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April 16, 2004

No Remore Even Now from Modi 

Press Release

Yet, even after Supreme Court Judgment, Mr. Modi’s blame-shifting rhetoric continues. [The Times of India, April 15, 2004, Page 3]
I fully agree with the Bar Council of Gujarat’s “deep concern” about the morality of the Judicial System [The Times of India, April 15, 2004, Page 1]. However, my concern is over the lower court decisions made in the Vadodara Trial Court and Gujarat High Court Baste Bakery Judgement rather than the Supreme Court’s April 12 decision.
Mr. Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, made a statement during his election campaign that “Aapne Gujaratiyo etle hatyarao, looterao, balatkario ane miyaona na matha vandhnara”. (The Times of India dated April 15, 2004, Page 3 "Gujaratis being branded as murderers, says Modi") By saying so, he attempts to diffuse the responsibility of the Gujarat Government – and particularly his own role – in the Gujarat Carnage and shift the burden among the entire Gujarati community. The overwhelming majority of major fact-finding reports, including that of the NHRC, were careful to place their blame particularly on the Government of Gujarat rather than the people in general.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Best Bakery case again clearly condemns the state machinery and religious fanatics as the directors of the 2002 Gujarat Carnage. The Gujarati community as a whole is not identified as the culprit:

“When the ghastly killings take place in the land of Mahatama Gandhi it raised a very pertinent question as to whether some people have become so bankrupt in their ideology that they have deviated from everything which was so dear to him. […] The fanatics who spread violence in the name of religion are worse than terrorist and more dangerous than an alien enemy. […] The role of the State Government also leaves much to be desired. One gets a feeling that there was really no seriousness in the State’s approach in assailing the Trial Court’s judgment. […] The modern day “Neros” were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected. Law and justice become flies in the hands of these “wanton boys”. When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice. Public order as well as public interest become martyrs and monuments.”

Yet, even after Supreme Court Judgment, Mr. Modi’s blame-shifting rhetoric continues.

Similarly, the Bar Council of Gujarat capriciously makes statements to serve its interests and becomes active only on selected occasions. The Council declared, “The transfer of the case to Maharashtra certainly needs to be reviewed. Otherwise, the morale of the legal fraternity and the whole judicial administration of Gujarat are likely to be adversely affected.” (The Times of India, April 15, 2004, Page 1 "Transfer will hit state judiciary") I fully agree that there is cause for “concern” about the morale of the Judicial System. But my concern is for the decisions of the lower courts in the Baste Bakery case – those judgements of the Trial Court of Vadodara and the High Court of Gujarat. On the contrary, the Supreme Court Judgement has made its concern clear by stating:

“When an ordinary citizen makes a grievance against the mighty administration, any indifference, inaction or lethargy shown in protecting his right guaranteed in law will tend to paralyse by such inaction or lethargic action of Courts and erode in stages faith inbuilt in judicial system ultimately destroying the very justice delivery system of the country itself.”

It is high time to disseminate the information in all major fact-finding reports, the NHRC report, the Judgment of Trial Court of Vadodara, the Judgment of the High Court of Gujarat and the Judgment of the Supreme Court of India to understand the Gujarat Carnage.

Rohit Prajapati, Vadodara
Human Rights Activist of Gujarat