Justice at last
Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam expresses satisfaction at the conviction of 32 persons in the Naroda Patiya massacre of 97 Muslims in 2002.
The conviction of Babu Bajrangi, who openly boasted about the Naroda Patiya murders on TV and that of Dr Maya Kodnani, a gynaecolost and minister of state in Modi government for sometime, is the highlight of the special courtís judgment nailing down 32 offenders for the ethnic cleansing of Naroda Patiya locality in Ahmedabad in 2002.
This is not, thankfully, is the first such judgment in cases relating to the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, which was termed by a panel of retired high court judges as a genocide. A substantial number of people have already been awarded life sentence in other cases related to Gujarat 2002.
This judgment as well as the earlier ones related to Gujarat 2002 have brought a sense of relief to the victims as well as other Muslims all over India. Along with this a new confidence has arisen in judiciaryís impartiality and fair play as well as regard for the due process of law.
The greatest advantage of such judgments is that the victims who have seen their near and dear ones killed, their homes torched, their belongings destroyed and their dignity trampled under feet, are quietened. Only when justice is denied to such people they seek recourse to extrajudicial measures, blinded by hurt and anger as they are. In that respect, it is a great relief to Muslim elders, who have got a basis to argue with the unfortunate youth who have seen everything in their life destroyed by state-sponsored rioters. Now, we have the argument that justice is not dead and no victim of atrocities should think of doing justice himself.
Dr Kodnaniís conviction is a clear proof that Modi thought the direct involvement of this woman in the mass killing was a badge of honour. She had to leave government only when she was arrested as an accused in the heinous crime.
The BJP argument that Kodnani was not a minister when she committed the crime is an example of the Sanghís queer logic. What it goes on to show is that Narendra Modi and his party have no respect for human life, especially if it happens to be a Muslimís life. This also confirms the worst fears about the stateís involvement in the crime.
Babu Bajrangiís case is even worse. This man has openly been boasting about how he killed Muslims. He knew all along that the state would not touch him as it was being run by the same people who had organised the monumental crime. That he has been proven wrong goes to the credit of the Special Court. An equal measure of credit also accrues to the social and political activists (almost all of them Hindus) who fought relentlessly to get justice for the victims.
Any rejoicing at this moment will be premature as the people who did all this are capable of making as ass of the law. The culprits of Babri Masjid demolition and associated killings are not only roaming free, but had the honour of becoming Union Cabinet ministers. Killers of Hashimpura, Meerut, Maliana and a thousand other riots were never brought to book.
However, the reckoning has begun. Among the perpetrators of Gujarat 2002 Sardarpura massacre 31 culprits were awarded life term; among Ode village killers 18 got life term and five got seven years in jail; in the second Ode massacre nine got life term; in the Deepda Darwaza killings 21 got life term and in Naroda Patiya 32 have got convicted. At the time of writing this Kodnani had been awarded 28 years in jail and Bajrangi a life term. Others were to follow.
In all this no one has been awarded a death sentence, unlike Godhra train blasts case in which 11 were sentenced to death and 20 got life term. g