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The Gulberg Memorial

February 28, 2012

The photograph above is that of a small protest by People’s Watch yesterday, in Madurai, for justice and reparations in Gujarat. Such demonstrations were held across India. Nothing irks the Narendra Modi Fan Brigade than remembering. Move on, they say, move on, forget it. It happened. The struggle of man against power, said Milan Kundera, is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

The short film below, about making a memorial at Gulberg Society in Ahemdabad, was put out by the Teesta Setalvad-led Sabrang Trust in 2008. Yesterday, tenth anniversary of the day Gujarat began to burn for a few weeks in 2002, Sabrang Trust held a meeting at what is now the Gulberge Memorial. Given below the film is the text read out by Justice Hosbet Suresh read out at the Memorial meeting, which was webcast live by Sabrang Trust.

Sabrang Trust/ Citizens for Justice and Peace
Statement of Justice Hosbet Suresh

The Gulberg Memorial
Ahmedabad, 27 February 2012

How does one live with the recurring memories of a gruesome past? Of the hideous acts of mass murder, rape and destruction of properties and livelihood? We have recorded all such stories, as each one, the victims, and all kith and kin of the dead, narrated with tears in their eyes and with no hope of any future, in our report, Crime Against Humanity.

The dead cannot be resurrected but the living should hope to have a dignified future while their struggle seems to be eternal for justice and survival. We are here to express our solidarity with them and in that to make the government accountable.

Some people say that it is time for reconciliation. Does reconcile mean letting off the perpetrators? While those who committed mass murder, mass rape and mass destruction are free, and with no sense of remorse or regret, will there be any reconciliation?

Some people say that Gujarat has grown in forms of development and administration and therefore we forget what happened ten years ago. Who will say this? Women who were raped, would they say this? How does the so-called development of Gujarat mean anything to them when the rapists are free? Children who have seen their mothers, sisters, being raped and killed, would they say that? What about the large numbers of people who have lost their dear and near ones, would they say that?

Would they not ask what has happened to those who were responsible for the acts they committed? What did the administration do when such horrible crimes were being committed? Who gave the orders? What did the police do?  What did the ministers do? Above all, what did the chief minister do? None of these questions have been satisfactorily answered.

People may think of the South African experience of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I agree. Truth must come. In Desmond Tutu’s words: “They must make a clean breast of what they did.” Yes, it may amount to reopening of old wounds. But what he said is important. Our justification was that these wounds were actually festering and that reopening was crucial in so much as it meant you would be able to cleanse the wounds and pour a balm on them. There is no way you can deal with the past without opening wounds.

So you have to clean up the wounds; you have to tell the truth, and the truth becomes the basis for justice. One of the components of justice is proper reparation for all the victims of the 2002 carnage. “Sadhbhavna” without truth and justice is only a farce and has no meaning.

(Read out by Justice Suresh in a press conference at 1 pm, Gulberg Society, Ahmedabad.)

From Kafila archives:

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Ram Sharma permalink
    February 28, 2012 4:00 AM

    In a civilized society no one will disagree that the perpetrators of human suffering should be punished, where ever it occurs. This certainly applies to what happened in Gujarat in 2002. From several Kafila postings, it appears that some people know with certainty that what happened and who were responsible. If so, then why not apply the due process of law, instead of protesting in Kerala or New York. The only problem here is that the accused also have rights. They are guilty only when their crime is proven in a court of law. Not many will be convinced that the judiciary is India is totally defunct, and Gujarat has a dictatorship, and is not a part of India which is ruled by a different political party. It is possible that a handful of people who know the guilty of 2002 riots could not assemble enough evidence to present in court. In that case they should go people of Gujarat, and not of distant lands, to present their case. Even dictators are being challenged all over the world. If they do not want to do even that, then they simply want to keep the fire of communal passion burning, not only in Gujarat but all over India.

    • February 28, 2012 4:17 AM

      In the context of judiciary, ever heard of a word called prosecution? Why has there been a judgement in the Godhra train burning case whereas the pogrom victims await one? One could go on and on to explain how justice is being subverted, one could point you to previous posts (posted immediately before this one) but I doubt if that would solve any purpose. One has seen over the years such obfuscation being the main tool of Modi defenders and I suspect you have learnt the art quite well.

  2. Ram Sharma permalink
    February 28, 2012 8:49 AM

    Please suggest a mechanism by which the justice can be served. You may not believe I accept you contention that the justice has been subverted. But what are the options except the judiciary or the people of Gujarat? Does it make me pro-Modi if I see the futility of a few non-Gujaratis protesting here and there? I do not know Modi, but have Gujarati friends and visited Gujarat recently. As I perceived,the Gujaratis created Modi. They admire Sardar Patel far more than Mahatma Gandhi. Only a Congress Modi can replace a BJP Modi. No Setalvad or ShreeKumar can do much about it. The mechanism you propose must take into account the intrinsic nature of Gujaratis which is very different UPians or Bengalis.

  3. March 2, 2012 12:32 AM

    These protestations will have more credibility when they also protest other acts of violence, by state actors or otherwise. We don’t see many on the left mourning the Sikhs that died in 1984, the Kashmiri Pandits or even those killed in Godhra. We don’t hear the terms “Pogrom”, “Ethnic Cleansing” or “Genocide” used in those contexts. And yet, they are liberally used in the Setalvad’s documentary above. It shows a clear bias. I am not against taking any actions against the guilty in the 2002 massacre. But there should be some balance in the dialog, otherwise you are just indulging in partisan bickering, nothing more.

Trackbacks

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