During the Gujrat riots 2002, one has heard much about brutal massacre of Muslims at Gulberg society, Panchmal, Naroda Patiya & Naroda Gam. What has relatively remained untold is the massacre at Kidaid on March 2nd, 2002?
On this date Muslims were fleeing in two lorries from their village, Kidiad in Sabarkantha district of Gujrat. The Hindutva mobs halted them at two different spots about ten Kilometers apart and killed seventy of them with a military precision in a meticulously planned operation. Twenty one killers were identified out of which only nine could be captured(rest declared as absconders) and put on trial. In the trial court, they were represented by a battery of lawyers having affiliations to VHP & other Sangh parivar outfits. All of them were acquitted in a hasty judgment on 11th October 2002, roughly seven months after the commission of crime. In his judgment, the judge held that Police had failed to conduct further investigations despite repeated request by victims & they had also refused to implicate the assailants actually named by witnesses. In effect, the submissions of the victims & witnesses were used against them by a highly biased Judiciary.
All these & many other details about the Gujrat pogrom 2002 are contained in an excellent, courageous & scrupulously researched book- “the Fiction of Fact Finding-Modi & Godhra” written by Manoj Mitta, a journalist & senior Editor with Times Of India. It is a multi-dimensional book which informs the reader as to how things happened, how the events were camouflaged & how the judicial apathy and pliable institutions conspired with the government machinery to successfully erase everything from the horrific event?
In chapter 5, the author deals with the examination of Narender Modi by SIT formed by Supreme Court following Zakia Jaffri’s Complaint and points to brazen loopholes, contradictions and ambiguities in the statements made by Modi reducing it to a farce exercise and a travesty of Justice. Intriguingly, the chairman of the SIT absented himself from the critical interrogation process with questions and answers in a written format, not cross examining him on basic contradictions in his testimony.
In this masterpiece of investigative journalism, the author identifies the violations of law perpetrated by the Special investigation team (SIT ); and brings to fore, the failings of the Supreme Court of India in discharging its basic Constitutional responsibilities to the people. The SIT’s final report to the trial court in February 2012 willfully ignored vital pieces of evidence, failed to connect the chain of events, viewed issues in isolation and downplayed their significance; freed the main accused Narendra Modi and his associates from criminal culpability. The author concludes that there was sufficient evidence in the material to file a charge sheet against Modi. Instead the SIT submitted a not-guilty closure report.
A plain reading of the book raises a fundamental question. If an ordinary Journalist, employing simple investigative tools, can unearth such a huge damming material sufficient enough to indict all & sundry in Gujrat, then why could’nt a Govt at centre with all resources & investigative agencies at its command do the same during its tenure of ten years to put behind bars those responsible for the carnage.
Modi has since become Prime Minster of India and it remains to be seen whether the bath he took in Holy Ganges in Varanasi on the eve of parliamentary elections will cleanse him of crimes committed against Muslims in Gujrat, or will the long arm of law catch him one day to account for the sins committed by him.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E mail: email@example.com)