Justice delayed may be justice denied…..but even then when justice is finally provided, it is satisfying. India is proud of its rule of law, and anyone who has decided to take the law in his/her own hands deserves to be punished. We talk of corruption as an act of taking the law in one’s hands and demand the toughest punishment possible. In the same way, we must demand the highest punishment possible to the wrong doers of Gujarat.
Murder in any form is heinous. Massacre is worse. What happened in Godhra when 59 car sevaks were murdered was unpardonable and the guilty should have been brought to the books. However, that was the role of the law enforcement agencies and not of ordinary citizens. But why blame the ordinary folks? When the leading political party of the state has positioned itself as a staunchly Hindu party, what else could be expected? The BJP fanned the fires, and gained politically. Modi’s undefeatable. He’s called “Hindu Hriday Samrat”. But in the process, it ruined the social fabric of the state. Hindus and Muslims were never great friends in Gujarat – but the way the BJP exploited the situation, it has created a permanent tear in the fabric.
Who will these 23 convicted people blame today? In the frenzy of the moment, and under a wily and deceitful political leadership, they took the law in their own hands. Where are those leaders now? Who is there to see them through their torturous life ahead (or through death if they are given the death sentence)? As always happens, the cowards have run away. Hardly has any political leader been punished so far, though verdicts have been given in as many as nine cases so far.
The Godhra riots were the worst form of display of human brutality. What’s the big deal in 1500 people attacking a group of 23 helpless people – which included 9 children and 9 women – and murdering them? I have lived in Gujarat for more than two decades and I can tell from personal experience that Gujaratis are peaceful people. They surely don’t want the stigma of being called mass murderers. They are not the types who will gang up to brutalize innocent and helpless people. They are the kind who will hold themselves back even under the most provocative of circumstance – think of the almightly – and ask themselves if those sought to be attacked are responsible for the original crime. A Gujarati can never murder anyone. These 23 people who have been convicted have been misled. They are victims of political manipulations.
I was equally happy when 31 people (mostly Muslims) were convicted of the original crime in which 59 car sevaks were murdered in Godhra. There should be no place for violence. If the BJP wants a uniform civil code, they got evidence of it when the courts ordered 11 of these 31 to be given the ultimate punishment – the courts show no favors based on religion. I wish the government of Gujarat also did the same. But in Gujarat, being a Muslim is a huge disadvantage – in fact a huge risk to life itself.
But again, justice delayed is justice denied. In the original Godhra train massacre, while 31 were eventually convicted, more than 90 Muslims were acquitted. The tragedy is that these poor people spent nine long years in jail as undertrials. Who will return them their lost time? Should the judiciary not question itself on the time it takes to settle matters?
But how much can one blame the judiciary when the investigation agencies themselves are in cahoots with their political masters. It’s a well known fact that the business of religion has led to deep and permanent divisions even in the law enforcement agencies. The police in Gujarat repeatedly botched up investigations, forcing the Supreme Court to transfer the probe to the SIT in nine cases. From newspaper reports, it appears that today’s verdict is just the 3rd of these nine cases to be ruled upon. There are six more to go. There are hopefully six more convictions waiting to happen.
If the police forces have been wasted by religious fervor, the courts in Gujarat have not been spared either. Suspecting bias, the Supreme Court has transferred several cases outside the state. What worse indignity can a state suffer than to have its own judiciary questioned by the SC? Was the BJP leadership there to accept the disrepute they have brought to the state? No way. They were perhaps busy pressurizing witnesses to turn hostile; luring others with economic gains to return judgments in their favor. After all, the one excuse that the Gujarat BJP leadership gives for everything these days is the economic progress of the state. A truth indeed – but one that has nothing to do with the BJP (read my posts titled “Modi’s growth story is a sham…..” dated September 17th, 2011).
But again, this is not an indictment of the BJP alone. The Congress was equally responsible for the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Just like the BJP fails in accusing the Congress of being corrupt, the Congress fails in accusing the BJP of leading a pogrom against the Muslims. Both parties need to introspect. The country expects them to behave much better.
The real truth is that in the land of Gandhiji, Godhra is a blot…..the only way to remove it is to bring the guilty to justice. And to put systems in place that such incidents never happen again…..