Monday, June 25, 2012
Gopalgarh violence, firing victims losing hope for justice
Victims of the September 14, 2011, violence at Gopalgarh in Rajasthan, where 10 persons were killed and 30 injured in the firing and attack on a mosque, are gradually losing hope for justice with the Central Bureau of Investigation giving a clean chit to the top district officials and the State government failing to restore faith among Meo Muslims targeted by communal forces.
A delegation comprising representatives of Muslim groups visited Gopalgarh earlier this week, nine months after the horrific violence, and found an atmosphere of fear and distrust in the town amid allegations that the CBI officers were threatening the Meo community leaders willing to depose as witnesses against the policemen and Gujjars who allegedly attacked the Jama Masjid.
The delegation visited the town in Bharatpur district under the banner of Rajasthan Muslim Forum on the repeated requests of the next of kin of the deceased. The victims complained of “prejudiced approach” of the CBI’s investigating officers and the ruling Congress’ “complete indifference” to their plight. The much-touted judicial inquiry into the violence is yet to begin.
The CBI has arrested a local Muslim leader, Abdul Ghani, and his three sons on the basis of five first information reports and filed the charge-sheet in the court highlighting the police claim that if the policemen had not resorted to firing, there would have been large-scale violence. The 14 FIRs lodged by Muslims, identifying the policemen as accused, have been taken up for probe only recently.
Collector, SP reinstated
The State government has since reinstated the then Collector, Krishna Kunal, and Superintendent of Police, Hinglaj Dan, who were suspended for dereliction of duty, after they obtained stay orders in their favour from the Central Administrative Tribunal. Muslim groups have accused Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of deliberately leaving technical loopholes giving benefit to the suspended officers.
The delegation comprised Irada Society president Mohammed Hasan, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind State president Khurshid Hussain and national secretary M. Salim Engineer and Forum members Nazimuddin and M. Alam Khan.
In a statement issued here, the Forum alleged that the CBI was trying to protect the accused and implicate Meo Muslims in the Gopalgarh case. By not clubbing the 14 FIRs with the initial five FIRs, the CBI has found an escape route for the Collector and the SP and ignored the evidence of their complicity in the crime, it said.
“How is it possible that a premier investigating agency like the CBI could not notice the simple fact that for 24 hours after the police firing on the mosque, the police were in-charge of the site during the curfew when the bodies were dragged [out] and thrown into wells and cut into pieces and burnt,” stated the Forum.
Mr. Gehlot had himself admitted two days after the firing that the policemen had fired 219 rounds, while claiming that it was done to contain a direct clash between Meos and Gujjars. It was later revealed after the curfew was relaxed that all the bullets were aimed at the mosque, which suffered extensive damage.
Mr. Salim Engineer pointed out that the Meos whose houses and shops were looted and burnt had refused to accept the paltry amount of Rs.3,000 to Rs.4,000 each offered by the State government. The total damage of property, caused by fearless rioters during curfew when the Meo families had vacated the town, is estimated at Rs.2 crore.
The Forum took strong exception to the State government’s attempt to protect Mr. Kunal and Mr. Dan and demanded that a fearless atmosphere be created in Gopalgarh to enable the victims to get their statements recorded. A demand was also placed for a fair survey of damage to property, followed by adequate compensation and rehabilitation of victims.
Courtesy: The Hindu