The conviction of Babu Bajrangi, who openly boasted about the Naroda Patimurders on TV and that of Dr Maya Kodnani, a gynaecologist and minister of state in Modi government for sometime, is the highlight of the special court’s judgment nailing down 32 offenders for the ethnic cleansing of Naroda Patiya locality in Ahmedabad in 2002.
This is not, thankfully, is the first such judgment in cases relating to
the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, which was termed by a panel of retired
high court judges as genocide. A substantial number of people have already been awarded life sentence in other cases related to Gujarat 2002.
This judgment as well as the earlier ones related to Gujarat 2002 have
brought a sense of relief to the victims as well as other Muslims all over
India. Along with this a new confidence has arisen in judiciary’s
impartiality and fair play as well as regard for the due process of law.
The greatest advantage of such judgments is that the victims who have seen
their near and dear ones killed, their homes torched, their belongings
destroyed and their dignity trampled under feet, are quietened. Only when
justice is denied to such people they seek recourse to extrajudicial
measures, blinded by hurt and anger as they are. In that respect, it is a
great relief to Muslim elders, who have got a basis to argue with the
unfortunate youth who have seen everything in their life destroyed by
state-sponsored rioters. Now, we have the argument that justice is not dead
and no victim of atrocities should think of doing justice himself.
Dr Kodnani’s conviction is a clear proof that Modi thought the direct
involvement of this woman in the mass killing was a badge of honour. She
had to leave government only when she was arrested as an accused in the
The BJP argument that Kodnani was not a minister when she committed the
crime is an example of the Sangh’s queer logic. What it goes on to show is
that Narendra Modi and his party have no respect for human life, especially
if it happens to be a Muslim’s life. This also confirms the worst fears
about the state’s involvement in the crime.
Babu Bajrangi’s case is even worse. This man has openly been boasting about
how he killed Muslims. He knew all along that the state would not touch him
as it was being run by the same people who had organised the monumental
crime. That he has been proven wrong goes to the credit of the Special
Court. An equal measure of credit also accrues to the social and political
activists (almost all of them Hindus) who fought relentlessly to get
justice for the victims.
Any rejoicing at this moment will be premature as the people who did all
this are capable of making as ass of the law. The culprits of Babri Masjid
demolition and associated killings are not only roaming free, but had the
honour of becoming Union Cabinet ministers. Killers of Hashimpura, Meerut,
Maliana and a thousand other riots were never brought to book.
However, the reckoning has begun. Among the perpetrators of Gujarat 2002
Sardarpura massacre 31 culprits were awarded life term; among Ode village
killers 18 got life term and five got seven years in jail; in the second
Ode massacre nine got life term; in the Deepda Darwaza killings 21 got life
term and in Naroda Patiya 32 have got convicted. At the time of writing
this Kodnani had been awarded 28 years in jail and Bajrangi a life term.
Others were to follow.
In all this no one has been awarded a death sentence, unlike Godhra train
blasts case in which 11 were sentenced to death and 20 got life term.