//Ray of hope for Gujarat riots victims' families

Ray of hope for Gujarat riots victims' families

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 (Radhanpur): Following a stay by the Supreme Court on the trial of a post-Godhra riot case in Radhanpur town of North Gujarat, the riot victims have got a ray of hope.

Nanabhai Shiekh keeps himself updated on the legal battle against those responsible for the killing of his 24-year-old nephew, Ghulam Gilani, in the aftermath of the Godhra carnage in Radhanpur Gilani was one of the two youths who were attacked and killed by a mob, led allegedly by a BJP MLA Shanker Chaudhary.

"I have been threatened all these years. I was offered money by the accused to withdraw the case but I have decided to fight it out and ensure justice is done," said Shiekh. It took Nanabhai more than two years after the killing on March 1, 2002 to get an FIR registered in September 2004 following the intervention of a lower court in Radhanpur.

Police’s reluctance – But the reluctance of the police, given the fact that one of the 12 accused in the case was a BJP MLA, became clear when they petitioned the lower court seeking to file a closure summary.

The petition stated that they had on the day of the violence already lodged an FIR and investigation of the second FIR filed by Nanabhai was not required. But the first FIR lodged on March 1, 2002 did not mention the attack on the two youths and instead claimed that they had died in police firing.

Though the lower court had dismissed the police plea for a C summary, the Gujarat High Court on December 14 last year, set aside this order and asked the lower court to examine the police plea afresh.
It was then that Nanabhai decided to knock on the door of the Supreme Court. For the family members of the victims, the Supreme Court’s stay on the trial of the case and the notices issued by it to the Gujarat government has given a new lease of life to the case. Gilani’s family left for Ajmer soon after the stay was ordered by the court to pray for justice. "They are offering namaz so that justice could be finally delivered once further hearing on the petition takes place before the supreme court," said Hasubhai, Gilani’s brother.

Coming to terms – Ghulam Nabi was the second youth who was attacked and then burnt to death along with Gilani. His family members are yet to come to terms with the tragedy. They hope that the politician involved in the alleged crime is punished.

"The MLA killed my brother. He was a major support for the family since he was the only brother amongst the four sisters. Our father breaks down at slight mention of my brother’s name," said Bismillahben, victim’s sister. The accused MLA, meanwhile, was not available for comment. It has been a long and difficult battle for justice for the family members of the two youths killed during the post-Godhra riots in Radhanpur.