(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 15, 2009
SEVEN years after the State-sponsored communal carnage which claimed the lives of thousands in Gujarat, a police officer has been arrested by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). This is the first officer to be so arrested.
Four years ago, the Supreme Court, noting that delivery of justice was deliberately not reaching the victims had ordered the reopening of more than 2000 riot cases closed by the state police on grounds of lack of evidence. Of these, ten of the most gruesome incidents were handed over to the SIT by the apex court.
The arrested police officer, Kirisitsinh Erda, was the police inspector in-charge of the area covering the Gulberg society where the 74 year-old former Congress MP, Ehsan Jafri was burnt alive alongwith 42 others. It was then reported that 31 people went missing as well. There were widespread complaints that the police did not respond despite being informed about the impending attack. It is on the basis of investigations of such complaints that Erda was arrested not only for the dereliction of duty but also because of his alleged complicity in preparing false documents to help out some of the accused in the massacre. Ironically, Erda was the main complainant in the FIR lodged in the Gulberg society case. Twenty two people were arrested on the basis of this. All were, however, released on bail by the court later due to weak evidence against them. SIT chief, R K Raghavan, has said, “We have enough evidence against him. More arrests are likely in coming days.” The SIT had already arrested 54 of the accused in the Gulberg society case alone. According to reports, five other senior police officers, including the Additional Director General of Police, alongwith a DCP and an ACP and two DSPs are under the SIT’s scanner. The SIT is scheduled to submit its report to the Supreme Court on February 16, 2009.
In the light of this incontrovertible evidence, the state’s chief minister, least expected to show any remorse, has chosen to remain silent. Worse, with the aim of reaping political/electoral gains by sharpening communal polarisation, he has suggested that Mumbai 26/11 terrorist attacks could not have happened without local support. He is, thus, providing grist to the mill of Pakistan’s propaganda against all evidence that they are not involved in these terror attacks. So much for the BJP’s commitment to fight terrorism!
Justice delayed has universally been acknowledged as justice denied. Nevertheless, even after seven long years of agony and suffering, if justice can now be delivered to the most unfortunate and hapless victims, then this would go in some measure to restore the credibility of the system and instill the much devalued confidence in it. Soon after the carnage, all Constitutional authorities, including the National Human Rights Commission, had severely indicted the state government for both deliberate negligence as well as abatement of crime. The judiciary, it was expected, would deliver some justice. The judiciary, however, has to judge the case as prepared by the local police. It is in this area that the SIT’s arrests now prove that the earlier suspicions and conclusions about the complicity of the state police and administration were correct.
All this doubly underlines the fact that no further delay in the delivery of justice can be tolerated by the secular democratic modern India. It is hoped that the Supreme Court will now act swiftly on the report submitted by the SIT and restore some semblance of faith in our system of delivery of justice. This is crucial for strengthening the foundations of the modern Indian Republic.