Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Tehelka Disclosure

Investigative Journalists at Tehelka have a new disclosure today on why Zaheera Sheikh -- the principal witness in The Best Bakery lynching of the Gujarat Pogrom -- has changed her testimony in a Mumbai court to now absolve the alleged arsonists and murderers she had previously identified. Apparently Madhu Srivastava, a BJP Member of Gujarat Assembly paid her hush money amounting to Rs. 1.8 Million (Rs. 18 Lakh). She, with her family and friends, were previously alleged to have threatened Ms. Sheikh and others, causing a previous trial to collapse when these witnesses recanted.

If this is so, and there appears to be video and other circumstantial evidence verifying this, then this matter is no longer about the pogrom, Best Bakery, or Zaheera Sheikh. This is now about India's smarmy political process directly challenging India's legal system -- afterall, it was a Supreme Court intervention, in light of Gujarat's inability to provide justice in this case, to transfer the case out-of -state to Mumbai so that Ms. Sheikh could testify without fear of reprisals. Because threats now became untenable, the ideological allies of the alleged killers have apparently taken to bribes.

Now, the court's credibility is at stake. Unless truth is fully revealed here, and all people who have attempted to tamper with the judicial process brought under the severest possible sanction, India's people will understand that even their courts (with all their best intentions) cannot give them justice -- because they are weaker than the smarmy politicians. This would be a singular tragedy -- and the end of our faith in this Indian republic.

We hope that all Indians -- regardless of political affiliation -- will see this matter now as seriously as we have. We are all in trouble if this brazen travesty of justice is allowed to continue.

No comments: