(This article is based on stories and excerpts from Tehelka.com, Times Of India, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, India Today, The Hindu, Daily Bhaskar, Associated Press, and Supreme Court proceedings over the last 11 years)
Justice delayed is justice denied.
From 1984 to 2005, that is how long it took for a judicial commission headed by Nanavati to say Jagdish Tytler “very probably” had a hand in the anti-sikh riots. A period of 21 long happy years for Tytler.
And Tytler got a “clean chit” from CBI in 2009. A sessions court rejected the “clean chit” in April 2013, and ordered an investigation.
Does this sound suspiciously like someone infamous we know today? Substitute CBI with SIT (headed by ex-CBI director Raghavan), and we seem to be talking of Pheku.
And Pheku knows, if you’re looking for a great judge to appoint for a commission on riots, Nanavati is the man!
Pheku needed someone who would drag on the commission for two decades, as in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. The very same judge, G. T. NANAVATI, used in the anti-sikh riots commission, was picked up by Pheku for investigating the Godhra affair, having proven his credentials by giving Jagdish Tytler a “very probable” hand instead of finding him guilty.
In 2002, after the Gujarat riots, Pheku set up a panel to probe into them, consisting of Nanavati (retired Supreme Court judge) and KG Shah (a Gujarat High Court judge).
In October 2007, Arvind Pandya, Gujarat’s Advocate General, was caught on hidden camera by Tehelka saying “K.G. Shah is our man. Nanavati is only after money”.
September 2008, Nanavati supposedly gave a clean chit to Pheku, but then Justice Nanavati denied it, saying, “The hue and cry has been raised without reading the report. The first part strictly deals only with the Godhra incident. Where is the question of clean chit on the riots without the final report?”
For Nanavati, there was still stuff to investigate, and once he declared Pheku guilty or innocent, the commission would end. What was submitted in 2008, was only Part-I of the Report, concerning only the train burning and not the riots that followed. If Pheku wanted more, Nanavati would need more time than six years. Going by his previous record, he would need at least 29 years and counting, which was perfect for Pheku.
In July 2013, Nanavati commission’s term has been extended once again for the 20th time, after 136 months, for 6 more months, so it can submit its final report. Justice KG Shah (“our man”) joined the Gujarat victims (he died, albeit natural causes), and was replaced by retired High Court Justice K.R. Vyas. And the nation patiently awaits the 78-year old Nanavati, and 70 year-old Vyas to hand in their report, and prays for their health and long life.
Cartoon Courtesy: Daily Bhaskar
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court restrained the trial courts from pronouncing judgement in 9 of the major riot related cases, recognizing Gujarat’s courts lie in Pheku-country. They formed a Special Investigation Team to look into these nine cases. The stay was lifted in January 2011.
Here is the status of each of those nine cases:
Godhra Train Burning
In March 2011, a special court in Ahmedabad convicted 31 people, of burning coach S-6, in which 59 Kar Sevaks had died. It acquitted 63 others, including key accused Maulvii Umarji.
The Supreme Court ordered that the evidence gathered by SIT (R K Raghavan) be turned over to the petitioners, who may file a protest petition.
A protest petition is currently being heard before Ahmedamad magistrate since June 2013, and evidence previously suppressed by SIT is being reviewed, such as:
- A FAX message sent by District Magistrate that Kar Sevaks shouting slogans had instigated a quarrel with Muslim vendors.
- After visiting Godhra the same afternoon, Pheku had inflamed passions, by pheking that the burning was “one-sided”, “premeditated”, and “act of terror”.
- As per call records available with SIT, there was a call from Pheku’s PA to VHP leader, Jaideep Patel, post which he went to Godhra, and was allowed to enter Coach S-6, along with his followers and take out bodies. He claimed to have gone there because he received a call from a Kar Sevak.
- Former Chief Minister Suresh Mehta (a BJP CM) testified to the SIT that he heard Pheku remark, “Hindus should wake up now” when sitting beside him in assembly on that same day.
- SIT glossed over state intelligence alerts at least 20 days before of tension caused by VHP and Bajrang Dal being mobilized and armed with trishuls.
- SIT also ignored Pheku’s failure to take any cautionary measures at railway stations, despite reports of violence by Kar Sevaks two stations before Godhra.
The hearings have not yet been completed.
Naroda Pataya massacre
The first verdict in the case was handed down on 29 August 2012 by Judge Jyotsna Yagnik. The special trial court convicted Maya Kodnani, the sitting Bhartiya Janata Party MLA from Naroda and former Minister for Women and Child Development of Gujarat, and Bajrang Dal politician Babu Bajrangi under Indian Penal Code Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder). It also convicted 30 other people of murder, criminal conspiracy and other criminal charges, and acquitted 29 accused, giving them the benefit of the doubt as there was lack of evidence against them.
Before the SIT took over, the police cooked up their own accounts, even recording the statement of a 20-day old baby (Shoaib), who was listed by them as 20-year old, which was duly observed by Jyotsna Yagnik, the special court judge.
Kodnani was the first woman, MLA and minister to be convicted in the Gujarat riot case.Suresh Dedawala (Richard) alias Langado and accomplices were convicted of rape and murder along with accomplices.
Kodnani was given a 28-year prison term, and received two sentences; the first for 10 years under Indian Penal Code Section 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and the second for 18 years under Section 302 (murder) and others. Her sentences are set to run consecutively, making a total of 28 years. Bajrangi received life imprisonment. Of the rest of the 30 convicted, 22 were sentenced to a minimum of 14 years and 7 to a minimum of 21 years in prison. (Wikipedia).
Shortly after Maya Kodnani’s sentencing, in a couple of months, Britain announced that it would end a 10-year boycott. Kodnani, in the end, was the sacrificial goat for Modi’s UK visa.
Pheku.in has a special story on Maya Kodnani.
Dipda Darwaza Massacre
The judgement in the Dipda Darwaza riot case was delivered on July 30, 2012. Judge S C Srivastava had awarded life imprisonment to 21 people, a year in jail to a retired police officer and acquitted 61 other accused.
The SIT has appealed against this judgement. “We have, in our appeal, challenged the acquittal of 61 by the Special Court as well as conviction of 21 accused under IPC Section 307 (attempt to murder). We want they be convicted for murder (under IPC Section 302),” Manisha Lavkumar, Special Public Prosecutor of the case, told PTI.
Those acquitted included former BJP MLA Prahlad Gosa and Dayabhai Patel, his party colleague and ex-president of the local municipality.
Sadarpura(Mehsana Dist.) massacre
In November 2011, in the first verdict and sentencing in nine years in a post-Godhra riots case in Gujarat, probed by the SIT, 31 persons out of 73 accused have been found guilty and sentenced to life for the Sardarpura massacre in which 33 people were locked up and burnt alive.
But the Mehsana court did acquit 42 others in the case, while 31 others were being released giving them benefit of doubt.
In April 2012, the Gujarat High Court admitted appeals against some of the acquittals. HC has adjourned the appeals filed by witnesses challenging the acquittals. Witnesses had challenged the acquittal order for 14 accused, claiming that evidence was found against them and there was a need for judicial review.
Ode (Anand Dist.) Massacre
In the first case in Ode (Piriwali Bhagol), twenty-three people, including nine women and as many children, were burnt alive by a riotous mob at Ode village in Anand district in central Gujarat on March 1, 2002.
In May 2008 the remains of victims of the violence were recovered from a well in the centre of the village.
In April 2012, 23 people were convicted by an Indian court for the massacre.
Another 23 people were acquitted for lack of evidence in the case, in which rioters in the small Gujarati village of Ode bolted the doors of a house where Muslim families had taken refuge and then set it on fire.
Of the 23 who died in what became known as the “Ode massacre”, 18 were women.
Courtesy: The Hindu
Eighteen persons pronounced guilty of murder in the 2002 Ode massacre case were on Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment, while five others — convicted of attempt to murder, abetment to crime and unlawful activities — were each sentenced to seven years in jail.
In the second case at Ode, three people were killed at Malav Bhagol and nine were convicted to life imprisonment in this case.
In September 2012, the Gujarat government has appealed against the verdict, asking for the death sentence instead of life sentences for the 27 convicted. After 10 years, and on the heels of a makeover facial, this is the first time Pheku has asked for the death penalty in Godhra-riot cases.
Three British nationals (Saeed Dawood, Mohammed Aswat Nallabhai, Shakil Dawood), and their Gujarati driver (Yusuf Sulaiman), were killed on National Highway No 8 near Prantij, Sabarkantha.
The three British nationals were burnt alive in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat along with their Indian driver.
The three most important eyewitnesses – Kalusinh, Badarsinh and Dalpat turned hostile in 2009. Complainant Imran also refused to identify accused persons.
After three years of recording evidence, and recording of statements of two former British High Commissioners, the prosecution examined a couple of concerned witnesses in light of the new information brought on record. The prosecution examined 79 witnesses in this case.
In March 2013, the court started hearing final arguments in the case.
Gulberg Society Massacre
A mob attacked Gulbarg Society, a minority neighborhood in a majority dominated Chamanpura, Ahmedabad. The society had 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings. Many of the residents took refuge in Ehsan Jafri’s (Congress MP’s) house, but the mob scaled the boundary walls, set fire to the houses, and over a six-hour period, 69 people were killed, at least a further 85 injured. Among the dead was Ehsan Jafri, who was hacked to death and later, burnt, while at least 35 people were either hacked or burnt alive.
In October 2007, a Tehelka sting operation caught 14 VHP or Bajrang Dal activists on video, including Madan Chawal, accused in Gulberg massacre, and a BJP MLA from Godhra, Harish Bhatt (national Vice President of Bajrang Dal during the riots) who were shown talking of the killings.
<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/mfnTl_Fwvbo?feature=player_detailpage” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Ehsan Jafri’s widow approached the Gujarat High Court, which refused to hear her, directing her to the magistrate’s court, in 2007. The Supreme Court then appointed the five-member SIT to investigate, in April 2009.
Courtesy PTI. Zakia Jafri
Imtiaz Pathan testified against Pheku, that Ehsan Jafri had phoned him for help, yet the police refused to come for help.
R.B. Sreekumar, Additional D.G.(Intelligence) testified against Pheku, deposing before a commission that ministers and police were “deliberately inactive during the riots”
In March 2010, the Gulbarg Society case trial was stayed by the Supreme Court after the special public prosecutor R K Shah resigned after accusing the trial judge and SIT of being “soft on the accused”. He alleged that, “The SIT officers are unsympathetic towards witnesses, they try to browbeat them and don’t share evidence with the prosecution as they are supposed to do.”
In April 2010, an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court showed the phone record analysis which indicated that “Ahmedabad police commissioner P C Pande had spoken to joint commissioner of police M K Tandon six times during the period when the latter was present at Gulbarg Society and the mob was growing restive. Though Tandon was accompanied by “striking force” equipped to disperse a riotous mob, he left Gulbarg Society without taking any corrective action and his departure led to the massacre …”
In May 2010, the SIT submitted a report under sealed cover, after questioning Praveen Togadia, VHP International President.
In December 2010, Zakia Jafri and others victims filed an application with the Supreme Court, requesting it to direct SIT to submit the report before the Ahmedabad court as ordered by the SC, within 30 days.
In February 2012, the SIT submitted its final report to a Gujarat magistrate’s court.
In its closure report filed in the Zakia Jafri case, the SIT submitted that Jafri was killed because he provoked a “violent mob” that had assembled “to take revenge of Godhra incident from the Muslims.”
The Supreme Court had however, appointed an Amicus Curia, with an impeccable record of integrity, to protect against any mischief by the SIT. Initially, it was Harish Salve, who supervised the work for 8 years. Unfortunately, Harish was also representing Pheku in the Ishrat Jahan case, and prosecuting lawyers had no faith in him. (Whose Amicus is Harish Salve? in Tehelka)
In May 2012, the SIT handed over its report to Zakia Jafri, along with two reports of the Supreme Court appointed Amicus Curiae, Raju Ramachandran. Mr. Ramachandran strongly disagreed with a key conclusion of the R.K. Raghavan-led SIT: that IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was not present at a late-night meeting of top Gujarat cops held at the Chief Minister’s residence in the wake of the February 27, 2002 Godhra carnage.
There was no reason to disbelieve Sanjeev Bhat at this stage, he felt.
“In my opinion, the offences which can be made out against Shri Modi, at this prima facie stage, are offences, inter alia, under
- Sections 153 A (1) (a) & (b) (statements promoting enmity between communities),
- 153B(1) (c) (imputations and assertions prejudicial to national interest),
- 166 (public servant disobeying a direction of the law with intent to cause injury) and
- 505 (2) (statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC.”
Eleven Muslims were killed in Naroda Gam area. There are 84 persons including Kodnani and senior VHP leader Jaideep Patel that are being tried in this case.
The case is still being heard.
Justice can be painfully slow in India.
If we were one people, one nation, one leader (“Ein Folk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer”), with Pheku being our leader, the minorities wouldn’t have survived for so long and would get their justice immediately. In fact, our version of the Hitler Youth, the Bajrangis, and VHP cadre, have experimented enough in Gujarat with various ways of death, and are ready with the Final Solution for India.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of India takes a dim view of such things, insisting on justice even after 11 years, hounding Pheku and his fan-boys, along with the rest of the media.
But if Pheku comes to power across India, what he has done in Gujarat can be a model for India – that last line of defence of the judiciary and the media can be broken.
Judgements in the SIT Cases so far
Godhra train burning:
Convicted: 31 acquitted 63 death sentences 11
(Under Appeal for suppression of evidence by SIT)
Convicted 31 acquitted 42 life terms 31
Ode Malav Bhagole
Convicted 10 acquitted 30 life terms 9
Ode Pirawali Bhagole
Convicted 23 acquitted 23 life terms 18
(Under appeal for death sentence)
Convicted 22 acquitted 61 life terms 21
Convicted 32 acquitted 29 life terms 31 (Broken in four different slabs ranging from 14 years to rest of life)
Gulberg Society Massacre
Convicted – none.
Yet to be decided: