Gujarat massacre, a test for Indian Judiciary
ALL eyes are now set on what will be the final verdict of the Indian judiciary against the twenty-four Hindus convicted over 2002 Gujarat massacre - the one regarded as the worst religious riots since partition of the Sub-continent.
Final verdict is expected on Thursday but the prosecutors have sought death penalty for the convicts. The bitter fact of Gujarat genocide is that the victims are still deprived of justice, their right to life with human dignity is at stake and on the other hand the few criminals who were arrested and convicted for the dreadful crime have succeeded in getting out of jail. One of the masterminds has become the Prime Minister of the country while others are occupying many other important positions in the government. In fact following the carnage, every dirty tactic was also employed including harassment and intimidation of lawyers and human rights activists to stall the process of prosecution and investigation into the cases. According to estimates, about one thousand Muslims had lost their lives in the riots and conviction of mere twenty four Hindu extremists implicated in the hacking and burning to death of sixty nine Muslims clearly indicates that justice is still far from delivered. A large chunk of people including human rights organizations believe that there are people in the Indian judiciary who possess soft corner towards Hindutva elements and therefore the criminal procedural system has not been implemented in a fair manner, as most of those involved in the carnage are out of prisons and roaming freely without any shame. To heal the wounds of the victim families, we ask the Indian judiciary to fulfil all the requirements of justice in Gujarat massacre and give exemplary punishment to those convicted so that such events do not recur. In addition, the Indian courts also need to ensure that government officials involved in the carnage do not get scot-free. Almost one and a half decade on, India owes it to the victims of riots to end the culture of impunity and prosecute all those responsible without any discrimination for the acts, which are actually a dark blot on the face of humanity.
IWAS on my way to Peshawar from Rawalpindi to meet Wali Khan, son of Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. At Abottabad, where I stopped for a cup of tea, the radio was broadcasting a BBC report that Sikh security guards had shot Prime Minister Indira Gandhi dead. There was no question of my proceeding further. I rushed back to Lahore but by then the flight to Delhi had left. Ironically, a London-based Sikh organization at Lahore had arranged that day a meeting to raise the demand for Khalistan. When I landed at Palam the following day, the airport wore a deserted look. Two Sikh officers at the immigration counter stood aside. I heard someone saying at the counter that security would have to be arranged to take the Sikh employees safe home.
I was bewildered and could not make a head or tail out of what was going on. A Hindu officer at the counter explained that there had been a massacre of Sikhs at Delhi. It had never occurred to me that the Hindus could kill the Sikhs who, according to the constitution, were Hindus. That apart, marriages between the Hindus and Sikhs were common till a few years ago. My mother was from a Sikh family. When I came out of Palam, I saw a heap of ashes. The taxi driver told me that a Sikh had been burnt alive
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