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2016-06-20 05:24:37

Gulberg verdict ; will justice remain elusive for Indian Muslims ?

Aazeen Kirmani

If it was not enough to be dragged out, hacked limb by limb and burnt alive, 14 years later Ehsan Jafri has been killed once again, this time not by a frenzied mob of ill educated ill motivated hooligans but by an honourable  judge of SIT court. Precisely that place, where justice should have been served to the 69 innocent unarmed civilians killed in Gulberg society massacre, has become the site of assassination of not just Jafri’s credibility but also of survivor’s faith in judiciary.

According Special SIT court judge P.B. Desai’s verdict in the Gulberg Society massacre the mob of thousands which killed 69 people would not have attacked and killed the society residents had Ehsan Jafri not fired at them.Apart from contradicting the claims of witness and police records which state that killings had started in the morning and the firing if at all it happened, could have happened only in the afternoon, the verdict unmistakably reeks of a particular brand of thought which thrives on victim demonization. One cannot help but be reminded of Asaram Bapu who had said regarding Nirbhaya that the victim was as guilty as the rapists.

What the verdict essentially implies is that thousands of young able bodied men had entered Gulbergsociety carrying lethal weapons with them for no other purpose but only to be used in case 72 years old Jafri fired at them!

What a blatant mockery of the deceased and the bereaved, devoid of even the customary garb of some sort of reason or legitimacy.

Since the men were provoked by Jafri’s firing, they deserved most lenient sentences and hence for mass murder, looting and burning 11 men have been convicted to life term, 1 man to ten years in jail and 12 others to seven years in jail.

Standing in stark contrast is the justice delivered in case of Yakub Memon who was hanged to death for his role in the Bombay blasts which had followed the Babri Masjid demolition and Bombayriots.The Bombay blasts also saw the conviction of Rubina Memon who was sentenced to life .imprisonment by the TADA court as a Maruti van used in the bomb blasts was registered in her name while recently Sadhvi Pragya Thakur whose LML Freedom bike which was used to strap the bombs that exploded in Malegaon on September 29, 2008was given a clean chit by the courts.

The Bombay riots in which according to official figures 575 Muslims were killed saw only three convictions.  On 10 July 2008, a Mumbai court sentenced former Shiv Sena  MP Madhukar Sarpotdar along with two others to a year’s rigorous imprisonment. However Sarpotdar was immediately granted bail and in February 2010 he died without serving his sentence.

On the other end of justice system  are thousands of Muslim youth who remain incarcerated in jails  across India under draconian sections like TADA and POTA, only to be found innocent decades later. A recent case in point among many such cases is of Nisar-ud-din Ahmad’s who was released last month after spending 23 years in jail. Nisar was arrested on allegation of involvement in five train bomb blasts that happened around the first anniversary of Babri demolition. Two passengers were killed and eight were injured in the blasts.

In May 2016, Supreme Court acquitted him of charges and ordered his immediate release.

As opposed to Nisar who spent 23 years in prison are the accused of Hashimpura Massacre. The Hashimpura Massacre took place in 1987 when 19 personnel of the Provincial Armad Constabulary (PAC) rounded up 42 Muslim youth from the Hashimpura locality of Meerut in UP, loaded them into a truck and took them to the outskirts to shoot and dump them into water canals. The accused remained at large only to surrender 13 years later in 2000. They soon got released on bail and on 21st March 2015  Tis Hazari Court  acquitted all the 16 living accused due to insufficient evidences.

For communal elements even more inspiring than Hashimpura is the story of Sangeet Som who according to Justice Vishnu Sahai Commission’s report tops the list of men found responsible for the communal flare up in Muzaffarnagar in 2013 in which at least 62 people died, 93 were injured, 13 rape and sexual harassment cases were registered and more than 50,000 were displaced. Som is not only roaming scot free but under the current regime he also enjoys Z category security.

Post Muhammad Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri the communal elements have developed enough  audacity to demand action against Akhlaq’s surviving family for consuming meat which was initially detected to be mutton but which over months transformed into beef to suit political agenda just before elections.

It needs no exaggeration that the history of independent India is fraught with instances of communal violence and conviction both being severely skewed against the minority community.

Is it possible to overlook the fact that the main perpetrator of Babri masjiddemolitionwhich led to Bombay riots and then blasts , L K Advani went on to become the deputy Prime Minister of India.

Will justice always remains elusive for Indian Muslims?

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