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Lopsided justice delivery system comes in for flak

By Staff Reporter
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STAFF REPORTERGUWAHATI, Aug 9 - Eminent journalist Siddharth Varadarajan today said that not delivering justice to its citizens was one of the worst things that a Government could do.

Varadarajan, who was delivering the 14th Kamala Saikia Memorial Lecture organised by the Kamala Saikia Memorial Trust and Guwahati Press Club at the Vivekananda Kendra this evening, said that various acts of omission and commission on the part of the Government while handling the large-scale targeted communal violence in the country showed that the State was little interested in punishing the guilty accused of committing heinous crimes.

Referring to the recent hanging of Yakub Memon, Varadarajan said that it was difficult to understand the logic by which some were hanged and some others � guilty of crimes of an equally appalling nature � not hanged.

Varadarajan also cautioned the media against terming the hanging of Yakub Memon as bringing in the so-called �closure�, and said that it would be wrong to pretend that the �filth and toxicity is gone� as long as the grievances of the victims of the Mumbai riots of 1993 were not addressed.

�There are cases such as the planned massacre of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 and of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 in which the State is not interested in investigation and prosecution. It is as if that the state is happy that the crimes were committed and it has no interest in delivering justice,� he said, adding that the judiciary, too, had faltered at times.

Varadarajan, a former Editor of The Times of India and The Hindu, said that senior BJP leader Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi who were accused of leading murderous mobs that butchered hundreds of innocent citizens during the Gujarat violence, had been out on bail most of the time.

�The crime they (Kodnani and Bajrangi) are accused of is no less vicious than the Mumbai serial blasts (where Memon was an accused) but they have been more out of jail than in under one pretext or the other. The Government never sought death sentence for them,� he said, adding that the leaders accused of similar gruesome crimes during the Sikh massacre were allowed to go scot free.

Another disturbing trend, Varadarajan said, was that the state was trying to bring the judiciary into following its agenda through various means, including offering of top posts such as Governor post-retirement.

Terming the massacre of Sikhs and Muslims as instances of extreme injustice in modern India, Varadarajan said that despite the shared victimhood they were testimony to, those tragedies had never become the basis for a united response to the challenge of communalism and sectarian violence.

�If anything, politicians have tried to exploit the victims for their own political ends, playing one tragedy against the other. This is unfortunate because these tragedies are a product of the wider patterns and practices of the Indian state, especially the abdication of official responsibility towards dispossessed citizens and the impunity that politicians and officials enjoy,� he said.

Referring to the opposition of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to the use of the word �Hindu terror�, the veteran journalist said that he was not allergic to the nomenclature as it was a fact.

�It is my duty to call that�If what Kodnani did during the Gujarat violence was not the face of Hindu terror, than what was it?� he questioned.

Varadarajan also paid tribute to the late Kamala Saikia, saying that the brave journalist embodied the spirit of courage and sticking to truth even as he paid the ultimate price for not yielding to any pressure.

Veteran journalist Kanaksen Deka chaired the session. Among those in the dais were Sanjib Phukan, Executive Editor of The Sentinel, Dilip Chandan, Editor of Asom Bani, and journalist and litterateur Amulya Khataniar.

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Lopsided justice delivery system comes in for flak

STAFF REPORTERGUWAHATI, Aug 9 - Eminent journalist Siddharth Varadarajan today said that not delivering justice to its citizens was one of the worst things that a Government could do.

Varadarajan, who was delivering the 14th Kamala Saikia Memorial Lecture organised by the Kamala Saikia Memorial Trust and Guwahati Press Club at the Vivekananda Kendra this evening, said that various acts of omission and commission on the part of the Government while handling the large-scale targeted communal violence in the country showed that the State was little interested in punishing the guilty accused of committing heinous crimes.

Referring to the recent hanging of Yakub Memon, Varadarajan said that it was difficult to understand the logic by which some were hanged and some others � guilty of crimes of an equally appalling nature � not hanged.

Varadarajan also cautioned the media against terming the hanging of Yakub Memon as bringing in the so-called �closure�, and said that it would be wrong to pretend that the �filth and toxicity is gone� as long as the grievances of the victims of the Mumbai riots of 1993 were not addressed.

�There are cases such as the planned massacre of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 and of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 in which the State is not interested in investigation and prosecution. It is as if that the state is happy that the crimes were committed and it has no interest in delivering justice,� he said, adding that the judiciary, too, had faltered at times.

Varadarajan, a former Editor of The Times of India and The Hindu, said that senior BJP leader Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi who were accused of leading murderous mobs that butchered hundreds of innocent citizens during the Gujarat violence, had been out on bail most of the time.

�The crime they (Kodnani and Bajrangi) are accused of is no less vicious than the Mumbai serial blasts (where Memon was an accused) but they have been more out of jail than in under one pretext or the other. The Government never sought death sentence for them,� he said, adding that the leaders accused of similar gruesome crimes during the Sikh massacre were allowed to go scot free.

Another disturbing trend, Varadarajan said, was that the state was trying to bring the judiciary into following its agenda through various means, including offering of top posts such as Governor post-retirement.

Terming the massacre of Sikhs and Muslims as instances of extreme injustice in modern India, Varadarajan said that despite the shared victimhood they were testimony to, those tragedies had never become the basis for a united response to the challenge of communalism and sectarian violence.

�If anything, politicians have tried to exploit the victims for their own political ends, playing one tragedy against the other. This is unfortunate because these tragedies are a product of the wider patterns and practices of the Indian state, especially the abdication of official responsibility towards dispossessed citizens and the impunity that politicians and officials enjoy,� he said.

Referring to the opposition of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to the use of the word �Hindu terror�, the veteran journalist said that he was not allergic to the nomenclature as it was a fact.

�It is my duty to call that�If what Kodnani did during the Gujarat violence was not the face of Hindu terror, than what was it?� he questioned.

Varadarajan also paid tribute to the late Kamala Saikia, saying that the brave journalist embodied the spirit of courage and sticking to truth even as he paid the ultimate price for not yielding to any pressure.

Veteran journalist Kanaksen Deka chaired the session. Among those in the dais were Sanjib Phukan, Executive Editor of The Sentinel, Dilip Chandan, Editor of Asom Bani, and journalist and litterateur Amulya Khataniar.