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

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The Tribunal adopted a simple, people-friendly procedure. The press release of the constitution of the Tribunal and its schedule of hearings was publicised well in advance. A schedule was worked out and affected areas, relief camps and localities informed of the sittings. Wherever we had our hearings, at pre-determined destinations or in relief camps where the affected persons had sought refuge, victims came in overwhelmingly large numbers and volunteered to give their statements. It was not possible to examine each and every witness and place them on record. Therefore we heard whom we could and took the rest of the accounts as written statements on record that were recorded by a posse of activists who helped the Tribunal.

Members of the Tribunal put several questions to elicit correct answers . Though witnesses were not cross-examined, the Tribunalís sittings were open to the public and all those interested in presenting their point of view, were welcome. Simply because the evidence has not been challenged does not mean that it is not reliable. Some police officers have deposed but local police officers within affected areas did not. We would have been happy for the police to attend our sittings.

Most victim survivors have lost near and dear ones in the most brutal fashion, suffered serious injuries, and lost everything, their homes, and their livelihood and have been evicted from their roots. No justice has yet been done. In many cases their earlier statements, records of FIRs and post mortem reports have been tendered as evidence. This is part of the voluminous evidence that the Tribunal had on record.

Even as the Tribunal sat, threats and fears intimidated ordinary people and the panel too had to function amidst tight security. But the atmosphere within the Tribunal was open and people-friendly. Ours is a peopleís inquiry and the victims could, without fear of reprisal, give vent to their feelings, of the injustices they had suffered. In this sense, such a Tribunal has, compared to an official commission, greater chances of arriving at the truth. Before us, victim survivors named the perpetrators of heinous crimes and except in exceptional cases, did not fear from disclosing their identities. Other reports were also placed before us and have assisted the Tribunal in arriving at itís conclusions.

The groups who invited the Tribunal to undertake this task were PUCL Vadodara, Communalism Combat, Shanti Abhiyan, PUHR, Jan Sangharsh Manch, Council for Social Justice, Prashant, India Centre for Human Rights and Law,St Xaviers Social Service Society, Behavioural Science Centre, Sanchetana, Sahrwaru.


Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace