October 1, 2014 | By Kaleem Kawaja
Washington DC: The US-based human rights and advocacy groups Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) in coordination with the American Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (AGPC) held a citizens’ court on 30 September (2014) in Lafayette Park, a small park in front of the White House to indict PM Narendra Modi for the human rights violations in 2002 in Gujarat.
The one-hour well-organized ‘proceedings’ were conducted following US legal procedure. SFJ organized a grand jury of 24 citizens comprising of people of various origins and colors etc. The judge was a white American woman lawyer. An effigy of ‘accused’ Narendra Modi with his face photo, stood in a dock on the left side of the judge’s desk.
The prosecutor was an Indian-American lawyer. The mock court room was set up in the park just like it happens in court rooms. It looked like a professional setting. The attending audience of about one thousand people consisting of men and women of all races and colours, but mostly Sikhs, stood behind the prosecutor’s desk in the park. Lots of TV cameras and media people covered the event.
The proceedings began at 1:30 PM on Tuesday, 30 September, when Indian PM Narendra Modi was actually in the White House building, that is right in front of the court setting and ended at 2:30 PM. The prosecutor read out the charges against Narendra Modi and informed that the charge-sheet was handed over to an official of the Indian embassy in Washington DC a few days ago, and that Narendra Modi has been given an opportunity to defend himself. But he has chosen not to attend even though right at this time he is in the White House building, just a couple of hundred yards away.
All charges of abetting murder of 2000 Muslims, raping of a large number of Muslim women, destruction of their houses in February, March 2002 were read out in detail. The lady judge then turned the matter over to the grand jury and asked them to indicate their opinion by writing on pieces of paper in front of them.
The judge then polled the grand jury members and with their concurrence announced that Narendra Modi has been indicted of the charges leveled against him by the prosecutor.
Laying the factual details of Narendra Modi’s crimes and culpability, the chargesheet filed in the citizens’ court listed crimes of genocide, murders in the first degree, rapes and sexual assaults, torture, tampering with the witnesses, victims and informants, and obstruction of criminal investigations.
Explaining the reasons for the convening Citizens’ Court, attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ, stated that starting from 1984 political leaders in India have a long history of organizing massacres of religious minorities with impunity.
At one hand, Citizens’ Court mocks the judicial system of India for its failure to convict a known human rights violator and on the other hand, it depicts the plight and represents the sentiments of religious minorities of India, particularly victims of 2002 Muslims massacre, added attorney Pannun.
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