While lie-mongers keep accusing then Gujarat Government of dereliction of duty, the facts prove otherwise. The Gulberg Massacre judgement should be seen just as a continuation of that process of ensuring justice for the riot victims
M D Deshpande
The judgment in the famous Gulberg Society killings of February 28, 2002, one day after the roasting of 59 Ramsevaks including 25 women and 15 children in Godhra by Muslims came on June 2, 2016, which saw 24 convictions. The media had lied a lot about this in the past, and even now we saw many claims implying that Police officers were involved, or the administration was involved in the killings, or did not do enough. So there is a need to know the truth. The facts are:
1 Police lathi-charged the mob at Gulberg Society.
2 Police fired 124 rounds and burst 134 tear gas shells at the Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002.
l Police shot dead 5 rioters and also injured 11 Hindus.
All above facts are according to the Supreme Court-appointed and monitored SIT’s report, page 1.
The police saved 180 Muslims in this episode. There were 250 people inside the complex, and the mob was very huge more than 20,000 at one time. Even Jafri’s widow Zakia Jafri said to India Today as reported in its issue dated March 18, 2002 that she had never seen such a huge mob. Zakia Jafri also said in her statement to the Police, recorded under Section 161 of CrPC on March 6, 2002 that the police had saved her and many others that day in Gulberg Society by transporting them in vans, and had it not been for timely action by the Police, the mob would have lynched them all. This is also mentioned in the SIT Report. Despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered by the mob and the mob going crazy by Jafri firing on them with his revolver, the police did a brave job and at a great personal risk they fired on the Hindus and shot dead 5 Hindus at the complex.
The mob had gone crazy after Jafri fired from his revolver at the crowd, which injured 15 Hindus and killed 1- as per the SIT Report on page 1. And yet the police saved 180 Muslims. The Times of India’s online report at 9:41 PM published on the same day was one of its 2 reports on this case. And nowhere did The Times of India accuse the police of not doing anything. On the contrary, it said that the furious mob, having gone crazy by Jafri’s firing, did not allow fire tenders to reach the house. And the other Times of India report posted online at 2:34 PM of February 28, also says that police fired at the crowd in which 6 people got injured, who were taken to hospital where 3 were critical at that time, and ultimately 5 died. I have given all this in my book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story”.
These 24 convictions in the Gulberg Society case has taken the total number of convictions in the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat to at least 467, including 356 Hindus and 111 Muslims (31 for Godhra, 80 for post-Godhra). The conviction of Muslims for attacking and killing Hindus even after Godhra shows that the riots were not one-sided and that Muslims were also on the offensive. According to figures given by the UPA Government in a written reply inside Parliament, 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed after Godhra, with 127 people missing (At one point of time 228 were missing, but 101 were found alive, and hence the final missing number was 127). 1 lakh Muslims and 40,000 Hindus were homeless into refugee camps in Gujarat in 2002. Anti-BJP newspapers like The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Hindu and even diehard anti-BJP politicians like CPM’s Brinda Karat stated that Hindus were in refugee camps in Gujarat, and there were many cases of Hindus living in Muslim areas suffering terribly. Why were these riots in which both sides suffered painted as a ‘pogrom’ by the media, whitewashing Muslim fanaticism even after Godhra?
Justice delivery in Riots
It is a world record to see so many people convicted. Here we must remember that for horrible past riots of Gujarat of 1969, 1985, 1990-91-92 in which far more people were killed and which were far more serious than the 2002 riots, hardly 3 convictions in each case took place under previous Congress Governments. Yes, only 3 convictions in each for the worst riots of 1969 and 1985. In the 1984 riots where at least 3,000 Sikhs were killed, no action was taken against rioters and according to TV channels CNN-IBN and NDTV both, 30 people were convicted in 12 riot cases in 28 years till April 2013.
Some people claim that 442 people were convicted for the 1984 riots, because some official of the Delhi Police said so. But no one ever gave a date-wise list of court judgments accounting to 442 people being convicted in the 1984 riots. According to an RTI query answered in November 2014, only 27 people were convicted for the 1984 riots in 7 cases.
In Bhagalpur riots, a much forgotten riot occurred in Bihar in 1989, over 1,000 people were killed. After the riots, 142 FIRs were recorded in various police stations. 535 cases out of the 864 cases filed were closed, and most of the accused were acquitted. The Justice NN Singh Commission report, the commission which inquired into the riots, accused the then Congress government of inaction and charged them with responsible for the deadly clashes.
After reading about these world-record 467 convictions some still claim that the convictions could be made possible because of the SIT and in spite of the Gujarat Government (while howling against the same SIT for giving Narendra Modi a clean chit).This is absolutely false. SIT is seeing only a selected few cases. In other cases SIT is not involved at all and yet many have been convicted. As for the convictions in SIT seen cases, most of the convicted had already been arrested by the Gujarat Police. Most of those arrested by the SIT were actually acquitted. For example in the Sadarpura case 31 were convicted in November 2011, of which 29 had already been arrested by Gujarat Police. Only 2 of the 21 arrested by SIT were convicted- i.e. 19 out of 21 arrested by SIT were acquitted. Even in Naroda Patiya case, 21 out of the 32 convicted were already arrested by the Gujarat police.
Out of 467 convicted till now, only 172 have been in SIT seen cases, 141 Hindus and 31 Muslims. And most of the 141 Hindus convicted had already been arrested by the Gujarat Police. This gives 295 convictions in non-SIT seen cases, world record still. Out of those 295 convictions, 274 were under the Gujarat Government’s prosecution.
Note here that there are a total of around 2000 cases on in the post-Godhra riots. They don’t mean 2,000 riots but the far lesser number of riots, and they mean cases against 2000 odd accused rioters. So, we have till now 467 people convicted out of total 2000 odd accused, a very high conviction rate. Every single of the 51 judgments convicting 467 people is given date-wise in the book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story” by me. It must be stated here that the media has largely ignored the convictions of Muslims for attacking and killing Hindus even after Godhra, while dealt with cases where Hindus have been convicted in depth.
The state machinery in
controlling the riots
The attempts of the Gujarat Government to control the violence have also been ignored. The facts are:
j The major violence was controlled within 3 days (February 28, March 1 and March 2, 2002) even after a shocking massacre like Godhra. After this, what continued were stray riots in some pockets like Ahmedabad, Vadodara and some places near Godhra. As against this, curfew was imposed in the 1969 Gujarat riots for 65 days in a row, while violence continued in 1985 for around six months.
k There were 827 preventive arrests made by the Police on February 27, 2002 even before the riots started, and 20,000 more preventive arrests later.
l ‘The Hindu’ reported the next day that Narendra Modi called the Army ‘frantically’ on February 28, 2002. Incidentally, the Army arrived after 3 days during the 1969 riots. The riots started on September 18, 1969 while the Army reached on September 21, evening and was properly deployed only on September, 22.
m Total number of police firing deaths was a whopping 199 for the entire riots including 98 in the first 3 days, total rounds fired by the Police was 10,559 for the entire period including 5450 in the first 3 days, and 15,369 tear gas shells were burst in the entire period including 6500 in the first 3 days.
The SC-appointed SIT accepted that the Government took steps to
prevent and control riots. To quote just a few of its findings from the SIT
closure report, the SIT said:
“There is evidence available on record to show that immediately (after Godhra which occurred between 7:47 to 8:20 AM on February 27) the State machinery was put on the high alert and this was communicated to all District authorities and Commissioners of Police…It was instructed that
anti-social and hardcore communal elements should be dealt with firmly… (Page 445)
The alert message of 27-02-2002 was followed by another message from Home Department on 28-02-2002 to all concerned to round up anti-social and known communal elements under the preventive laws… (Page 446)
…It was understood that withdrawing the Army at such critical juncture when war like situation existed with the neighbour needed a high level decision at the Centre. This decision to withdraw the Army and deploy in Gujarat was immediately taken at the highest level in the Centre at the request of Gujarat Govt.… (Page 447)
…The State Govt. had also made a request on 28-02-2002, to the neighbouring States of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to spare the services of their Armed Reserve Police companies… Significantly, Union Defence Minister arrived at Ahmedabad on 28.02.2002 night to ensure that Army formations take their positions without delay.
Shri G. Subba Rao, the then Chief Secretary, who had gone abroad, was recalled and he arrived on 01-03-2002… (Page 448)
…Further investigation has established that the State Govt. was reasonably vigilant vis-à-vis the developments on the law & order front and immediately responded by bringing to the notice of all District officials, the need to maintain adequate bandobast in view of the Godhra incident on 27-02-2002…(page 450)”
There are much more such facts of the Government’s actions in controlling violence. All these facts have been largely suppressed by the mainstream media. There is a need to bring out the truth, especially two major things viz. sufferings of Hindus in Gujarat even after Godhra in 2002, and the role of the Government in controlling violence. A simple description of the contrast in the handling of the 1969 Gujarat riots, 1985 Gujarat riots, which occurred under the Congress and the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat will make everything clear. n
(The writer is author of book
Gujarat Riots- Ignored facts)