Sunday, November 1, 2015

Indian Justice under Modi’s watch

Do you recall the Naroda Patiya massacre? If you don’t, here below is the needed information from Wikipedia. It took place on 28 February 2002 at Naroda, in Ahmedabad, India, during the 2002 Gujarat riots. 97 Muslims were killed by a mob of approximately 5,000 people, organized by the Bajrang Dal, a militant wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, and supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party which was in power in the Gujarat State Government. The massacre at Naroda occurred during the bandh (strike protest) called by Vishwa Hindu Parishad; a day after the Godhra train burning. During the post-Godhra rioting, which lasted over 10 hours, during which the mob looted, stabbed, sexually assaulted, gang-raped and burnt people individually and in groups. After the conflict, a curfew was imposed in the state and army troops were called in to contain further violence.

The communal violence at Naroda was deemed "the largest single case of mass murder" during the 2002 Gujarat riots; it accounted for the greatest number of deaths during a single event. Survivors faced socio-economic problems; many were left homeless, orphaned and injured. A number of shrines were destroyed and many schools were adversely affected, cancelled exams or closed entirely. The surviving victims were given shelter in relief camps provided by both the state and central government, and efforts were begun to restore destroyed properties and shrines. The state government formed a "Gujarat state commission of inquiry" for citizens to have a forum in which to make recommendations and suggest reforms. Mainstream media criticised the Gujarat government's handling of the riots; it was remarked that a number of reports were exaggerated, and "inflammatory headlines, stories and pictures" were published, resulting in anti-Muslim prejudice among the Hindu readership.

Allegations were made against the state police, state government and the chief minister Narendra Modi, citing that government authorities were involved and various police personnel played a role in the massacre: a number of eyewitnesses reported police officers favouring the mob by allegedly injuring or killing Muslims and damaging public and private property. All allegations were proved to be false and the government and police were cleared of wrongdoing by a Special Investigation Team. The initial report on the case was filed by the Gujarat police, accusing 46 people, all of whom the Special Court deemed unreliable. In 2008, the Supreme Court of India formed a Special Investigation Team to investigate the case. In 2009, the team submitted its report, which accused 70 people of wrongdoing, 61 of whom were charged. On 29 August 2012, the Special Court convicted 32 people and acquitted 29 due to insufficient evidence. Among those convicted were Maya Kodnani – former Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development of Gujarat and former Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Naroda – who was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment, and Bajrang Dal's Babu Bajrangi, who received a life sentence.

What happened to these above mentioned convicted criminals, and how about others major figures in that massacre?

Activist writer Arurndhati Roy writes in an essay – Professor, P.O.W, “On April 23, 2015, Babu Bajrangi, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre in which 97 people were murdered in broad daylight, was released on bail by the Gujarat High Court for an “urgent eye operation”. This is Babu Bajrangi in his own words speaking about the crime he committed: “We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire, we set them on fire and killed them—hacked, burnt, set on fire.... We believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated. They’re afraid of it.”—‘After killing them, I felt like Maharana Pratap’ in Tehelka, September 1, 2007.

Eye operation, huh? Well maybe on second thoughts it really is urgent that he replace the murderous lenses he seems to view the world through with something less stupid and less dangerous.

On July 30, 2014, Maya Kodnani, a former minister of the Modi government in Gujarat, convicted and serving a 28-year sentence for being the ‘kingpin’ of that same Naroda Patiya massacre, was granted bail by the Gujarat High Court. Kodnani is a medical doctor and says she suffers from intestinal tuberculosis, a heart condition, clinical depression and a spinal problem. Her sentence has been suspended.

Amit Shah, also a former minister in the Modi government in Gujarat, was arrested in July 2010, accused of ordering the extrajudicial killing of three people—Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati. The CBI produced phone records showing that Shah was in constant touch with the police officials who held the victims in illegal custody before they were murdered, and that the number of phone calls between him and those police officials spiked sharply during those days. Amit Shah was released on bail three months after his arrest. (Subsequently, after a series of disturbing and mysterious events, he has been let off altogether.) He is currently the president of the BJP, and the right hand man of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

With Narendra Modi in power as the Prime Minister of India, the largest illiberal democracy in our time, what do you expect? He played a sinister role for the massacre of Muslims in his state of Gujarat, and yet remains untouched.

How about culprits for the Hashimpura massacre?

Arundhati Roy writes, “On May 22, 1987, 42 Muslim men rounded up in a truck by the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) were shot dead in cold blood on the outskirts of Hashimpura and their bodies were dumped in a canal. Nineteen members of the PAC were accused in the case. All of them were allowed to continue in service, receiving their promotions and bonuses like everybody else. Thirteen years later, in the year 2000, 16 of them surrendered (three had died). They were released on bail immediately. A few weeks ago, in March 2015, all 16 were acquitted for lack of evidence.”

The above cases speak volumes about the health of Indian judicial system under Modi’s watch!

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