Justice Denied is Justice Decried

SOROOR AHMED comments on the two yardsticks our politico-judicial system is wielding to deal with the same sort of crimes.

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SOROOR AHMED comments on the two yardsticks our politico-judicial system is wielding to deal with the same sort of crimes.

There seems to be a conspiracy of silence and nobody – barring a handful – is raising the issue. Be it the media, the public opinion-makers or politicians as such none is asking as to how can there be two yardsticks for the same sort of crimes?

After a protracted legal process about one hundred men and women – both Hindus and Muslims – involved in the Mumbai blasts of March 12, 1993 have so far been convicted by the court. There is nothing wrong in punishing those who had taken the lives of 250 innocent people. The Mumbai blast was followed by another explosion in Kolkata in the same week (March 17). About 100 people were killed when an apartment blew up – most of the victims were Muslims. Though that case could not get as much media publicity those involved in it were convicted long back. The police found the hand of Rasheed group in that incident.

There is absolutely no justification whatsoever to defend or rationalise the Mumbai or even for that matter Kolkata blasts. But these explosions were preceded by a tumultuous upheaval in the Indian history, which cannot be ignored. The demolition of Babri Masjid by a mob-led by none else but Lal Krishna Advani, who later rose to become the Deputy Prime Minister of the country and subsequent anti-Muslim bloodbath in which thousands of people lost their lives can never be overlooked as they have now become a part of history-book.

The riots in Mumbai and Surat – where Muslim women were stripped naked and paraded by the BJP people and videographed – got huge international publicity then. The Justice Krishna Commission set up by the then Congress government of Maharashtra clearly indicted the Shiv Sena for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Mumbai.

These were not the only riots to take place in India, nor were they the last. The televised massacres of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 was another instance of communal holocaust. How can one defend the killing of an aged former member of Parliament, Ehsan Jaffrey, by a mob who torched the entire residential complex in which he and many others had been living? We have not heard about anyone getting convicted.

In contrast the court recently convicted some Muslims for the murder of former minister Haren Pandya, which took place a year after the riots. The irony is that late Pandya’s father and wife refuse to accept the verdict alleging that those convicted in the murder were not the real culprits. They point the accusing finger at the Narendra Modi government because Pandya, notwithstanding being in the BJP, was totally opposed to the policy of the chief minister.

The same judiciary is investigating the demolition of the Babri Masjid but nobody knows its fate. If demolishing a place of worship and archaeological importance is not a crime then why order the investigation for its demolition? Just scrap the Commission and stop further waste of time and money.

The above examples are not some isolated incidents. They are part of the same series of thousands of communal riots which took place since independence and even before in which lakhs of people lost their lives. The irony is that barring some handful of communal violence in no other case the culprits have been convicted. True some people have been convicted for the Gujarat riots of 2002, but ironically they were Muslims.

The Bhagalpur riots of 1989, another blot in our secular history, can in one way be cited as somewhat shining example of our judicial-police system. So far over 300 people have been convicted – one-third of them got life sentence – just because a big political change took place after that holocaust. Just after the riots V P Singh became the Prime Minister of the country and four months later Lalu Prasad became the chief minister of the State. He assured the Muslims that he would bring to book all those involved in the riots. True, even he failed to live up to the expectation – and failed to nail the big fish – yet the credit goes to him for creating an atmosphere in which trial could be conducted and witnesses turn up in the court. Similarly, those involved in the Sitamarhi riots of October 1992 too were summarily tried and put behind bars by his government.

It is the same judiciary – notwithstanding some hurdles – which could pronounce judgement to so many culprits in Bhagalpur and Sitamarhi, but not a single in so many big communal riots elsewhere in the country. The irony is that when recently the court convicted 14 people for the Logain massacre of Bhagalpur a section of media gave full credit to the Nitish government, when the truth is that it has nothing to do with it. The same media is not asking as to why none of those involved in the killing of thousands of Muslims all over the country getting convicted. This is fascism.