November 8, 2004
Indian Muslim Council – USA, an advocacy group of Indian Muslims in the United States dedicated to safeguarding the democratic and pluralist ethos of India, has called for a CBI inquiry into any witness coercion by the Sangh Parivar’s Hindutva fascists and Narendra Modi’s government in the ‘Best Bakery’ case. Zahira Sheikh, one of the key eyewitnesses in the case, has recanted her statement to the Supreme Court and is currently being held in seclusion by the Gujarat government.
Rasheed Ahmed, Vice President of IMC-USA, stated that this incident matches the pattern of behavior involving witness intimidation and bribery that has been indulged in by the Sangh Parivar since the prosecution of the Gujarat pogrom had begun. Ahmed also condemned Modi’s accusations against Teesta Setalvad and the Citizens for Justice and Peace, calling the allegations defamation tactics to harass NGOs working for justice in Gujarat.
Zahira Sheikh is one of the four eyewitnesses in the Best Bakery case, a multiple murder atrocity that had become the most publicized crime from among the 2002 Gujarat massacres. The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgment last April, had criticized the Gujarat government for its laxity in prosecuting the accused in the massacres and directed that the case be retried in Mumbai. Many international human rights groups had also indicted the state government for sabotaging investigations and exonerating the accused in organized violence directed against minorities. Now the same Gujarat government has sequestered an eyewitness in the case reopened by the Supreme Court and rendered her incommunicado.
IMC-USA has asked the Indian Government to ensure that such extra-judicial tactics by the Sangh Parivar do not go unpunished. IMC-USA has expressed regret that the frequent witness manipulations is making a mockery of the Indian Judicial system and has questioned the motive of the Gujarat government in imposing seclusion on an eyewitness in a prominent trial. IMC-USA has also asked the Indian government to expedite the prosecution of the Gujarat massacre perpetrators and hasten the process of providing rehabilitation and compensation to the victims.
Secretary General, IMC-USA
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