Matters appear to have turned in favour of the people with the recent judgements on the Best Bakery case during the 2002 Gujarat events. It seems that finally the system has started to ‘work’ and justice is being accorded to the victims. It may be argued that there has been a lull in the communal incidents in the country, a ‘secular’ UPA Government is in power, there is now a bill in Parliament entitled Communal Violence (Prevention Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005 and that matters have at last reached a stage when Communal Violence will come to an end in the country. This is therefore a time to stand back and evaluate the situation in its entirety and to gauge where democratic forces must go from here.
The first thing that needs to be pointed out is that the few cases where justice appears to have been meted out are those in which citizens groups and the other progressive forces have been working untiringly to meet the ends of justice. What one has seen is the sentencing of a small number of individuals in a specific case, while the enormity and the magnitude of the events of Gujarat 2002 are so immense that these few cases can hardly be considered redressal. The principle of command responsibility, which is that those who were in power at that time were to be held accountable for the events, demands that an enquiry into those in power at the highest echelons of power, and be tried for the innumerable crimes of that day. This end has hardly been met, and is hardly likely to be met. Democratic forces need to be vigilant about relaxing and letting down their struggle for justice. Indeed, the slogan advanced by the LRS of ‘punish the guilty’ should be adhered to until all the needs of justice are met.
The Communal Violence bill has been tabled by a Government whose largest component is the most notorious Congress party which has the blood of the thousands of Sikhs butchered in 1984, and which has a role in practically every single communal incident in the country. It would therefore be fair to say that this is a ploy by the Government to lull the democratic forces to hand over their hard won efforts to the Congress party and its toadies. It is therefore critical that at this time there is vigorous discussion in the ranks of progressive forces about the direction of the struggle.
It is to this end that a panel discussion has been organized in Bangalore on March 25, 2006 by the LRS along with the fighters from the Peoples’ Democratic Forum, at 4pm at the National College , Basavangudi. There are a great expectations on the outcome of this panel discussion, and the latter represents yet another step in the fight for democratic and human rights of the people of India.