22 Nov 2002
ADVANI'S HAND BEHIND GUJARAT CARNAGE?
From Jal Khambata
NEW DELHI: Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani has been castigated for "patently partisan" role in Gujarat's communal carnage as also for "irresponsibly" peddling the theory of a "foreign hand" behind the Godhra train coach burning in the report of an independent "Concerned Citizens Tribunal" comprising three retired judges of the Supreme Court and High Court and others.
The Tribunal, which held Chief Minister Narendra Modi and some of his Ministers as "unfit to hold any public office" has brought out the complicity and hand of Advani in the post-Godhra carnage, questioning him for dubbing Godhra as an "act of terrorism" by a "foreign hand" without any proof and describing the subsequent post-Godhra carnage as "communal riot."
"What is inexcusable on his part is the assumption of the role of both a lawyer holding the brief of Hindu communalists as also of a presiding judge giving his verdict on the carnage," says the bulky 2-volume report released in Ahmedabad on Thursday and in Delhi on Friday. ( FULL REPORT )
The Tribunal also debunks him for instantly rejecting the Forensic Science Laboratory Report on Godhra train coach burning, wondering "was he doing so on behalf of the Hindu communalists or the central government." It goes on to blast him saying "it appears that like Shri Modi, he too keeps forgetting that he holds constitutional office and is not a Sangh pracharak."
The 8-member Tribunal points out that Advani showed reluctance to visit extensively the affected areas of the post-Godhra carnage immediately despite being a MP from Gandhinagar. "His statements with regard to the entire carnage make people wonder whether any impartial investigation is at all possible into the charges against the accused, with him in charge of the home affairs of the country." Certainly, it is the most stern commentary on Advani ever.
Holding the Centre responsible for not only failing in its constitutional duty and obligation to take over the law and order administration in Gujarat and send Army that takes direct orders from it but also having no intention to discharge it at all, the Tribunal contrasts it with the Centre's prompt action after the Akshardham Mandir massacre to conclude that "this only shows that if the central government intended to take action, it could have done so."
Even Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has not been spared by the Tribunal pointing out that he had cancelled a scheduled foreign visit in the wake of the post-Godhra violence that spread badly on February 28 and late on that day he met RSS and VHP leaders in the nation's capital, "not to discuss the quartering and massacre of innocents in Gujarat but to dialogue on the Ayodhya issue!"
The Tribunal regreted that "the attitude of both Shri Vajpayee and Shri Advani appeared to aim at diverting the nation's attention away from Gujarat, and directing it instead towards Ayodhya and the happenings there." It points out that "neither did the Prime Minister nor the Home Minister even issue a stern order to the Chief Minister to crackdown on the lawless elements." It says "the PM's prevaricating statements, saying different things at different times at different places, left everybody in utter confusion."
Retired Supreme Court Judge P B Sawant, who was one of the members of the Tribunal besides Justice V R Krishna Iyer and Justice Hosbet Suresh as the two other judge members, told reporters in Delhi that its report was based on testimony of 1500 witnesses from 16 of the 25 districts of Gujarat and 2090 documents. Other Tribunal members were: Prof. Ghanshyam Shah and Prof. Tanika Sarkar of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Retired Tripura Director General of Police Dr K S Subramanian, PUCL President Advocate K G Kannabiran and activist Aruna Roy.
The Tribunal's findings, which holds Chief Minister Narendra Modi and some of his Ministers as "all guilty of carnage" ought to be prosecuted and "unfit to hold any public life", were first forwarded to both the Centre and the State Government on August 20 for comments and finalised only after they did not respond, Justice Sawant pointed out.
He said the Tribunal has recommended enactment of a law to deal with genocide and crimes against humanity as per the UN convention on genocide since the present legal system was incapable of handling such crimes. The Tribunal also suggested a standing national tribunal for mass killings, be they related to communalism or any other reason. END