Wednesday 19 February 2014
Speakers: Dr Shakuntala Banaji, Mr Suresh Grover, Ms Carla Ferstman, Dr Biju Mathew
Chair: Professor Chetan Bhatt
Suggested twitter hashtag: #LSEGujarat
In 2002, ferocious violence erupted in the Indian state of Gujarat resulting in an estimated 1,500 deaths and the displacement of up to 200,000 Indian citizens, mostly Muslim. The Gujarat violence followed an incident in which almost 60 Indian citizens, mostly Hindu, were burnt alive aboard a train in the town of Godhra in Gujarat. Numerous national and international human rights organisations have described the Gujarat violence in 2002 as a pogrom of extreme brutality and vicious sexual violence directed against Muslim minorities that was undertaken by political organisations and parties of the Hindu Right with the connivance of the state of Gujarat. In subsequent criminal prosecutions, a politician from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Gujarat state legislative assembly and members of Hindu Right organisations were convicted of orchestrating or partaking in the massacres. Numerous human rights organisations and international bodies have repeatedly alleged the involvement of the Gujarat state in the carnage, including the alleged complicity of its chief minister, the BJP politician, Narendra Modi; for example, Human Rights Watch described ‘state participation and complicity’ in the violence. Last year, Narendra Modi was declared the prime ministerial candidate by the opposition BJP for the 2014 Indian General Election which is to be held in the next few months. This important panel discussion explores a range of questions related to impunity and human rights that remain following the Gujarat carnage. Contributors will discuss how the Indian media have recently presented Narendra Modi, the international human rights context, and current human rights legal cases, including ones in which UK citizens were killed during the pogrom.
Shakuntala Banaji is lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications, LSE
Suresh Grover is director of The Monitoring Group. He has been active in the civil rights field for over thirty years. The Guardian Newspaper has described as one of the hundred most influential people in Social Policy in the UK. He is the leading exponent of family led empowerment and justice campaigns in the UK. He led the campaigns to help families of Stephen Lawrence, Zahid Mubarek and Victoria Climbie – all these cases led to Public Judicial Inquiries and consequent changes in legislation, social policies and practices. Since the London Bombings he has worked with victim families of the carnage as well as Black Minority and Ethnic and Muslim groups and individuals affected by indiscriminate state-led policies in London, Midlands and the North. Suresh Grover is a recognized trainer/advisor on humanism, “hate crimes” and Human Rights for public bodies and NGO’s in the UK and other parts of the UK. He is currently writing his book on race relations in the UK, due to be published next year
Carla Ferstman joined REDRESS in 2001 as its Legal Director and became its Director in 2005. She was called to the Bar in British Columbia, Canada where she practiced as a criminal law barrister. She has also worked with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on legal reform and capacity building in post-genocide Rwanda, with Amnesty International's International Secretariat as a legal researcher on trials in Central Africa and as Executive Legal Advisor to Bosnia and Herzegovina's Commission for Real Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees (CRPC). She has an LL.B. from the University of British Columbia and an LL.M. from New York University. Ms Ferstman has published and is a regular commentator on victims' rights, the International Criminal Court and the prohibition against torture.
Biju Mathew is Associate Professor of Business and American Studies at Rider University, NJ and a co founder/convener of the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG). His scholarship ties together global labor markets, migration and the emergence of diasporic right wing formations. As a CAG member, Dr Mathew has followed the Gujarat carnage, global funding trails and the politics of Hindutva for over 10 years.
Chetan Bhatt (chair) is Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights and Professor of Sociology, LSE.
An audio recording of the event is online here