Gujarat model of justice


On 29 Aug – two days back, that is – the Gujarat High Court acquitted all of the 12 who had been accused of murdering Haren Pandya, Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home. 

Haren Pandya was murdered on 26 March 2003, three weeks after he had deposed before the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal that he had attended a meeting on 27 Feb 2002 night at Narendra Modi’s residence in which Modi wanted a backlash from the Hindus against the Muslims in Gujarat for the Godhra incident. Modi, according to Pandya’s deposition, asked the police not to come in the way.  Justice P B Sawant (retired Supreme Court judge) and Justice Hosbert Suresh (retired Bombay High Court judge) who were members of the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal later told the Special Investigation Team (SIT) about Pandya’s deposition.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had chosen to ignore the possible link between Pandya’s deposition and his murder.  Instead it accused 12 members of the Muslim community, labelling Pandya’s murder as part of a “larger conspiracy” by the Muslims to avenge the 2002 communal riots.

In June 2007, nine of the 12 Muslims were sentenced to life imprisonment.  The principal accused, Mohamed Asgar Ali, noted criminal from Hyderabad, was sentenced to “remain in prison till he is alive.”  All the 12 including Ali have been acquitted now of the murder charge though Ali will continue in prison to serve a 7-year term of rigorous imprisonment for other charges.  The other eleven are set free.

That freedom comes at a great price.  These 11 people have spent a part of their life in prison for no reason other than being Muslims.  The label of criminal will hang attached to them for years to come.  The experience must have left deep scars in their minds. 

How many more innocent people in Gujarat might have suffered similar fates in Narendra Modi’s reign?

Soon after the 2002 riots Modi’s police arrested 134 Muslims based on flimsy testimonies like those from nine men belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who claimed to be eye witnesses of the Godhra incident.  What Modi was trying to do by arresting a large number of Muslims was to establish the culpability of that community for all that happened in Gujarat after Godhra.

A sting operation conducted by Tehelka in 2007 proved beyond doubt that the 9 eye witnesses were not even present anywhere near the Godhra railway station when the tragic incident occurred.  Tehelka reported that those 9 people “had been asked to give false testimonies by the police to further the Modi government’s communal and political agenda, and they had gone along to ‘secure the cause of Hindutva’.”  41 Muslims spent 9 years in jail because of the false testimony given by these 9 men.

This is the Gujarat model of justice.

Once again innocent people who were condemned to waste their precious years behind the bars have been acquitted.  Who will soothe the agony in their souls?  Who will answer for the sheer injustice inflicted on them by the guardians of justice?

The judge who acquitted the 12 two days back accused the investigating officers of “ineptitude resulting in injustice, harassment of many persons and enormous waste of public resources and time of the courts.”

That is also the Gujarat model of justice.

Haren Pandya’s father, Vithalbhai Pandya, who died last year, had put the blame for his son’s murder squarely on Narendra Modi.  The CBI could have pinpointed the real culprits easily if it wanted.  But the real criminals were being promoted to higher posts in the state’s various hierarchies. 

That is also the Gujarat model of justice.

Today there are at least two police officers who are the targets of Modi’s ire for speaking the truth, but have escaped the Gujarat model of justice.  Hitherto.   




About matheikal

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5 Responses to Gujarat model of justice

  1. aram says:

    What amazes me is that the congress is corrupt, BJP is ruthless … everyone seems wrong !! why should the country be in the mercy of people who are soo bad that we have to choose between bad and worse ….. I thought all the scenes of chaos depicted in hollywood movies are a state of mind !! Today i see it happening in the world. Maybe the world better get over in 2012 otherwise humanity will do it for the mayan calendar !!

    • matheikal says:

      Unfortunately, Aram, you are right; our choice is between the worse and the worst. Perhaps, the movement started by Anna will make some difference. Perhaps!

  2. Raghuram says:

    Here is the difference between you and me, Matheikal. On matters involvng institutional justice I wait till the process comes to an end before I open my mouth, no matter how long it takes. This is why I even opened my mouth an only in a limited way on Binayak Sen only after the Supreme Court granted him bail. Here too, the gih court order will be contested in the Supreme Court and you can be sure no matter the final verdict I would have something tosay. My character flaw, perhaps.

    Raghuram Ekambaram

  3. Pingback: Reading List « Myth of Vibrant Gujarat

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