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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Some Gujarat riot victims retract charges before SIT

Manas Dasgupta

“Earlier statements fabricated, recorded without our knowledge”

AHMEDABAD: In a queer turn, some of the victims of the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat have retracted their charges of rape and bribing of the police by the rioters before the Special Investigating Team (SIT).

As it approached the victims for recording their statements, as per the Supreme Court’s order for investigating some of the cases afresh, the team encountered the U-turn.

The SIT has appended the statements of at least six persons contradicting what they said in the charge sheet filed before the Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court in connection with the rioting at Naroda Gam in which it named 53 accused, including 29 fresh names, but had to drop the charge of rape in at least one case.

The victims told the SIT that the earlier statements filed in their names at various places, including as an affidavit in the Supreme Court, were “fabricated” and recorded without their knowledge. They agreed that they had signed the statements but claimed that the statements were in English and they had no idea of what these contained. “We were made to sign on the dotted lines and we did it,” some of them said.
Denies rape

A 25-year-old woman, in her statement before the SIT, denied that she was ever raped as was mentioned in her statement before the apex court filed in 2003. She said she was stabbed in the hand by some rioters and her family members were burnt alive. She said she had fled the scene of violence and had no idea if any other woman was raped by the mob.

The woman said her earlier statement was recorded in English by some voluntary organisations through counsel. She claimed that when she was told orally about what had been written, there was no mention of rape. “I was made to sign the paper and I did it without knowing the contents written in English,” she said.

Maqsood Pathan denied his earlier statement that he saw some senior BJP leaders handing over a black suitcase to the then local inspector after which the police left the scene leaving the field open for the rioters to make mayhem.

In his earlier statements, Pathan named two former BJP members of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as having offered the bribe to the police to get the field cleared for the attack on the minorities.

Rafiq Sheikh, Mohammad Malik, Rafique Malik and Rahim Malik also retracted their statements giving vivid descriptions of the mob attacks and naming some Hindu leaders in the vicinity among the rioters.

Among those earlier named by some victims as having instigated the rioters were the then BJP member of the Assembly, Maya Kodnani, now Minister of State in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, and VHP State general secretary Jaideep Patel.

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