Noted human rights activist and lawyer Mukul Sinha, who fought for the cause of the 2002 post-Godhra riot victims and the victims of fake encounters in Gujarat, died yesterday at a private hospital in Ahmedabad at the age of 63.
Manoj Mitta, senior journalist and author of The Fiction of Fact Finding
One of human rights advocate Mukul Sinha's most tenacious campaigns was to make the Nanavati Commission examine Narendra Modi on post-Godhra massacres. The commission was adamant in its refusal to summon Narendra Modi, although the allegations of complicity against him are expressly part of its mandate and there is a wealth of evidence against him. As the Supreme Court declined to intervene, the commission is still engaged with its 12-year farce of carrying on with a don’t-ask-don’t-tell inquiry.
Despite such impediments, Sinha brought to light the evidence of call data records (CDR), which had been collected by police officer Rahul Sharma. This led to the arrest of Modi’s minister Maya Kodnani, who was subsequently convicted for her involvement in the massacre at Naroda Patiya.
Another major issue on which Sinha had relentlessly pursued Modi was the series of fake-encounter cases, which landed several Gujarat police officers in jail and forced the resignation of home minister Amit Shah as he had himself been arrested for the murder of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
For those of us who had been privileged to interact with him and benefit from his knowledge and generosity, the most fitting tribute to Sinha would be to keep the flame of human rights burning, more brightly than ever before, to take on the growing dangers of institutional bias and impunity, drawing inspiration from the courage he had displayed in the face of adversity.
Vrinda Grover, human rights lawyer and advocate
My salutations to Mukul Sinha, lawyer and political activist, who succumbed to cancer today in Ahmedabad. Mukul spearheaded many of the legal and political challenges to seek justice for people. A fearless and tireless voice for justice in Gujarat, Mukul's website "The Truth of Gujarat" is a reservoir of facts and analysis.
Teesta Setalvad, Secretary & Trustee, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP)
The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) expresses its deep sense of loss at the demise of advocate Mukul Sinha of the Jansangharsh Manch (JSM), an indefatigable champion of the voice of the dispossessed, especially those who became victims of the state’s extrajudicial killings in Gujarat post September 2002. In this moment of loss, the CJP extends the deepest of condolences to surviving members of his family, Nirjhari and Prateek Sinha.
The presence of Mukul Sinha at the Nanavati Shah Commission appointed to probe the 2002 carnage, strengthened the invaluable evidence placed by serving policemen and administrators against the powerful perpetrators of the 2002 Gujarat carnage on record, and this thereafter became the basis and strength of criminal prosecutions launched by the CJP in the Courts. The contribution of the JSM under the leadership of Mukul and Nirjhari Sinha in deconstructing the Godhra train burning tragedy and also the CD of telephone records submitted by then DCP Crime Branch (2002) Rahul Sharma before the Nanavati Commission when he gave evidence in 2004, exposed some of the perpetrators. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court unfortunately failed to test much of this evidence in investigation and this has been remarked upon by the judgement of Judge Jyotsana Yagnik in the Naroda Patiya case (August 2012) leaving those powerful perpetrators (politicians and policemen) unprosecuted so far.
Mukul Sinha, apart from the struggle for justice for the survivors of 2002, strived hard for a better world order where the contribution and participation of the working class, artisan and agrarian peasantry and their contribution to the political economy was central, and together with colleagues launched the New Socialist Movement (NSM), a political party. In 2007, Mukul Sinha and the trade unions associated with him decided to affiliate with the Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI). In 2010, he was elected the President of the TUCI at its 6th conference in Kanpur and was re-elected to the post in the 7th Conference in Kolkatta in 2012. He held the post till his demise. The Truth of Gujarat, a website launched by Mukul Sinha and colleagues contributed much to de-constructing the media hype and propaganda around Gujarat’s development and Narendra Modi. His demise is an immeasurable loss to the voice of resistance and sanity.
More than ever before, he will be missed today, as the struggle for justice and truth in the face of all adversity, must continue.
Also See: from the Outlook archives: The Man Who Keeps Knocking