Buckling under the vortex of the 14 year old long legal process and its outcome, families of the 11 persons sentenced to life imprisonment and jail in the Gulberg Society massacre case on Friday reacted with anger and despair to the news of loss of their male relatives- most of whom were breadwinners for the family.
As news of the sentencing filtered out, there was an outpouring of grief and disbelief among the relatives of those convicted, which later turned into anger directed at the BJP government, the police and judiciary and the 36 acquitted.
29-year-old Mahendra Tank, son of Naran Sitaram Tank who got life imprisonment, said he will approach the SC and try to get the case transferred. Terming the judgement ‘wrong’, he said a recent request for narco test and probing of Tank’s call details proved futile.
“It was the police on duty and the then state government that should be tried for being unable to control the riot, which they did not do. The police is responsible for what happened on that day. On Feb 28, 2002, my father in fact took help of a cop to rescue my uncle stuck in Khanpur in the violence. The request for narco test and his call details was rejected by the court. If they can get the call details of Maya Kodnani and Baju Bajrangi from 2002, then why not my fathers?”
Carrying his brother Bharat Rajput’s heavy sentencing copy, Mahendra Rajput calls it his ‘dowry’ in jest. He said, “We will appeal further. All innocents have been punished. In a mob of 25,000 people how can one single out 25 people and how did people identify them and give out their names?”
Staring at uncertain futures, many female relatives sobbed uncontrollably while standing in the compound of the court premises. Krishna, a female relative of Dinesh Sharma fainted followed a crying spell and had to be given medical attention.
Nearby, Pushpa and Smita, sisters of Lakhansinh Chudasama who stood holding hands and sobbing, spoke of the past 15 odd days of the Gulberg verdict as their ‘darkest’.
Pushpa said,”Rickshaw chalane wale ko Section 302 main andar daal diya, yeh sarkar kya kam ki hai (They have jailed a rickshaw driver for murder, what good is this government?). If I tell my mother of this verdict, she will die of grief. I am afraid my brother will do something to himself in the jail. I have lost my trust on the legal system as the real criminals are free today. Those with money power are free today.”
Dismay and shock was writ on the faces of Narmadaben mother of convicted Dilip Chaturbhai Parmar and his fiancée Bhartiben. Narmadaben said “Kanoon Andha Hai” (the law is blind) while convict Lakhansinh’s uncle DilipSinh and sister Bela said they will pursue the matter in the HC soon.
But the choice to soldier on is not for all it seems going by the loud wails of Raimaben Dhobi, wife of Kailash Lalchandbhai Dhobi. As women cops rush to shush her, the cries render an eerie quality to the waiting crowd. She said, “Our life is a waste as the main breadwinner of my house is now behind bars. We have no means to fight this further.”
As many look at the long legal haul ahead and the means to fund it, Pavan Jain brother of Mangilal Jain has considered taking a loan against their family house. Around noon a scramble ensued every 15 minutes as convicts were led out in three different police vans separately amidst a tight police cordon. As relatives throng the vans to catch a glimpse of their loved ones; screams of Chinta mat karna (do not worry) were heard. A glimpse of his elder brother is however all it takes to energise Pavan as he frantically runs after the police van waving.
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