Gu­jarat mas­sacre, a test for In­dian Ju­di­ciary

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

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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