Friday, August 31, 2012

On the Sentencing of the Naroda Patiya Convicts

Prashant   .A  Centre  for  Human  Rights, Justice  and  Peace
 Post Box No.4050,Navrangpura,Ahmedabad 380 009,Gujarat,India
 Tel.:+91 (079)66522333,2745 5913.Fax:+91 (079)  2748 9018 .                                                                                   

                                     On the Sentencing of the Naroda Patiya Convicts

The sentencing of BJP MLA Maya Kodnani, Babubhai Bajrangi and 30 others to life imprisonment, must be seen as a step in the right direction!

Special Court Judge Jyotsana Yagnik would surely have taken into account the heinous acts committed by each of the convicted during the gruesome massacre at Naroda Patiya in February 2002, whilst awarding a different quantum to each one.

The conviction and sentencing of these 32 persons must now come as a severe warning to several more high profile politicians and others, who still stand accused in the Courts of Law on various charges committed during those bloody days of 2002, in Gujarat.

The sentencing will also come as a small measure of relief for the victim-survivors, many of whom have lost more than one family member.  It will be an added impetus for many who would like the complete truth of the Gujarat Genocide to emerge as soon as possible.  Hopefully, the process of justice will move faster now and that peace will reign for all, one day!

Fr. Cedric Prakash sj

                                                                                                           31st August, 2012

Gujarat Reality: We need to read the “fine print”!

                                          Gujarat Reality: We need to read the “fine print”!
                                                                                                                         -Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
When one looks / buys something of high value (particularly a machine) what comes into our hands, naturally is a catalogue or a manual.  Many ordinary mortals often skim through these without reading the fine print. We are often attracted to the jingles in the commercial, the curvaceous figures that attempt to sell a car or by the sheer gloss or hype of the advertisement. It is a human frailty and one cannot be faulted with this!  But the fact remains, that if we pay closer attention to the ‘fine print’, our being hooked by a particular hard-sell would be a very different story!

The same holds good for the so-called “vibrant” Gujarat; myths, lies, half-truths and glossy ads try to proclaim that ‘all is well and hunky-dory’. But let’s attempt to read the fine print.  In a seemingly innocuous news item which appeared in a leading national daily on August 13th 2012, an application under the Right to Information received an answer from the Navsari District Collector that for the Sadbhavna Mission of the CM early in the year, the Collectorate had purchased 28,000 skull caps (normally worn by Muslims) and distributed among the Hindus to wear.  It is well-known that such things took place in several other Sadbhavna programmes across the State.  In fact, media in Ahmedabad exposed of how a local person came dressed up as an Arab Sheikh and sat prominently on the dais during the Sadbhavna programme in the city.

A leading English daily in Ahmedabad on August 23rd highlighted how a fairly large section of the urban poor lived in the most miserable conditions, in a city which attempts to flaunt a “Riverfront mirage”, after displacing thousands of poor. The same paper highlights how more than 400,000 tribals are leaving Saurashtra because of the drought that has gripped that area. The Government has also demonstrated a tremendous amount of callousness in their statements on the many farmers committing suicide in of Gujarat.

The much-hyped Nano project which made heads turn some years ago, has apparently gone sour!  Only time will tell the extent of damage caused to the tax-payers in Gujarat because of this project.  Headlines in another newspaper speak about the Gujarat Housing Board’s callousness which has cost the State over 600 crores; the Governor of Gujarat has now given the sanction for the prosecution of a key-aide of the CM in the 400 crore fishery scam.  These cases are only the tip of the iceberg and one is aware that the Government is doing all it can to prevent an impartial and honest Lokayukta being appointed for the simple reason that he will easily open a ‘can of worms’.

It is also common knowledge that hardly 25% of the MOUs made in the vibrant Gujarat jamborees have actually been realised these past years. The total public debt of Gujarat in 2012 has risen to 1,34,000 crores from a measly 32,000 crores in 2001.

Well, plenty of money is being spent on big hoardings, on false advertisement all over Gujarat and in the contracting of high profile publicity groups.  The fact is, we need to read the fine print now and there lies the truth!

                                                                                                                23rd August, 2012

(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052
Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333 Fax:  79 27489018

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Malnutrition in Gujarat: Your statement to the Wall Street Journal.

Rohit Prajapati, Dr. Trupti Shah, and Dr. Nandini Manjrekar 
C/o 37 Patrakar Colony, 
Tandalja Road, Post: Akota, 
Vadodara 390 020, Gujarat
Phone/Fax No: +91-265-2320399 

By Fax and Email

30 August 2012

Shri Narendrabhai Modi
The Chief Minister of Gujarat
Government of Gujarat
1st Block, 5th Floor, New Sachivalaya, 
Gandhinagar - 382 010.

Subject: Malnutrition in Gujarat: Your statement to the Wall Street Journal.

Dear Shri Modi,

In an interview to the Wall Street Journal you, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, made a statement on the issue of malnutrition in the state that “Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state. And secondly, Gujarat is also a middle-class state. The middle-class is more beauty conscious than health conscious ­ that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they’ll have a fight. She’ll tell her mother, ‘I won’t drink milk. I’ll get fat’.” 

We would like to know whether this statement was based on any research study that examined whether malnutrition in Gujarat is related to lifestyle issues. We ask you to share the findings of this study with the people of Gujarat since available data portrays a grim scenario. The Human Development Report of 2011 indicates that  Gujarat is the worst among the high per-capita states in the country in fighting malnutrition, even lower than the 'less developed' states of Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam. 44.6% of children in Gujarat below the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition, 41% are underweight, and nearly 70% are anaemic. More than half the women in Gujarat (55%) also suffer from anaemia.  

We hope that you are making such a statement based on some study done either by you or by your government or by any reputed institute or scholars. We request you to share the copy of such study because we are absolutely in disagreement with you on this issue. 

Malnutrition is directly related to issues of livelihood and well-being, which are the foremost indicators of development, which you as Chief Minister take credit for having spearheaded in the state of Gujarat. You and your government has to take responsibility for the factors that have led to these appalling statistics --  where almost half the children do not even have access to milk -- through pursuing a development model in aggressive promotion of privatisation and consequent immiseration of the poor. It is shocking that you should attribute this to the state being largely 'middle-class' and vegetarian and obsession with body image among girls. These statements are not only completely lacking in fact but also reflects an amazing callousness and trivialisation of the real issues of the people in the state you govern, especially women and girls, for whom access to livelihoods, education, healthcare and survival itself is a matter of everyday struggle. 

In the absence of any substantive data that indicates otherwise, it is morally incumbent on you as Chief Minister, to apologise to the people, and especially women and girls of the state, for the disrespect you have shown them by making these trivial statements on such a grave issue.  

Rohit Prajapati
Trupti Shah
Nandini Manjrekar

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Press Release on Naroda Patiya Judgement

August 29, 2012
Press Release on Naroda Patiya Judgement

Hailing the historic verdict in the Naroda Patiya mass murder case delivered by Judge Jyotsnanbehn Yagnik. Special Sessions Judge in Ahmedabad today by which one senior politician and several conspirators and ring leaders have been convicted, Victim Survivors and CJP welcomed the verdict. In all 32 persons have been convicted including former BJP MLA and minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet, Smt Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi, Bipin Panchal, Ashok Sindhi and Kishan Korani (sitting corporator, accused No 20) have  been convicted. Twenty-nine of the accused were acquitted.

Most of the accused have been charged with Sections 143, 144, 147, 148 with 149, 295, 427, 435, 436, 440, 153, 153a, 153a(ii), 323-326,302, 307 (attempt to murder) read with 149 read with 120(b) and BP Act 135(1). Accused No 22 Suresh Langda Chara has also been convicted under Sections 354 and 376 (sections that deal with rape and gender violence). Quantum of sentence will be pronounced on August 31. Smt Kodnani had been convicted under Sections 295, 427, 435, 436, 440, 153, 153a, 153a(ii), 323, 324, 325, 326, 302, 307, 120-B of the IPC. Babu Bajrangi has been convicted under sections 143, 144, 147, 148 with 149, 295, 427, 435, 436, 440, 153, 153a, 153a(ii), 323,324,325,326, 302, 307 read with 149 read with 120-B.

The raw courage of the victim witnesses, especially women witnesses who deposed fearlessly while still residing in Naroda Patiya is a reflection of the confidence generated after the Supreme Court monitoring and the protection from Central Paramilitary forces provided by the Supreme Court. CJP had applied to the apex court for protection of eye witnesses. CJP through its legal team advocates Altaf Jidran and Raju Shaikh supervised by senior Adv Yusuf Shaikh provided legal aid to about 70 eyewitnesses since 2009. CJP would like to publicly acknowledge their contribution, also the seniors advocate MM Tirmizi (Gujarat High Court), Mihir Desai (Mumbai) and advocates Kamini Jaiswal (Supreme Court), Sanjay Parikh (Supreme Court), Aparna Bhat (Supreme Court) and Ramesh Pukhrambam (Supreme Court).

Eleven eyewitnesses have deposed in eye witnesses testimonies assigning in detail the role played by Smt Maya Kodnani, in inciting the mob to murder, fifteen witnesses deposed through eye witness testimonies against Babu Bajrangi, 48 witnesses testified to the crimes committed by Suresh @ Langda Chara including the offences of gender violence and rape. (Annexed are the list of witnesses with a brief of their testimonies). The CJP would like to state that it was the evidence through eye witness testimonies that enabled convictions. Corroborative evidence was provided through the phone call records provided by police officer Rahul Sharma and Tehelka’s Operation Kalank. Without eye witness testimonies whoever convictions could not have taken place.

Victim witnesses supported by CJP had also filed separate applications under Section 319 praying for police officer and then first PI KK Mysorewala to be arraigned as accused along with former Commissioner of Police PC Pandey and SRP official Dhantaniya. While the Judge rejected these applications, she has observed in the victim application for compensation for rape and gender violence that the application would be considered in the final judgement.

Names of accused who have been convicted. Naresh Agarsinh Chara (accused 1); Murlibhai Naranbhai Sindhi (accused 2); Ganpat Chanaji Deedawala (accused 4); Vikrambhai Maneklal Rathod (accused 5); Haresh @ Hariyo S/o Jivanlal @ Agarsinh Rathod (accused 10); Babubhai @ Babu Bajrangi Rajabhai Patel (accused 18), Kishan Khubchand Korani (accused 20); Prakashbhai Sureshbhai Rathod (Chara) (accused  21); Suresh @ Richard @ Langdi Kantibhai Dedawala (Chara) (accused 22); Premchand @ Tiwari Conductor (accused 25); Suresh @ Sehjad Dalubhai (Marathi, Charo) (absconding) (accused 26); Nawab @ Kalu Bhaiyo Harisinh Rathod (accused 27); Manubhai Keshavbhai Maruda (Bhangi) (accused 28); Shashikant @ Tiniyo Marathi Yuvraj Patil (accused 30); Babubhai Jethabhai Salat (accused 33); Lakshmanbhai @ Lakho Budhaji Thakor (accused 34); Dr. Mayaben Surendrabhai Kodnani  (accused 37);  Ashok Hundaldas Sindhi (accused 38); Harshad @ Mungda Govind Chara (Parmar) (accused 39); Mukesh @ Vakil Ratilal Rathod (accused 40); Manojbhai @ Manoj Sinhi Renumal Kukrani (accused 41); Hiraji @ Hero Marwadi @ Sonaji Danaji Medhwan (Marwadi) (accused 42); Bipinbhai @ Bipin autowala Umedray Panchal (accused 44); Ashokbhai Uttamchand Korani (Sindhi) (accused 45); Vijaykumar Takhubhai Parmar (accused 46); Ramesh Keshavlal Dedawala (Chara) (accused 47); Sachin Nagindas Modi (accused 52); Vilas @ Viliyo Prakashbhai Sonar (accused 53); Dinesh @ Tiniyo Govindbhai Barange (Marathi) (accused 55); Santoshkumar Kodumal Mulchandani  (accused 58); Pintu Dalpatbhai Jadeja (Chara) (accused 60); Kirpalsinh Jagbahadursinh Chabda (accused 62).

Eight charge sheets were filed in this historic case that lasted several months. It was one of the nine cases being supervised by the Supreme Court and was investigated by the SIT.

Teesta Setalvad,
Secretary & Trustee

Statement on Judgement on Naroda Patiya massacre!!!

We welcome the judgement on the Naroda Patiya massacre!!!

In a landmark verdict the trial court in Ahmedabad has convicted  32 persons including former minister in the Narendra Modi government, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Naroda, Maya Kodnani, and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi.

Both Kodnani  and Bajrangi have been convicted under Indian Penal Code Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder). These sections under which Kodnani and Bajrangi have been convicted carry the minimum sentence of life term and the maximum of death penalty.

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!!!

Fr. Cedric Prakash sj 
PRASHANT   (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052,
Tel :079-27455913/66522333