Thursday, August 01, 2013

Tenth Day of Arguments in the Zakia Jafri Protest Petition (August 1st 2013)

Tenth Day of Arguments in the Zakia Jafri Protest Petition

August 1, 2013
Press Release

The conclusions drawn by the SIT in its final report on complainant Zakia Jafri’s allegation that the political executive and state bureaucracy barring a few upright officials had wilfully misled statutory and Constitutional bodies like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Central Election Commission (CEC) are extremely perverse meant to facilitate the case of the state government and powerful accused.

Arguing for the tenth day for complainant Zakia Jafri and Citizens for Justice and Peace, advocate Aparna Bhat stressed that despite repeated observations and findings from independent authorities like the NHRC (April-July 2002) and subsequent reports, CEC (August 2002), Gujarat High Court and Supreme Court that deliberate and systematic attempts were made by chief functionaries of the political executive to paint a false picture of normalcy, repeated indictments had documented how the ground level situation in Gujarat was otherwise. Violence and rioting continued even while the CEC visited the state in August 2002, Muslim students could not give their examinations in the state and as late as February 8, 2012, the Gujarat High Court indicted the government on its obdurate refusal to re-construct and repair shrines and places of worship belonging to the minority community.

Both SIT reports, the one submitted before the Supreme Court (Malhotra, 12.5.2010) and the final report (Shukla, 8.2.2012) deliberately made light of this serious allegation in the complaint, Bhat argued misrepresenting the findings of the CEC and believing instead A-37 former chief secretary Subha Rao over two officers former ADGP RB Sreekumar who had spoken up against the false representations by others before the CEC. Para 20 of the CEC Report in fact clearly chose to accept the State Intelligence Bureau’s independent assessment of widespread disturbance in 20 districts of the state, continued violence in July-August 2002 and an all pervasive sense of insecurity and fear among the minority community. In fact the CEC also recorded how its team had found that powerful accused roamed free, having got bail from the courts and plaint prosecutors had made a farce of the criminal justice system in the state. Worst of all, the CEC while refusing to bow to the state’s coercive demand to hold elections in August 2002 (the assembly had been dissolved on July 19, 2002) had remarked that when electoral rolls were in disarray, over a hundred thousand displaced from their villages and homes in cities, how could elections, if held be free or fair? The SIT mocking this finding of an independent and statutory CEC that had relied upon two independent officers of the state government, chose to believe those top echelons of the state administration and bureaucracy who had connived and conspired with the chief executive to misrepresent the situation on the ground.

What was the SIT’s motives in accepting Subha Rao’s statement at face value and ignoring the findings of the CEC? It is for this Court to arrive at a conclusion at what lay behind the SIT’s motive to misrepresent such critical evidence, Bhat submitted.

SIT counsel, advised by AK Malhotra tried at the onset of the proceedings to prevent any arguments about the NHRC and CEC Reports saying, “Who is NHRC?” to which Bhatt retorted that she was fully entitled to prefer her arguments on the basis of the criminal complaint of Zakia Jafri dated 8.6.2006 and the poor investigation that SIT carried out despite all the resources at its command.

Despite the fact that the criminal complaint dated 8.6.2006 specifically made allegations of the deliberate and callous destruction of 270 Dargahs and Masjid, and even quoted extensively from Justice Krishna Iyer, PB Sawant and Hosbet Suresh's Concerned Citizens Tribunal Report (Crimes Against Humanity 2002), the SIT had simply ignored this aspect of the mass crimes that were committed. Quoting from the Gujarat High Court judgement dated 8.2.2012 that came down heavily on the Gujarat government for its attitude with regard to the destruction of minority places of worship, Ms Bhat stressed that several independent, statutory and Constitutional body had found serious and grave complicity in the handling of the post Godhra carnage. Yet it was a shame that the SIT had adduced despite substantial and significant evidence that no wrongs had been committed by the powerful.

Attached are copies of the CEC Report and Subha Rao’s statement dated 23.3.2010 recorded by AK Malhotra.

Arguments will continue on Friday.

Taizoon Khorakiwala          Nandan Maluste                  Teesta Setalvad
I.M. Kadri                            Cyrus Guzder                       Javed Akhtar            
Alyque Padamsee              Anil Dharker                         Ghulam Pesh Imam 
Rahul Bose                         Javed Anand                        Cedric Prakash

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