The Naroda Patiya judgment...
The Special Court upholds TEHELKA’s sting operations as valid and reliable evidence. Excerpts from the judgment:
The Sting Operation carried by PW 322 (Prosecution witness Ashish Khetan) on A-18 (Babu Bajrangi), A-21 (Prakash Rathod) and A-22 (Suresh Richard) has revealed that the offences were continued for the entire day and that what can be inferred from the conversation of the three accused is, along with three accused, there were A-2, A-20, A-37 (Maya Kodnani), A-41 and A-44 as well. Though for A-2, A-20, A-37, A-41 and A-44 these conversation solely cannot be the foundation to bring home their guilt, but it can be used as corroboration after marshaling all the evidence against the accused. In this Sting Operation, it is stated that A-37 visited the site of the offence in the morning as well as evening on the date.
(3.1) A-18 and A-22 have revealed that they hated the Muslims too much and are very much interested in doing away the Muslims. A-18 had even collected 23 firearms on the previous night as preparation for massacre. They are unable to give any explanation for what reason, they came to Muslim locality and remained there for entire day of the occurrence...
(3.2) This makes it abundantly clear that A-18 has made notable preparation for the massacre to terrorize Muslims, take revenge of Godhra incident of previous day, do away Muslims in more numbers than death toll at Godhra Railway (S-6) Carnage. A-18 seems to be very much committed and determined to do horrifying massacre at Naroda Patiya.
(5) This Court has viewed the relevant part of DVD and CD to test the defence raised. Almost all interviews of A-18 were recorded at his personal office where there were his men around, it was his area and the PW 322 has visited as guest. During every episode of the interviews, everything apparently seems to have been done voluntarily. The talks of A-18 with eye contact is not possible if one is merely reading the script. A-18 talks about many things including, his social activities (according to him) of saving Hindu women from Muslim men who were joined with wedlock. A-18 also talks about his firm conviction and his severe disliking and opposition for Muslims and Christians, quoting them as two of his enemies. During the interview, A- 18 was sitting on the main revolving chair in the room in a very resting posture, who talks with all vigour and the entire talk looks very natural. A-18 also talks about numerous police cases having been filed against him and that he draws the map of Naroda Patiya and explains to PW 322 as to how on the date of the incident, Muslims were cordoned, surrounded and how race murders were committed. From his talk, violence sounds to be extremely common and routine activity of his life. His association with VHP and Bajrang Dal, according to him, is of 22 years. During the interview, he attends phone calls, responds to a caller stating that a reporter from Delhi is sitting in front of him and that even while telling this, nothing looks like he was reading any script. He was not even remotely appearing to have been talking under some inducement. He was absolutely free and talking voluntarily. There was no element of any compulsion on his talk. His conversation was very natural. The relevant VCD are No.1, 4, 9, 11, 12 and 14. The gist of the entire conversation recorded in the VCD have been attempted to put in the capsule form herein below which is accused wise...
(6) In the opinion of this Court, extrajudicial confession in this case possesses a high probative value as it emanates from the person who commits a crime, which is free from every doubt. PW-322 before whom the confession was given by A-18, 21 and 22 is an independent and disinterested witness who bore no eminence against any of the accused. This extra judicial confession, in case of all the three accused is relevant and admissible in law under Sec.24 of the Indian Evidence Act.
‘This extrajudicial confession, considering the foregoing discussion on its merits, is found very dependable, reliable, having the contents full of probability and it is absolutely found safe to convict the accused on its basis’
In the instant case, PW-322 is not a person in Governmental authority or in any manner an authority. There is no ambiguity in the version given. The Hindutva in the three accused has been linked by PW-322 with his identity which he has assumed for the purpose of recording the sting operation. It is this identity and cordial relationship that has created tremendous high level of faith and confidence in the mind of the accused where they felt PW- 322 is their own person and their interest is same. The extra judicial confession of all the three accused does not lack plausibility and inspires confidence of the Court.
This Court is therefore, of the opinion that, though extra judicial confession in the very nature of things is a weak piece of evidence, but, in the instant case, in a very peculiar facts and circumstances, this extra judicial confession needs absolutely no corroboration. It stands proved with the substantial evidence of PW-322, the CD, VCD and the oral evidence of FSL scientist, etc. Hence, this extra judicial confession considering the foregoing discussion on its own merits, is found very dependable, reliable, having the contents full of probability and that it is absolutely found safe to convict the accused on this extra judicial confession.
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Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 37, Dated 15 September 2012
The Long Road to Justice
I just read your article on TEHELKA (and every little bit of your investigation into the riots) and wanted to send a brief note. It’s incredible what you have achieved, despite having faced resistance at every level. You are one of the few people who help us retain the faith that Indian media can reverse its decline.
Ravi Komatireddy, ON EMAIL
AN IMPOSSIBLE MISSION
Refer to ‘The Sting in the Story’ by Ashish Khetan, 8 September.
A quick note to thank you for your investigation and steadfast resolve. I do hope some day Indians like me who have left the country will be able to look up with some pride. Many thanks and keep up the good work.
Norman D’costa, ON EMAIL
You are the hero. The way you conducted the sting operation and presented the truth, on the Naroda Patiya massacre. I have no words to describe your bravery, and your belief in humanity, truth and justice. Every mother, father, brother, sister and friend will be proud of you. I wish India has more sons like you. TEHELKA stands for truth, justice and progress. It’s people like you that make India proud and I expect TEHELKA to always be at the forefront in exposing criminals who pass off as politicians. Regards and best wishes to you and the TEHELKA team.
Khaisaar Hamad, ON EMAIL
You don’t fly, you don’t have any superpowers, but you are a superhero. Keep doing the good work. I have seen your tapes, and the killers’ confession are blood-curdling. I can’t believe people could be so barbaric. I salute your courage on how you handled BU Joshi.
Tanvir Alam, ON EMAIL
Just finished reading your exposé and I’m proud of you for the (Naroda Patiya) judgement and the questions you raised at the end. However, I still remain ashamed of being born into a Gujarati household. I tried boycotting it along with the judiciary but the knots are too deep. If you ever need my help, it shall be an honour.
Jharana Jhaveri, ON EMAIL
TEHELKA (particularly Ashish Khetan) has significantly contributed in a historic (Naroda Patia) judgment. The verdict will go a long way in restoring the faith of minorities in the Indian judiciary. You have contributed immensely in restoring the secular fabric of this great nation called India. The selfless courage displayed by Ashish Khetan in digging out the culprits and going back to Gujarat to testify in the Special Court shows his true calibre, and also of TEHELKA’s, in supporting him. We need such great institutions to continue, for the glory of our country. We understand, respect and acknowledge the effort put in the task, the personal risks taken, the difficult situations faced during the journey. I, as a secular citizen of India, salute Ashish, Tarun and the entire team of TEHELKA on creating history — an act that the country will be proud of. You will inspire young Indians and be a role model for years to come. Ashish Khetan and TEHELKA — the country will remember you for being true to your selves. Hats off to you!
Majid Khan, ON EMAIL
You have done a good job. God bless you and give you more strength. I had read your story in TEHELKA in 2007 as well.
Sushil Kumar, ON EMAIL
I thank you for helping Muslims get justice in the Gujarat carnage. God bless you and keep you happier, healthier, wealthier and with a longer life. I have no words.
Imran Mkawana, ON EMAIL
‘Bravo Tehelka. India can still be secular’
Refer to Tarun Tejpal’s ‘It has taken 10 years to start closing some pages of the book of justice’ 8 September.
Tarun, brilliant and awesome essay on Gujarat. I feel so overwhelmed by it. TEHELKA’s role in attaining some sort of closure on Gujarat, the support a midsized media group gave to its valiant reporters, especially Ashish Khetan, are stirring chapters in the history of Indian journalism, much of which is utterly compromised today. You, too, could have easily sat back and played the forgetting game. Khetan’s role is epic and history will remember him. His reportage, using new techniques, totally eclipses the forgotten exposés of other illustrious ‘former journos’. Your essay looks mighty impressive compared to the spurious, ghostwritten pieces of some other wellknown editors. When those dogs walk out of jail after 20 years, their ears will ring with your stories.
Binoo John, ON EMAIL
Well done Tarun. India will remain a secular country because of a committed few like you. May you live long.
Afsar Faheem, ON EMAIL
I am very proud to be an Indian and I hold my head high because of people like you. History will be very kind to you and your staff. In today’s age, when journalists are turning into cheerleaders for the rich and powerful, your magazine is a breath of fresh air.
Sajjad Quraishi, ON EMAIL
After the Radia tapes, I don’t know if a society really needs the media. As sceptical as I am, have to say, TEHELKA has earned my respect. Kudos to you and everyone there.
Nikhil Singh, on email
I’ve been a regular reader of TEHELKA for the last eight years and I must say I haven’t seen a better magazine in India yet. Where were you all these days? We missed your incisive editorials. Do write more and often. I salute your courage and devotion to impassioned and objective reporting, and please never give up. TEHELKA should be there till the end of time. TEHELKA’s vision and its intrepid reportage is a beacon for democracy and free speech. Please do launch a television channel as well, if possible. I am sick of the NDTVs and IBNs. We need something like Al Jazeera and I am sure TEHELKA can fill that void.
Hussain Maricar, ON EMAIL
Kodnani, a foot soldier, has been convicted. Yet, that barbarous, proto-fascist, troglodyte, sociopath Modi remains defiant and remorseless. While one must give some credit to an otherwise tedious and sluggish judicial system, it beggars belief, that this man has a virtual iron ring of protection around him. Has anyone thought about a brief at the International Criminal Court? Fantastic work Ashish Khetan. I wish we could see the entire footage of his undercover work. His chilling account of a court, in Gujarat, with Judge Joshi and a defence attorney derisively and jointly ridiculing him, is just beyond surreal. I can nearly visualise it: a tacky Bollywood movie, almost, where the judge could assume the role of a village strongman, spewing insults from a paan-stained mouth, while his second-fiddle goonda defence lawyer smirking like a tacky Bollywood baddy. Bill Hicks put it well: In many parts of the world, people are screaming “Revolution, revolution”, but in some parts of the US (read India), we’re still screaming “Evolution, evolution”.
Jake P Joseph, ON EMAIL
In my opinion, I feel you could achieve a lot more. It might seem easy for me to say it as I don’t have to bear the wrath of cops or the intolerant zealots. Still, the perpetrators of heinous crimes against humanity are walking free and have been given powerful political positions in civil service, paramilitary, military or police forces in India. You must expose these criminals.You expose them by not letting up. Clearly, this verdict is a victory of sorts, however anaemic and hollow it might be. But why does it feel like the media has let up? It may be because I have not read a single article that has tried to raise the question at this critical juncture about so many others who are just as guilty. Why is Narendra Modi still free? This was a conspiracy, in every sense of the word, and Modi and the Gujarat police are coconspirators. They are as guilty as Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani. TEHELKA is probably the only one that has done much to fight injustice. But surely you must agree that a lot needs to be done and should be done, soon. If not now, then when? If not you, then who? Please convey my sincerest regards to Ashish Khetan. Thank you Ashish for all you have done. May God bless you.
Rajbir S Sandhu, ON EMAIL
Thank you for the job you and your organisation has done. Please keep it up.
Jose Varghese, ON EMAIL
One man’s fear for the well-being of his parents thousands of miles away sparked a healthcare-at-home revolution The pains you have gone through to reveal the truth is appreciated and gives hope that the entire media is not corrupt. Keep up the great work!
Parikshit Kabra, ON EMAIL
I learnt of your work and saw your photograph today. Who says God doesn’t send angels to carry out his work on earth? You are a messenger for the crores of Indian Muslims. God sent you to the lion’s den, to gather all their dirty secrets. You have the prayers of millions of brothers, sisters and mothers. Even bravehearts like Sanjiv Bhatt have been rendered weak by that ‘cannibal’. If I was in India, I’d have definitely loved to meet you and Teesta Setalvad. I will feel I have accomplished something in life.
Abdul H Khan, ON EMAIL
We are a gossip-loving, action-less society. The only solution to all our problems is to get Barkha Dutt to have a debate on NDTV. A verdict on one out of thousands of cases of riots in Gujarat in 2002 does not provide hope. It is meaningless after such a long time. But regardless of any riots and court cases, the fundamental issue is still not understood by anyone. Hindus and Muslims hate each other. Hindus consider Muslims as low-grade people and hence they feel the ‘need’ to straighten them; similarly, Muslims reciprocate in the same manner. Narendra Modi personifies this hatred and his installation as an undisputed emperor is evidence of the hatred between Hindus and Muslims. It is impossible to go back in time to find the root of all the issues. Both communities have their grievances. Both have substantial number of events in memory that continue to fuel this hatred. Politicians, police and judiciary are no different from ordinary people. They can only do as per the people’s demands. Most of India applauds the Modi-led mass murder. All across the nation, dignitaries, businessmen etc, salute him. It is an evidence of their endorsement of the riots in 2002. The institutions that created the riots are not going to persecute their own selves. Such incidents have nothing to do with BJP or Congress. Until our religious values change and we learn to overpower anger towards each other, rioting and bomb blasts will not stop.
Amar Shivpuri, ON EMAIL
Refer to ‘The Sting in the Story’ by Ashish Khetan, 8 September.
Amazing work by TEHELKA. It was an eyeopener. I have spent the whole day reading about it. To be honest, and I am embarrassed to admit this, I first read about The Naroda Patiya incident when I saw it trending on Twitter. Googling ‘Ashish Khetan’ led me to TEHELKA’s website where I read every possible link about the sting and the carnage. It was horrible, inhumane, barbaric and has totally changed my thinking. I couldn’t believe it was responded to by silence — from the government, politicos, media and common man alike. Mr. Khetan’s account of how he was interrogated, and the biased system, has completely wiped out the little respect I had for the political class. Blow-by-blow, videotaped accounts about all that happened – it’s all there for us to see. But why was it ignored? Is there no value at all for human life? It is shocking. I had never talked/read about the Gujarat riots in detail. 20-year-olds like me prefer to see Gujarat’s development. Till 28 August 2012, I had immense respect for Modi and the work he had been doing in Gujarat. Not anymore. How could he commit such a heinous crime? Don’t the accused and the rioters, who roamed freely for years, ever feel guilty? Can a person sleep after doing such things? It is just overwhelmingly painful to read and think about. In the times we live, our time and brains are occupied thinking of our individual selves and futures. Infosys going in to losses and not recruiting like before has become much bigger issues to our generation, than what happened in ‘84 and ‘02. Till today, nobody in my class knew or talked about the historic verdict. It is just shameful and thought-provoking. From now on, I vow to look at the whole picture first before forming opinions, to think beyond myself and to think and do something that benefits the society and my nation. We, youngsters, have reduced our patriotism to cricket matches and movies. It’s time to change that. For Mr Ashish Khetan: amazing, ground-breaking, heroic, courageous work. Adjectives fall short in describing what you did. For TEHELKA: I’m a big fan of your brand of journalism. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to reading more.
Mahima Sood, ON EMAIL
'Till 28 August 2012, I had immense respect for Narendra Modi and the work he was doing in Gujarat. But not anymore!'
I sincerely appreciate your extraordinary and historic contribution to the enhancement of justice and human rights protection in this world. Thank you very much on behalf of billions of mere spectators.
Siva Reddy, ON EMAIL
I am grateful for your selfless efforts in exposing this criminal masterminds. We are all grateful. We would love to have you go around the country and give lectures about this experience. The respect you have earned will make people believe in justice again. Honestly, I don’t remember when justice was served unbiased in the history of our country. We need hope. Thank you again. Also, try to make TEHELKA’s presence felt in South India too. We also need true journos like you. We young Indians, millions of us, desperately want to get involved in a secular political framework but are clueless without the means. People like you must form a way, like a forum, to enable this and to impart awareness. Thank you.
Santhosh Neyveli, ON EMAIL
I just finished reading your article in TEHELKA. Congratulations on your investigative work in Gujarat. India and your profession are proud of bravehearts like you. Keep up the good work!
Avneet K, ON EMAIL
It was nice to read the heart-rending story of your post-TEHELKA exposé experiences in the riot-related judicial processes. As a human, a Muslim, and one who lives in India, I am proud of the extraordinary work you have done. You have risen above the normal, above the sensationalism that plagues modern- day Indian journalism, and partiality towards one or the other community. Your work deserves the recognition it never got, you deserve the awards you never received. But, I guess, above all, the tears in the eyes of the relatives of the victims, of delayed justice done, are your trophies.
Omar Akhtar, ON EMAIL
I salute you for your struggle in defence of your stand, journalism and also for the victims of Gujarat riots. Many congratulations on the recent development in the historic Naroda Patiya case. I am happy that I got to read your recent write-up about your struggle after the sting operation. I have been following your writings in TEHELKA and have read almost all your articles. I hope you keep motivating all budding journalists with your master work.
Kundan Pandey, ON EMAIL
First and foremost, Salute! You have been the most crucial part of the latest verdict in favour of justice and the victims. Heartfelt thanks for all that you have done.
Saeed Patel, ON EMAIL
Hats off to you for your courage and honesty. May you live long to serve humanity.
Tabish, ON EMAIL
You are a true hero of India. I have just started reading your work, from yesterday, but I am stunned. You pieced together the horrible incident. I know you are above all appreciations.
Sarfraz, ON EMAIL
Good job and I appreciate your daring guts. I’m really proud of you. Now I have way more respect for you people and your team. Because of you, the bloody fools are behind bars. All this credit goes to you. Please give me a chance to thank you and pray for you.
Syed K Sameer, ON EMAIL
I have been a journalist for two decades. I was really moved by your story. We are fortunate to have people like you in this profession. Whether you get awards or money, it doesn’t matter. Your work definitely makes life more beautiful and happy. Thanks for your work.
Gulam Shaik Budan, ON EMAIL
‘TEHELKA did not stop at just reporting the facts’
Refer to Shoma Chaudhury’s ‘Much Remains Undone’ 8 September.
I must salute you and your entire team for your efforts in bringing justice to the poor and marginalised victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Yourself and TEHELKA have opened up a new chapter in journalism — that journalism was not just reporting what sells, but reporting the truth in its raw form. However, TEHELKA did not stop at just reporting, it has ensured justice to the victims. It is a historic judgement. You and your entire team will remain in the hearts of all those people who love the peace, harmony and integrity of this country.
Arun, ON EMAIL
I must congratulate TEHELKA and you for speaking out for the Gujarat riot victims and taking on Narendra Modi. I think that it is secular voices like you, Teesta Setalvad and others that make India great. I would like to just say that keep up the good work.
Sjt Kazmi, ON EMAIL
Thought I must congratulate you on your moving piece.
Anmol Saxena, ON EMAIL
Now the BJP is forced to face up to a few unwelcome truths about its state unit in Gujarat. Post-Narodia Patiya, it can be said, with certainty, that the riot was “premeditated” and not “spontaneous”. It is reassuring that for the first time the instigators of riots were bracketed with the actual rioters on the field and held accountable for the killings. I hope Mayaben Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi’s punishment will act as a deterrent to others. The verdict is also significant for finding no distinction between mob violence and individual violence concerning the criminality involved in both. It is also established that it is futile to invoke ‘popular support’ and ‘development plank’ to condone communal carnages. It is an enlightened idea that truth paves the way for reconciliation and justice for peace. In its own way, the special trial court in Ahmedabad, instituted at the behest of the Apex Court, by its landmark verdict, has advanced the cause of reconciliation and peace.
G David Milton, ON EMAIL
Shoma, brilliant article. Kudos to you!
Dixie, ON EMAIL
Firstly, I would like to thank you and the whole team of TEHELKA for the excellent work they have been doing. Secondly, I can certainly say that the tapes of the Gujarat riot perpetrators and the evidence that they provided was key to the sentencing of the culprits in the landmark judgment. TEHELKA is one of the few unsung heroes of our times. Looking at the current situation, where the overall morality of our country has degraded so much, your publication is one of the few that gives me some hope. If possible please also thank Teesta Setalvad on my behalf. I have been following her work and she is also one of the real heroes of this country.
Aviral Mehta, ON EMAIL
Thanks for your wonderful interview with Teesta Setalvad. And thanks to TEHELKA for their years of sting operations! Your work is irreplaceable.
Aamir Qureshi, ON EMAIL
TEHELKA, Teesta, RB Sreekumar, Sanjiv Bhatt, Rahul Sharma, and you are the hope of tomorrow. May God bless you all.
Siddeeque Valiyakath, ON EMAIL