Concerned Citizens Tribunal - Gujarat 2002
An inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat

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What a shock and shame that India’s fair secular name should suffer dastardly disgrace through the recent government-abetted Gujarat communal rage, compounded by grisly genocidal carnage and savage arsonous pillage, victimising people of Muslim vintage—and ‘unkindest cut of all’— allegedly executed with the monstrous abetment of chief minister Modi, his colleagues and party goons. The gravamen of this pogrom-like operation was that the administration reversed its constitutional role and, by omission and commission, engineered the loot, ravishment and murder which was methodically perpetrated through planned process by chauvinist VHP elements, goaded by terrorist appetite. What ensued was a ghastly sight the like of which, since bleeding partition days, no Indian eye had seen, no Indian heart had conceived and of which no Indian tongue could adequately tell. Hindutva barbarians came out on the streets in different parts of Gujarat and, in all flaming fury, targeted innocent and helpless Muslims who had nothing to do with the antecedent Godhra event. They were brutalised by miscreants uninhibited by the police; their women were unblushingly molested; and Muslim men, women and children, in a travesty of justice, were burnt alive. The chief minister, oath-bound to defend law and order, vicariously connived at the inhuman violence and some of his ministers even commanded the macabre acts of horror.

There was none to question the malevolent managers of communal massacre. The criminal outrage, there was none in uniform to resist, not even to record information of the felonies. Nor was there any impartial official to render succour or assure civilised peace. When government failed and the local media distorted the truth, the fascist trend flourished and the barbaric, fanatic, rapist human animals remained unchecked.

Awakened by this sinister scenario, people of conscience, all over the country, felt the gory, catastrophe merited investigation. Thus was set up a committee of enquiry formally headed by me, but actively and functionally managed by a great young lady—Teesta Setalvad. She organised the services of eminent judges whose retirement would not inhibit them from throwing all their energy to the enquiry process—a signal public service. A great team, valiant paradigm, joined them. They collected

evidence of the gruesome events, lethal incidents, vicious environs and the complicity of people in authority who were vicariously guilty of the indescribable offenses. Those who sat on the committee—they were superannuated judges, a militant marvel of an advocate and four other noble public figures—made great sacrifice and rendered free service. They were experienced as judges and seasoned social activists, and knew what a judicial enquiry called for—an objective, yet sensitive examination of the overall holocaust. They pooled testimonies sought from official and non-official sources, and pooled all probative material. People came and gave evidence, some officials showed up to unfold what they knew had happened. The Tribunal toured, restlessly strove to get at the traumatic truth and were guided by the necessity of hearing both parties. Grievances poured in. Tears and fears were placed before the Tribunal. I was there only for a day and, therefore, cannot claim to have participated substantially in the enquiry. But my colleagues have done an anguished job, looking into tons of material, sifting and sorting and producing a brave, massive report. I commend their task to the Indian People. I cannot but condemn the culpable delinquency of those in power in Gandhinagar nor, indeed, is it possible to absolve the Central rulers in Delhi who failed to act and, perhaps, connived by omission, the harrying operation in Gandhi Country; I mean Gujarat, where the greatest man of our time was born, with the noblest example of secular symphony of religions. Yet, action has to be taken against heinous culprits since justice shall be done under the Indian Constitution. Be you ever so high, the law is above you.

My message and my mission is the presentation of an exhaustive report, which does credit to those (other than me) who prepared, sedulously and feelingly, findings which they were commissioned to do by their conscience and the nation.

There are tragic, traumatic conclusions and creative, corrective recommendations. There are measures, punitive and rehabilitative, for victimological constitutional action. My task is to place the report before the people. Know ye the Truth and the Truth shall make you Free—provided We, the people of India, act promptly and fearlessly.

The melody of communal unity, the beauty of religious amity and the secularity of Indian humanity—these glorious values are the mission and message to the nation. Let us struggle to sustain this supreme value, lest we, as a people, perish by divisive ideology. The Gujarat episode is an evil event and disastrous portent. Let us battle for the success of our pluralist culture, secular heritage and social-justice-illumined democracy. India must win! The integrity of our fraternity shall never surrender to berserk, blood-thirsty political bestiality.

October 24, 2002 Justice VR Krishna Iyer


Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace