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Citizens for Justice and Peace

Assesses the Sardarpura Judgement

10, Nov 2011

 

CJP
Assesses the Sardarpura Judgement

November 10, 2011

The
Citizens for Justice and Peace welcomes the decision of the trail
court (November 9, 2011) in the Sardarpura massacre case to convict
31 persons to life imprisonment for murder and unlawful assembly.
(Sections 302 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code.) The verdict was
delivered by Judge Srivastava at the Mehsana district court
yesterday. This is the first time ever in the history of communal
violence in the country that such a high number of accused in mob
violence have been convicted. Our advocates invoking Section 357 of
the CRPC also argued for compensation and Judge Srivastava has
ordered Rs 50,000 each to be paid as compensation from each of the
convicted accused. We had also asked for orders from the Court that
could act as a deterrent for outbreaks of violence in the future.

There
are some critical issues following the outcome of the 1,024 page
judgement that CJP would like to focus on:

Firstly, Witnesses and survivors are still terrified of returning to
their village of Sardarpura where the mass crime had taken place on
the night of March 1, 2002. (TV Coverage and the reportage in the
print media reflects this). Hence it is safe and reasonable to
conclude that it is only with the monitoring of the cases by the
Supreme Court, which monitoring has ensured that CISF protection is
given to every eye witness not to mention the legal aid provided by
Citizens for Justice and Peace could this result –31 convictions –
have been achieved.

Behind each of these 31 persons being convicted for life are the
testimonies of four – six eye witnesses and victim survivors who
have a) named them in statements before investigating agencies; b)
named them in their testimonies in Court and c) identified them in a
dock eyed investigation in the Court premises at Mehsana. This
seemingly glib and easy exercise of witness testimony that started
over two years ago in July 2009 has meant victim survivors living
through pain and trauma, fear from the powerful perpetrators. The
victim and eye witness community are farm labourers forced to re
locate at Satnagar an hour’s drive from Sardarpura. At every step
they have been warned to stay away etc but the fact that the SC was
watching, the central paramilitary was protecting them and there was
a group of citizens committed to the rule of law, willing to risk
things and apply to the Apex Court if and whenever things went wrong
gave the confidence to the witnesses to depose. This must not be
lost sight of.

Eye witness testimonies are the only factor for
convictions during mob violence. Eye witness testimonies are the
only guarantor of convictions –there are over four dozen judgements
on this and without these testimonies there would have been no
convictions.

The
CJP would like to take this opportunity to express its appreciation
and gratitude to its entire staff and team of lawyers who have
worked tirelessly to make this happen. Specifically, Mr. Yusuf
Shaikh senior lawyer assisted by advocates Aslam Baig and Sameer
Mansuri handled the entire and exhaustive legal interventions
related to the Sardarpura trial (photographs attached). Shri Suhel
Tirmizi in the Gujarat High Court. Shri Mihir Desai in Bombay and Ms
Kamini Jaiswal, Mr. Sanjay Parikh, Ms Aparna Bhat and Shri Ramesh
Pukhrambam in the Supreme Court of India helped us pursue this case
tirelessly.

Adv.
Aslam Baig
Adv.
Sameer Mansuri
Adv.
Yusuf shaikh

A
real life issue for CJP and all of us working in the socio political
arena is the paralysis within locations where mass crimes happen,
here Sardarpura in Gujarat where Victim Survivors cannot relocate in
Sardarpura. What do we conclude from this? It is the failure of the
entire socio political class even the Opposition to ensure the
climate of safety to ensure this happens? An intrepid legal fight
has ensured legal victory, what about reparation and restitution?

The
CJP expresses grave concern about the charge of section 120 B
(Conspiracy under the IPC) being dropped and here the questionable
role of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) is reflected. Even in
the Sardarpura case evidence has been led on the planning behind
singling out Shaikh mohalla, the communal mobilisation ten days
before Godhra (Then Minister Naran Lalloo Patel and Haresh Bhatt of
Bajrang Dal had visited the area and addressed meetings)–witnesses
have testified ; Tehelka’s Sting Operation (that SIT has been
forced to bring into it’s investigation and Charge sheet only after
we Applied to the Court for it was left out of the loop by the SIT.
In other carnage cases, still pending, Naroda Patiya and Gulberg the
inclusion of TehelkaÂ’s sting as evidence has happened, why not in
Sardarpura? This crucial issue including the complicity of local
policemen who deliberately did not answer pleas for help until SP
Mehsana Gahlot rescued the survivors around 3 a.m. of March 2, 2002
raises questions about the conduct of the state apparatus. These
issues will be raised by us in appeal. (The detailed written
arguments filed witness survivors has an entire chapter on
“Conspiracy and Build UP”. This can be accessed from our website

www.cjponline.org
.

Thirdly CJP would like to state unequivocally its stand on the
sentence. We stressed that death penalty is not a form of punishment
we subscribe to. CJP would like to place on record its distaste at
the vindictive manner in which special public prosecutor in the
Godhra case and pushed for death penalty for 11 persons. We believe
that the issue of inter community peace and restitution of harmony
has moral and ethical dimensions, not only legal ones and hence we
would like to express displeasure at the conduct of the prosecutor
under the SIT.

 Finally, the Court in the Sardarpura massacre case, has spoken
equivocally on the vile and malafide allegations made against CJPÂ’s
Secretary, of tutoring of witnesses. While we feel vindicated, the
cost has been high. We urge that  that this attempt, crass and
brazen, by the state of Gujarat and the party it represents needs to
be focused upon by the media not merely for our individual
vindication but to emphasise a humbling reality. Without legal and
moral support from legal groups to victims and witnesses, it is well
nigh impossible for victims and complainants –often poor, frightened
and displaced by violent crimes — to ever get justice done. This
is a harsh but somber reality.


Teesta Setalvad
Secretary & Trustee
Citizens for Justice and Peace

1)

List of Accused
Convicted

2)


List of Accused given the Benefit of Doubt

3)

List of Accused Acquitted


Other Trustees:
I.M. Kadri
Arvind Krishnaswamy
Javed Akhtar
Cyrus Guzder                          Alyque Padamsee
Anil Dharker
Nandan Maluste                     Javed Anand
              Rahul Bose

Cedric Prakash                       Ghulam Pesh Imam


 

 

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