Concerned Citizens Tribunal - Gujarat 2002
An inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat
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In a democracy, the people’s right to information should be paramount. Any government wedded to this basic right should have eagerly cooperated in the effort of a citizen’s tribunal to inquire and let the people know what happened in Gujarat, who engineered the carnage, and who the guilty are.
The Tribunal undertook this huge task as part of the exercise of this fundamental human freedom. The health of any society lies not in denials and half-truths when grave injustices have occurred, but in courageously admitting to them, righting those wrongs with justice and then reconciliation. That both the government of Gujarat and the government of India did not participate in the inquiry reveals their utter disregard for the people’s basic democratic right to know.
Having completed its task, it is with humility that the Tribunal presents this report to the country and the world. Even as we complete our task, we know and recognise that our country’s record in the matter of punishment of the guilty in cases of mass crimes, against the minorities, against Dalits, and against the poor has been pathetic. Yet, with hope that is eternal to the human condition, we do present this report in the belief that, this time, knowing the truth will help us chalk a future that is radically different.
The sorry state of the rule of law in the country is closely connected to the functioning and accountability of our courts, and the criminal justice system is crying out for radical reform. We hope that with justice to the victim-survivors, these reforms will become a matter of urgent political debate.
The Tribunal would like to express its gratitude to justice GG Loney (retd) who participated in some sittings of the Tribunal. The panel also benefited from the insights provided by justice PD Desai (former CJ Mumbai, Kolkata and Himachal Pradesh High Court) who met us in Ahmedabad, and over lengthy discussions, enhanced our understanding and grasp of the situation.
The setting up and the functioning of the Tribunal was made possible due to the Citizens for Justice and Peace, an association of committed citizens from all walks of life, from Mumbai and Ahmedabad, who came together to garner support for the fight for justice, post-carnage. The Tribunal acknowledges its huge debt to this group that felt duty and conscience bound to support and make possible such a Citizen’s Inquiry.
The committed team from Sabrang Communications and Publishing, Mumbai, ably handled the secretariat of the Tribunal. Dr Uma Sheth and Rashmi contributed of their time generously. Their responsibilities included coordinating the schedules of the Tribunal in Ahmeabad and from it’s districts-- its sittings, recording of evidence, translating and transcribing the evidence and handling voluminous material. Then came the task of deliberations on the evidence by the panel which constituted the Tribunal and finalising this report.
During the Tribunal hearings, the India Centre for Human Rights and Law, Mumbai, Prashant, Ahmedabad, and PUCL-Shanti Abhiyan, Vadodara, provided able support for the Tribunal’s hearings.
The panel that constituted the Tribunal pays a humble tribute to all the hapless and innocent victims of the ghastly Gujarat carnage. We dedicate this report to them and to their surviving relatives. And also to each one of those women and men who, at great risk to their person, provided succour and helped expose the truth.
VR Krishna Iyer
Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace