Citizens for Justice and Peace


08, May 2017


22, 2013
Press Release

Fourteenth Day of Arguments
in the Zakia Jafri Protest Petition


Faced with a tragedy
like the Godhra train burning that had claimed 58 lives, how would a
government and administration respond, and equally critically how
would an independent agency appointed to fairly and rationally
evaluate the quality of this response go about its job, asked senior
advocate Mihir Desai for Mrs Zakia Jafri and Citizens for Justice
and Peace making a powerful case for evaluating criminal culpability
by top echelons of the police and administration.

Arguing for the
fourteenth day in the 11th Metropolitan MagistrateÂ’s
Court, Ahmedabad, Desai pointed out that the only way an agency
could have developed and evaluated whether or not the ingredients in
a sinister chain of criminal conspiracy, abetment and criminal
culpability by public officials was actually made out was in
evaluating the government, administration and police response,
before, during and after the outbreak of such systemic widespread
and persistent mob violence. When five separate blasts shook Mumbai
in 1993, the conspiratorial hands of a Tiger Memon or a Dawood
Ibrahim could be seen behind each separate, similar and disparate
act by just such an evaluation, he argued.

Could the government,
administration and police have anticipated Godhra? Was there a
systemic prelude or build up of communal atmosphere before the train
burning? Once the incident took place was there an immediacy and
seriousness in stemming any retaliation given the nature of communal
violence and GujaratÂ’s history in this regard, were hate speeches
and hate writings curtailed and prosecuted when they occurred or
were generated or were they encouraged, were perpetrators punished?
On the issue of deployment of the army, the issue to be assessed in
terms of impact on the ground was threefold pressed Desai: was the
Army actually called in on time, in which districts was it deployed
and was it given adequate powers under the law (Sections 129/130 of
the CRPC read with Rules of the Gujarat Police Manual) to function
independently to save lives, property? Ironically, said Desai, the
SIT just like it did not record statements of members of the
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Election Commission,
deliberately chose not to record the statements of independent
witnesses Major Zameeruddin Shah of the 54th Infantry
Division in charge of the Gujarat operation. Neither did the SIT
seek independent data from the Army choosing in its all out bid to
shield the accused, to believe the chief collaborators of the
criminal conspiracy.

Reading from sections
of the Protest Petition that had been filed by Mrs Jafri on April 15
this year, assisted by Citizens for Justice and Peace, Desai pointed
out to the Court the ascending degrees of violence in at least 16 of
GujaratÂ’s 26 districts; violence that started on the day of the
Godhra train burning itself and continued until July-August
September 2002. Ahmedabad, Panchmahals and Mehsana were the worst
affected districts followed by Vadodara, Banaskantha, Dahod and
Anand among others. Reading from the statement of then SP, Mehsana,
Anupam Gahlot who appeared before the SIT on 22.1.2010, he showed
the Court how this officer traversed the length and breath of the
district to save lives of the Minorities, ensuring he was a handÂ’s
on Policeman in Charge unlike the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad,
PC Pande who sat mute spectator in his cabin at Shahibaug while
Ahmedabad burned! Pande was rewarded for this by the chief
conspirator, home minister A-1 Modi, retiring as Director General of
Police (DGP) for the state; thereafter still benefiting from post
retirement postings! On the other hand, Gahlot who had ensured the
safety of over 1,000 persons taking shelter in a Dargah that was
sought to be mob attacked was transferred along with other officers
like Rahul Sharma from Bhavnagar district who had similarly done a
worthy and upright job. These first round of transfers coming as
they did around 24.3.2002 had also been objected to by then DGP K

Serious incidents of
violence had taken place in Ahmedabad and rest of the state on
27.2.2002 itself with warnings of these coming in through the state
intelligence (SIB) –all carefully documented in the protest
petition, yet Pande and other senior officers like Shivanand Jha and
others made a mockery of laws around preventive detention. Special
schemes within the Gujarat Police Mannual and a Special Communal
Riots Scheme (1997) demands that every commissionerate and district
maintain not just a list of “communal goondas” who need to be
arrested when there is threat of violence but also a list of
fanatically minded persons who stoke the flames of communal
violence. Yet in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Sabarkantha, Vadodara,
Panchmahals, Dahod, Banaskantha, Ahmedabad Rural, Vadodara Rural
Patan and Kheda there was complete inaction in this regard. In
Ahmedabad there were only 2 arrests made at Astodia on 27.2.2002 and
that two of Muslims, Desai pointed out.

Over 47 Distress
Messages from the Police Control Room made on 28.2.2002 to the Fire
Brigade Urgently demanding help at a time when Naroda Patiya, Naroda
Gaam and Gulberg Society were under systemic Mob attack were met
with a sinister and conspiratorial silence, revealed Desai reading
from two tables in the protest petition that detailed this evidence.
Pande as Commissioner of Police is answerable for this lapse, yet
SIT chose to completely ignore this evidence from their own record.
No statements of any of the Fire Brigade officials have been
recorded, nor any attempts made to unearth the Fire Brigade register
and analyse this. Arguments will continue tomorrow.


Teesta Setalvad, Secretary

Other Trustees:  

I.M. Kadri,               Nandan Maluste      

Cyrus Guzder        Javed Akhtar                       
Alyque Padamsee
Anil Dharker          Ghulam Peshimam  
        Rahul Bose                            

Javed Anand         Cedric



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