Thwart the Ploy to Whitewash Genocide
After the horrors of state-sponsored genocide, Modi’s BJP reaped the harvest of hatred to sweep back to power. Now, under Modi whom the nation called a Chief Monster, but whom L K Advani hails as “the best chief minister in the last half century”, the minorities of Gujarat live in the valley of fear.
Now, recent statements of Justice T. Nanavati raise the ominous spectre of miscarriage of justice. In an interview with NDTV24X7, Justice Nanavati who heads the Commission of Enquiry into the riots, said: “Yes, there have been instances where people have said that Bajrag Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers at the local level instigated people to riot. But the complaints are primarily of a very general nature. There is no real evidence that has been brought to name individual Bajrang Dal or VHP leaders.”
Note that while Justice Nanavati conceded, “local level” Bajrang Dal-VHP involvement in the violence, he emphasized the escape route – no individual names have been accused. Does Justice Nanavati not know that witnesses have been threatened to withdraw FIRs if they wish to return to their villages? That human rights activists and minorities in Gujarat routinely face threats and intimidations? Why is it that people have felt free to give testimonies to independent tribunals, but are fearful of speaking up before the official commission? Contrast Justice Nanavati’s remarks with the report of the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal, headed by Justice VR Krishna Iyer: “Testimonies from the numerous survivors of the genocide in Gujarat provide abundant evidence of dereliction of duty and in many cases even complicity of sections of the police force in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims.”
It is the Gujarat government which is going all out to silence these testimonies. Witness how the bold Zahira Sheikh, key witness in the Best Bakery case, has now turned hostile. The reason is not far to seek – she is now closely guarded by a BJP MLA, who tells the press they cannot meet her because, “it is a matter of life and death for the 21 accused”!
Justice Nanavati went further to say that “on the evidence that we have recorded so far, it would not be fair to say that only Muslims were targeted. Initially, though Hindus may have been the perpetrators of violence, because they were angry, later members of both communities engaged in violence”. Since when it is the business of the heads of the enquiry commissions to offer excuses and explanations for perpetrators of communal violence? If he can hold anger responsible for Hindu violence, why does he not explain that Muslim violence was because “they were fighting to save their lives, since police and government were backing their killers”? Why is Justice Nanavati handing out clean chits when the commission is yet to record evidence in key areas like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bharuch and Narmada?
Justice Nanavati has said that those who wish to record the evidence have another chance to do so on July 15. It is time for all secular, democratic forces in Gujarat to come forward to help people shed fear and speak out on the 15th. The whitewash of genocides must not be allowed – murderers must not be given a clean chit.
– Kavita