Monday, December 12, 2011

Sardarpura lesson: Gullible go to jail, not mastermind

Gujarat EDN

DNA 21 NOV 2011

I know I am a person who is easily moved. Perhaps this is why I could not keep my eyes from filling up with tears when I saw the photos of the kin of people killed in the Sardarpura massacre of 2002, as also of the relatives of convicts jailed for life in the case.
I do not overlook the important difference between the two groups - relatives of innocent victims against kin of people found guilty in the case - but the plight of their families is the same. What is far more important is that the real culprits behind the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 are still free and in power.
These people could have prevented or controlled the communal riots but deliberately did not do so. It was these people and their storm-troopers who created murderous frenzy in the name of cultural nationalism and poisoned the minds of ordinary people with hatred, intolerance and violence. These people are still free and they continue to enjoy temporal power and "religious" blessings.
Given this state of affairs, one question continues to haunt the mind: who really gets justice in our society?
The trial court simply decided who was or was not proved to be guilty of specific crimes - and nothing else. What about the communal carnage of 2002 in its totality? What is the real truth behind it? Who and what led to the communal frenzy and large-scale violence that resulted in the killing and uprooting thousands of people, not to talk of the destruction of their properties worth crores of rupees?
The suffering of the people does not just end with the conviction of the guilty and acquittal of the innocent. On the contrary, the judgement in Sardarpura case that came after nine years of the incident reopens old wounds among the victims and rekindles the feeling of enmity and bitterness among the convicted. Further, acquittal cannot compensate those acquitted for the years they had to stay in jail or for the ignominy of criminal proceedings. Moreover, the matter does not end here for there are many more years of appeals to go.
What type of criminal justice system do we have that allows inflicting of pain on innocent victims and their families and also on the kith and kin of the indoctrinated and almost insane wrongdoers? What is this criminal justice system which neither deters nor prevents nor delivers retributive justice in time?
The Nanavati enquiry commission which was appointed in 2002 to investigate the riots is not able to find out the truth even after nine years and expenditure of Rs 6crore. Can truth be so complex and expensive? What is the purpose of such enquiry commissions? Everyone in Gujarat knows the truth about the 2002 pogrom but it is strange that only the learned judges find it difficult to discover it.
Our experience with the working of a large number of such commissions of enquiry in India during the last 50 years has shown that such commissions are actually intended to delay the discovery of truth. The delay helps higher-ups in power or in command to avoid answering for their culpability besides creating general amnesia among the people.
Why fool the people and why waste so much money? Why the need to accommodate or oblige retired judges when that undermines the status, authority and independence of the judiciary? Why mystify the truth? It is far better to stop this charade of justice and truth.
The real question which troubles me is why have we failed to create a humane society and loving, caring and sharing human beings even after thousands of years of civilization, religions, saints and mahatmas? Why is it that philosophers and scholars, scientific inventions and technological advances have all failed in making human beings truly human?

Girish Patel


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