Hailing the landmark verdict on Naroda Patiya massacre, Indian American Muslim Council, in a statement on August 29, said: “The verdict is all the more significant since the list of convicted individuals includes former Gujarat Minister for Women and Child Development, Maya Kodnani of the BJP, and BabuBajrangi, who is a leader of the Bajrang Dal. Both Kodnani and Bajrangi have been found guilty of murder under section 302, and of criminal conspiracy under section 120B of the Indian Penal Code. The court also convicted three individuals of gang rape. This is the second Gujarat carnage case in which rape charges have been proved.
“The special court’s verdict represents an important victory in the ongoing struggle for justice in Gujarat. The verdict is also the fruit of patient struggle by the survivors of the Gujarat pogrom, the courage of the witnesses who came forward to facilitate the judicial process and tireless efforts by human rights defenders such as TeestaSetalvad, MukulSinha, ShabnamHashmi and Harsh Mander among many others.”
IAMC has urged the special court to probe the allegations made by former DGP Sreekumar as well as former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt about the direct complicity of Chief Minister Narendra Modi in enabling and facilitating the pogrom of 2002, and investigate the corroborating evidence against Modi brought to light by Justice H. Suresh, who has come forward with an audio tape of his conversation with HarenPandya (then minister in Modi’s cabinet) in 2002. The tape contains specific information about Modi’s role in the Gujarat violence. HarenPandya was later shot dead in 2003, and his murder continues to remain unresolved.
IAMC has also called upon the Supreme Court to act on the recommendations of its amicus curiae to initiate criminal prosecution of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
“While the court’s verdict is certainly a step in the right direction, the number of convictions thus far is still a small fraction of the total number of cases related to the Gujarat pogrom of 2002,” the statement said.
“While today’s verdict represents an important step forward, it is important to bear in mind that the wider struggle for justice in Gujarat is far from over,” said ShaheenKhateeb, President of IAMC. “Upholding the rule of law requires that the masterminds as well as executioners of the planned and systematic ethnic cleansing in Gujarat are held accountable and punished for their crimes against humanity. It also requires adequate compensation for and rehabilitation of the survivors,” added Mr. Khateeb.
In another statement, Fr. Cedric Prakashsj, Director Prashant, a Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, said: “Though 29 others including some key conspirators have been acquitted,this verdict has surely come as a huge shot in the arm for the many victim-survivors of the Gujarat Carnage and for the many others who have been relentlessly campaigning for truth and justice!Now we await the day truth and justice will complete triumph in Gujarat!”