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Who will punish the guilty? Sabotage of judicial system in Gujarat
By Batuk Vora

A recent (May 18) gesture of Narendra Modi in going on a promising spree with a list of assurances to the minority community is not yet taken seriously by a large section of Modi-watchers and the peace-craving citizens of Gujarat, accustomed as they are with dual meaning of his words and declarations.

"Religious shrines destroyed will be rebuilt through voluntary agencies", was, for instance one of his promises. That means, about 236 demolished and burnt mosques, dargahs, mazaars (figure surveyed statewide by Combat Communalism magazine of Mumbai) statewide, will be rebuilt. It is not clear what kind of NGOs as he has not clarified. Experience of Kutch victims of some of the NGOs is not so pleasant. "Rebuilt" also means flattened and tarred with asphalt, which has been done on quite a few Dargahs and mosques at Ahmedabad. They have become totally unrecognizable places. Will the old shrines be rebuilt on them as they were 'architecturally and spacewise'

'State' and 'district level' women's committees (3 women in each) would be probing the assaults on women, was another promise. Which kind of women? Would the women belonging to Durga Vahini of Sangh Parivar be excluded from such committee because of many of their members' names appearing as accused in FIRs' Would the NGOs be given any fund for this purpose? Nothing is clear right now. Why not recognize those women who made independent enquiries and collected a host of testimonies of surviving women?

What is missing from this list is the assurance to allow punishment to all the accused in FIRs, to include all those names which were not accepted by police in rural areas and only word written in FIR was 'a mob'! Many FIRs in rural areas mentioned local police inspectors and even collectors as accused (according to the copies of FIRs acquired by Communalism Combat). Will any legal action against them follow?

In this context, such a situation is vindicated by the latest threat issued by Panchmahal leaders of Sangh Parivar to hold a massive rally at Godhra or some other place around to demand the release of all the Hindu accused lodged in custody for various congnizable offences registered against them, including rape, looting, killing, burning of the properties and people. State BJP leadership has been put in a fix by such a development, as those militants of Panchmahal refused to obey the state president Rajendrasingh Rana's instruction not to hold such a rally. Such a threat includes storming of police station and courting arrest by one lakh people!

Testimonies from the rural survivors gathered by an all India women's independent panel and NGOs relate extreme forms of sexual violence and the police complicity with them.

A lot has been said and visualized on the Gujarat communal carnage in the media and parliament. But very little focus has come on the actual method adopted by police leading to the violation of constitution , right under the aegis of Narendra Modi and his Sangh Parivar colleagues in the cabinet.

Giving his crisp comment, A. P. Rawani, former chief justice of Rajasthan High Court, recently told this writer at Ahmedabad that "You take out the article 14 from the constitution and the rule of law is rendered dead. That is exactly what has happened during the communal genocide here." He took out a small pocket sized constitution from his briefcase and read out the article: Equality Before Law - the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

An unambiguous right to equality before law has been granted in this article, so much so that even a non-citizen of India too, if falling victim to a crime in India, gets the same equality. Once a person or group of people informs the police on any kind of congnizable offence (schedule 1 of the CPC gives all the details about such offences, which, includes criminal conspiracy and causing injury to other person or damage to any property. Police can arrest such persons without warrant and the offence is non-bailable) orally or in writing, police is bound to provide protection and a judicial action within 24 hours. Once this article is ignored, entire concept of the rule of law turns into as dead a statute as dodo.

In order to expose the actual method police adopted here during the carnage, let me cite here a concrete FIR (first information report) registered at Petlad police station, Kheda district, on an incident on March 30, 2002. After the local police arrested 103 of the rival groups of Muslims and Hindus (FIR No.27-2002) which clashed against each other following a death of a Muslim youth, whose father too was arrested. When dealing with the bail applications of both groups, police released all ‘unarmed’ Hindus on bail while 24 out of 63 Muslims were denied bail as, according to the police version, they carried all kinds of weapons such as pipes, swords, kerosene bottles, axes, dharias, fire douses, etc.? No Hindu rioter carried any weapon! The principle of the equality before law was wantonly violated.

Sabotage of the administrative machinery became clear when the recently removed city police commissioner (after Mr Gill took over as an ‘advisor’ to the chief minister) P.C.Pandey told in an interview given to the Times of India on March 15 that, about 100 police officers were transferred within Ahmedabad city before the Godhra incident; and "I was overruled when I refused to bring the dead and charred bodies of Kar Sewaks from Godhra on February 27." Actually this created an angry wave of genocide to start with at Ahmedabad.

Another instance: Javed Khan Pathan and 12 other accused were arrested at Ramol, near Ahmedabad, before a month for violation of curfew order. Pathan’s friend advocate Piyush Shah, a Hindu advocate was physically prevented by a few other Hindutva advocates from filing a bail application. Other Muslim advocates were too physically prevented to do so and their chairs and tables at old High Court building were burnt down, which have not been restored even now.

Chief Minister had called a meeting of top police officials on 27th February, who told them 'not to use any force' on the next day of Gujarat Bandh called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and supported by the ruling BJP. This was revealed by Julio Rebero, one time top cop visiting Gujarat at that time. As an example of how the police behaved, two trucks were burnt down with their drivers in front of the new high court building on Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway on Feb. 28 when charred bodies of Godhra victims were brought to the nearby hospital. About 30 policemen are always stationed there in the High Court premises and a police post too existed half a kilometer from high court near Sola. They all just watched the gory killings. They were clearly briefed to ‘let the anger of Hindus’ be vented and watch.

No preventive arrests, or even after the slaughtering of more than 2,000 people all over the state, neither the conspirators among the Hindu hardliner organizations nor any leader have been arrested or booked. Modi will have to come out clean first and then only some resemblance to peace will come.

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