If you wondered why Judge PB Desai had chosen to pronounce controversially lenient sentencing for the 24 convicts, who had burnt 69 people alive in 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riots, the judge himself has provided the answer with his astonishing claims.
This, many believe, will explain why he may not have viewed the brutal killings of 69 people as ‘rarest of rare’ crime.
According to judge PB Desai, firing by former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, one of the 69 victims of the Gulbarg Society massacre in Gujarat in 2002, “acted as a catalyst and infuriated the mob” resulting in his death.
Desai on Friday had sentenced 11 of the attackers to life in jail and 13 others to lesser terms- 7 and 10 years each.
The role of judiciary in Gujarat, particularly while dealing with the cases relating India’s own holocaust of 2002, has often come under sharp scrutiny in the wake of alleged biases by judges and prosecutions.
Astonishingly, Desai has also blamed the witnesses for their ‘selective amnesia’ for not remembering the firing by Jafri.
He, as reported by NDTV, said, ” It is selective amnesia on the part of all the eye-witnesses who claim to have seen and specifically pointed out in great detail each incident and the role played by each of the specific accused, in such graphic detail, while conveniently losing all memory with regard to private firing from Ehsan Jafri’s weapon.”
Desai further ‘blamed’ that it was Jafri, who provoked the mob that attacked the Gulbarg residential complex in Ahmedabad in February 2002.
In February, 2002, a mob consisting of hundreds of armed militants, attacked Gulberg Society and burnt alive 69 people.
The 2002 anti-Muslim riots, often dubbed as India’s own holocaust, had left more than 2,000 dead with majority being Muslims. The official figure for those killed in the pogrom is little over 1,000.
Analysing the build-up, Desai said: “The answer is categorically found, in my opinion, is the incident of private firing on the part of the deceased Ehsan Jafri which resulted in some deaths from amongst the members of the mob and injuries to the number of persons of the mob which infuriated the mob who saw persons belonging to the majority community falling to bullets being fired from the private weapon by Ehsan Jafri.”
The widow of the former Congress MP, Zakiya Jafri had on Friday said that she was not happy with the judgement.