In her fact report on the attack on Shivji Panikkar while going to Anhad’s exhibition on July 6th 2007, Shabnam Hashmi reveals the faithful link between the Gujarat police and the ruling political party’s unruly enforcers of morality.This incident is just another instance that shows the workings of law and order in Gujarat.
Here is the report:
STATEMENT OF FACTS BY SHABNAM HASHMI (ANHAD) ON THE ATTACK BY THE SANGH PARIVAR ON JULY 6, 2007 AT ST XAVIER’S SOCIAL SERVICE SOCIETY
Anhad is organizing the National Student’s Festival for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice (July 6-8, 2007) in Ahmedabad. The festival is showcasing the selected entries from across India -60 paintings by school children, 80 design entries by media students and 45 student documentary films.
Anhad invited Prof. Shivji Panikkar to inaugurate the Exhibition (at Father Erviti Memorial hall, St Xavier’s Social Service Society), and Nafisa Ali to inaugurate the Student Video Documentary Film Festival (Diamond Jubilee Auditorium, Loyola Hall, St Xavier’s High School Campus). The inauguration of the exhibition was at 10.30. The exhibition of the Student Film Festival was at 11.30pm.
I was waiting for Panikkar to come. Around 10.40, I called him and he said he is about to reach. Nafisa Ali had already arrived. After speaking to Nafisa for a few minutes I walked towards the gate to receive Panikkar. As I reached the gate of the Xavier’s campus I was shocked to see Panikkar’s car surrounded by a Mob. They were shouting slogans Panikkar go back. Bharat mata ki jai …
I pushed myself inside the crowd and reached Panikkar’s car, the mob was throwing stones, one of them threw a large rusted iron drum on the bonnet of the car , the same drum was thrown again on the car , the drum cracked the front car glass . Sahir who had by now reached and was just behind me, managed to take away the drum from a goon’s hand, and take it away, in the process injuring himself. Two of the attackers threw two bricks which broke the front glass, one of the bricks hit the driver on the forehead.
All this happened at a very fast speed and it took me sometime to come to senses. I stood near the door so that mob could not drag out Panikkar which they were trying to do and then I started shouting at the top of my voice at the mob. For a few moments everything stopped and they moved backwards. I told Panikkar and the driver to take away the car at full speed as I as an organizer was unable to guarantee any security. I told them to rush to the nearest Police station. By now the mob realised that they were trying to leave and they tried to block the car from leaving and continued to throw stones. Fortunately the driver speeded up and was able to move away.
Gagan Sethi and Gauhar Raza, who were at the venue immediately rushed to the Police station, Navrangpura and told we informed Panikkar on the phone to go to the same police station.
Mob had already broken all our festival hoardings which were outside the gate. Now they forced their entry into the compound raising slogans Modi amar rahe, desh ke gaddaron wapas jao and bharat mata ki jai ( all in Gujarati) and started breaking and vandalising the display in the compound (outside the exhibition hall) mobbed and threatened Sarup Ben, Zakia Jowher, Bina ben (from aman samudaya) and me. They used highly abusive, sexist and filthy language. Their body language and gestures were highly aggressive and vulgar. The attack on Bina , Zakia and Sarup ben was of being ‘gaddars’ (traitors). The attack on me was of insulting gujarati asmita being an outsider and entering Gujarat. This continued for about 20 minutes. Then suddenly a signal from one of them( which later I realized was a police man from local intelligence- who was part of the mob) that police was coming, made all of them leave suddenly.
After the police arrived, the man in plain clothes was standing with them and I went and told the police that this man was part of the mob, which they ignored and said he is from the police. Later in the police station I again showed the man to the Police Inspector Desai, but he also ignored it completely.
It was very clear that the attack was master minded by the police and the BJP and the Sangh combined.
After the commotion was over around 12.30 we announced that we will defer the opening of the exhibition. Nafisa Ali inaugurated the Film Festival.
We went to the police station around 1 pm by now Panikkar’s FIR was being lodged. I spoke to Desai the PI ( Police Inspector) and said I need to lodge an FIR too, which he refused. We decided to return later with the lawyer.
After all the formalities of Panikkar’s FIR were over, we took Panikkar to the exhibition under police protection and inaugurated the exhibition around 2.30pm.
Then we called the lawyer, prepared the complaint and meanwhile developed the photographs which were taken of the mob.
We went to the police station around 5pm with the lawyer and we were there almost till 9pm. The police refused to file an FIR. I spoke to the Police Commissioner on the phone I was told both by the PI and the commissioner that we should have taken permission from the police to holds the programme as we were using loud speakers! We informed both of them that the programme was inside the premises of an institution, inside halls and not in a public place. The PI said you can not show films. These are student video documentaries, and for film lovers and students by invitation. –>
It is very clear that by lodging the FIR from me on Anhad’s behalf, Police will have to arrest the members of the mob as we have provided their photographs and also they will also have to take some action against the local intelligence man(whose involvement the Police Commisioner has already refuted). I have given all details at the back of the photographs to the police of the people who attacked the car, the man who threw the brick, the man who threw the rusted drum, the goons who mobbed us. Their faces are circled in the photographs that are being circulated with this note.
When the attack took place on Panikkar’s there were at least three video camera’s and a number of photographers. The footage seems to have vanished.
Anhad is organising a meeting of activists and academicians today at 4 at Ahmedabad.
From killing Muslims in the name of fake encounters to assisting goons in accomplishing their rampages, the police in Gujarat are a party to the injustice and communal hatred fuelled by the ideology of the Sangh Parivaar.
We need special inquiries and interventions with the police in Gujarat in order to make them answerable to the country at large. The enforcement of constitutional law and order is highly important for the functioning of a democratic state.
In a state where the machinery of law and order acts upon the orders of the ruling party, can there be any accountability and justice?
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Can anybody hold this government responsible for the acts of the people? If the enforcers of justice have taken sides then exactly what kind of State are we looking at here?Is anyone listening?
*Report recieved via Raj Kumar Hans, Department Of History, MS University, at firstname.lastname@example.org Also see Nasiruddin of Dhai Akhar’s coup and more reports on the Communalism Watch Blog.Link of picture also from DhaiAkhar.
Post Script: Jan Sangharsh Manch, an Ahmedabad based NGO has evidence to support claims that the Police of Gujarat was an ally to the State led pogrom of 2002.It is no secret.Any Ahmadabadi will tell you how the police all over Gujarat sided with the mobs.Here, however is cell-phone evidence.Finally the legal battle has begun.