05/08/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Narendra Modi can be investigated for the Gujarat massacre

by Nirmala Carvalho
According to a report by the Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) to the Supreme Court, Gujarat's chief minister did not take the necessary steps to stop disorders that claimed the lives of more than a thousand Hindus and Muslims. In April, a court had dismissed all charges against Modi.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi can be investigated for the 2002 massacre, this according to a report to the Supreme Court by Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) Raju Ramchandran.

The report says that Modi did not take any step to stop disorders. For this reason, he can be prosecuted under Sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 166 (Public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person) and 505 (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code.

The Amicus Curiae is a party that is not involved in a particular litigation but allowed by the court to advise it on a matter of law affecting the litigation. The Amicus Curiae report can be admitted as evidence to the trial at the discretion of the court.

According to Ram Puniyani, writer and human rights activist, Ramchandran's report is "an objective and honest interpretation of the investigation's findings."

More specifically, the activist told AsiaNews that it matches what a Citizens' Court and other investigations have already found, namely that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) undermined the investigation and that this was used to the advantage of the Gujarat chief minister.

In fact, based on the SIT report, an Indian court on 11 April dismissed charges against Modi and 58 other people charged in connection with the Gujarat massacre.

The SIT was criticised for its handling of the case. Many pointed to numerous procedural flaws in its investigation, most notably wiretapped conversations not entered as evidence.

Now, Puniyani noted, "the report by the Amicus Curiae could overturn the sentence, giving new hope to the victims."

On 27 February 2002, a group of Muslim attacked the Sabarmati Express and set it on fire. The train was carrying mostly women, children and senior citizens on their way back from a pilgrimage to Ajodhya. Fifty-eight people died in the attack, unleashing a wave of sectarian violence across the state of Gujarat.

Muslims paid the highest price. Out of more than a thousand known dead, 790 were Muslims against 254 Hindus. At least, 253 people are still missing.  In addition, 523 places of worship, including three churches, were damaged; 27,901 Hindus and 7,651 Muslims were arrested.

 

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