The pain of being hounded out of his house in Kurla during the post Babri demolition riots is so vivid for Imtiyaz Ahmed that nearly three decades later, he still excuses himself from describing what transpired that day.
On Wednesday, Ahmed, who stayed glued to his television set to hear the verdict, had only one thing to say after it was read out. “Justice has not been served for the crime that was committed in Ayodhya, which not only led to the mosque being brought down but also led to hundreds of lives being destroyed in the riots in Mumbai.”
A number of Muslims who were victims of the Mumbai riots, which claimed 900 lives and injured 2,036 others, felt the same after Wednesday’s verdict.
“This verdict is very unfortunate and a blot on our country’s image. I feel that political considerations rather than the willingness to ensure that justice is done played a role in the drafting of this verdict,” Dr Azimuddin, president of the group Movement for Social Reform and a petitioner in the Supreme Court seeking the implementation of the Srikrishna Commission Report on the 1992-93 riots that broke out after the Babri Masjid demolition, said.
Azimuddin said that based on today’s verdict as well as the number of riot cases pursued by the Maharashtra government and the convictions that took place, the feeling of the victims was reaffirmed that the perpetrators of the riots and the people who created the situation for the riots were never punished.
Gulzar Azmi, general secretary, legal cell, Jamiat Ulama e Maharashtra, which represented victims, said that the verdict was another injustice to the community, calling it a second ‘Black Day’.
“The preparations for the demolition were for all to see. If despite this, the verdict now is that not only were these conspirators not involved, that there was no conspiracy at all, is an injustice,” Azmi said.
Irfan Engineer, director of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, said that the acquittals were a “sad day for democracy” and that institutions including the judiciary had failed.
“The structure could not have been brought down haphazardly without planning. The verdict shows that the rule of law has weakened and a section of citizens — be it those who lynch or riot on the streets — will only feel more emboldened by this,” Engineer said.
Activists in the city also said in a statement that documentary evidence and powerful witness testimonies “have been willfully ignored”.
“There are videos and photos of the demolition, the ‘leaders’ who today claim they are vindicated, have been seen and heard provoking mobs and leading sustained mass campaigns that ensured the demolition did happen. To say that this verdict is the latest in many to spell a death knell for constitutional law, morality and rule of law would not be an exaggeration,” the statement by organisations including Bebaak Collective, Citizens for Justice and Peace said.
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