfew was just a way to keep us safe, was the standard refrain. I didn’t complain.

Ten years later in 2002 when I was looking at the grotesque images of heaps of dead bodies, maimed and charred, and deserted streets and burnt houses, and desecrated mosques, on TV (privatised 24/7 news media was enjoying its fledgling liberated status covering the violence without regulation after several years of state control), the language that was put into circulation to characterise what was happening followed the cause/effect logic. Everyone was referring to the violence as the ‘post-Godhra riots’. Everything that was happening was being traced back to Godhra. We were surreptitiously being told that our memory-scales must have a limit: don’t look beyond Godhra; that should be the only source for your explanations; treat Godhra as exceptional, so that what has followed it, despite the unprecedented levels of brutality, becomes routine. It took some time to understand that the violence was far from a riot. It was a genocidal massacre, or more aptly a pogrom – as Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi notes in his book Pogrom in Gujarat: Hindu Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Violence in India – which is “an event driven by words and images [of anti-Muslim hatred and disgust], as much as by those [acts of pre-planned violence] that accompany it.”

When you type ‘Gujarat 2002’ into Google even today, the first link that comes up is the Wikipedia entry, and it starts with the following words: “The 2002 Gujarat violence was a series of incidents starting with the Godhra train burning and the subsequent communal violence between Hindus and Muslims…” A Google image search throws up photos, the first of which are images of the burning train compartment. The significantly detailed April 2002 Human Rights Watch report on the carnage titled “We Have No Orders To Save You”: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat opens with the sentence: “The ongoing violence in Gujarat was triggered by a Muslim mob’s torching of two train cars carrying Hindu activists on February 27, 2002.” In several critical and closely documented publications on the violence – academic, activist, journalistic – Godhra has been marked as what feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum has called “the precipitating event”.The ‘post-Godhra riots’ adage continues to be a part of the conscious and unconscious vocabulary for most Indians, and despite the activism, civil society outcry, several detailed fact-finding reports, enquiry commissions, sustained and selective media coverage, some convictions, Godhra remains that flashpoint moment that blinds us to the long-term, organised and meticulously planned continuum of anti-Muslim hatred that resulted in the Gujarat pogrom. In fact, the construction of Godhra as the enraging flashpoint closed the space to grieve for those who lost their lives in the train fire.

The spectacle of neoliberalism

On one of the days in March 2002 while the violence continued unabated in Gujarat, The Times of Indiacarried a quotation by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman on its front-page: “The government’s solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.” I did not know who Friedman was (and didn’t have a way to find out since Wikipedia was just a year old and not yet very popular) nor the devastation that he and the ‘Chicago-boys’ had unleashed in South America, but at that time, looking at the reports of state complicity in the violence and the government’s inability to stop the killings, the quote seemed apt. For some reason this quote stuck with me, and years later I found out about Friedman and hislaissez-faire exploits in Chile and how his ideas inspired the US-supported military coup bringing the genocidal dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. As Naomi Klein has pointed out so powerfully in her brilliant book The Shock Doctrine: all the sham celebration by fundamentalist free-marketeers about Chile’s economic development was the history-vanishing tactic to make us forget about the pre-coup Chile where Salvador Allende – the democratically elected socialist president who was assassinated during the coup – had ushered in pro-people economic policies.

It is a cruel coincidence that an identical script has unfolded in Gujarat where the spectacle of free market economic development (or what can also be called ‘neoliberalism’ where the free market and the state become indistinguishable) has been manufactured to discipline our memories of 2002. This one regulates our memory-scales further: there is no history beyond Godhra, and all history is about Gujarat’s unparalleled economic progress. The ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit where India’s richest industrialists line up every year to offer heaps of praise for Narendra Modi’s neoliberal economic vision is a perversely planned attempt by the government to thwart efforts that try to keep alive the memories of genocide. Sample this quote by Anil Ambani: “Narendra Bhai has been described in different ways. My personal favourite comes from what his name literally means in Sanskrit – a conjunction of Nara and Indra. Nara means man and Indra means king or leader. Narendra bhai is the lord of men and a king among kings.” The deification of a man who had personally overseen the design of the pogrom, who has never expressed any remorse about the murder of thousands of Muslims as the accountable political authority in that state, and who has carried on spewing hate speech with impunity, says a lot about the intimacy between neoliberalism and genocide. And this new kind of sophisticated history-vanishing strategy is not about making us forget what happened in 2002. To put into effect the act of forgetting, there has to be some recognition of memory. But this is an insidious method that annihilates memory with such force that the need for forgetting doesn’t even arise. It creates a complete blank slate: a tabula rasa.

This is evident in the way I hear a majority of the people in India, especially the identity-disregarding Hindu upper class/caste youth and young professionals, celebrating Modi’s economic mantra. During his recent visit to Delhi University’s Sri Ram College of Commerce to deliver the Sri Ram Keynote Oration, while there were protests outside (by both the Modi detractors and followers, and the police violence targeting only the detractors) a group of 1,800 young people (and some old I’m sure) sat inside the SRCC basketball court-turned-auditorium listening with rapt attention to Modi holding forth on ‘Emerging business models in the global scenario’.

As a FaceBook status of a lawyer friend who attended the speech said: “Listening to Modi’s keynote address at the SRCC, New Delhi… inspiring!! A blend of sound ideas, strong oratory skills and good humour. This audience is captive and captivated ☺”. The last sentence that is followed by the smiley is disturbingly telling. The neoliberal spectacle of economic growth that Modi and his government have cerebrally injected into our consciousness operates as an anaesthetic, despite several comprehensive reports pointing to the contrary. And it has a drugging effect, where none of these counter findings work as effective antidote. In fact, whenever an attempt is made to call Modi’s bluff by citing contrarian statistics, we end up being sucked into a conversation (hardly one actually) on Modi’s terms. We are made captive: a state of un-freedom where our thoughts are controlled by someone else’s diktat; but we feel that we are captivated: that we are using our rational mind cheerfully and wholeheartedly to agree with what he has to say. Such are the emerging business models in the global scenario: where genocides lay the strongest foundations for economic miracles.

In a blog-post on the NDTV website published a day after the Modi speech, a 19-year-old student from SRCC wrote: “Today we stayed back in college for over four hours to listen to him, and he did not disappoint. We got to know through our parents that there were protests outside the college. I believe the protests were not needed as there is more to Mr Modi than the Gujarat riots of 2002. We can’t judge him for that alone. He needs to be heard and judged for the contribution he’s made to the state’s development.” Yes, Modi did not disappoint. He has not disappointed those who have democratically voted him to power term after term since 2002 (and this includes a certain section of Muslim voters in Gujarat as well). The reason clearly is what this student and so many others are smoothly disciplined to believe: his contribution to the state’s economic development is so laudable that we should not “judge him” for the 2002 pogrom.

This student goes as far as to uphold Modi’s freedom of speech: “he needs to be heard”, as if his speech has been censored by those who have persistently called his bluff. Yes he needs to be heard so that more and more people are captivated to become captive by the blinding effects that genocide and neoliberalism create when they come together. And they come together in the most innocuous fashion: through Modi’s calm, smiling face, and as was pointed out in my friend’s comment on FaceBook above, his good humour. He carries his development brief (of which the genocide was an intrinsic part) with wicked sincerity to the politics of cleansing and accumulation, drawing legitimacy not only from the Hindutva brigade, but also from the sham of a democratic process that has re-elected him four times in a row, and the collective support from the likes of the 1,800 students in SRCC, most of whom will end up holding high designations in some of the world’s and India’s largest corporations.

It is not surprising that I didn’t come across a single comment on FaceBook, blogs or other publications where at least one of those who attended the speech critically reflected on it. It seems like not only the physical space, but even the mind space of whose who attended his speech at SRCC was thoroughly cleansed and sanitised. And for anyone else who tried to reason otherwise, they were either accused of being Congress supporters or of not having the privilege of authenticity: you were not present, so you have no idea. The second accusation also plays out constantly against those who attempt to keep the memory of Gujarat 2002 alive from a distance: you have no right to speak, you’ve never been to Gujarat.

Banal, not exceptional

Commenting on the very relaxed demeanour of Adolf Otto Eichmann – the German Nazi who was one of the frontline organisers of the holocaust – right before his execution in Jerusalem in 1962, the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt referred to this very extreme normalisation of violence embodied in a person as the “banality of evil”. The phrase points to the fact that acts of tremendous brutality are not committed by demons, but by very regular people in what they consider are very regular actions in the course of their very regular duty. It is what the media analyst Edward S Herman has called “normalising the unthinkable”. The deep tragedy of the situation in India is that it’s not just Modi’s smile, but also our state of feeling captivated by his humour, and remaining captive in the narrative chronology where there’s Godhra and then there’s neoliberal economic development (and nothing exists in between) which has become the new banality of evil: a banality that we feed and keep alive every day: from Gujarat to Kandhamal to Khairlanji to Chhattisgarh to Manipur to Kashmir, going back to 1984 and Nellie. And that’s a truncated version of a very dirty laundry list that we cannot wash clean even with the most sophisticatedly manufactured neoliberal detergent.

For those of us who’ve remained committed to keeping the memories of Gujarat 2002 alive – through our teaching, writing, activism, films or just because we will not be fooled by the smokescreen of economic development – there is an urgent need to question our own representations of Modi as the monster mastermind. We must concede the fact that our construction of Modi as the demon has been powerfully countered by the image of Modi the deity worshipped by industrialists and a majority of Indians alike. We first turned Modi into an exceptional character, and that only aided his PR strategy to represent himself as an exceptional leader: who will beat anybody else hands down, be it in his seductive speeches attracting private investments, or his hate speeches that continue to spew anti-Muslim hatred. It is this exceptionalised construction of Modi that has taken attention away from the contingent, yet significant victories in the struggle for justice in Gujarat: the Naroda Patiya and Ode convictions. We need to treat Modi and his ilk as banal: a very troubling reflection of the way we have through our everyday and ordinary, and even secular practices, constructed and maintained India’s core as Hindu where a misogynist Ram and a predatory neoliberal market have become very comfortable bedfellows.

Predicaments of memorialisation

In our fight against forgetting Gujarat 2002, we must remain very cautious of the way we use exceptional icons – like the haunting photo of Qutubuddin Ansari begging for mercy from a Hindu mob or similar such phantasmagoric images of death and devastation – that make Gujarat 2002 stand out as an aberration in the collective imagination of this ostensibly secular republic, making that a reason for it to be forgotten. We need to be attentive to how in our overzealous attempts at remembering Gujarat, we arrogantly start to claim ownership of the private trauma of someone like Ansari who has time and again asked for his photo not to be used in reference to the pogrom.

Using “photographs of agony” – a phrase coined by John Berger – to make people remember a violent past might not always have the desired effect of shocking people out of their forgetting stupor, or lazy indifference. Sometimes it is the repeated use of these images that reduce their horror-generating quotient, and numb people to respond to them with concern. Images have the power of fixing meanings that make the subject of a photograph remain captive within its frames forever. Yet another response to the use of horrific images is for the perpetrators in power and their allies to claim higher moral ground and state that we are being irresponsible in using them – just the way in which L K Advani’s drivel in April 2002 claimed: “sometimes, speaking the truth may not be an act of responsibility” – which was nothing but an attempt at circumscribing truth. We need to guard against the appropriation of our efforts to aesthetically memorialise Gujarat, through images, films or something like the Museum of Resistance being planned in Gulberg Society, Ahmedabad, to serve the ends of political parties or corporate capital. CNN-IBN has already created and broadcast a film advertising the Museum of Resistance, and one wonders what their stakes are, apart from towing the obsessive “whatever it takes” line of journalism to get their TRPs up.

The impossibility of truth

Despite the copious amounts of incontrovertible evidence gathered by several independent fact-finding teams against Modi and the Gujarat government for its complicity, the several testimonies of victim-survivors clearly identifying the organisers, the Tehelka expose, the damning revelations by DIG Sanjiv Bhat, tireless efforts by Teesta Setalvad and several other human rights defenders to take the legal process for conviction and compensation ahead, the ‘truth’ about Gujarat 2002 will always be up against the behemoth of the state-corporation-Hindutva complex.

Be it Gujarat 2002 or Delhi 1984, we have had to fall back on a legal system controlled by the very state whose agents are being tried. This is a classic case of the ‘victor’s justice syndrome’ repeating itself in a domestic scenario (rather than international one) day in and day out as legal battles continue. And we pride ourselves for having an independent judiciary? It is no surprise that it took the NDA government no time to pass a draconian special security legislation like the Prevention of Terrorist Act after the December 13 Parliament Attack, or the UPA to strengthen the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act after the November 26 attacks in Bombay; but the Communal Violence Bill drafted in the wake of Gujarat 2002 lies in cold storage. Why would the state legislate on curbing its own impunity?

What hope do we have of justice when truth is an impossibility? When I went to Gujarat in 2002 as a student volunteer to work at the Shah Alam refugee camp in Ahmedabad and conduct interviews as part of yet another fact-finding team – as one of the many voyeuristic tourists deliciously consuming the trauma of others so that I could live to tell the tale of my sham heroism – I experienced something that changed my perspectives of justice and healing forever. At the end of a very taxing day of recording survivor testimonies, I was waiting for my colleague at the entrance of Shah Alam camp when I heard the laughter of children coming from within the dargah. In the midst of the injured and maimed, this sounded other-worldly. I followed the sound to the central courtyard of the dargah and saw a huge group of children (many of them orphaned) along with some very energetic members from a group called Play-for-Peace standing in a circle, holding hands and singing a very funny song called Bajra: about the everyday practice of grinding theBajra to make chapatis at home.

The chorus of so many children laughing and singing together was for that particular moment a magical feeling. Their laughter was infectious – everyone around joined the cacophony. The circle marked the formation of a very different kind of community: one joined in sorrow through laughter. In the non-competitive games, the children who made mistakes were never ‘out’, rather they occupied pride of position ‘in’ the circle to lead the game. The very serious-looking, serious-sounding, serious work that many bourgeoisie volunteers like me were doing looked poorly pretentious in the face of songs and games that could evoke spontaneous laughter in children who’ve either been orphaned, seen their family members brutally raped and killed or ‘disappeared’. I never knew that the power of collective laughter could not only heal but also arrest cycles of violence. This was an equally powerful way to mourn. Despite my privileged position of an outsider, who will eventually go back to safer quarters, playing with the children, and spending those few days in Ahmedabad laughing with them gave me a contingent sense of our shared commitment to mourning in precarious times: be it through crying, or laughter.

Beyond what the legal process will achieve, while our struggles against state impunity and the spectacular onslaught of neoliberalism continue, we need to think of ways in which we can use the powers of mourning to mobilise political communities of human beings, as Judith Butler says, joined through a shared feeling of loss and vulnerability, to forge ethical relationships that connect us with those whose lives were destroyed: not through sentimentality, but solidarity. Gujarat 2002 is paradigmatic of the brutality that a majoritarian secular democracy is capable of. We cannot undo this truth even if Modi is convicted. We can only hope to mourn together, laugh together and ensure that we never forget. That will be our lived truth.

The author is an academic currently based in Melbourne researching the legal, testimonial and aesthetic archives through which Gujarat 2002 is remembered and forgotten.

Infochange News & Features, February 2013

 

 

#Mumbai-Senior journalist and witness in #Gujarat riots related case threatened


 

By Newzfirst Correspondent2/8/13

 

Mumbai – A senior journalist and a witness in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat massacre Friday accused an editor of a prominent daily of starting a “vicious vilification campaign” against him by publishing concocted news relating to the case and threatening him with more dire consequences.

Ashish Khetan – a witness in the Naroda Gaam case - sent a mail to RK Raghavan, head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2002 Gujarat carnage, accusing Avinash Jain – the resident editor of Dainik Bhaskar newspaper – of carrying out a “vicious vilification campaign” by publishing factually incorrect articles and also threatening him with more dire consequences.

Khetan said, “The Ahmedabad edition of Dainik Bhaskar newspaper dated February 5 published a factually incorrect and depraved account of my ongoing deposition in the Naroda Gram massacre case. On the same day the Delhi edition of the same group published a story claiming that I have retracted my testimony.”

These two articles triggered a vicious vilification campaign against my evidence on social media. Clearly it’s an attempt to not only demoralize me but also vitiate the public opinion against the credibility of my ongoing evidence, he further said.

On sending a mail to Ahmedabad edition’s resident editor demanding an apology and clarification instead of correcting the mistake, the editor  Avinash  Jain called me from his cell phone and threatened that more editions of Dainik Bhaskar Group could also now start reporting that I’d retracted my statement, Khetan alleged.

In the letter, Khetan also accused defense lawyers particularly Chetan Shah of being abusive and insulting while cross-examining him.

“Through out my deposition he kept taunting and humiliating me. Also many of his questions were aimed at insulting and annoying me. But this was not all. On more than one occasion he also tried to intimidate and threaten the presiding judge. He on multiple occasions screamed at her at the top of his voice and humiliated her in front of the packed court room.” he said.

Khetan is examined in connection with the sting operation he had conducted in 2007 while working with Tehelka magazine, wherein  Babu Bajrang, a leader of Bajarang Dal and a couple of other accused persons made extra-judicial confessions.

Eleven persons were killed in the Naroda Gam massacre on 28 February 2002. 84 accused are undergoing trial in the case.

 

Framed and acquitted: My tryst with late Umarji


By Abu Zafar1/17/13

 

“Jail se aane ke baad mere ghar ke samne bahot se patrkaar the, magar maine unhe baat karne se mana kardia. Gujarat mein Sach baat kadvi lagti hai (There were several media persons present outside my house after I was released from jail, but I chose not to interact with them. Truth sounds bitter in Gujarat),” said Maulana Hussain Ibrahim Umarji when I first met him about two weeks after his acquittal.

(A memoir into the life of Moulana Umarji who spent eight years in jail in connection with the Godhra train burning incident and was later acquitted of all charges)

I remember that Umarji was not ready to talk to any media person after his release. He had spent more than 8 years of his life in jail for no offence of his.

Gujarat Police had termed him as a ‘key conspirator’, while the media preferred ‘mastermind’, of the Godhra train burning incident which led to the death of 58 Karsevaks (workers affiliated to right-wing groups) travelling in the Sabarmati Express on 28 February 2002.

Though Umarji passed away last Sunday, his tryst with destiny has raised several questions which continue to haunt a secular and democratic state like India.

After trying hard for two weeks, Umarji had finally agreed to talk to me. In an exclusive interview in March 2011, he told me that he had never seen the Sabarmati Express as it passes Godhra only at night.

He even justified his reluctance of talking with media-persons by saying that he did not see any benefit in it. He said that there were chances of him being harassed by the state machinery again.

As he continued talking, he went on uncovering how Police fabricated cases against innocents and recorded confessional statements after meting out mental and physical torture.

“Is system ko badlo warna police har jagah dastakhat lekar kahani ghad le gi (Change this system, otherwise the police will take signatures everywhere and start fabricating stories),” he said.

According to Umarji, his only crime which attracted the wrath of the state machinery was that he submitted a memorandum to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpaee, who had visited Godhra during the riots in 2002.

In the memorandum, Umarji had pointed out the sort of preparations done by the rioters before the Godhra riots itself. According to him, post-Godhra incidents were not riots but ‘mass murder’.

He had also shared his and other victims’ difficulties with Vajpaee and human rights organizations.

“They wished that none should complain against their cruelty and should tolerate whatever is being done. Our action offended them,” Umarji said in a bitter tone.

Discussing the riots, he recalled that Godhra was a target of communal forces since a long time. On 23 March 1948, Godhra was set on fire and even during Advani’s Rath Yatra 26 Muslims were killed.

In the post-Godhra riots, 258 Muslims were killed only in Panchmahal district and their bodies were not even given to us, he had said.

Umarji, who had graduated from the well-known Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in 1967, headed relief work during and after the Gujarat riots. He also managed a relief camp which housed about 3500 refugees of the Gujarat carnage.

He had very close relations with the former Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind chief Maulana Asad Madani and had met former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and H. D. Deve Gowda during his days of social work.

 

Zakia Jafri loses right to file protest petition against SIT report


Ahmedabad,Nov 27, DNA

A local court on Tuesday ruled that Zakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Zafri was killed in Gujarat riots, has lost the right to file protest petition against the SIT report, giving a clean chit to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, due to lapse of time.

Ehsan Jafri was among 69 people killed burnt alive by a mob during the riots at Gulburg Housing Society here on February 28, 2002.

Metropolitan Magistrate BJ Ganatra ruled that Jafri cannot file the protest petition as she failed to file it despite being given sufficient time.

The court ruled that Jafri can now only make oral submission regarding her protest against the SIT report.

The court order comes at a time when the state is in midst of assembly poll campaigning and Modi is seeking a fourth term as chief minister of Gujarat.

The SIT had submitted its final report in the court regarding Gulburg Society riot case giving a clean chit to Modi and others in 2002 riot cases in February.

The SIT had provided a copy of the report to Zakia in May asking her to file a protest petition within the stipulated time of two months. However, the protest petition has not yet been filed by Jafri.

Jafri’s lawyer S M Vohra told the court that they have approached the Supreme Court seeking a clarification on certain issues and the next date of hearing of the case in the apex court is December 3.

Vohra sought time from the court till the hearing in the case is over in the Supreme Court.

Vohra later told PTI that generally local courts await the outcome of the case in the Supreme Court. However, this court has chosen not to wait for the same and given an order which is “very shocking.”

“We will convey this to the Supreme Court before December 3,” Vohra said.

 

Gujarat govt admits some documents related to 2002 riots were destroyed #NarendraModi


Published: Friday, Nov 2, 2012, 21:04 IST
Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: PTI

 

The Gujarat government has admitted before Justice GT Nanavati Commission that some documents related to 2002 post-Godhra riots were destroyed by it ‘in routine course’.

This was disclosed today in an order passed by the Commission on an application filed by suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who had sought inspection of certain sensitive documents pertaining to the riots.

In its order today, the Commission referred to the letter received from the office of Additional Director General (Intelligence) on October 18, 2012 which said, “Some of the documents sought for inspection have been destroyed in routine course and they are not available for producing them before this Commission”.

Referring to the letter, the Commission today directed the state government to file an affidavit.

“A responsible officer of the Government should put this fact in an affidavit for final clarification,” the Commission said.

With the state seeking time to file an affidavit till November 6, the Commission has scheduled further hearing in the case on November 7 when it may decide the question of relevance of those documents for examination by Bhatt.

Defending the government, counsel for the state government today argued that, “those documents were falling in the Category ‘G’ and it is a routine procedure not to keep them beyond one year.”

Last year also, a senior counsel appearing for the state government had told the media that documents sought by Bhatt were already destroyed. The state government, however, had denied that documents were destroyed.

Responding to the state government’s admission, Bhatt said today, “This is evidence of systematic effort to destroy sensitive documents pertaining to 2002 riots which can corroborate the complicity of the state machinery.”

Bhatt, who alleged complicity of Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots, had sought inspection of certain documents to file an affidavit before the Commission probing the riots cases, in support of his allegations.

The Commission had denied him access to those documents. Bhatt then filed a PIL before the High Court last month which accepted his plea and allowed him access to those documents.

Incidentally, during the course of the hearing on his PIL, Advocate General of the state had assured the court that documents sought by Bhatt would be submitted soon.

When Bhatt sought access to 47 documents for inspection based on the court order, only 16 were produced and state has opposed the access to others by citing provisions of the Gujarat Police Manual. PTI ADT PD ABC SMI RYS 11022053 NNNN