Women victims of Gujarat riots 2002 seek international intervention for justice

By Rehan Ansari, TwoCircles.net,

Mumbai: Contrary to the elitists view that Muslims are better in Gujarat, a number women victims of Gujarat riots 2002 complained of ongoing threatening, intimidating by the accused on bail, ill treatment by the Gujarat Police and injustice by the system including the courts.

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These Gujarati women along with a Lawyer were speaking at a Press Conference organized by Teesta Setalvad, noted social activist and secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace, today in Mumbai.

L-R: Adv.Shabna Mansoori, Saera ben, Jannat Bibi, Teesta Setalvad, Farzana Khan, Shakeela Bano

All the women present at the press conference expressed that they have no hope for Justice in Gujarat. The most painful experiences they shared were misbehavior of judges during the hearing.

Jannat Bibi, said, “When I witnessed against Babu Bjarangi in the court, he shouted, abused and threatened to kill me in the open court in front of Judge, lawyers and Police but no action was taken against him.”

Sairaben, whose 24 years son doing LLB was killed in Gulbarg Society, alleged that when deposition started Judge made fun of her depression after the killing of her son. She alleged , “Judge BU Joshi, used to make fun of me and my husband Salim when we started deposing before the court and finally on our complaint he was transferred, but then too, after one year when all the witness were deposed.”

L-R: Teesta Setalvad,Farzana Khan, Shakeela Ansari, Rupaben

Shakeela Bano, whose 8 family members, mother, brother sister in law, 2 kids and a younger brother were brutally killed and burnt alive said, “After she deposed before the court in Burqa, accused used to tell that whenever they will come to know about Burqa clad women she will be killed like her other family members.” She said after the threat she left to wear Burqa.

She also alleged that when she deposed before the court that all of her family members were killed in front of her and she was hiding then Judge BU Joshi asked “what you were doing. Why don’t you save them?”

All of them were so frightened that they were afraid to go alone in the society and they are also expecting the removal of security provided to them.
Rupa ben Modi, a Parsi who lost her son and inspired the film Parzania, also complained of threat and offer of cash by the accused to drop the cases against them. She said, “I am offered 6 lakh by an accused to drop the charges.”

United Nations report for the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

She also complained of ill treatment by the Police officials. She said, “I was harassed repeatedly in the name of summon. I was asked to stay home to receive the summons for hours but when I left for some domestic work Police came to me in the market and at the bus stop and handed me over the summons and made fun of me in full public view.”

Not only these lone victims but NGO’s and even lawyers, who are fighting the case of these victims are not spared. Cases are filed against social activists and their relatives who are fighting for justice, like Teesta Setalvad and Dr.Shakeel of Ideal Relief Committee, Gujarat.

Shabana Mansoori, lawyer before the Nanavati Shah Commission and also fighting these cases said, “Once in Ramzan, I had to stay in the court till 8.30 in the night because I was told by a good wisher not to leave before the accused.”

She also said I used to receive calls around 2 or 3 in the night asking her to come out and collect the evidences.

Ironically the Supreme Court halted the hearing of these 9 cases since 2003 for 5 years and SIT was formed only in 2008 under the monitoring of the Supreme Court.

Teesta complained, “Even if Supreme Court is monitoring the investigation but the officers are creating the problems at micro level making justice difficult in the cases.”

Teesta Setalvad said that they were denied DOCAI Investigation, where the victims have to identify the accused by certain distance, by the court and had to go to the High court for the permission.

She demanded a committee of Retired Judges to whom the victims can complain, CCTV in the court to monitor the behavior of judges in these cases.

She issued a United Nations report for the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which appealed to the International Community on the front page for Monitoring and Intervention in the ongoing Justice Process that involves 97 Women Eye Witnesses and Survivors in Nine Critical Trials.

She hopes that the justice will finally be done to the victims and asked for the help of civil society.