By Abdul Majid Zargar
26 February, 2015
Tomorrow, the 27th day of February, is the thirteenth anniversary of Gujrat pogrom in which more than 1OOO Muslims were massacred mercilessly under a communal & partisan administration headed by then Chief Minster Narendra Modi.
After demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 and accompanying riots, Gujrat pogrom of 2002 stands alone as one of the worst onslaughts on the cultural identity, economic survival & physical existence of Indian Muslims. While Justice was subverted in both these holocausts, it was additionally shamed in Gujrat as was eloquently exposed by “Tehlka’-an Indian Magzzine in a sting operation. According to the Magzine “It was not just the carnage that was clinically planned and supervised by the State, it was also the aftermath. Even before the riots began, One of the Sangh parivar outfits, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had started chalking out a strategy for providing legal assistance to Hindus who were likely to be accused of rioting and killing. Its members met on the night of the Sabarmati Express incident to constitute a panel of advocates to defend the rioters. The fact that the VHP had a good number of advocates — both private lawyers and public prosecutors — among its ranks, made the task easy.”
In district Sabarkantha, RSS had formed a body called “Sankalan” to provide legal aid to Hindu rioters. Many of the VHP’s lawyers, who had their own private practices, became defence counsels for the accused, and public prosecutors who were either members of the VHP or sympathetic to the Sangh extended indirect assistance to the rioters.
The public prosecutors, instead of taking forward the charges against the accused, actually helped them in the case. So, in many places, both the defence and the prosecution were on the same side — on the side of those who looted, raped and killed. What hope then did the Muslim community have of seeing their tormentors convicted? First the police sided with the rioters through shoddy investigations, and now the prosecution too was ranged against the victims.
Chetan Shah, an active VHP member and a leading Ahmedabad lawyer, was the first to represent the accused in the Naroda Patiya massacre. The government later appointed him as the public prosecutor in the Gulbarga society case. One of the riot accused named Prahlad Raju, confirmed that while he was on the run, he was being advised by Chetan Shah about when he should surrender before the police.
Two cases in Mehsana district, one of the worst affected area,— the Deepda Darwaza incident in Visnagar town and the Sardarpura incident — had shaken the conscience of civil society for the number of people killed and also the barbaric manner in which the killings were carried out. Here one Mr. Dilip Trivedi, general secretary of the VHP’s Gujarat unit and a senior pleader whose job normally was to oppose the bail applications moved by the accused actually helped them to get bail. After several representations before the Gujarat High Court and the Supreme Court by the victims, Trivedi was removed from representing them in riot cases.”
In the aftermath of riots, a special inverstigation team(SIT) was formed by Supreme Court to determine whether Modi should be tried for his alleged role in the riots. In its report submitted to a Gujarat court , it gave a clean chit to the Chief Minister and ruled that there was no “prosecutable evidence” against him. However, former Supreme Court judge, Justice PB Sawant, who conducted an inquiry into the 2002 Gujarat riots and found Chief Minister Narendra Modi guilty, has said that he does not agree with the report on the case submitted by the Supreme Court SIT. According to him the conclusions drawn by the SIT “are completely incorrect and are not binding on the court.
Besides the SIT, the Supreme Court had also appointed senior advocate Raju Ramachandran to investigate allegations of Mr Modi’s complicity in the riots.His report also differs from the one submitted by SIT and more or less confirms Sawant’s findings.
Post partition Indian Muslims have and continue to pay a heavy price. Frequent communal riots have made their lives miserable. The cycle of killings, attacks on their women and the “terror arrests” of their youth, has crippled them. The sense of insecurity has led to their ghettoisation all over the country. This has only widened the gulf between Muslims and non Muslims. In a political sense they have been reduced to second class citizens in their own country. Communal polarization by RSS and the Sangh Parivar in election 2014 has reduced them to a non-entity. In cow belt area of India generally & Gujarat particularly, Muslims are often questioned about their role in the freedom movement and hence their patriotism. Few Indians now remember that the first freedom Struggle against British started in 1857 only because of greater participation of Muslims. Gandhiji’s original trip to South Africa was sponsored by a Muslim, Dada Abdullah. Similarly the Indian National Army of Subhas Chandra Bose was sponsored by another Muslim, Abdul Habib Marfani. Netaji felt so thankful to Marfani that he addressed him as Sevak- e-Hind. Few still remember that the first indian to gift his son to “Putra dan” programme(A programme to donate one’s son to nation for soldiering) launched amidst Chinese invasion of India in 1962 was a Muslim-M.M.Ismaeel.In today’s India, Baghat Singh & Raj Guru are worshipped as heros but their associate ,Ashfaq-ullah Khan’s name has been totally erased from the pages of history.
And yet Modi’s Govt. has the gumption to tell a recent global seminar in US that backhome Indian minorities are being looked after well. Unfortunately there was none in the seminar attended by representatives of 60 Countries to at least cite Sachar Committee report, listing in detail the social, cultural & economic backwardness of Muslims due to discrimination meted out to them, to contest Indian representative’s claim.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at [email protected])