Silence could be the only response of the moment. Mumbai marked 10 years of the 2002 post-Godhra riots, remembering all its horror — the brutal murder of the former Congress MP, Ehsan Jafri, the story of foetus wrenched out of a pregnant Kausarbi's womb and flung into the fire, gangrapes, killings and arson.
At the St. Xavier's College here, artists, activists, lawyers and other speakers read out excerpts from fact-finding reports, narrated testimonies of victims, recited the plight and sang the pain of the victims of the carnage.
“Justice is still a long way,” said Javed Anand of the Citizens for Justice and Peace. He said it was important that the fight for justice continued.
“Had the victims of 2002 got justice, the Kandhamal violence could not have happened. When the perpetrators of the Gujarat carnage are brought to book, the face of the nation will change,” he said, after presenting the landmarks in the legal struggle for justice.
In November 2011, 31 people were sentenced to life in the Sardarpura massacre case. “It had never happened before,” he said.
Suspended Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who took on Chief Minister Narendra Modi, underlined the need to overcome fear and speak up against injustice and fascist forces in one voice. The fight for justice was a fight for “the soul of India.”
“This day marks 10 years of shame. We have travelled from the Gujarat of Gandhi to the Gujarat of Godse. Democratic space is shrinking in Gujarat. If we forget history, of what happened, we will be condemned to relive again. If the silent majority, who was not affected by the incident, remains silent, such incidents will keep happening. We have to shed our apathy,” Mr. Bhatt said.
Actor Rahul Bose said while bringing out the truth and seeking justice was important, reconciliation and forgiveness were also needed. “We need truth, justice and reconciliation. We have not even come to truth.”
Excerpts from a documentary ‘Final Solution' by Rakesh Sharma was screened as part of the tribute. It showed the rage within a child, who had seen his kin getting slaughtered and his aunt getting stripped naked, determined on a violent revenge.
Vahida Nainar, part of the fact-finding panel for the International Initiative for Justice in Gujarat, read the findings of the panel's report. “Gangrape was an important part of the genocidal project. There was a lot of suggestive sexual violence. Pregnant women were specifically targeted.”
The brutality of Ehsan Jafri and Kausarbi's killing was recounted in all the gruesome detail. Hindi poet Anshu Malvia's poem based on the wrenched foetus was read out to the audience.
Highlights of the report of the Editors Guild of India, read by senior journalist Kalpana Sharma, spoke of the lack of any word of assurance from the political leadership at the time. “The leadership failed the media and the media failed the people,” the report said.