By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
The Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty given to Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist of ‘War on India’ in Mumbai 2009. In the true democratic and judicial spirit Ajmal Kasab got opportunity before the law. Though people like us still do not approve the capital punishment and would always feel that such crime against humanity too need human angle and the perpetrator must repent and pay for the crime in terms of enormity of the sentence.
The judgment of Supreme Court is historic in many senses including its censoring electronic media for jeopardizing the national security during the security operation and asked for official regulation of the media. Unfortunately, our political parties are unable to accept the verdict in the right spirit and use these as raising their own TRPs. Shiv Sena president Udhav Thackery has said that Ajmal Kasab and Afjal Guru should be hanged in public after the Supreme Court have sealed their fate. This is rather unfortunate as this demand does not come from the people but from those who have themselves faced similar charges yet escaped sentences because of state apathy or political reasons.
The case against Kasab ran very fast and the Mumbai police was quick in action. The special court heard witnesses and all the delaying tactics did not succeed with meticulous police work. It is understandable that given the enormity of this crime against humanity the anger of the people of the country is entire justified and people do expect moving things fast conclusively. However, to communalise the entire issue and target one particular community for that should be condemned. In fact, the Supreme Court Judges have been very clear when the identity issue of the terrorist came and mentioned that such insinuations are uncalled for.
Kasab and his terrorist cohorts tried to destroy the communal amity in the country. It was a war on nation and the nation fought with it united and great courage and did not allow the communal amity to be destroyed. That is why we appreciate the work done by the security forces and police in bringing the culprit to justice.
There was however another judgment which was eagerly waited for justice. It was the verdict of a trial court against the Naroda Patiya carnage in Gujarat in February 28th 2002. Gujarat is a case work for all human rights activist. It is a laboratory for the Hindutva goons to spread their hatred and poison and justify their carnage through political verdict. The way mass killings were justified in Gujarat in the name of avenging the Godhara massacre was gruesome and completely unacceptable. The state abdicated its duty towards its citizens and allowed the street goons and rogue elements to roam free and selectively target the Muslims and their localities. And they were simply not mass murders but brutalities of the most barbaric nature which we might have heard in history in some Talibanised states or olden brahmanical mythologies as their treatment to untouchables and women. According to Citizen for Justice and Peace, the organization which painstakingly did excellent work of organizing the witness despite terrible threat to their own lives, the most gruesome case was related to Kauserbano who was a nine month old pregnant woman. Her womb had been slit open and her nine month old foetus swirled on a sword before being dashed to the ground and killed. This, more than any other incident had come to chillingly represent the depth of depravity behind the gender violence in the state of Gujarat in 2002. In all around 100 people got killed in Naroda Patiya in the most inhuman and brutal manner unknown in the history of independence India. It is equally alarming that such anti women violence was led by a woman herself who has now been made accused no one in the case.
Gujarat has seen the most authoritarian regime since 2002. The man who should have been in the jail and facing trial justified hatred and criminalization of politics. The irony is not just that, Narendra Modi is being projected as the future prime minister of the country. Many industrial houses who got benefit from Modi certified that he was way ahead of others and that Gujarat is the best govern states of India. Gujarat’s growth story is nothing but an eye wash. See the greatest irony and lie that the chief minister of the state says that the malnutrition in Gujarat is because of dieting restrictions and vegetarian food habits of the girls. It is true that Indian media find little time to expose the Gujarat myth and its victimization of Aadivasis and Dalits. Most of the lands and so called industrialization process in Gujarat has happened at the cost of the most marginalized communities there. World media reported that the girl children are malnourished in those states which clearly expose the growth story of the state. The chief minister, rather than, owning the responsibility is putting the blame on dietary practices therefore ignoring the vast majority of tribal and Dalits in the state who face stiff challenge to their lives.
It is sickening to see that the entire violence against women and children was carried forward by Dr Maya Ben Kodnanai who is now accused number one and her role has been established in the carnage. More shocking was the thing that Narendra Modi made her minister for Women and Children which reflect what an idea he has had related to the welfare of women and children. Yes, the goons of Hindutva and their political masters will always justify their actions as ‘retaliatory’.
We must salute to Teesta Setalwad and Citizen for Justice and Peace for persistently following up cases in Gujarat. It is a heroic work despite all odds. Human Rights defenders have been facing slander all over the country. The pen pushers of Hindutva are always there to politicize the issue and blame the activists for relations with others. It is important to look for contrast when we appreciate the meticulous work of Mumbai Police in nailing Ajmal Kasab in the attack at Taj Palace but at the same point of time the same Mumbai police has not been able to do anything on the 1993 violence against Muslims in that city which can send Udhav and his father Bal Thackery to jail for their role in instigating the violence and communal hatred. It happens because the police are unable to free themselves from political pressure.
The record of Gujarat state in destroying evidences and threatening the human rights defender is well known. All those who have been fighting for justice to the victims of 2002 carnage faced isolation there. Many people felt that we abuse Gujarat and are defaming it. Unfortunately, the image of Narendra Modi has been created in such a way that any questioning on his role is termed as questioning Gujarat State. Modi succeeded in creating that impression as if he is larger than Gujarat and as long as that impression continues, Gujarat will have to pay a price for it. Gujaratis have been entrepreneurs much before Narendra Modi ventured in. It was a state where people could be out of their homes in midnight is a well-known fact. But it is also a tragedy that Gujarati upper castes are deeply prejudiced towards Dalits, Aadivasis and Muslims. It is also a fact how the entire state apparatus was Hinduised and became a party worker. Muslims faced continuous isolation in Gujarat everywhere. The chief ministers remain such a fanatic that he refused to accept a shawl or a cap from a person who happened to a Muslim.
Gujarat is a typical case as how the judicial process is threatened by a mass communalization process and when the state apparatus is completely in the grip of those who are part of those conspiracies which led by carnage of innocent people. Those who are asking whether Kasab was provided chickens and other delicacies as how come a killer like Maya Kodnani became Women and Child Welfare Minister in the state and what processes she faced in the jails. Why the moralists of Sangh Parivar never ever questioned Narendra Modi in making her the minister. What was the propriety of the leader? Why the judicial process is delayed and thwarted by these powerful authorities who play the dirty communal politics to gain power.
It is also important that can we exonerate murders of communal violence and side with them in the name of fight against ‘corruption’. Should the fight against corruption does not ask these question to these barbarians of our time who do not feel shame in mass killing of people and then putting their relative to jails when they take to street against such injustice. The crime committed by these people was nothing but war on nation. A war on nation is not just what Kasab did with his terrorist cohorts in Mumbai but also on what the Sangh Parivar did in Ayodhya on December 6th, 1992 when they demolished Babari Masjid. None of the culprits have been taken to task. Instead the entire debate is changed and deviated and conspirators have gained political positions and some of them are aspiring to become the prime minister of India. Therefore it is important that the perpetrators of this communal carnage be brought to book and it too be declared as war on the idea of India which is constitutionally a secular state giving opportunity to practice their faith to each of its citizen.
We appreciate these judgments of different courts and hope that the Naroda Patiya cases must be taken to ultimate conclusion soonest. One hopes that the highest courts of the land will uphold the judgment and not allow the terrorists to escape from what they did. The incidents of Gujarat proved that terrorism is not a foreign inflicted thing committed by some misguided Muslim youths. The nightmarish incidents suggested that the political activists who carried out Gujarat violence at the behest of their masters too can be called terrorists. And Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi as well as their masters must face trials and get the same treatment as Kasab is getting. Udhav Thackery want a public prosecution of Kasab like the old barbaric regime so that others too, learn a lesson. One does not know whether Udhav would like the same trials for those in Gujarat or his party’s role in Mumbai riots. Will Udhav also call his cousin Raj Thackery’s hate speeches against Muslims and people from Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar? Do these hate speeches not constitute crime against humanity and war on nation? Let us hope each one of us will learn our lessons and do not allow such criminals masquerading as politicians’ credence in public life. In the meanwhile, we wish all the criminals of communal violence be put behind the war and cases filed against them should be immediate fast tracked so that justice is provided to all those who have faced the tyranny of these hate mongers.