‘Join The Fight For Justice To Gujarat Victims’
Public Testimony Of Victims In Delhi (People's Democracy April 22-23 2005)

 JOINING the fight for ensuring justice to victims of the Gujarat genocide of 2002 is the duty of every citizen of our nation as democracy itself would be in threat if justice were not done. Popular pressure must be brought on the UPA government and the apex court to act swiftly to ensure justice is done.

 This was the dominant opinion emerging from the public testimony of the victims of Gujarat genocide held on April 16, 2005 at the Constitution Club in New Delhi. The testimony was organised jointly by SAHMAT and Communalism Combat. It may be recalled the first public testimony of the victims was held at this very venue on April 26, 2002. Three years later, the quest for justice still continues – with some minor advances – but amidst heavy blockades by the rabidly fascist government of Narendra Modi.

 The hearing was attended among others by CPI(M) Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat, Father Cedric Prakash who has done tremendous amount of work with the victims right from the day the genocide began, Congress leader Anand Sharma, actor Rahul Bose and advocates Mihir Desai and Kamini Jaiswal who are fighting the victims’ cases in Supreme Court. The proceedings were conducted by Teesta Setalvad of Communalism Combat who needs no mention for her valiant struggle in this fight for justice.

 As one sat through the testimonies of the few victims who came all the way from their places in Gujarat, one could not but experience a sense of shame at what was happening there. More importantly, one could not but feel a sense of deep anger against communal fascist forces that were blatantly using State machinery to shield their kin from criminal justice. Sitaram Yechury gave vent to this feeling when he spoke in the midst of heart-rending courageous tales of fight for justice. He said what happened and was happening even today in Gujarat was a glimpse of fascist rule in action. He said CPI(M), with all its available strength, has been in the forefront trying to put the Gujarat issue on centrestage. He said the Party would put pressure on the UPA government to do everything possible to ensure justice to the victims. Praising the remarkable maturity and valour of the victims who spoke today, Yechury said there is urgent need to inspire confidence in them that the entire nation stands with them in their struggle for justice.

 Brinda Karat began her speech saluting the victims who spoke for the kind of valour they have displayed after undergoing the most brutal carnages in the history of the country. She said the main question today was to build popular pressure for speeding up of investigation and hearings before the Supreme Court which have been stalled since 2003. She demanded the central government to approach the Supreme Court to expedite the hearings and order separate investigation. She stressed the need to urgently enact legislation for protection of witnesses and called for pressuring the MPs of all parties for this. She said this was necessary if justice has to be done otherwise the witnesses cannot continue with the kind of threats they are exposed to. 

 The testimony of Nannu Mian Rasool Mian vividly illustrates what is happening to the victims who are fighting for justice. A resident of Naroda Patiya, wherein 120 persons were killed right under the observance of a complicit police force. The mob was led by BJP MLA Mayaben on February 28th morning – the day of the VHP  called bandh. Nannu Mian owned a hotel in Naroda, which was the first to be targetted by the mob. He clearly saw the MLA giving orders to the mob and in his words “heard the police raising slogans of Jai Sree Ram”. He managed to flee the mob by breaking a partition in the hotel and jumping over the wall.

With his decision to fight for justice – he had named Mayaben and another  notorious VHP leader Dr Jaideep Patel as the persons who led the mob in his FIR – the state police have begun hassling him. He has been charged with an attempt to murder case by trying to fire against Dr Patel. A victim who has named an important accused is being charged of murdering that accused person! Justice Modi style. Not just this, his tow sons have been locked up two days after he lefdt to Delhi to participate in this public testimony. Such were countless tales, recounting which many victims broke down, and hearing which not one in the audience had eyes which were dry. (INN)