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RESPONSE to India Today - Post Godhra: InHuman Rights

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  • Khalid Azam
    ... not overLast week, eight years after the alleged incident, Dr J.S. Kanoria, who conducted the post-mortem on Kausarbanu s body on March 2, 2002, denied
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2010
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      Please see below the response to this article titled "Inhuman Rights" published in India Today:

      The wait for justice for Gujarat's riot victims is still
      not overLast week, eight years after the alleged incident, Dr J.S. Kanoria,
      who conducted the post-mortem on Kausarbanu's body on March 2, 2002, denied
      that any such incident had ever happened. Instead, he told the court: "After
      the post-mortem, I found that her foetus was intact and that she had died of
      burns suffered during the riot."

      It has been a documented fact that doctors in Gujarat played a very prejudicial and communal role during and in the aftermath of the Gujarat genocide [not surprisingly, Praveen Togadia is a professional medical doctor]. This is documented in the Amnesty International report released in 2005.

      "Muslims injured in the 2002 attacks could not count on receiving medical assistance. Hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ practices and ambulances taking the injured to hospital came under attack by Hindu mobs. Injured Muslims sought help in private Muslim-run hospitals and nursing homes, but many of these were burned down or vandalized in the course of the violence. Armed youths of Hindu right wing groups were reported to have patrolled hospital wards and corridors, telling doctors whom to treat and whom to turn away, with Muslim victims almost invariably being refused admission. The state took no measures to protect patients or medical staff, or to ensure safe access for patients in urgent need of medical care.

      Some medical practitioners were unwilling to provide assistance to injured Muslims. Traumatized and injured survivors of the Gulberg Society killings were told by staff of one of Ahmedabad’s hospitals that they could only be treated if they had a police referral. Members of a voluntary organization of health professionals, Medico Friends Circle, who visited Gujarat in April 2002, found that many doctors were associated with right wing groups and had participated in the violence, without being censored by professional medical associations. The partisan attitude also affected their work in that many doctors ignored the evidence of women injured in violent sexual assaults. Consequently medical records of the dead and injured frequently failed to mention sexual violence. Though many victims with burn, stab or gunshot injuries died in hospitals, dying declarations which could have identified the attackers and the nature of the attack, were rarely recorded as neither police nor hospital authorities pursued this. In some cases, medical records were deliberately destroyed. A human rights activist reported that a medical examination report establishing that a woman had died after gang-rape was torn up by a right wing activist who also threatened the doctor concerned. The resulting lack of medico-legal evidence made it even more difficult for victims to seek to bring their attackers to justice or to obtain compensation."

      A careful study of the three police complaints, claiming that Kausarbanu's
      womb was ripped open by the rioters, shows several loopholes. While one
      complaint accuses Guddu Chara, one of the main accused in the Naroda Patiya
      case, of ripping open Kausarbanu's womb, extracting her foetus and flinging
      it with a sword; another complaint accuses Babu Bajrangi, yet another
      accused in the case, of doing the act. A third complaint, on the other hand,
      does not name the accused but describes the alleged act.

      For those few who are still in a state of denial, here is Babu Bajrangi's own testimony caught on the Tehelka video tapes, where he acknowledges that FIR against him about slitting open a pregnant woman's womb proudly gloats over his accomplishment:

      TEHELKA: In other words, the way [you] have killed will go down in history.

      Bajrangi: Arrey hamari FIR me likha gaya hai… ek woh pregnant thi, usko to humne chir diya thha b*******d sala… Unko dikhaya ki kya hota hai… ki hum log ko tumne maara to hum tumko kya pratikaar de sakte hain… hum khichdi kadhi wale nahin hai [It has been written in my FIR… there was this pregnant woman, I slit her open, sisterf****r… Showed them what’s what… what kind of revenge we can take if our people are killed… I am no feeble rice-eater]… didn’t spare anyone… they shouldn’t even be allowed to breed… I say that even today… Whoever they are, women, children, whoever… Nothing to be done with them but cut them down. Thrash them, slash them, burn the bastards… Hindus can be bad… Hindus can be bad, and I’m saying that because, as I see it, Hindus are as wicked as those people are… Many of them wasted time looting… Arrey, [the idea is] don’t keep them alive at all, after that everything is ours…

      TEHELKA: And some people also raped…

      Bajrangi: No, there were no rapes…

      TEHELKA: One or two Chharas may have…

      Bajrangi: If some Chharas took some women, that’s a different matter… We were marching in groups… There was no place to rape anyone there… Everyone was on a killing spree… we were killing, hacking… There were lanes where we had to face Muslims… there would be a confrontation, they’d fight back with all their strength…The moment we’d killed a few, we’d move on… In this melée, if some girl was trying to run away and if a Chhara caught her, then that’s another matter… That day, it was like what happened between Pakistan and India… There were bodies everywhere… it was a sight to be seen, but it wasn’t something to be filmed, in case it got into someone’s hands… There was a video-wala there, some mediawala, we set him on fire too… Lots of those miyas [Muslims] deceived us… They’d chant Jai Mata Di and get away... that happened too… they’d put tilaks on their foreheads and shout Jai Shri Ram, Jai Mata Di….

      TEHELKA: Tell me how that SRPF [State Reserve Police Force] man saved people?

      Bajrangi: There was just one Muslim… some big SRP man… Sayeed…

      TEHELKA: He was an officer...

      Bajrangi: Yes, he was… All this cutting and killing happened behind the SRP camp… The ones who weren’t in the pit, they ran and got into the SRP compound… The SRP jawans there were driving them away… when the officer came in his vehicle and said take everyone inside… He was in command… an officer… So, lots of people were saved this way… at least 500 were rescued… Otherwise would they have all gone too… The officer was also fired at… He is also a witness against me…

      TEHELKA: But then Narendrabhai promoted him and…

      Bajrangi: Silenced him… So, there was good work done in Patiya. Today too I am fighting against Muslims and will continue to do so… I have nothing to do with politics… What I say is this: the VHP is an organisation… a Hindu organisation… Our politics should be limited to killing Muslims, beating them up…

      TEHELKA: How do you feel after you have killed Muslims…

      Bajrangi: Maza aata hai na, saheb [I enjoy it]… I came back after I killed them them, called up the home minister and went to sleep… I felt like Rana Pratap, that I had done something like Maharana Pratap… I’d heard stories about him, but that day I did what he did myself.

      Lastly, as far as human rights bodies spreading "canards" and "lies" about Modi (such as the SIT summons not being for March 21 but for 21th and other such silly things), here is a very good response from Najid Hussain, son-in-law of the slain MP Ahsan Jaffry, published in the Outlook Magazine:

      What About The Truth?
      Mr Modi can greatly benefit from the film A Few Good Men in which Colonel Nathan Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson, authoritatively roars, “You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!"
      Najid Hussain


      In recent times, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi seems to be taking great pains to provide frequent clarifications about the 2002 riots in his state, which, judging from his eight years of near silence, seems quite intriguing. The latest ones, "Modi Himself Has Opposed The Riots And Still Does", and "Canards Have Been Spread Against Me" make for interesting reading. 

      For the last eight years, critics have accused Mr Modi of masterminding the Gujarat massacre of 2002. In eight years, he had little to say to them about charges levelled against him, with any amount of specificity. His responses have been generally vague and loaded with distractions. That does not seem changed even today. Here is an example. 

      In his article of March 22, Mr. Modi claims he feels “constrained” to write about the alleged “canards” spread against him. “Truth cannot be suppressed”, asserts Mr. Modi, “It is now my duty to place before you the facts that brings out the importance of understanding what the truth really is.”

      That was enough to get the attention of his critics who are still hopeful that the moment of truth has perhaps arrived. Their long wait finally will come to an end. 

      “It is a matter of grave concern and needs investigation as to why and who started spreading lies that SIT summons Narendra Modi on March 21, 2010”, wrote Mr  Modi. He went on to correct, ‘SIT only sent a notice not a summons’, and ‘the date was not March 21st but March 27th’. End of clarification.

      That’s all? End of clarification on eight years of alleged ‘canards’! In just two recent so called media “lies” -- neither relevant nor important -- with a conclusion that critics are trying to malign him! Wow! As they say: khodaa pahaaR niklaa chuuhaa! [Dug a mountain, found a mouse]

      Either Mr  Modi does not understand the charges levelled against him, or is simply hoping that he can succeed in hood-winking us and our legal system, with distractions over non-issues, long enough to make the cases against him get cold, his critics get old, and his acts of omissions and commissions of human rights violations get sold to the pages of history, just like the past massacres and human rights violations in our country. It's a clever strategy.

      There was yet another clever strategy of a “72 hour riot” in the planning of the massacre of 2002. In the days after the massacre, Mr  Modi publicly declared that the Gujarat riots of 2002 were controlled in a record time – 72 hours – which he claimed had never happened in the history of India in cases of major rioting. That statement was echoed repeatedly by his administration and other supporters, many a times where that clarification was not even needed. Mr  Modi even requested the then president of India, Honourable APJ Abdul Kalam, to compile a list of pastriots in India and show how long it took for authorities to control them. The idea being that such statistics from the President will show no major Indian riots of the past had been controlled within 72 hours, which will exonerate Mr  Modi, and his administration of the charge of dereliction of duty in controlling the riots.

      Too bad that President Kalam ignored his request. Or maybe, he saw the clever motive hidden behind the request.

      Former Defense Minister George Fernandes, during his visit to Gujarat in the aftermath of the riots, also admired the “three day control”. He also confirmed that such control was unprecedented in our history of rioting. Though in his momentum, he got slightly carried away to assert there was nothing new in killing children, raping women, extracting foetuses and tossing them in fire during Gujarat massacre. He said, we Indians have done all of this before.

      The ground soldiers of 2002 massacre – Babu Bajrangi, Haresh Bhatt and their other team mates – also talked about the three day rule. They were hardly exaggerating before Ashish Khetan ofTehelka (Tehelka, November 5, 2007) when they said, “Narendrabhai gave us three days to do whatever we wanted”. They further added, “Narendrabhai’s only condition was the riots must stop in three days”.

      Besides, over-defending an allegation often indicates guilt. The three-day-mantra is a pattern written across the board of 2002 massacre – amongst the planners as well as the executioners – prompting us to look beneath the surface.

      Exploiting the weakness of our justice system was also a part of the planning. That weakness was seen as the best insurance and the most potent defence tool. The riot planners were certain that our justice system, and those charged to enforce it, will see the Gujarat administration’s riot control admirable and will not treat them differently compared to those of the past who also had committed similar crimes against humanity and had escaped accountability.

      Many massacres of the past had lasted for days, even weeks, essentially because they were unplanned and more often than not, ran out of control. Gujarat riots, on the other hand, were meticulously planned with a strict three day rule to be enforced. Modi administration's oft-repeated mantra could well be seen as a corroboration of what Babu Bajrangi, Haresh Bhatt et al boasted. If anything, it should be used against the administration.

      Mr  Modi has already become the first Chief Minister in the history of our country to be summoned and questioned about the role his administration played in the massacre, by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court of India to investigate Gujarat riots. Our justice system is already treading the path that will lead us to the ultimate truth about the Gujarat massacre of 2002. Mr  Modi can now choose to give the truth himself, or our legal system will deduce it based on the testimonies, and other evidence.

      A strong leader is characterized by a noble ideology, admirable vision, and a matching character to boldly take the country where no one has taken it before. In that pursuit, he (or she) can not be weak-hearted to act, can not be afraid to speak the truth, and always ready to pay the price if and when needed. Otherwise, he is not a strong leader. If you can’t face the music, you shouldn’t lead the band.

      Our history is replete with strong leaders. Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Bhagat Singh, Vallabhbhai Patel … who chose jail, even death, for their cause, but did not lie, or hide the truth. In their foot-steps, Mr  Modi also can choose to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Besides, it is not leadership to sacrifice your foot soldiers for saving your skin by dissociating yourself from the cause. Captains don’t abandon sinking ships if there are others on-boad!

      Mr  Modi can greatly benefit from the film A Few Good Men. Colonel Nathan Jessep (played by Jack Nicholson) could be an inspiration. Having illegally ordered operation “code red” (death) on one of his soldiers, Col. Jessep under intense legal questioning by Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise) authoritatively roars, “You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" But the colonel does not lie. He takes the responsibility and speaks the truth.

      Mr  Modi also writes about the oft repeated claim that a majority of Gujaratis support him and see anything said against him as hurting ‘the pride of Gujarat’. That claim is simply inaccurate, even absurd. True, Mr  Modi has won state elections two times after the massacre, but he did not receive even 50% of the total electorate.

      A hateful ideology unites its followers despite their other differences. Result: they often vote as a block. Secular minded people on the other hand have lesser unity among themselves because they have many other issues they care about and so never vote as a block. Despite a net minority support, extremists can, and do, win elections and come to power. But that win is not a mandate on the nature of a majority of voters, or their support to extremism.

      Gujaratis are some of the best people our nation has produced. Many are working diligently to bring the current atmosphere of hate and communal discrimination in Gujarat to an end. They are not the supporters of extremism. The pride of Gujarat does not come from ideologues of hate. It is the ideology of Bapu, which guides us in Gujarat and beyond.

      Bapu’s teachings of love and brotherhood will live on. His appeals of communal harmony will live on. His dream of one powerful India will live on. Extremism will not. That is the pride of Gujarat.

      This is no canard. It’s the truth.

      --- On Sun, 4/4/10, Chandra Siv <chandrasiv@...> wrote:

      From: Chandra Siv <chandrasiv@...>
      Subject: Post Godhra : InHuman Rights
      To: DallasIndians@yahoogroups.com, "Khalid Azam" <khalidazam@...>
      Cc: manojpadhi@..., sathyasastry@..., jmutreja@...
      Date: Sunday, April 4, 2010, 8:49 AM

      Sent: 4/3/2010 3:37:23 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
      Subj: Post Godhra Riots: Inhuman rights

      Post Godhra Riots: Inhuman rights March 25, 2010Uday Mahurkar
      India Today

      http://indiatoday. intoday.in/ site/Story/ 89840/States/ Inhuman+rights. html?page= 0

      For eight long years, Gujarat 2002 has stood out as one of the worst
      episodes in our calendar of atrocity. Since then, the country has witnessed
      ugly sparring over the bloody riots between the Gujarat Government and the
      votaries of the Hindutva movement on one side and the human rights lobby on
      the other.

      [image: Setalvad] Setalvad is alleged to have included charges that were
      retracted later by the witnesses.Meanwhile , the state Government, Chief
      Minister Narendra Modi in particular, has been repeatedly accused of direct
      or indirect involvement in the riots. In March 2008, the Supreme Court (SC)
      appointed the Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by former Central
      Bureau of Investigation Director R.K. Raghavan, to reinvestigate nine major
      cases in the Gujarat riots of 2002. Charges flew back and forth once again
      last week when human rights activists called for the prosecution of Modi for
      his involvement in the riots in response to a petition.

      The latest round of sparring began after the SIT sought Modi's presence in
      response to an SC petition by Zakia Jafri, a riot victim and the widow of
      Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, accusing Modi and 61 others of being involved
      in riots and hatching a conspiracy to kill Muslims. Ehsan was among the 69
      people killed by a riotous Hindu mob in the Gulberg Society case.
      [image: Narender]"For eight years, canards have been spread against me.
      But the truth cannot be suppressed."
      *NARENDRA MODI, Gujarat Chief Minister*
      Significantly, in March 2003, the SC had stalled the trial of nine Gujarat
      riot cases, thanks to the relentless campaign by the human rights activists
      seeking justice for the Muslim victims. The riot victims said they won't get
      justice as long as the Gujarat Government had a role in the police probe and
      the subsequent trial. The SIT is reinvestigating the cases under the virtual
      supervision of the apex court, with even the judges and public prosecutors
      being selected under the SC's monitoring.

      As the SIT goes about its task, more and more evidence is surfacing that the
      human rights lobby had, in many cases, spun macabre stories of rape and
      brutal killings by tutoring witnesses before the SC. In the process, it
      might have played a significant role in misleading the SC to suit its
      political objectives against Modi and his government.

      Last week, one of the most horrible examples of cruelty resurfaced once
      again as the trial of the Naroda Patiya case, where 94 persons were killed,
      began in the SC-monitored special court in Ahmedabad. Soon after the riots,
      the human rights activists and the Muslim witnesses had alleged that a
      pregnant woman Kausarbanu's womb was ripped open by rioters and the foetus
      was flung out at the point of a sword. The gruesome incident was seen as the
      worst-possible example of medieval vandalism in the modern age.

      [image: Riots] The wait for justice for Gujarat's riot victims is still
      not overLast week, eight years after the alleged incident, Dr J.S. Kanoria,
      who conducted the post-mortem on Kausarbanu's body on March 2, 2002, denied
      that any such incident had ever happened. Instead, he told the court: "After
      the post-mortem, I found that her foetus was intact and that she had died of
      burns suffered during the riot." Later Kanoria, 40, told INDIA TODAY, "I
      have told the court what I had already written in my post-mortem report
      eight years ago. The press should have checked the report before believing
      that her womb was ripped open. As far as I remember, I did her post-mortem
      at noon on March 2, 2002."

      A careful study of the three police complaints, claiming that Kausarbanu's
      womb was ripped open by the rioters, shows several loopholes. While one
      complaint accuses Guddu Chara, one of the main accused in the Naroda Patiya
      case, of ripping open Kausarbanu's womb, extracting her foetus and flinging
      it with a sword; another complaint accuses Babu Bajrangi, yet another
      accused in the case, of doing the act. A third complaint, on the other hand,
      does not name the accused but describes the alleged act.

      Modi will also have reasons to smile at the affidavits filed by the Muslim
      witnesses in the SC in 2003 at the behest of Citizens for Justice and Peace
      (CJP) and Teesta Setalvad on the basis of which the trial in nine cases were
      stalled for six long years. The most glaring hole is in the affidavit of
      Nanumiya Malek, a key witness in the Naroda Gam case. In his affidavit
      before the SC filed on November 15, 2003, Malek stated that a newly married
      woman called Madina, who lost four of her relatives, including her husband
      in the riots, had been raped by the rioters.
      [image: Dr]
      "Her (Kausarbanu) foetus was intact and she had died of burns suffered
      during the riot."
      *Dr J.S. KANORIA*
      Malek's affidavit states: "I was witness to the crimes of murder and rape
      that took place on Madina and her family. I also saw seven people being
      burnt alive, including four orphans. I request the SC to keep the details of
      this rape victim confidential since she is alive and use it only for the
      purpose of trial and conviction of the rapists." But on May 5, 2009, in his
      statement before the SIT, Malek said: "I had wrongly claimed that Madina had
      been raped. I made the charge because of Teesta Setalvad's pressure. I kept
      on telling her not to include that charge in my affidavit, yet it was

      In her statement before the SIT on May 20, 2008, Madina, who has remarried
      now, said: "The charge made by Malek claiming that I was raped by a riotous
      mob is false. I wasn't raped. When the riotous mob put my house on fire, I
      tried to run but was attacked by a rioter who injured me with a knife. Later
      I managed to merge in a Muslim crowd."

      There are six other affidavits filed by different Muslim witnesses on
      November 15, 2003, that wantonly allege rape in the Naroda Gam and Naroda
      Patiya riot cases without giving any details. Interestingly, all the
      affidavits have a uniform language: "Over 110 persons were not simply
      killed, but raped and mutilated as well, including young children. We urge
      the SC to stay the trials and transfer them to a neighbouring state and also
      order fresh investigation. " The affidavits state that they had been filed at
      the behest of Setalvad and in the presence of her co-activist Rais Khan.
      [image: Nanumiya]
      "I had wrongly claimed that Madina was raped. I made the charge because of
      Teesta Setalvad's pressure."
      If this wasn't enough, other glaring attempts by human rights activists to
      tutor witnesses have come to the fore. For example, soon after the Gulberg
      massacre in which Ehsan Jafri was killed, nearly a dozen Muslim witnesses
      told the police that Jafri had fired in self-defence, killed a rioter and
      injured 14 others. They also said that this led the mob to resort to
      violence and attack Muslims in Gulberg with vengeance. But almost half of
      them who deposed before the special court have retracted from this

      The statement of Imtiaz Pathan in the Gulberg trial also raises eyebrows. He
      told the special court that before being killed, Jafri told him that
      Narendra Modi abused him (Jafri) on phone when he sought protection during a
      mob attack. Incidentally, there is no record available of Jafri having made
      any call to Modi. Pathan didn't name Modi in the first police statement he
      made soon after the riots. Interestingly, he has also identified as many as
      27 individual attackers from a mob of thousands of rioters.

      When the SIT started taking statements of witnesses in the Gulberg Society
      case, around 20 witnesses came with typed statements. But the SIT objected
      to it, citing Section 161 of the CRPC, saying that the police must record
      the statement of a witness. So when the SIT forced the witnesses to give
      their statement during the interrogation, there was a vast difference
      between the 'readymade typed' statements and the oral evidence that the
      police had received earlier.

      As a senior lawyer defending the accused puts it: "The witnesses under the
      influence of the human rights activists didn't allow videotaping of their
      statements while they were being recorded. There is an obvious attempt on
      the part of activists to dictate not just the SIT, but also the courts."
      Last week, INDIA TODAY quizzed Setalvad about the charge of tutoring the
      witnesses and creating false evidence before the courts in the 2002 Gujarat
      riot cases.

      Her response: "I am under no obligation to respond to your questions." The
      human rights activists' band seems to believe that one side's suffering is
      greater than the other's.

      *Credibility Gap*
      In his petition before the SC, Nanumiya Malek, a key witness in the Naroda
      Gam case, says that a married woman called Madina had been raped by rioters.
      Malek later told the SIT that Madina's rape was an accusation put forth at
      the behest of Teesta Setalvad. Madina also denied the charge. *Then*
      For the past eight years, human rights activists and Naroda Patiya victims
      have alleged that the rioters ripped open the womb of the pregnant
      Kausarbanu. *Now*
      Dr J.S. Kanoria, who conducted a post-mortem on Kausarbanu's body, says she
      died of burns during the riot and that her womb was intact. *Then*
      While reinvestigating the Gulberg case, the SIT comes across nearly 20
      witnesses who came with their readymade, typed statements to which the SIT
      objects. *Now*
      The Muslim witnesses refuse to videotape their statements. The statements
      that are recorded by the SIT do not match the readymade statements. *Then*
      Imtiaz Pathan, a key witness in the Gulberg case, tells the special court
      that Ehsan Jafri was abused by Modi when Jafri called the latter seeking his
      help during the riots. *Now*
      The SIT has not been able to find any evidence or a record of Ehsan Jafri
      making a phone call to Narendra Modi. *Then*
      In their 2003 SC petition, Muslim witnesses accused the rioters of raping
      women. As a result, the trials of nine major cases were stalled for over six
      years. *Now*
      In their statements made before the SC-appointed SIT, the witnesses haven't
      accused the rioters of raping women.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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