The verdict of magistrate Dr.
Jyotsna Yagnik, sentencing Dr. Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and
others to long imprisonment (31 August, 2012) has come as a big
relief to the victims of Naroda Patiya, for whom it was like
return of Eid to their houses.
Naroda Patiya had witnessed
horrific carnage and acts of rape in 2002 and this judgment will
give a solace to the victims and their near and dear ones’.
judgment came as a culmination of the mammoth efforts of the human
rights activists, the victims, the witnesses and the team of legal
activists who stood all the opposition form every conceivable
quarter to ensure that justice is done in the case. The adage that
‘there can’t be peace without justice’ has been redeemed with this
This judgment also puts right various misconceptions deliberately
propagated by communal forces. First and foremost was that the
Gujarat violence was a reaction to the Godhra train burning. By
now this is believed by most of the sections of society, more so
by the communalized sections of society all over and more so in
The judge made it clear that “thousands of
persons…attacked weaponless and frightened victims with intention,
pre planning while sharing common objects”. It was not a
spontaneous reaction to burning of train in Godhra. Rather Godhra
train burning was used subtly as a justification for the
Communal forces tried to pass it off as
‘natural anger’ which the state could not control. Contrary to
this perception, now court has ruled that it was a deliberately
planned carnage, using the Godhra incident as a mere pretext to
consolidate communal polarization in the state of Gujarat.
India has witnessed so many communal riots, acts of violence.
Lately these riots have been assuming the form of well organized
pogroms. This finding of Human Rights groups and the report of
Citizens for Justice and peace gets validated through this
judgment, for sure. So far the trend has been that the innocents
have been killed in the violence and the perpetrators of violence
have gone scot free.
Now it seems that with the human rights
defenders tightening their belts can set right the adverse trend,
where guilty were getting away without any punishment. In this
case human rights defenders have put in all the efforts to reverse
the prevalent trend due to which the perpetrators of crime were
more or less sure that they can get away with their crimes and
consolidate their politics.
For once the message is loud and clear that the automatic
mechanisms of justice delivery system are not effective and a
super human efforts by dedicated human rights defenders like
Teesta Setalvad, Gagan Sethi, Harsh Mander, Yusuf Muchala, Mukul
Sinha, Govind Parmar and many others like them, working through
different angles, supplementing each other’s efforts can ensure
that justice is done. They had to plug the leaks in the system to
ensure that victims are protected, witnesses are protected, the
complaints, FIRs are properly recorded, and to see that all the
hurdles to justice are overcome.
The first question which comes to mind is, will this state of
affairs continue like this where nothing short of super human
efforts, protecting-sustaining the victims and witnesses against
heavy odds will be needed for getting justice. Society and the
nation needs to plug the loopholes in the policing system, in the
bureaucratic apparatus and in the attitude of political leadership
so that the justice delivery becomes a matter of routine rather
than an exception. Victims of so many riots, pogroms are still
awaiting justice, Bhagalpur, Delhi and Mumbai to name the few,
still have not got the justice.
This brings to our attention another aspect of the violence, those
who led it. Dr. Maya Kodnani came up through Rashtra Sevikasamiti,
an organization subordinate to Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, RSS.
One notes incidentally that in RSS worldview, women don’t have a
swayam (Self) as is manifest in the name of Rashtra Sevikasamiti.
Also that Maya Kodnani was sitting MLA, and after the pogrom and
her role in it, inciting the mob, distributing fuel and armaments,
she was promoted to the level of minister and once she was charged
with the role in violence, she was dumped from the ministry and
disowned by the state Government. Section of RSS followers in VHP
etc. are protesting against the judgment.
As such the standard
technique for RSS stable is that, once its members-followers
undertake the crime, murder of Gandhi, burning of Pastor Stains,
or play their part in terror attack, they are declared not to be
having any association with the parent organization, whose
ideology they are living and breathing through their actions.
Kodnani for certain reasons did say that she was victim of
politics! What does this mean? While this statement is a mystery,
one hopes the meaning of this victimhood comes out one of the days
Babu Bajrangi is another character, whose revelations in Tehelka
were nothing less than shocking. He said they have been given time
for three days, and that his team-associates are playing not the
test cricket but one day match, where high score is to made in
And that after killing the hapless Muslims he felt
like Rana Pratap. One wishes he knew that Rana Pratap was not
killing in the name of religion, he was fighting other kings for
power and that in his army there were Muslims soldiers as well.
One of the his army generals who died while fighting for Rana
Pratap was Hakim Khan Sur, whose tomb is there in the Haldi Ghati
even now. How distortions of medieval history are done
deliberately to incite hate becomes clear again.
And what is happening to the conscience of Narendra Modi, who has
been the major beneficiary of the carnage of 2002? Any remorse,
any tears for at least those who were reporting to him during the
carnage, whom he promoted for their role in the violence and now
are being punished by the due process of law?
One hopes that we recast our laws and system to ensure that the
violence is punished in due course and that this punishment acts
as a deterrent and ensures that in future such inhuman dastardly
acts don’t repeat themselves.
This welcome judgment also leaves a
few questions, what about those who faulted in the discharge of
their duties to protect the innocents, to register their
legitimate complains, and to nail the guilty as a matter of their
We do need to work towards a system
where to begin with such hate crimes don’t take place, and if by
chance such a tragedy is engineered by some political forces, we
have the system in place which can check it right away and punish
those who are either conspiring, or executing or are not
controlling those dastardly acts.
One hopes that the human rights
defenders will be on their tip toes to come forward with such
yeomen efforts to have a society with justice and peace.