Chronicle of a murder foretold
Amit Sengupta Delhi
It took 25 years to register a case against Congress politician, Sajjan Kumar, widely accused to be the leader of a mob in west Delhi which burnt, looted, raped and killed Sikhs, in what was clearly a State-sponsored massacre in November 1984. HKL Bhagat, who led the killings in east Delhi, is dead; in his lifetime he became a minister in Rajiv Gandhi's cabinet, surrounded by hordes of bodyguards. Other accused, including Jagdish Tytler and local Congress politicians and gangsters, are still free. Read the extraordinary PUCL/PUDR report then brought out, Who are the guilty. Apart from thousands of media reports, documents, books and protests. But nothing happened.
Bhanwari Devi, a social activist in feudal, patriarchal Rajasthan, campaigned against child marriage. In retaliation, she was gang-raped by known upper-caste men in 1992. Her protracted journey for justice meant public humiliation, alienation, condemnation. Her medical examination was conducted 52 hours after the rape. The trial began in a lower court two years later. Five judges were changed, the sixth found the accused not guilty in 1995. The rapists celebrated in a public spectacle. Others taunted and disgraced her.
She became a catalyst of the new upsurge of the women's movement. The entire nation protested. A film was made on her. Hundreds of reports and words were written on her courage. Her stoic, resilient picture became a cause. She was honoured. But, 18 years after, she still awaits justice.
The Bombay pogrom of 1992-93 against Muslims was meticulously organised by Shiv Sena politicians, with active help from the police in Congress-ruled Maharashtra. The Justice Srikrishna Commission report categorically indicted the criminals and murderers, including the police. People were shot in cold blood, even those offering namaz. Successive governments, including the ones led by the 'communal' BJP-RSS (which rejected the report as "anti-Hindu"), and the 'secular' Congress-NCP, have not moved one inch on the report by this eminent Justice with impeccable credentials, who later joined the apex court. Murderers have gone scot-free or have got promotions in the police. Justice has been crushed and degraded in full public view. The State and the system care a damn.
Compare this to the process of justice in the Bombay blasts case. The accused, all of them Muslims, were jailed, convicted and sentenced. So why this discrimination when it comes to the killers and barbarians of the Shiv Sena and police?
Jamshedpur riots, Bhiwandi, Bhagalpur, Mau: you name a riot, and the RSS shadow looms large. Did one of them meet the logic of justice after the mass killings? The man who led the Ayodhya campaign, followed by the Babri Masjid demolition and riots across India, and his colleagues happily shared 'constitutional' power. He even wanted to become the PM. So what message goes to that lumpen mobster, the pathological killer, the serial rapist on ground zero?
Will Narendra Modi, his ministers, cohorts and gangsters of the BJP/RSS/VHP/Bajrang Dal ever face punishment for enacting and masterminding the Gujarat genocide of 2002? There are more than 40 documents, testimonies, tribunal reports filed by former judges, plus films, media reports, phone records, official and police testimonies from the highest quarters.
Every meticulous detail is recorded, including the involvement of the criminals, and their accomplices and patrons in the government and police. Most of all, there are real people who have seen it all with their eyes: the kerosene in the mouth of the children with a lit matchstick, gas cylinders to blast homes, a mothers' womb ripped apart, women raped, Ehsan Jaffery and others hacked and burnt to death, Best Bakery victims roasted alive, Bilkis Bano ravaged.
And yet, will Modi, his Sangh Parivar ministers and gangsters, and top cops who engineered and patronised this genocide, ever face the final dialectic of crime and punishment? The final countdown of true justice?
So what's the big deal with Ruchika Girhotra's suicide and 17 years of torture, degradation and total condemnation and exile for her family? Between Bhanwari Devi and Ruchika, Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002, and the Khairlanjis and Jhajjars, there are perhaps a thousand chronicles of injustice foretold. With not an iota of even the idea of justice.
So who will tell the story of hope when all hopes have been crushed?