The Press Conference yesterday was well attended, both by participant organisations and the media. It was addressed by Justice H Suresh (retd. judge of the Bombay High Court), Dr Pushpa Bhave, educationist and social activist and Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, reputed Islamic scholar, along with members of the campaign and those struggling for justice even after two decades.
The panel (L to R): Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, Prof Pushpa Bhave, Justice Suresh, Geeta Sheshu (chair), Chayanika (on behalf of the campaign):
Chayanika spoke on behalf of the campaign. She spoke on why we need to remember and how we plan to have discussions with as many people as possible across the city to not only see the changes in the city but also to discuss how we want this city to be!
Justice H Suresh
Impunity marks the 1984 riots in Delhi, the Bombay riots of 92-93 or the Gujarat riots in 2002 when perpetrators of mass murders are free. Today, we are seeing a situation where even the right to express oneself freely is curbed. There is a strong plea in the media to forgive and forget but that cannot happen when those responsible for mass murders are free.
(Justice Suresh retired as a judge of the Bombay High Court in 1991. He continued his engagement with adjudication, through a number of people’s tribunals, including the tribunal of the Indian People’s Human Rights Commission, along with Justice S M Daud on the Bombay riots of December 1992 and January 1993, which was published as a report titled The People’s Verdict. The report indicts the police, the government and political leaders).
Prof. Pushpa Bhave
For peace, there needs to be a perception of justice. Today, cruelty is defined as valour. The cult of terror aims at killing memory. That is the conditioning we are seeing today. But what I would also say to this campaign is to ‘remember with perception’ , to remember with compassion….
(Pushpa Bhave joined the Samyukta Maharashtra movement in 1956, participated in the Goa Liberation Movement a year later and in the struggles of the dalit movement and the renaming of Marathwada university. She was an important member of the underground movement against the Emergency…but it was when she almost single-handedly took on the mailed fist of the Shiv Sena to protest the murder of Ramesh Kini that we saw the iron she was made of).
Dr Asgharali Engineer
For understanding what happened in Bombay in 92-93 we have to go back in time, to the 1984 riots in Bhiwandi…to the killing of Krishna Desai in the 60s and see the role of the State. Who kills and who protects these leaders? We have to focus on these things. For years, I have been maintaining an annual chronicle of the riots in India and publish this at the end of the year. Every year, I pray that I will have nothing to write, nothing to report, but that has not happened… He said, “We need to remember to NOT seek revenge but to ensure that it does not happen again.”
(Dr Engineer has combined his vast storehouse of knowledge of Islam and theology with a dogged activism for reform within the Dawoodi Borha community and for communal harmony and peace in society. Resisting a social boycott, he is a prolific writer and the head of the ‘Institute of Islamic Studies’ and the ‘Centre for Study of Society and Secularism’).