The Gulberg Memorial
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:
- RB Sreekumar: Gujarat genocide – the State, Law and Subversion
- Human Rights Watch: A decade on, Gujarat justice incomplete
- Aijaz Zaka Syed: Fast Backward
- Amitava Kumar: “I Am Still Alive”
- Mukul Sharma: Corporate Complicity and Gujarat
- Zainab Bawa: In the midst of blasts and fireworks across cities…
- Subhash Gatade: Why NAMO Loves to Hate Prof Nandy
- Vasudha Nagaraj: Magistrate Tamang, a hero
- Narendra Modi – Murdabad!
- Ahem-dabad again
- BBC: The men behind the iconic Gujarat photo meet
- The Caravan: Vinod Jose profiles Narendra Modi – The Empereor Uncrowned
- Outlook: Sundeep Dougal’s 25 questions for Narendra Modi
- Human Rights Watch 2002 report: ‘We Have No Orders to Save You’
- SACW Archive: The Inferno of Hate and Horror in Gujarat
- Rediff News Archives: The Gujarat Riots Homepage
- Outlook: Gujarat 2002 Archives
- Tehelka: The Truth in the Words of the Men Who Did It
- Christophe Jaffrelot: Gujarat 2002: What Justice for the Victims? (EPW, .pdf)
- Paul R Brass (2004): The Gujarat Pogrom of 2002
- Ashis Nandy (2008): Blame the Middle Class
- Gujarat Pogrom: A timeline and factboxes