04/11/2012, 00.00
INDIA

Massacres in Gujarat: Narendra Modi minister acquitted of all charges

Nirmala Carvalho
Fr. Cedric Prakash, director of the "Prashant" Center for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, complains of procedural errors in investigations: witnesses not listened to and telephone calls not put on record. In 2002, Gujarat was the scene of violent riots between Hindus and Muslims: over 1,000 confirmed dead, 253 missing, 523 places of worship destroyed.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A "very bitter" verdict for the survivors after "a full investigation that was suspect beyond all reasonable doubt", says Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, Director of the Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace Ahmedhabad Prashant.  He is critical of the sentence handed down today by an Indian court, which exonerates Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, of all charges of involvement in the massacres of 2002. The court acquitted 58 other co-accused.

In particular, the priest denounces procedural errors committed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court. "The way the investigation was carried out - said Fr. Prakash, a native of Gujarat - says a lot about the verdict. Witnesses never heard and telephone calls not recorded in the minutes is sufficient reason to believe that the entire investigation is suspect. But all is not lost yet. The struggle for justice and truth will continue until the end. "

On 27 February 2002 a group of Muslims attacked and set fire to the Sabarmati Express, aboard which were Hindus - mostly women, children and elderly - returning from a pilgrimage to Ayodhya. The attack, which killed 58 people, sparked violent inter-confessional riots in Gujarat. Among these, there is also the slaughter at Gulbarg Society, an Islamic residential complex in Ahmedhabad. On 28 February, a crowd set fire to houses, killing 68 Muslims. Among these, even the politician Ehsan Jafri, a leading figure at the time of the Congress Party.

Jafri's widow has always accused Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, the Hindu ultra-nationalist party in government) of conspiring in the riots, for failing to control the situation and has tried not to ascertain the truth.

In the massacre, the Muslim community of Gujarat paid the highest price: of the more than 1,000 confirmed deaths, 790 were Muslims and 254 Hindus. At least 253 people were declared missing, 523 places of worship, including three churches, were damaged, 27,901 Hindus and 7,651 Muslims were arrested.

 

 

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