Kodnani arrest: A ray of hope for justice in Gujarat
Submitted by admin4 on 30 March 2009 – 8:16pm.
* Indian Muslim
Arrest of Kodnani shows wheels of justice have started moving in right direction in Gujarat; may act as a deterrence to prevent repeat of 2002; say activists.
By TwoCircles.net special correspondent,
Ahmedabad: With the arrest of Maya Kodnani, a former minister in Narendra Modi’s cabinet and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Jaydeep Patel following cancellation of their anticipatory bail by the Gujarat High Court on March 27, human rights groups, political activists and legal luminaries feel that the wheels of justice have now started moving in the right direction in the state.
Former physics professor and well-known human rights activist J S Bandukwala talking to TwoCircles.net on this issue said that Indian society has to recognize that there is no difference between Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab involved in November 2008 Mumbai killings and Kodnani as well as Patel accused of mass carnage of Muslims in Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya cases on the outskirts of Ahmedabad during anti-Muslim communal riots in February-March 2002.
“But the sad point is that Kodnani and Patel escaped justice for seven years because of protection from the Sangh Parivar and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the state”, he says.
While Kodnani is reported to be close to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani as both happen to be Sindhi migrants from Pakistan, Patel is known for his proximity to Modi. Like Patel, 53-year-old Kodnani has deep RSS roots as she was actively associated with Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, women’s wing of the RSS, since the time she joined the Baroda Medical College from where she did her MBBS and Diploma in Gynaecology and Obstetrics.
“The only way to prevent the repeat of 2002 is to punish the principal figures involved in those riots as we can see currently in UP Varun Gandhi is being deliberately built up by BJP to polarize society to gather votes’’, opined Bandukwala saying they are totally unconcerned about damage Varun’s hate speech can cause to the society.
“Our difficulty is that in the last 60 years we have not taken action against political leaders who preach hatred against a community or caste”, he pointed out. And this, according to Bandukwala, has encouraged the likes of Bal Thackeray and his family in Maharashtra and people like Narendra Modi in Gujarat and Varun Gandhi in UP to continue with their hate-mongering.
“As Modi’s political stature shot up after he engineered 2002 mass carnage and also went scotfree, Varun Gandhi wants to repeat it in UP for rise in UP as well as in national politics”, he pointed out.
“But once the law takes a firm stand and Kodnani is sentenced to death, it will completely discourage future rabble rousers”, Bandukwala hoped.
Welcoming the high court order, Vadodara-based Munir Khairuwala of Gujarat unit of All India Milli Council told TwoCircles.net that the arrest of Jaydeep Patel, a former state unit secretary of VHP had established the involvement of VHP and Sangh Parivar in 2002 riots.
“After the SIT declared Kodnani absconder, she should have been dropped from the cabinet by Modi but the latter allowed her to continue in violation of all democratic norms and conventions”, said Khairuwala. Kodnani and Patel were declared absconder on February 2 after they did not go to SIT for giving their statements despite summons issued to them. On February 5, they procured anticipatory bail from Additional Sessions Court in Ahmedabad. Gujarat High Court on March 27th canceled the sessions court order. Kodnani resigned before surrendering to the SIT set up by the Supreme Court.
Stating that the high court order would strengthen the faith of people in rule of law and judiciary, former Director General of Police R B Sreekumar, who was punished by Modi for speaking against him as chief of state intelligence bureau, hoped the SIT would bring out the larger conspiracy behind mass killings in other riot cases as well like Kidiyad, Gulberg Society and Ode and bring to book the real conspirators who designed and perpetrated genocidal crimes.
Stating that the arrest of only Kodnani from the ruling party would have limited effect, Sreekumar said that the arrest of real planners of the riots along with the collaborators in bureaucracy and police was a must for a long term solution to genocidal crimes in the country. His views were supported by senior Congress leader Arjun Modhjwadia who said that 2002 carnage was orchestrated by Narendra Modi and his colleagues and monitored by officials in Chief Minister’s office.
“So what SIT has done so far is just a tip of the iceberg and it still has a lot to do to detect the politically more influential accused and bring them to justice”, remarked Modhwadia.
Senior advocate and Jan Sangharsh Manch representative Mukul Snha, commenting on the development, said the high court ruling had only vindicated their seven year old allegation that post-Godhra violence was not a spontaneous reaction but an organized killing. In fact, the high court order has equated the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam killings with terrorism.
Sinha said that the judgment has opened up possibility of further investigation into larger conspiracy as to who organized and executed statewide violence.
“The buck should not stop at Kodnani or Jaydeep Patel but it must go deeper”, he demanded.
The high court order, he said, also proved that Nanavati commission appointed by the state government had not told the truth and hence, it must be disbanded immediately.
Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace, who played the chief role in getting SIT appointed by moving the apex court, sees a ray of hope for justice for Gujarat victims of 2002 carnage in the arrest of Kodnani.
“I hope the SIT probe will go further and deeper, nail more politicians and ministers who were involved in 2002 mass killings of Muslims”, she says.
She said that the Gujarat government had removed the name of powerful accused from the complaints and also influenced the judiciary in the state.
“The Best Bakery and Bilqisbano cases show that if trial is conducted independently result will be different”, she said, adding that the accused in the two cases were punished after their trial in Mumbai.
The judiciary in Gujarat had acquitted all the accused in the Best Bakery case in which 14 people had been burnt alive.
However, the government spokesperson and a minister in Modi’s cabinet Jay Narayan Vyas said that the high court order could not be seen as court holding Kodnani guilty. He said that high court’s decision was a mere legal procedure.
[Photo: The Hindu]