By TCN News,
Illinois: Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) on Tuesday welcomed the belated convictions of 23 individuals in the Ode massacre case related to the carnage in Gujarat in 2002, and termed the development as first step towards full justice.
On March 1, 2002, a mob of about a thousand people attacked a house in the Pirawali Bhagol area of Ode, in which 23 people had taken shelter. The convicted men set the house on fire, killing the nine women, nine children and five men inside. The verdict is the third, including the Godhra train burning case, that the Supreme Court had entrusted to the Special Investigation Team. The Gujarat pogrom of 2002 claimed the lives of over 2000 people, and displaced over 150,000 from their homes. The Supreme Court's directions on a petition filed by the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) resulted in effective protection for the witnesses, which greatly contributed to the convictions.
"The fact that this is the first post-Godhra carnage case in which the court has established criminal conspiracy, shows that this is only the first step in the long road to full justice and reparation for the victims of the Gujarat carnage," said Mr. Shaheen Khateeb, President of IAMC.
The post-Godhra pogrom was marked by brutal sexual violence against at least 800 women, many of whom were later burnt alive. To date, no case of criminal conspiracy has been brought against the rapists and killers. Individuals who participated in the Gujarat carnage of 2002 have confessed on camera, that their evil deeds were facilitated by the state government led by Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Families of the victims and survivors of the Gujarat pogrom are still struggling for justice and reparation. Despite the passage of 10 years, most people displaced by the pogrom are unable to return to their villages, for fear of being harassed or killed.
"Far from being a vindication of the state government, the court's verdict should be seen as a call to human rights defenders and NGOs to continue the struggle for justice until the masterminds of the gruesome killings of 2002 are handed their due punishment under the law," added Mr. Khateeb.
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