Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

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Present Sitation In Gujarat: What Needs to be Done?

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Today’s Study Circle was really lifting. Both – for the contents and discussions that took after the presentation by Teesta and for the attendance it attracted – over 100 people!! Besides help in mobilization by our regular persons attending the Study Circle, this time round many of you circulated and recirculated the mail. Kishore from our office made many calls, plarticularly because of change of address and we didn’t want anyone landing up in previous venue. But most of all, Maulana Azad Vichar Manch too partnered and mobilized.
 
Briefly, Teesta presented about the status of various cases in Gujarat and took us through the evidences against people in high places, including Narendra Modi. She put in perspective the arrest of Sanjiv Bhatt. The evidence that they have been able to collect was because of certain honest and conscientous police officers who placed everything before the Nanavati Commission and meticulously recorded the instructions given to them. She also underscored that 600 odd witnesses had already deposed in various trials against all odds and that most of these 600 odd witnesses were ordinary daily wagers and poorest of the poor. Every attempt was made to influence them including offers and fears. The powerful accused had not inagined that they would not be able to deter the witnesses from deposing truthfully in courts in Gujarat. That Gujarat cases were the first time that secular and justice loving forces had been able to drag the perpetrators of violence in the court and bring some cases to trial and sustain the interest of the court for nine long years. However it was only due to persistence of people fighting for justice. She lamented that the entire battle was unfortunately going on in courts and not politically, though that was required too. She also spoke of her frustrations with the corporate media and paid news phenomena that was colouring editorial policies. The victims particularly and the Muslim commujnity in general was facing worst discrimination and invisible violence. the 600 witnesses cannot hope to return home while some others chose to give up their hope for justice and were allowed to return only after they gave up pursuing justice in courts by withdrawing their statements and complaints. The 600 witnesses and most of the 1,68,000 displaced and riot affected are forced to live on illegal land and can be evicted anytime the state decides. She appeled to everybody to be part of this struggle for justice by extending their solidarity and monitoring the cases. That district committees of Committee for the Defence of Teesta Setalvad and Justice in Gujarat shold be formed in all the districts of Gujarat. That more political mobilization was required in Gujarat.
 
The discussion that followed was about the nature of development in Gujarat and Corporate India’s interest in projecting Modi as the next PM of India, role of India, atomization in seeking justice (dalits fighting their cases for justice alone and likewise with minorities) – need for solidarity for justice across the board, role of corporate media, need for a legislation to tackle Communal and targeted violence, etc.
 
Let us hope that the Study Circle will result into concrete solidarity for struggle for justice for the victims of Gujarat and for strengthening of democracy in the country.
 
I sincerely appeal to all of you to suggest topics and resource persons for the next study circle. As the group was large we didn’t get opportunity to elicit your suggestions during the study circle itslef. Please give your suggestions so that we will follow up and arrange the study circle accordingly.
 
In solidarity,
Irfan Engineer
Director, Institute of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution,
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Author: Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

We work for peace and conflict resolution through peace courses, education and awareness. Our Aims are: •To study about the diversity in the society and making everyone aware of it. •To bring about policy change whereby promoting rights of the marginalized groups mentioned above. •To create democratic spaces in educational institutions, communities and public life on the whole through debates and reflection. •To encourage the discourse on peace education and human rights.

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