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Mumbai NGO disappointed by verdict on Zakia Jafri protest petition
Friday December 27, 2013 11:39 PM, Staff Reporter

The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) in a statement released Friday expressed deep disappointment and anguish at the verdict dismissiing the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the widow of Ehsan Jafri, the former Congress MP, who was killed by the violent mob during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

"On behalf of thousands of survivors of the 2002 genocidal pogrom that took place in Gujarat from February – May 2002, the Citizens for Justice and Peace expresses deep disappointment and anguish at the verdict of the Magistrate Court, Judge BJ Ganatra accepting the dismissal of serious criminal charges of criminal conspiracy against chief minister Narendra Modi and 59 others", CJP said in a statement.

"The Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation team (SIT) had filed a closure report in this case, despite finding many of the serious allegations in the Zakia Ahsan Jafri complaint dated 8.6.2006 to be true. The Judge on 26.12.2013 accepted the closure report of the SIT", it added.

Amicus Curiae in this unique case, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran had differed significantly with the SIT and opined that there was enough evidence to prosecute Modi under Sections 153(a), 153(b) and 166 of the Indian penal Code.

"The CJP will continue to assist Zakia Ahsan Jafri in appealing to the higher courts for justice. The 3-4 tiered system of justice in India is designed to correct wrongs and we are confident that the serious charges of criminal conspiracy, abetment, murder, arson etc will finally result in the prosecution of the powerful", it said.

"Meanwhile", the CJP said, "It remains a trying time for survivors and human rights defenders who stand firm in their fight for justice. A detailed analysis of the 450 page judgement will be made available by the CJP within a week."

The CJP said it would like to state that the detailed construction of criminal conspiracy and abetments presented before the Magistrate's Court on legal and factual grounds was completely ignored by the Court despite substantive evidence from the investigation papers.

"Counsel for the Complainant, relying on statements recorded by the SIT, documentary and other evidence existing on the record of the Trial Court, had argued, in detailed oral arguments presented to the Court, between June-September 2013, that though the law requires establishment of only a prima facie case of serious suspicion for framing charges against Modi and other accused in offences of cognisable nature, but, in fact, there exists more than ample evidence, which is not only sufficient for framing charges but also for proceeding with the trial and for convicting Modi and other accused on charges of conspiracy and abetment for committing murder, arson and brutal massacre throughout Gujarat", the CJP said in the statement.

"The widespread violence that engulfed Gujarat spreading to 19 of the State's 25 districts – 14 very seriously - post the tragic burning to death of 59 persons in the S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express is perhaps the worst ever record of reprisal communal violence in post-Independence India. It was not simply the number of lives lost, though the number — perhaps 2,000 — is not insignificant.

"It was the cold-blooded manner in which they were taken, as armed militias with high level government sanction, ensured a high level brutality in the killings, mutilation, rapes and burnings. Over 200 girls and women suffered sexual violence, 18,000 homes and 1,200 hotels were gutted. The unfortunate pattern behind the reprisal killings was that the loss of life and property was that of the minority", it said.

The CJP said, since 2002, when the National Human Rights Commission filed its Interim and Final Reports and 2003 and 2004 when the Hon'ble Supreme Court first pulled up the State government for absence to 'observe its Raj Dharma' and accused it of criminal negligence:"The Neros in Gujarat fiddled as Gujarat burned". Serious allegations of top level criminal conspiracy in masterminding the violence have been made against the chief functionaries of the government.

"The NHRC concluded in its Report dated 31.5. 2002 that "there was a comprehensive failure of the State to protect the Constitutional rights of the people of Gujarat". The Supreme Court of India, while severely indicting the Gujarat government, transferred two trials outside of Gujarat i.e. BEST Bakery and Bilkees Bano.

"The Supreme Court has been well aware of the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 carnage and the Court's orders, one after the other, in different cases related to the 2002 carnage, have reflected this. Various orders passed by the Supreme Court, including the path-breaking directions in the Best Bakery case and other important developments, ultimately led to the formation and reconstitution of the SIT on 26.3.2008 to further investigate nine of the crucial trials relating to the 2002 carnage", it said.

"Of the 300 violent incidents all over the State of Gujarat that took place with sinister precision and conspiracy, two of the worst in terms of intensity took place within Ahmedabad (Naroda Patiya and Gulberg Society) with over 200 brutal massacres, including daylight rapes and burnings the day after the Godhra train burning on 28.2.2002.

"At the Gulberg society where Mrs Jafri and her husband lived, a total of 69 persons were massacred in cold blood after young girls and women had also been raped. Over 200 distress phone calls, including several to the commissioner of police, Ahmedabad and chief executive of the state had brought no relief.

"By August 2002 the Government itself had recorded 185 cases of attacks on women of which 100 were in Ahmedabad city and 57 attacks on children of which 33 were in Ahmedabad alone. Totally, 225 women and 65 children were killed", it said.

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