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Citizens for Justice and Peace

CJP Assesses the Sardarpura Judgement

10, Nov 2011

The
Citizens for Justice and Peace welcomes the decision of the trial
court (November 9, 2011) in the Sardarpura massacre case to convict
31 persons to life imprisonment for murder and unlawful assembly.
(Sections 302 and 120 B 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 IE and Hindu
Stories reflect 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 SC 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, Shri 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, 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 restitiution?

The CJP expresses grave concern about the 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
addrssesd 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 (now voice testing etc has happened though some accused like
Babu Bajrangi have refused to allow their voices to be
scientifically tested against those recorded in the Tehelka tapes).
This 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 police. 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
Godhead 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 allegations made against CJPÂ’s Secretary on
the vile ana malafide allegations 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 focussed 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 in our system it –often poor, frightened
and displaced by violent crimes — to ever get justice done. This
is a harsh but sombre reality.

Teesta Setalvad
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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