Inhuman rights – by Uday Mahurkar

Inhuman rights
Uday Mahurkar
March 25, 2010

For eight long years, Gujarat 2002 has stood out as one of the worst episodes in our calendar of atrocity. Since then, the country has witnessed ugly sparring over the bloody riots between the Gujarat Government and the votaries of the Hindutva movement on one side and the human rights lobby on the other.
Setalvad is alleged to have included charges that were retracted later by the witnesses.
Meanwhile, the state Government, Chief Minister Narendra Modi in particular, has been repeatedly accused of direct or indirect involvement in the riots. In March 2008, the Supreme Court (SC) appointed the Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation Director R.K. Raghavan, to reinvestigate nine major cases in the Gujarat riots of 2002. Charges flew back and forth once again last week when human rights activists called for the prosecution of Modi for his involvement in the riots in response to a petition.
The latest round of sparring began after the SIT sought Modi’s presence in response to an SC petition by Zakia Jafri, a riot victim and the widow of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, accusing Modi and 61 others of being involved in riots and hatching a conspiracy to kill Muslims. Ehsan was among the 69 people killed by a riotous Hindu mob in the Gulberg Society case.
“For eight years, canards have been spread against me. But the truth cannot be suppressed.”
NARENDRA MODI, Gujarat Chief Minister
Significantly, in March 2003, the SC had stalled the trial of nine Gujarat riot cases, thanks to the relentless campaign by the human rights activists seeking justice for the Muslim victims. The riot victims said they won’t get justice as long as the Gujarat Government had a role in the police probe and the subsequent trial. The SIT is reinvestigating the cases under the virtual supervision of the apex court, with even the judges and public prosecutors being selected under the SC’s monitoring.
As the SIT goes about its task, more and more evidence is surfacing that the human rights lobby had, in many cases, spun macabre stories of rape and brutal killings by tutoring witnesses before the SC. In the process, it might have played a significant role in misleading the SC to suit its political objectives against Modi and his government.
Last week, one of the most horrible examples of cruelty resurfaced once again as the trial of the Naroda Patiya case, where 94 persons were killed, began in the SC-monitored special court in Ahmedabad. Soon after the riots, the human rights activists and the Muslim witnesses had alleged that a pregnant woman Kausarbanu’s womb was ripped open by rioters and the foetus was flung out at the point of a sword. The gruesome incident was seen as the worst-possible example of medieval vandalism in the modern age.
The wait for justice for Gujarat’s riot victims is still not over
Last week, eight years after the alleged incident, Dr J.S. Kanoria, who conducted the post-mortem on Kausarbanu’s body on March 2, 2002, denied that any such incident had ever happened. Instead, he told the court: “After the post-mortem, I found that her foetus was intact and that she had died of burns suffered during the riot.” Later Kanoria, 40, told INDIA TODAY, “I have told the court what I had already written in my post-mortem report eight years ago. The press should have checked the report before believing that her womb was ripped open. As far as I remember, I did her post-mortem at noon on March 2, 2002.”
A careful study of the three police complaints, claiming that Kausarbanu’s womb was ripped open by the rioters, shows several loopholes. While one complaint accuses Guddu Chara, one of the main accused in the Naroda Patiya case, of ripping open Kausarbanu’s womb, extracting her foetus and flinging it with a sword; another complaint accuses Babu Bajrangi, yet another accused in the case, of doing the act. A third complaint, on the other hand, does not name the accused but describes the alleged act.
Modi will also have reasons to smile at the affidavits filed by the Muslim witnesses in the SC in 2003 at the behest of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Teesta Setalvad on the basis of which the trial in nine cases were stalled for six long years. The most glaring hole is in the affidavit of Nanumiya Malek, a key witness in the Naroda Gam case. In his affidavit before the SC filed on November 15, 2003, Malek stated that a newly married woman called Madina, who lost four of her relatives, including her husband in the riots, had been raped by the rioters.
“Her (Kausarbanu) foetus was intact and she had died of burns suffered during the riot.”
Malek’s affidavit states: “I was witness to the crimes of murder and rape that took place on Madina and her family. I also saw seven people being burnt alive, including four orphans. I request the SC to keep the details of this rape victim confidential since she is alive and use it only for the purpose of trial and conviction of the rapists.” But on May 5, 2009, in his statement before the SIT, Malek said: “I had wrongly claimed that Madina had been raped. I made the charge because of Teesta Setalvad’s pressure. I kept on telling her not to include that charge in my affidavit, yet it was included.”
In her statement before the SIT on May 20, 2008, Madina, who has remarried now, said: “The charge made by Malek claiming that I was raped by a riotous mob is false. I wasn’t raped. When the riotous mob put my house on fire, I tried to run but was attacked by a rioter who injured me with a knife. Later I managed to merge in a Muslim crowd.”
There are six other affidavits filed by different Muslim witnesses on November 15, 2003, that wantonly allege rape in the Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya riot cases without giving any details. Interestingly, all the affidavits have a uniform language: “Over 110 persons were not simply killed, but raped and mutilated as well, including young children. We urge the SC to stay the trials and transfer them to a neighbouring state and also order fresh investigation.” The affidavits state that they had been filed at the behest of Setalvad and in the presence of her co-activist Rais Khan.
“I had wrongly claimed that Madina was raped. I made the charge because of Teesta Setalvad’s pressure.”
If this wasn’t enough, other glaring attempts by human rights activists to tutor witnesses have come to the fore. For example, soon after the Gulberg massacre in which Ehsan Jafri was killed, nearly a dozen Muslim witnesses told the police that Jafri had fired in self-defence, killed a rioter and injured 14 others. They also said that this led the mob to resort to violence and attack Muslims in Gulberg with vengeance. But almost half of them who deposed before the special court have retracted from this statement.
The statement of Imtiaz Pathan in the Gulberg trial also raises eyebrows. He told the special court that before being killed, Jafri told him that Narendra Modi abused him (Jafri) on phone when he sought protection during a mob attack. Incidentally, there is no record available of Jafri having made any call to Modi. Pathan didn’t name Modi in the first police statement he made soon after the riots. Interestingly, he has also identified as many as 27 individual attackers from a mob of thousands of rioters.
When the SIT started taking statements of witnesses in the Gulberg Society case, around 20 witnesses came with typed statements. But the SIT objected to it, citing Section 161 of the CRPC, saying that the police must record the statement of a witness. So when the SIT forced the witnesses to give their statement during the interrogation, there was a vast difference between the ‘readymade typed’ statements and the oral evidence that the police had received earlier.
As a senior lawyer defending the accused puts it: “The witnesses under the influence of the human rights activists didn’t allow videotaping of their statements while they were being recorded. There is an obvious attempt on the part of activists to dictate not just the SIT, but also the courts.” Last week, INDIA TODAY quizzed Setalvad about the charge of tutoring the witnesses and creating false evidence before the courts in the 2002 Gujarat riot cases.
Her response: “I am under no obligation to respond to your questions.” The human rights activists’ band seems to believe that one side’s suffering is greater than the other’s.
Credibility Gap
In his petition before the SC, Nanumiya Malek, a key witness in the Naroda Gam case, says that a married woman called Madina had been raped by rioters. Now
Malek later told the SIT that Madina’s rape was an accusation put forth at the behest of Teesta Setalvad. Madina also denied the charge.
For the past eight years, human rights activists and Naroda Patiya victims have alleged that the rioters ripped open the womb of the pregnant Kausarbanu. Now
Dr J.S. Kanoria, who conducted a post-mortem on Kausarbanu’s body, says she died of burns during the riot and that her womb was intact.
While reinvestigating the Gulberg case, the SIT comes across nearly 20 witnesses who came with their readymade, typed statements to which the SIT objects. Now
The Muslim witnesses refuse to videotape their statements. The statements that are recorded by the SIT do not match the readymade statements.
Imtiaz Pathan, a key witness in the Gulberg case, tells the special court that Ehsan Jafri was abused by Modi when Jafri called the latter seeking his help during the riots. Now
The SIT has not been able to find any evidence or a record of Ehsan Jafri making a phone call to Narendra Modi.
In their 2003 SC petition, Muslim witnesses accused the rioters of raping women. As a result, the trials of nine major cases were stalled for over six years. Now
In their statements made before the SC-appointed SIT, the witnesses haven’t accused the rioters of raping women.

1 Response to “Inhuman rights – by Uday Mahurkar”

  1. 1 Dr.N.D.Swadia April 7, 2010 at 10:48 am

    The article, in my view, is at least one year too late. Please find enclosed herewith the trans-script of a mail I sent to my friends in April, 2009.

    Dear friend,
    Kindly find herewith an attachment from The Economic Times dated 14 April, 2009. The news item expressly states that Ms. Teesta Setalvad ‘cooked’ up the stories which made headlines during tha post-Godhara mayhem. The entirte story of one Kausar Banu having been gang-raped, her foetus gouged out and killed was a fiction. You may remember that this story was recounted by President Pervez Musharraf. I believe that Ms. Teesta Setlvad should be arrested for perjury, misleading the media and courts in the times of crisis, for fanning communal hatred,
    for giving a handle for the talibanization of Gujarat and giving wayward Muslim youths a hate story to hang on to Wahabi Islam for which money is being procured from Saudi Arabia.
    You may note that the information is contained in the affidavit filed by SIT which is an independent body not under the control of Gujarat Government.
    Please circulate this news amongst as many people as you can. You will do a great service to Gujarat State.
    Dr. Nayan D. Swadia

    Setalvad charged WIth cooking up killings’_
    SIT report says there was no truth in some of the
    major allegations levelled by NGOs
    Our Political Bureau
    THE Narendra Modi-baiters among NG~ on
    Monday suffered a major setback when a
    Supreme Court-appointed Spedal Investigation
    Team charged a leading activist Teesta Setalvad
    with adding morbidity into the postGodhra
    riots in Gujarat by “cooking up
    macabre tales of killings”. The SIT headed by
    former CBI director RK Raghavan said “many
    inddents were cooked up, false witnesses were
    tutored to give evidence about imaginary inddents,
    and false charges levelled against the
    then Ahmedabad police chief PC Pandey.”
    The SIT report, which was submitted before
    a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, P
    Sathasivam and Aftab Alam, said there was no
    truth in some of the major allegations levelled
    by the NGOs. According to the report. thel.lDtruths
    induded: ‘
    * A pregnant Muslim woman Kausar Banu
    was gangraped by a mob, who then with sharp
    weapons gouged out the foetus;
    * Dumping of dead bodies into a well byrioteers
    at Narora Patiya;and
    * Police botching up investigation into the
    killing of British nationals who were on a visit ,
    to Gujarat.
    The SIT also said the the charge that Mr
    Pandey was helping mob that attacked the
    Gulbarga Sodety was untrue. “The truth was
    that he was helping hospitalisation of riot victims
    and making arranagement of police bandobast,
    ” senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi said.
    Mr Rohatgi also told the court that 22 witnesses’
    who had submitted identici.l affidavits
    before various courts relating to riot inddents,
    were questioned by the SIT. HIt was found that
    they were tutored. The affidavits were handed
    over to them by Ms Setalvad. They /;lad not actually
    witnessed the riot, ” the counsel said.
    The Supreme Court lauded the work of the
    SIT and said there should be no room for allegations
    and counter allegations. “In the riot
    cases, the more the delay there is likelihood of
    falsity creeping in. So there should be a designated
    court to fast track trials. Riot cases should
    be given priority, ” the Bench said and sought
    suggestions from the Centre, Gujaratgovemment
    and NGOs.
    While additional solidtor general Gopal
    Subramaniam agreed that public prosecutors
    should be selected in consultation with the
    head of the SIT, counsel Indira Jaisingh said
    there should be protection for witnesses.
    The development in the court came on a
    day prime minister Mamnohan Singh targettedthe
    Gujarat government for its handling of
    the riot cases.

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