Friday, August 31, 2012

A long, painful journey; finally a vindication

    It's been 10 long years and we've had so many convictions which we did not or could not get after the violence in Mumbai in 1992-93. What we at Citizens for Justice and Peace have been interested in, is the process of ensuring fair trial. The fact that four have been convicted by the Bombay HC on Monday when all were acquitted in Vadodara has justified our stand. (We must also understand that none of the injured bakery workers who became witnesses were even brought forward by the prosecution in Vadodara and the prosecutor functioned in a partisan manner).
    The rest is a judicial assessment of evidence.
    It has been a long painful journey but a huge vindication for those interested in the struggle against impunity. The issues of witness protection, the independence and integrity of the public prosecutors, delays in trials and independence of the police force were epitomised by this case and what it stood for. More than anything else, this struggle has underlined the crucial need for the higher judiciary to monitor trials in mass crimes.
    When false allegations were made in 2004 against us, I approached the SC to order an inquiry into them – not the hostile witness, not the government of Gujarat. The government of Gujarat, strangely gave commando protection to a witness who had turned hostile!
    The Registrar General (SC) BM Gupta's report exonerated us of any of the alleged crimes and found Zahira guilty of being induced. A subsequent Income Tax Inquiry into the personal holdings of Madhu Srivastava, ruling party MLA, ordered by the SC found him guilty of giving Rs 18 lakh to unknown sources. It is necessary to recall this painful trajectory today to understand to what extent the Gujarat government will go to impede the struggle for justice. While Zahira served a year's term in jail, Srivastava has gone scot-free
though he disrupted
judicial proceedings
and tampered with
    The campaign against us was, and is, vicious and motivated by powerful forces who wish to impede our legal aid assistance to the victims of the Gujarat carnage.