Indian American Muslims Hail Special Court’s Verdict
Morton Grove, IL: The Indian American Muslim Council (http://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has welcomed the (Indian) Special Court’s verdict in a case pertaining to the brutal killing of 95 people in Naroda Patiya during the Gujarat pogrom of 2002.
An IAMC announcement states: The special court convicted 32 people almost a decade after the brutal massacre at Naroda Patiya during the carnage in Gujarat. The verdict is all the more significant since the list of convicted individuals includes former Gujarat Minister for Women and Child Development, Maya Kodnani of the BJP, and Babu Bajrangi, who is a leader of the Bajrang Dal. Both Kodnani and Bajrangi have been found guilty of murder under section 302, and of criminal conspiracy under section 120B of the Indian Penal Code. The court also convicted three individuals of gang rape. This is the second Gujarat carnage case in which rape charges have been proved.
The special court’s verdict represents an important victory in the ongoing struggle for justice in Gujarat. The verdict is also the fruit of patient struggle by the survivors of the Gujarat pogrom, the courage of the witnesses who came forward to facilitate the judicial process and tireless efforts by human rights defenders such as Teesta Setalvad, Mukul Sinha, Shabnam Hashmi and Harsh Mander among many others.
IAMC has urged the special court to take the following actions:
• Exercise its authority and punish the guilty to the full extent of the law. It is imperative that the sentence is proportionate to the magnitude of the crime in order to affirm the equality of all citizens under the law.
• Probe the allegations made by former DGP Sreekumar as well as former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt about the direct complicity of Chief Minister Narendra Modi in enabling and facilitating the pogrom of 2002.
• Investigate the corroborating evidence against Modi brought to light by Justice H. Suresh, who has come forward with an audio tape of his conversation with Haren Pandya (then minister in Modi’s cabinet) in 2002. The tape contains specific information about Modi’s role in the Gujarat violence. Haren Pandya was later shot dead in 2003, and his murder continues to remain unresolved.
IAMC has also called upon the Indian Supreme Court to act on the recommendations of its amicus curiae to initiate criminal prosecution of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The carnage in Gujarat involved mass killing, rape and pillage resulting in the brutal massacre of 2000 people, and the expulsion of over 500,000 people from their homes. While the court’s verdict is certainly a step in the right direction, the number of convictions thus far is still a small fraction of the total number of cases related to the Gujarat pogrom of 2002.