THEMES

Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Gujarat 2002
December 1, 2002
Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Gujarat 2002
Crimes Against Humanity
To our readers

On November 21, 2002, an eight–member Concerned Citizens Tribunal, consisting of retired supreme court and high court judges, activists and academics, released a report based on a detailed investigation into the gruesome carnage in Gujarat, earlier this year. The report, ‘Crime Against Humanity’, is a severe indictment of the Gujarat government, senior IAS and IPS officials as also the central government. Tribunal members have  released their report from Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

The Tribunal, an eight–member panel, headed by Justice VR Krishna Iyer (retired judge, Supreme Court), included Justice PB Sawant (retired judge, Supreme Court), Justice Hosbet Suresh (retired judge, Mumbai High Court), senior advocate KG Kannabiran (president, PUCL), Ms Aruna Roy ( Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangatan), Dr. KS Subramanian (retired IPS, former DGP, Tripura), professor Ghanshyam Shah (professor of Social Sciences in Community Health, JNU) and professor Tanika Sarkar (professor of History, JNU).

The Tribunal was constituted by the Citizens for Justice and Peace, an association of persons from Mumbai and Ahmedabad, set up in the wake of the carnage to undertake legal and other initiatives to ensure justice for the victim–survivors. The Tribunal members spent a fortnight in Gujarat in May 2002 recording evidence of all the incidents that took place from February 27 onwards. They recorded 2,094 statements, written and oral, which have been processed. These were from the affected areas, from over 16 districts of the state. The Tribunal members also made field visits to Godhra, the sight of the arson, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Ankleshwar and collected testimonies from victim–survivors, independent human rights
group, women’s right groups, NGOs and academics.

The testimony of two members of the government and several bureaucrats and policemen were also taken on record. The findings and recommendations of the Tribunal will have far–reaching consequences for the struggle for justice for the victim survivors of the carnage. The substantive findings are grave and through enough for “any Central Agency to file chargesheets against CM Narendra Modi and his government”.

It took over four months to first transcribe and analyse the voluminous evidence following which the Tribunal met in August to finalise it’s Interim Findings and Recommendations. These were forwarded to chief minister Modi and Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee. Both respondents against whom serious charges were framed were given until September 10, 2002 to respond. That they did not is evidence of their own commitment to the people’s right to know.

The siginificance of the substantive report of the Concerned Citizens Tribunal published by the Citizens for Justice and Peace lies in the fact that it traces in detail the incidents and events that constituted the carnage. Volume I (304 pages) traces in detail the scale of, and the sinister planning behind, the attacks that took place in over 16 districts with military precision in the first 72 hours following the Godhra carnage.

Volume II (208 pages) deals with the detailed findings and recommendations. State complicity in the genocide has been clearly established by the Tribunal. The Godhra tragedy and mass arson was found to be a spontaneous act and the cause for the fire still remains a mystery. The Tribunal report points out that the report of the government’s Forensic Science Laboratory Report (FSCL) itself states that a fire of the intensity that took the lives of 58 victims would have needed 60 litres of inflammable material and could not have been started from outside. Thereafter, the report states that it was chief minister Narendra Modi of Gujarat himself who took the decision, against the collector of Godhra’s advice, to carry the bodies of the victims of the carnage to Ahmedabad in a motor cavalcade. Thus what ought to have been restricted to Godhra alone was, in a calculated manner, taken to the rest of Gujarat.

On the evening of February 27, the day of the Godhra arson, two meetings were held at which senior functionaries of the Gujarat government were present. These meetings were used to plan the genocide. The first meeting took place at  Lunavada in Panchmahal district at which two cabinet ministers were present. At the second meeting late at night on the same day, the CM addressed the top brass of the Gujarat police and administration and instructed them “to expect a Hindu reaction” to Godhra and to basically do nothing about this reaction.

Thereafter,  over the next 72 hours, well–organised and orchestrated violence conducted by trained militias of outfits like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal unleashed brutal violence against the state’s Muslims, killing and quartering innocent women, children and men, making a targeted assault on their homes, businesses and properties. Gang rapes and brutal sexual assaults were a particularly sinister aspect of the carnage.

The report has specific evidence of the kind of indoctrination and training imparted by the VHP and BD six months in advance to plan such a  carnage. Trishuls and swords were sold, young male recruits were told to be forever ready to respond to any call for ‘action’. They were assured that the police would be on their side and that should something happen to them their families would be well–looked after. The masternminds of the carnage obviously have no shortage of funds.

Methods used for killing reveal in sinister detail the pre–planning behind the attacks. Chemical powders were thrown on targeted victims before they were burnt that resulted in the human flesh being destroyed completely and only bones remaining.
There are also significant findings on the shocking levels of police misdemeanor — their sexual misconduct with Muslim women in Vadodara is particularly outrageous — followed by strong arguments for a reform in the Indian police system.

Causes of the failure in the criminal justice system are analysed and a strong case made for reforms in the judicial system too.

On the crucial issue of relief and rehabilitation, too, the Tribunal has detailed findings. It records how over 1,70,000 Muslim refugees of the carnage were left to their own devices and how even water and food had to be obtained through a writ petition filed in the Gujarat High Court.

Given the state complicity and preplanning in the carnage, given the distinct hate ideology behind the violence that propagates the subjugation or destruction of religious minorities, given the use of sexual violence against women from the targeted community as an assault on its dignity, and given the fact that social and economic boycott of Muslims continues in many parts of Gujarat even today, using the parametres of the UN Convention on genocide, the Tribunal has concluded that the Gujarat carnage was nothing short of genocide.

Towards the end of the second volume, there are a string of short–term and long–term recommendations. The Tribunal recommends immediate prosecution of the CM, Narendra Modi and six cabinet ministers, prosecution of VHP international general secretary, Praveen Togadia as also the chief secretary and home secretary of the Gujarat government. The DGP Gujarat and commissioners of Ahmedabad and Vadodara have also been accused of  gross criminal negligence by the Tribunal.

The short–term and long–term recommendations of the Tribunal, if implemented by the executive could have far–reaching consequences. The Tribunal has recommended a ban on the VHP and BD under the Unlawful Activities Act, as also a ban on and seizure of trishuls and other weapons used to spread terror and kill. The setting up of a National Crimes Tribunal to investigate and prosecute genocidal killings of the kind that India has seen in past decades is another long–term recommendation. According to the Tribunal India is bound to set up such a body as it has ratified the Genocide Convention in 1958.

The report throws a challenge to the Indian political class to reflect on the critical need for reform in the systems of democracy in place in India today. While Indians enjoy electoral democracy, the democratising of institutions like the police and judiciary are critical if the ideals of democracy are to be genuinely realised.

The two–volume report runs into over 500–pages, not to mention another 350 pages of annexures. The report  should be mandatory reading for all those desirous of grasping the full magnitude of what happened in Gujarat and its implications for India unless urgent corrective measures, as recommended by the Tribunal, are initiated in right earnest.

But we also share the concern of the Citizens for Justice and Peace that the findings and recommendations of the Tribunal must reach a much wider body of citizens. It is with this end in view that we are publishing extracts from the report in this issue of Communalism Combat by special arrangement with the Citizens for Justice and Peace.  

For the victim–survivors of the carnage nothing short of full reparation by the state for the entire losses suffered by the Muslim community has been called for by the Tribunal. Swift and speedy justice appears a faraway dream given the track record of the Indian judiciary. Special courts to ensure justice and a more assertive role by the NHRC, which itself forwarded a substantive report to the nation on Gujarat in April 2002, are also recommended.  

For peace and reconciliation in Gujarat, a pre–requisite is justice. We hope that the dissemination of this report will pave the way for it’s realisation.

— EDITORS
Godhra, The Tribunal's Findings

 
As the Sabarmati Express travelled back from Ayodhya on its return journey to Ahmedabad, kar sevak girls and boys armed with trishuls and lathis, were getting down at every station and shouting slogans like, “Mandir Vahin Banayenge!”, “Jai Shriram!”, “Muslim Bharat Chodo, Pakistan Jao” (“Muslims, Quit India! Go to Pakistan”), “Dudh mango tho kheer denge, Kashmir mango tho cheer denge” (“Ask for milk and we’ll give you pudding, But ask for Kashmir and we’ll cut you up”). Many passengers felt harassed by this behaviour but were constrained to silence because the kar sevaks had captured all the reserved seats and the train was jam–packed. (Statement made by the IGP, Railways, PP Agja to the Times of India on March 29, 2002).

 The train reached Godhra station at 7.30 a.m. on February 27, 2002. There were certain incidents on the platform. There were some reports to the effect that a Muslim girl was molested by the kar sevaks who attempted to pull her into the train. The attempt to take her into the train was averted due to the intervention by Muslim vendors at the Godhra railway station.

As the train left the platform, at 7.48 a.m., it was immediately stopped by someone pulling the chain. The obvious reason for this was to enable some of the kar sevaks who were still left behind on the platform to enter the train. The train proceeded for about a kilometre. At Singal Falia the train stopped. Whether this was on account of someone pulling the chain or otherwise is not clear. The engine driver, at that point of time, had only seen someone from outside pelting stones at the train though not at coach S–6. Soon thereafter, coach S–6  was on fire. The question is, how did the fire occur?

The version of the government appears to be that the Ghanchi Muslims residing near the railway station, who had gathered in large numbers, threw fireballs into the train and that resulted in the fire. The government version also has it that that there were about 2,000 Muslims who were bent on attacking the kar sevaks.

The full capacity of the train is 1,100. But, in fact, the train at that time had about 2,000 passengers, of which about 1,700 were kar sevaks. As far as coach S–6 of the Sabarmati Express is concerned, the reservation capacity is 72. However, it was jam–packed on that day. Only one coach (S–6) was burned and even in that coach one is not sure how many passengers were kar sevaks. The train had 11 coaches with vestibule connection and the kar sevaks were spread all over the train. So why did anyone target coach S–6? If 2,000 Muslims had gathered there, could they not have attacked the other coaches? Again, did anyone try to come out from the other coaches? If it is reasonably presumed that some of the passengers, including kar sevaks, rushed out, did anyone attack them? On all these questions there is no satisfactory answer.

In all, 58 bodies were found in coach S–6, out of which 26 were of women, 12 were of children and 20 were of men. It appears that 43 persons sustained injuries, of whom only 5 were admitted to the hospital. The rest were treated for minor injuries like bruises, and were allowed to go. Out of the five admitted to hospital, one died, and the rest were discharged after 3 or 4 days. The collector of Godhra told the Tribunal that only five bodies could be identified on the basis of articles or things which were on their person. Thus, no one could say with certainty that the dead bodies were all of kar sevaks.

Mystery of the Fire
A very significant fact is that coach S–6 was the only one that got burnt. It is also not clear whether the train was stopped because of the fire in the coach or the coach was set on fire after the train stopped. If it was the latter, why was the train stopped at all? It is reasonable to presume that because of the fire in the coach, someone must have pulled the chain and the train was stopped by the engine driver.

As the train left Godhra station, all the windows and doors of Coach S–6 were closed. Since there was stone throwing on the train, it is reasonable to presume that similar was the situation in all the other coaches. In other words, as the train stopped, nobody from outside was in a position to identify any particular person in any particular coach, so as to target any particular person/s. If kar sevaks were the target, they were overwhelmingly present in the entire train and the whole train could have been set on fire. The fact that the fire did not even spread to the remaining coaches, is a clear indication that the fire originated in that compartment itself. That also explains why only persons in that coach died.
In all probability, as the fire broke out, there was extreme panic and, the compartment being over–packed, many of the able-bodied persons managed to escape through the vestibules to the other coaches, leaving mostly women and children behind, who must have succumbed to the smoke and suffocation and fallen down in a pile, one over the other. The evidence also suggests that the passengers had stacked their belongings against the doors and it was just not possible for anyone to escape from or enter the coach.

On 7–5–2002, we inspected the coach and the site where it was burnt. The site where the train stopped is an elevated bund. From the ground level, the height of the bund could be about 12–15 feet and it is a slope. At the top, there is hardly enough space for 2,000 persons to assemble on either side of the track. Assuming that so many had gathered at that spot, the crowd would be spread over a much larger area than the stretch of coach S–6. This is only to indicate that if the government version is true, the other coaches would have been as easy a target as Coach S–6. Again, if one takes into account the height of the bund and the height of the train, and if fire-balls were to be thrown at the train, the outside of the coach should have shown signs of being charred. But we found that there were no such marks below the windows; the charred marks were to be seen only around the windows and above that height. This is a clear indication that the fire started inside the coach and the flames leaping out of the windows singed the outside of the compartment, above window level. Therefore, even to the naked eye, it was clear that the fire was from within and not from outside.

Our own observations were subsequently confirmed by the reports of the Forensic Science Laboratory. Among its other findings, the relevant section of the Forensic Science Laboratory, Ahmedabad (Spot Investigation Report No.2 regarding CR No. 9/2002, Godhra Railway Police Station) filed by Dr. MS Dahiya, assistant director, states: “... if the inflammable fluid is thrown from outside, then a major part of it would fall around the track outside and catch fire and cause damage to the outer part of bottom side of the coach. But after examination of the coach and the track, no effect was found of the fire on bottom side below the windows of the coach. By taking into consideration this fact, and also the burning pattern of the outer side of the coach, a conclusion can be drawn that no inflammable fluid had been thrown inside from outside the coach...

“There also appears to be no possibility that any inflammable liquid was thrown through the door of the bogie... If the period after the train had started from Godhra Railway Station, intensity of fire, the degree of burn of the objects that were inside the bogie etc. are taken into account, it can also be concluded that a large quantity (around 60 liters) of highly inflammable fluid was used to set the aforesaid fire and that the fire had spread very rapidly... By observing the condition of the frames of the windows of the coach, it appears that all the windows of the coach were closed during the time of the fire.”

Thus, it is clear that the fire came from inside... The FSLR shows that for such an intensity of fire, 60 litres of inflammable liquid had to be poured into the coach, “by using a wide mouthed container”. The question is, where is this container? There is no evidence of anyone carrying 60 litres of inflammable liquid. At what point of time was this taken inside the coach, or into the passage? Who was travelling in the train? If such a large number of kar sevaks, armed with trishuls and in such an aggressive mood, were inside the train, how could Ghanchi Muslims enter the train? And how could they have carried so much petrol openly, or even clandestinely, for that would have been found out in no time. So the mystery of the fire remains, the only thing certain being the fact that it came from within.

Was Godhra Pre–Planned?
The evidence as analysed above clearly indicates that the incident was not pre-planned by the Muslims, as alleged by the government. In this connection, we would like to refer to a statement made by the IGP, Railways, PP Agja recorded by the Times of India on March 29, to the effect that there is no evidence of a pre-planned conspiracy behind the Godhra incident. “The case is still being investigated and if there was some deep conspiracy, then we are yet to find it,’’ said Shri Agja. He further told The Times of India.

Immediate Reaction of the Administration and the Government
The local district magistrate/collector was the first to reach the scene of the incident. The Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee made a statement in Parliament at noon on February 27, asking people to maintain calm since the Godhra incident was a response to “slogan shouting”. “An inquiry is being held and it will ascertain facts — what happened and why did it happen? But, from the preliminary reports, it appears that the train was stopped maybe because slogans were being shouted in the train and clashes took place. The Gujarat government has ordered an inquiry. ” (Extracts from a compilation by the PMO on PM’s reactions to the event thereafter to media persons at Hyderabad House, New Delhi, February 27, 2002, posted on the PM’s website).

From 8.30 a.m., just after the fire on the Sabarmati Express took place, until 7.30 p.m. that evening, repeated statements by the Godhra district collector, Smt. Jayanthi Ravi relayed on Doordarshan and Akashwani (radio) stated that “the incident was not pre–planned, it was an accident.”

The chief minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi, accompanied by health minister, Shri Ashok Bhatt and other cabinet colleagues, arrived in Godhra around 2 p.m. that day. After meeting the collector, he decided to take the bodies to Ahmedabad. It was the decision of Shri Modi to take the badly charred bodies to Ahmedabad against the advice of the district administration. Initially, the chief minister and his colleagues had wanted to take the bodies in the same train onwards to Ahmedabad. The district administration strongly advised against this for law and order reasons, after which a motor cavalcade drove the bodies to the Sola Civil Hospital at Ahmedabad.

If such a large number of kar sevaks, armed with trishuls and in such an aggressive mood, were inside the train, how could Ghanchi Muslims enter the train? And how could they have carried so much petrol? So the mystery of the fire remains, the only thing certain being the fact that it came from within.

At 7.30 p.m., chief minister, Shri Modi made a public broadcast in which, for the first time, he put forward the ‘ISI hand behind the Godhra incident’ version. Thereafter, the then home minister, Shri Advani also ominously pointed to the “ISI hand.” Union defence minister, Shri George Fernandes, too, joined the chorus of voices, alleging that there was “a foreign hand” behind Godhra.

What could have been confined to Godhra and Godhra alone was taken and broadcast to all of Gujarat state. All that followed was directly related to Shri Modi’s decision to carry Godhra to the whole state instead of containing the issue therein.

Bandh Call and the Preparation
On the evening of February 27, after visiting Godhra, Shri Modi announced that there would be a state bandh the next day. This was after the VHP and BD had already  given the bandh call. Thereafter, the chief minister called a meeting of senior police officers. At this meeting, specific instructions were given by him in the presence of cabinet colleagues, on how the police should deal with the situation on the bandh day.  The next day, i.e., on the day of the bandh, there was absolutely no police bandobast. The state and city (Ahmedabad) police control rooms were taken over by two ministers, i.e., Shri Ashok Bhatt and Shri Jadeja. Repeated pleas for help from people were blatantly turned down.

Senior ministers from Shri Modi’s cabinet organised a meeting late in the evening on February 27, in Lunavada village of Sabarkantha district. Shri Ashok Bhatt, the state health minister and minister Prabhatsinh Chauhan from Lunavada attended. At this meeting, a diabolical plan was drawn and disseminated to the top 50 leaders of the BJP/RSS/BD/VHP, on the method and manner in which the 72–hour–long carnage that followed was to be carried out.

According to confidential evidence recorded by the Tribunal, these instructions were blatantly disseminated by the government, and in most cases, barring a few sterling exceptions, methodically carried out by the police and the IAS administration. There is no way that the debased levels of violence that were systematically carried out in Gujarat could have been allowed, had the police and district administration, the IPS and the IAS, stood by its constitutional obligation and followed Service Rules to prevent such crimes.

As is amply evident from the voluminous evidence recorded by the Tribunal, and substantive other evidence made available to it, investigating officials have yet to find any proof of the Godhra atrocity being pre–planned. Nonetheless, Shri Modi, union home minister, Shri Advani and others continue to reiterate the distorted version of the motive behind the incident at Godhra. The electoral and related advantages for these persons in power, set to gain from the misconceptions and prevarications around Godhra, need to be understood and exposed for what they are. Thousands of innocent citizens became victims to this cynical game of politics and the priorities for India as a country were derailed by these perpetrators of hatred and division, some of whom even hold the reins of government.

It is apparent that by the evening of February 27, a well thought out scheme to extract maximum political capital out of Godhra had been launched. As part of this scheme, at around 2.30 a.m., the bodies of the kar sevaks were brought to Ahmedabad. Around 500 people were waiting outside Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad for the charred bodies to arrive from Godhra. By 3.35 a.m. on February 28, a convoy of five trucks led by a pilot Gypsy entered the hospital compound.
Sloganeering started: ‘Kar sevak, amar raho!’ and ‘Hindu ekta zindabad!’ as  small bundles carrying the victims’ remains were off–loaded onto waiting stretchers. Vows for vengeance and shouts of ‘Jai Shri Ram!’ resounded throughout the hospital compound as a martyrs’ honour was accorded to the Godhra victims.

The state government and the administration, instead of appealing for restraint and peace, became the agents of a well–planned action against innocent Muslims of the state that was in fact projected as a ‘reaction.’ The corpses of the unfortunate victims of the Godhra arson were used to launch a statewide pogrom of decimation that has not entirely stopped to date.

A point to be noted is evidence recorded by the media, of ordinary victims of the Godhra arson, who did not wish to be part of any political project of “vengeance”. The Times of India (March 3, 2002) quoted Govind Makwana, who lost his son Umakant (22) in the fire that engulfed coach S–6 of the Sabarmati Express. “I am extremely disturbed by what is happening in our area. I had pleaded with folded hands to all who came to my son’s cremation to restrain themselves and maintain peace. Killing other people is not a solution. Losing a son is shattering, and I want no father or mother to suffer from this feeling”.



Was ‘Godhra’ Allowed to Happen?
The crucial issue before the entire nation today is why ‘Godhra’ happened? Who failed in their duty in preventing it?

Gujarat and indeed the whole country was on red alert due to the aggressive mobilisation by the VHP for building the temple (‘shila pujan’) at Ayodhya (on March 15). In Mumbai, the police made as many as 8,000 preventive arrests in the first week of March, to keep the situation under strict control. In contrast, even after Godhra happened, the Gujarat police arrested only two persons in Ahmedabad, both of whom were Muslims.

A noticeable lapse in Godhra and in the anticipation and handling of the violence, was the blatant ignoring of the basic principles of law and order maintenance and governance in Godhra. The fact that kar sevaks were expected on this route and the fact that Godhra has a fragile communal history were, and are, themselves enough for additional precautionary deployment. All these factors are enough to make any responsible citizen wonder why adequate preventive deployment was absent during the Godhra arson.

Role of Fanatical Organisations
Godhra, and the tragic death of 58 passengers through gruesome burning, was picked up and propagated in Gujarat and all over the country by many fanatical organisations connected closely with the ruling BJP in Gujarat.These include the parent RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal.

A serious and gross misrepresentation of facts was resorted to by these conglomerate organisations in a nationwide bid to create a hysteria over the Godhra tragedy and thus justify the state–sponsored carnage that was allowed to take place.
Within a fortnight of the statewide carnage, the RSS spokesperson, Shri MG Vaidya described it as the  “natural reaction of Hindus” and gave a clean chit to the Modi administration in Gujarat, saying “no government could have controlled the
upsurge.” (The Times of India, March 16, 2002).

Worse still, the publications brought out by the RSS and its affiliates spread systematic and sinister misinformation about Godhra. For instance, in two publications brought out by the Hindu Samvad Kendra, Ahmedabad, the following ‘facts’ are listed to prove that Godhra was pre-planned:
  • Passengers of a particular religion (read Muslims) were asked to get down at Dahod, the station before Godhra;
  • The patients of a particular community (read Muslims) were discharged from the civil hospital of Godhra one day before February 27; not a single case against anyone from a particular community (read Muslims) was registered on February 27, 2002;  
  • Not a single student or a teacher of a particular community (read Muslims) was present in the schools of Godhra on February 27;
  • Another canard that was spread deliberately was that no one from the minorities or the secular parties ever condemned Godhra.
The Tribunal investigated each of these allegations during its investigation and visit to Godhra. The fact that the district administration at Godhra and elsewhere took no initiative to scotch these fabricated stories, being used in the cynical and never-ending cycle of violence, speaks poorly of it and also reveals the state administration’s ineptness in coping with the menace that these organisations represent.

Among other things, the Tribunal is also in possession of half–a–dozen separate statements published by different Muslim religious leaders, independent persons and opposition parties, outrightly condemning the Godhra incident. Yet, repeatedly, the propaganda was unleashed that neither Muslims nor secularists have ever condemned  the Godhra tragedy.

During the recording of our evidence, senior officials of the administration and police who deposed before the Tribunal on assurance of anonymity expressed concern about the fact that in most talukas of Gujarat, CDs and hate pamphlets were circulated by the VHP during March 2002, spreading ill–will, rumours and falsehoods about the conduct of Muslims. To effectively counter this trend, the administration only had to swoop down on xerox centres that were being used to reproduce bulk copies of such incendiary material.

Conclusion
Though all accounts suggest that there was provocation enough by the kar sevaks, nothing can justify the crime of torching 58 persons alive. The guilty need to be brought to book and punished. The tragedy and crime simply need to be placed in the charged and venomous atmosphere that the country and the polity has been held victim to, where sane, rational impulses are being overwhelmed by the politics of rage, revenge and violence.              

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Godhra
Mapping the Violence, Gujarat 2002
Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Mapping the violence
Mapping the Violence, Gujarat 2002
Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002  Year 9  No. 81-82
Violence Against Women, Gujarat 2002

 
Adistinct, tragic and ghastly feature of the state sponsored carnage unleashed against a section of the population, the Muslim minority in Gujarat, was the systematic sexual violence unleashed against young girls and women. Rape was used as an instrument for the subjugation and humiliation of a community. A chilling technique, absent in pogroms unleashed hitherto but very much in evidence this time in a large number of cases, was the deliberate destruction of evidence. Barring a few, in most instances of sexual violence, the women victims were stripped and paraded naked, then gang raped, and thereafter quartered and burnt beyond recognition.

While the large number of cases of sexual violence perpetrated during the statewide carnage in Gujarat is shocking, the trivial and dismissive manner in which this chilling pattern evidenced all over the state was dealt with by the CM and his cabinet, the
authorities as a whole in Gujarat and, worst of all, by ministers in the government of India, make it doubly so.

The Tribunal notes with concern and outrage the shocking remarks made by the union defence minister, Shri George Fernandes on the floor of the Lok Sabha during the debate on the Gujarat carnage. He said, “There is nothing new in the mayhem let loose in Gujarat… A pregnant woman’s stomach being slit, a daughter being raped in front of a mother aren’t a new thing.” Such things, Shri Fernandes said, have been happening for 54 years in India and happened even on the streets of New Delhi in 1984. (Lok Sabha debate on Gujarat, April 30, 2002, reported on May 1 in The Hindu, The Indian Express, the Deccan Herald and The Times of India.)

The Tribunal recorded with pain the statements of women from all over Gujarat who had either themselves been subject to sexual violence or were direct witness to it. Many of the over 33,000 children forced to live as refugees in relief camps throughout the state were also witness to the most debased and brutal forms of violence. They were mute witnesses to gross gender crimes perpetrated on their near and dear ones — sisters, mothers, aunts and even grandmothers — with gory and military precision, evidence of some sick minds and a vicious ideology. The Tribunal shudders to think of the impact of this on young and impressionable minds.

Women victims of the carnage from Saijpur Patia, Naroda, Chamanpura, Behrampura, Danilimda, Gomtipur, Vatwa, Narol, Shah–e–Alam, Millatnagar and Bapunagar in Ahmedabad city deposed before us. Not only had they been victims of violence that took the lives of their near and dear ones, their dignity was made a special target and their homes and belongings, collected painfully over the years, were looted and then destroyed. They have been forced to become refugees in their own homeland.
In Saijpur Patia, Naroda, on February 28, a mob of around 25,000 surrounded the Muslim areas at nine in the morning. They instigated the attacks by pelting stones at the residents and throwing acid and petrol bombs at them. Thereafter, they forcefully entered the lanes, shouting slogans against Muslims, implying that they are terrorists and that they should not be allowed to live in this country. The mobs were armed with sharp swords, spears, tridents, chemicals, petrol cans, kerosene and private firearms. The mob then went on a rampage, looting and burning houses.

They then started killing people, first cutting them up with swords and then burning them. When the residents of Saijpur Patia, Naroda, tried to escape, they were subjected to the mass rapes of their sisters, wives, mothers and daughters. The helpless men — brothers, sons, fathers and husbands — were first humiliated and then killed.

The police, instead of firing on the assailants and protecting lives, misdirected the terrorised people and lead them towards armed mobs waiting for assault. Those who ran in the direction indicated by the police are no longer alive.
According to the evidence recorded by the Tribunal, the leaders of the mobs (many of whom have been identified) even raped young girls, some as young as 11–years–old. The young girls were made to remove their clothes in front of 1,000–2,000 strong mobs who humiliated and terrorised the girls. Thereafter, they were raped by 8–10 men.

The sinister aspect of these gender crimes is that they have been led and directed by elected representatives and prominent leaders of the BJP, RSS and VHP.

After raping them, the attackers inserted sharp swords, knives or hard objects into their bodies to torture them before burning them alive. In the many bouts of communally incited pogroms that have taken place in different parts of the country, never has there been this depth of perversion, sickness and inhumaneness. Even a 20–day–old infant, or a foetus in the womb of its mother, was not spared. They flung babies in the pyres that they had prepared. They cut up people, threw then in a well known as ‘teesra kuva’ and then burnt them.

The police supported the mob during the assault by shelling tear gas shells on the hapless Muslims. They also opened fire on men when they were trying to defend the women in the area. The State Reserve Police was very complacent and indifferent saying, “We have been given orders to do nothing for 24 hours in Naroda.” Women pleaded with the police and the SRP to stop acting partially and save the children at least. They begged before these policemen, laying their children at their feet, but it made no difference to them.

The sinister aspect of these gender crimes is that they have been led and directed by elected representatives and prominent leaders of the BJP, RSS and VHP. This means that the dominant political leadership of our times is actually creating or displaying role models that glorify gender crimes against women. Can any civilised society witness this without finding an urgent need to punish those guilty and making a determined effort to purge public life of these perversions?

In the attack on February 28 on Gulberg Society, Chamanpura, Ahmedabad, where a former Congress member of Parliament was a specific target, there were at least 10–12 cases of girls and women who were gang raped, assaulted with swords and rods and quartered before being burnt to ashes.

Similarly, on March 1, in Fatehpura village outside Sanjeli, and in Morwa in the Panchmahal district, women were gang raped by mobs. Fatehpura is one village where, among the survivors, are many women victims of gross gender crimes.
A womens’ fact–finding report sums up the usual procedure: “..rape, gang rape, mass rape, stripping, insertion of objects into their body, molestation… a majority of rape victims were burnt alive.”

Before they were finally killed, some were beaten up with rods and pipes for almost an hour. Before or after the killing, their vagina would be sliced, or would have iron rods pushed inside. Similarly, their bellies would be cut open or would have hard objects inserted into them. A 13–year old girl, had a rod pushed into her stomach, and was then burnt. A mother reported that her three–year–old baby girl was raped and killed in front of her, while elsewhere daughters reported on the rapes of their mothers, now dead. Kausar Bano, a young girl from Naroda Patiya, was several months pregnant. Several eyewitnesses testified that she was raped, tortured, her womb was slit open with a sword to disgorge the foetus which was then hacked to pieces and roasted alive with the mother.

In the third round of violence from April 2 to April 5, the minority community living in Mariam Bibi ki Chali and Chotalal ki Chali constantly faced the danger of getting killed and burnt. Shri Narayan Modi, the head constable of the ‘D’ staff, leading a posse of policemen and some jawans of the Rapid Action Force (a specialised wing of the police, specially created to combat communal conflict), attacked these areas, severely beat up the residents with lathis and the butts of their guns and then stripped themselves in order to insult and humiliate them.

This behaviour of the police towards women of the minority community had also been recorded in some incidents of the post–demolition violence that rocked Ahmedabad in 1992. But the scale and frequency of such shocking misconduct during the state sponsored carnage this time makes it most deplorable. It shows not just lawless behaviour by the police, but an identification with the ideology of hate and humiliation that instigated this and earlier bouts of violence against the minority community in Gujarat.

Evidence before us shows how, especially in the Gomtipur area of Ahmedabad, the police even molested elderly women. Women managed to escape a worse fate only by constantly escaping to the relief camps. Once they had left the area to protect their lives and dignity, the assailants burnt down their houses. The police in Gomtipur regularly used this trick of stripping to make women flee the area, so that they could detain the men and the boys and destroy property, since women were the ones who were trying to defend their homes and the lives of their husbands and sons.

Evidence placed before the Tribunal shows that in the later phases of violence, even in Vadodara city, vulgar and brutal behaviour of the police with women of the minority community was recurrent. Evidence on record shows that from March 15 onwards, the Vadodara police played a prominent role in terrorising Muslim residents in their localities through combing operations and illegal arrests. Women, in particular, were subject to oppressive forms of harassment in their homes, especially when their men had either fled or were away.

One case of a pregnant woman, about to deliver, as narrated by her mother, was especially poignant. On the night of April 30, she was brutally beaten with lathis and the butts of rifles, especially on her breasts. Though she had carried the baby to full term, this episode, in all probability, caused her to go into premature labour the next day and she delivered. With tears in her eyes, her mother recounted to the Tribunal how, when breast feeding her new born infant, while milk flowed from one breast, blood oozed out from the other, scarred by the beatings from the merciless Vadodara police.


Apart from physical beatings, Muslim women in localities of Vadodara were subject to sexual and communal threats; policemen used highly abusive language before they vandalised their homes.


Apart from physical beatings, Muslim women in localities of Vadodara were subject to sexual and communal threats; policemen used highly abusive language before they vandalised their homes. The Bahar colony at Ajwa Road, Rain Bassera, Machchipith under the Karelibaug Police Station, as well as areas under the jurisdiction of the Panigate Police Station were especially vulnerable to this sexually perverse and violent behaviour of the Vadodara police.

Evidence before the Tribunal shows that women have suffered the most bestial forms of sexual violence, including rape, gang rape, insertion of objects into their bodies, stripping, and molestation. A majority of the women who suffered this violence were then burnt alive. Amongst the survivors, many have spoken about the assaults but many have been silenced, for fear of further attacks and for fear of censure from their own families and community.

These crimes against women have been grossly underreported and the exact extent of these crimes in rural and urban areas, has yet to be grappled with. These attacks have been carried out in the presence of, in many instances even at the behest of,  the police and other state authorities.

In Gujarat, the degree of violence and sexual crimes against women reached unprecedented levels. Women and entire communities have been so traumatised and silenced that the full extent of this has yet to be realised. Mental trauma as well as insecurity of an extreme form are issues that need to be dealt with. The ineffectiveness and insensitivity of our criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to sexual and other crimes against women, renders the victim, her family and even the entire community in cases of mass and planned crimes of this sort, especially vulnerable. These crimes call for not simply a re–orientation in thinking and values in the matter of justice to the victims and punishment to the guilty; also urgently needed is psychological and trauma counseling for some sort of a healing process even to begin.

That sexual crimes against Muslim women took place on such a large scale in post–independent, democratic and secular India is shocking in itself. What is far worse is the shameful trivialising or denial of these crimes by agents and representatives of the central and state governments and outfits like the BJP and its affiliates like the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. This amounts to a virtual condoning of such gross crimes against women.

Attacks on children were used as instruments of terror. In what is surely the most perverse dimension of the violence, children were used to torture and terrorise victims. In one particularly tragic incident in Tarsali, an old Muslim man was shown the head of his beheaded son on a tray before he was himself brutally slain.             

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82
     
Economic Destruction/Desecration in Gujarat

 
One of the most telling testimonies presented before the Tribunal was that of an expert witness on the recorded words of a police officer on Star News on March 9: “Wahan factory mein aag lagi hai, GIDC mein… haan…aag lagi hai… factory Hindu-Muslim mix thi, is mein ek partner Muslim tha, baki ke sab partner Hindu the.” (“In GIDC a factory is on fire… yes… it is on fire… the factory was jointly owned… one partner was a Muslim and the rest were Hindus.”)

Extensive evidence recorded by the Tribunal points to the devastating loss of property by the Muslim community in the state. Relying on detailed tabulation of losses computed by community leaders at the village, city and district levels, independent groups estimated the total loss to the Muslim community at not less than Rs. 3,800 crore. (Except where otherwise stated, the figures for losses given below have been computed by business representatives of the community and  social activists). The pre-planning, precision and scale of destruction calls for massive reparation by the Gujarat state.

The Muslim community in Gujarat was one of the most prosperous in the country and its contribution to the economy of the state, pivotal. The fact that the economy of this section of the population has been crippled suggests a sinister motive behind the destruction.

Evidence provided by prominent businessmen belonging to both the Muslim and Hindu communities point to the systematic destruction. The destruction of two establishments on CG Road — Pantaloon Showroom and the Hero Honda Showroom — in a posh area in Ahmedabad, is illuminating. The Pantaloon Showroom is a partnership of Hindus and Muslims, with the Muslim partner owning only a 10 per cent share. The Copper Chimney restaurant, though owned by a Hindu Punjabi, was targeted. Those instigating the attack were obviously well-informed,  for very few people knew that the owner had recently signed a deal with a Sheikh in the Gulf.

Information was gathered from the Registrar of Companies, the Revenue and the Sales Tax departments. Significantly, several months prior to the carnage, the widely circulated local Gujarati daily, Sandesh, had published a list of all Muslim-owned establishments in Ahmedabad with ‘Hindu’ names. Was there some unstated purpose behind the publishing of this list? Was it used as a ready reckoner by those who destroyed these establishments later?
According to Shri Narendra Brahmbutt, president of the Ahmedabad Hotel and Residents Association, the hotel sector alone has suffered a staggering loss of Rs. 260 crore. Suppliers to the hotel industry suffered losses to the extent of Rs. 60 crore. As many as 6,700 workers belonging to the majority community have been rendered jobless due to the burning and arson by the fanatic militia.

Details of losses
Muslims estimate losses due to the prolonged closure of shops, industries and commercial establishments in the state to be no less at Rs. 3,000 crore. (The Gujarat Chambers of Commerce and Industry puts the figure at Rs. 2,000 crore).

Hotel Industry
Approximately 1,150 hotels were burnt or looted on the National Highway from Vapi to Vadodara and on to Palanpur. The total estimated loss to property and investment in looting and damage alone, across the state, is Rs. 760 crore.
  • A Rs. 600 crore business loss for the hotel industry in Gujarat.
  • At least 20,000 workers in the hotel industry were rendered jobless and many are missing. Ironically, many of those who lost their jobs were non-Muslims, indicative of the long–term impact of destruction and terror on all sections of society, not just the 10 per cent strong Muslim minority that is the immediate target. Nearly 7,000–8,000 Rabari boys were rendered jobless in Gujarat because Muslim hotels were burnt and destroyed, according to the evidence of Tejabhai, a Rabari leader recorded by an expert witness.
    
Transport industry
The transport godowns on the National Highway have suffered damages to the tune of Rs. 12 crore. In addition, losses suffered due to the burning down of over 1,000 trucks are estimated by transport operators belonging to Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara Godhra and Himmatnagar, at Rs. 60 crore. The truck operators’ insurance claims for the cumulative damage amounted to Rs. 830 crore.
  • More than Rs. 10 crore lost due to the burning down of 60 Opel Astras parked outside the GM Motors unit at Halol.
  • Rs. 4 crore lost due to the torching of the Honda City and Accord fleet of cars at the Landmark Honda showroom at Thaltej, Gandhinagar.
  • The Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation estimated a loss of Rs. 12.50 crore and transport companies have lost business amounting to Rs. 70 crore.
Though overt violence has ended, ethnic cleansing continues in the form of the economic decimation of the minority in Gujarat. The Tribunal is particularly disturbed by the fact that it is not just the ordinary worker of the Sangh Parivar, even ministers and other Hindutva leaders are involved in instigating the economic boycott of Muslims from behind the scenes.

Industry (general):
  • Halol:17-18 factories destroyed.
  • Vatwa: All Muslim-owned factories in GIDC area destroyed.
  • Mehsana: All Muslim-owned factories destroyed.
  • Dahod–Godhra: Large factories destroyed.
  • Naroda Fruit Market: Muslim-owned fruit shops destroyed.
  • Kabadi Market, Ahmedabad: Destroyed.
  • Bharuch: Muslim-owned shops and showrooms destroyed in Bharuch city.
  • Ankleshwar: All Muslim–owned factories in GIDC area destroyed.
  • Sabarkantha/Chhotaudaipur/Banaskantha: Muslim–owned shops, hotels and commercial establishments destroyed.
  • Factories which had insurance cover have lodged claims worth Rs. 400 crore.
  • On National Highway No. 8, about 90 per cent of the commercial establishments, including small shops, godowns and factories, have been completely wiped out.

Agriculture
  • Standing crops in Panchmahal, Mehsana, Dahod, Sabrakantha, Banaskantha and Kheda districts were burnt by the miscreants.
  • Motors installed in the fields for drawing water were stolen.
  • Borewells in the fields, which cost anywhere from Rs. 50,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh, were damaged beyond repair. At least 7,000 such borewells of Muslim agriculturists from all over Gujarat were destroyed.
  • Large and small agricultural landholdings of Muslims in Gujarat where economic and social boycott still continues have been taken over by powerful interests dominated by the BJP/RSS/VHP and BD.
Miscellaneous
  • More than Rs. 2 crore lost in damage to the Lucky Film Studio.
  • Hundreds of crores lost due to the arson of thousands of houses and buildings. At least 75,000 homes were seriously damaged in the destruction, of which 10, 204  were burnt down completely. At least 10,000 shops were targeted, of which over 2,100 were completely ransacked.
  • A Handloom Expo was on in Ahmedabad when the Godhra tragedy took place. All the Muslim artisans from Kashmir and West Bengal were attacked and their displays destroyed.
  • It is abundantly clear that the economic destruction took place mainly because of inaction on the part of the state government. Hence, the responsibility for rehabilitation need lie squarely with it. But the government has not even assessed the damages, nor laid down any guidelines for payment of compensation. Unfortunately, even the insurance companies, such as the New India Insurance and others, have not even considered the legitimate insurance claims of businessmen in many areas.
While ignoring the genuine and pressing relief and rehabilitation needs of the survivors, the sponsors of the carnage and their cadre have now resorted to a crippling economic boycott against Muslims in many parts of Gujarat. In Gandhi-nagar, Mehsana and Sabarkantha districts, truck and auto drivers are facing a severe economic boycott thanks to the machinations of politicians like Gujarat ministers, Shri Nitin Patel and Shri Narayan Lalludas Patel.

In Vadodara, there have been, at least, over two dozen instances of Muslims being told by their Hindu employers not to come to work. In Por and Paliyad villages in Gandhinagar district, villagers who had returned were facing the severe impact of hunger and loss of livelihood due to the refusal by village Patels (who dominate the panchayat and who are politically associated with the BJP) to buy milk (from milch cattle) or to hire Muslim women as farm labour on the land belonging to the majority community.
Though overt violence has ended, ethnic cleansing continues in the form of the economic decimation of the minority in Gujarat.

The Tribunal is particularly disturbed by the fact that it is not just the ordinary worker of the Sangh Parivar, even ministers and other Hindutva leaders are involved in instigating the economic boycott of Muslims from behind the scenes. Home minister Shri Gordhan Zadaphiya and revenue minister Shri Haren Pandya, ministers Shri Narayan Lalludas Patel, Shri Niteen Patel, forest minister Shri Prabhatsinh Chauhan, minister for cottage industries, Shri Ranjitsinh Chawda, BJP MLAs Sushri Amita Patel and Sushri Maya Kotdani and Dr. Jaideep Patel (Gujarat VHP’s vice–president), among many others, have been named by the eyewitnesses, in this context.        

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Economic Destruction         
                     
Religious and Cultural Desecration

 
Mosques, dargahs, small shrines and other Muslim religious and cultural places were systematically destroyed and desecrated in the first 72–hour round of violence all over Gujarat. Copies of the Koran and other religious books were despoiled and damaged in many places all over the city of Ahmedabad, in Vadodara, Ankleshwar and Bharuch and in many smaller towns and villages all over the state.

In all, over 270 mosques and dargahs have been thus destroyed. In many cases ‘Jai Shri Ram!’ was scrolled all over the desecrated shrines. In many shrines, idols of ‘Hulladiya Hanuman’ (translated, it means ‘Riot Hanuman’) were installed. This shows
the cynical abuse of caste Hindu religious symbols as instruments of domination and subjugation of Muslims. When the Tribunal members visited and inspected some of the damaged shrines in May, they were still in their ramshackle state.

One mosque, which was rebuilt through the efforts of a Muslim religious organisation, was pulled down in July by officials of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, a body that is, ironically, controlled by the Congress(I). The Noorani Masjid at Naroda Gaon was blasted using gas cylinders. Witnesses appearing before the Tribunal complained that, while desecrating the mosque at the Naroda Fruit Market, the Koran was urinated upon. The Tribunal shudders to think which religion could ever sanction such vile desecration of the sacred texts and places of worship of people of another faith.

Detailed evidence was recorded by us regarding the desecration of the tomb of Wali Gujarati, a renowned poet remembered as the founder of Urdu poetry. On March 1, his tomb, located not more than 10 metres from the office of Ahmedabad’s commissioner of police (also the police headquarters) was demolished and a saffron flag hoisted on the site. It is believed that the shrine was torn down by marauding mobs under the directions of Gujarat’s revenue minister, Shri Haren Pandya. On March 8, a tarred road was constructed  at the site, leaving no trace whatsoever of the tomb that had stood there for nearly three centuries. It is shocking that a callous government and an unprincipled administration participated in the utter obliteration of this cultural monument and allowed a road to be constructed over it.

On the night of March 3, a 400–year–old mosque owned by the Wakf Board, and located near Anjali Cinema in Ahmedabad, was broken down in the presence of state ministers Shri Haren Pandya and Shri Amit Shah. As in many other cases, a ‘Hulladiya Hanuman’ idol was installed there, followed by darshans and artis.

The mosque of Malik Asin (Asas, Imadul Mulk) at Ahmedabad, built in the reign of Sultan Mahmud Begada (1458–1511), was also destroyed in the initial round of violence. A protected monument built in stone, this structure was destroyed within hours, with military precision, using a bulldozer and cranes.

Also targeted was the tomb of Ustad Faiyaz Khan in Vadodara, which was attacked and wreathed in burning tyres in early March. Extensive damage was inflicted on the façade of the structure commemorating a man who, in 1912, was acclaimed as one of the greatest among classical singers by the then ruling dynasty of Vadodara.

The underlying motive behind these attacks is obviously to obliterate all symbols of India’s composite heritage. Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which upholds the fundamental right of every citizen to preach, practise and propagate his/her faith, was utterly and contemptuously violated during the state–sponsored carnage in Gujarat.

The Hague Convention of 1954, the ‘Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict’ stipulates that the preservation of  “cultural heritage is of great importance for all peoples of the world” and that “damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind.” India is a signatory to this convention.

In 1972, a protocol to this Convention was adopted, which identified “cultural heritage” as, among other things, “monuments, architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science.”

Every State that had acceded to the Hague Convention, it held, recognised that “the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage situated on its territory, belongs primarily to that State.”

At its general conference meeting in 2001, UNESCO adopted a resolution that sought to define the circumstances under which an act could be construed as a “crime against the common heritage of humanity.” It reiterated the need for all member-states to accede to and observe the various conventions it had evolved over the years. And it authorised the director–general of the organisation to formulate for the next session of the general conference, a ‘Draft Declaration’ that would define the circumstances under which the “Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage” could be deemed to have taken place.

Evidently, besides being guilty of crimes against humanity, the chief minister of Gujarat is also guilty of crimes against the common heritage of humanity. And in its reluctance or refusal to intervene, the BJP–led government at the centre stands charged with flagrant violation of international conventions to which India is a signatory.      

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Religious and Cultural Desecration             

 
Preparation for Violence, Gujarat 2002

 
Role of the BJP and Allied Organisations:

RSS/VHP/BD
The role played by the BJP and organisations like the RSS, VHP and BD in threatening internal peace and security in many parts of India is clear. There is an urgent need to put a complete stop to these activities, which are subversive of the Indian Constitution.

The Tribunal would like to record here, the ample evidence placed before it by expert witnesses, newspaper reports and fact–finding team reports, documenting the aggressive tone and posturing of organisations like the RSS, VHP and BD, especially since the BJP–dominated National Democratic Alliance came to power at the centre. These activities and such public posturing indicate several things:
  • The intimate connection and the hold that these organisations have on the BJP, a party which heads the central government today;
  • The avowedly anti–constitutional thrust of their intent and activities, whether in the matter of the construction of a temple on the site of a demolished mosque, in the absence of a court verdict on the matter, or on other issues;
  • The series of arms training camps held all over the country, by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, both off–shoots of the RSS, with close links to the BJP, since, at least, the year 2000. The Indian Arms Act, 1959, expressly prohibits the possession of arms by private parties without licence (the only exception being security agencies). The possession of a licence before a firearm is owned is a legal requirement. The Bombay Police Act, which applies to Gujarat, is similarly stringent on the question of possession of arms by citizens. The police are empowered to demand production of a licence. (Section 19 of the Arms Act).
The exemption of the trishul (which in fact is a sharp, three-pronged weapon, which can cause fatal injury), from the provisions of the Arms Act, through a GR issued by the central government, is a clever ploy to encourage the militarisation and arming of a section of civil society by such groups. The swords that are also freely sold at the arms training camps, along with the air guns and rifles that are used for shooting practice, are clear pointers to the intent of these organisations. Yet, the police in BJP–ruled states and the BJP–led central government have turned a blind eye to such ominous developments.

l In the specific case of the Gujarat carnage, whether on the issue of the removal or resignation of Shri Modi from the chief minister’s post or others, it is evident that the BJP–led ruling NDA’s demeanour and actions have been strongly influenced by the utterings of the RSS and its siblings, the VHP and the BD.

The intelligence departments of three states in India — Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan —  have asked for a ban on the Bajrang Dal, on the grounds that it is generating “terror” and spawning home–bred terrorists. The testimony of many witnesses, from both communities, who appeared before the Tribunal, reinforces the assessment of the state police in Gujarat’s neighbouring states.

Training
The Tribunal has led specific and detailed evidence on the method of mobilisation and training adopted by the VHP and Bajrang Dal from four recruits/former recruits. This explains the phenomenon whereby huge mobs surfaced so promptly all over the state during the carnage. It also explains the ability of these organisations to collect youngsters, indoctrinated with misconceptions and with hatred in their hearts, who were available at a signal from their leaders to commit murder, loot, arson and rape, and defy all laws, secure in the conviction that with the BJP in power, they would have full protection and need have no fear of the law and order machinery.

Reproduced here is the gist of the testimony of the four recruits/former recruits mentioned above, which provides a clear picture of the BD’s and the VHP’s mobilisation techniques:

The enrolment fee for a new entrant to a BD shakha (cell) is Rs. 55. Once admitted, you are expected to attend meetings held every night, mostly on private premises, sometimes in small temples. Secret meetings for the more select are held once a week. late at night.

At the weekly meetings, members are told, more explicitly, that the trishuls are to be used against Muslims whenever there was a riot or a fight. If you killed Muslims, the organisation was there to protect you from penal consequences.

Enrolment to the shakha entitles the volunteer to a card identifying him as a Bajrang Dal karyakarta (activist). If you help recruit 10 more youth, you are made a ‘VHP Mantri’. You are given a trishul the moment you enrol. You are told that trishuls were not meant to be kept inside a temple and worshipped but to be used to protect the Hindu faith. You are also told that the trishul should not be used to kill one’s ‘brothers’, but to save ‘our’ religion.

At the weekly meetings, members are told, more explicitly, that the trishuls are to be used against Muslims whenever there was a riot or a fight. If you killed Muslims, the organisation was there to protect you from penal consequences. If something happened to you, the organisation was there to take care of your family. If you did get arrested during the riots, all you had to do was to show your Bajrang Dal membership card and the police was sure to let you go.

The VHP Mantris are assigned the responsibility of training 60–70 boys each day. What did the training involve? The training primarily involved compiling an exhaustive list of all Muslims living in the area. Members had to collect information about Muslim places of residence, property, businesses, family, etc. in the locality: Who lived where, how much they were worth, how many children they had, etc. All the information so gathered was to be passed on in the form of a written report that was maintained by the Mantri.

The Tribunal notes with horror, the level of impunity that such unlawful, armed organisations have come to enjoy in BJP–ruled Gujarat.
Apart from the detailed account of  the four recruits/former recruits to the Bajrang Dal, other witnesses from Naroda, near Ahmedabad, and from Kheda, Bharuch and Panchmahal districts also gave evidence before the Tribunal about training camps being organised in their neighbourhoods. In all these cases, an intensive training of the BD/VHP volunteers began after September 2001. An advertisement encouraging youngsters to join the Bajrang Dal in large numbers had appeared in the Gujarat daily, Sandesh in August last year.

This suggests sinister preparation and planning for the Gujarat carnage long before the Godhra tragedy, by the Sangh Parivar affiliates, their leaders confident of impunity from the long arm of the law since they enjoyed the patronage of the ruling party.
Notwithstanding the in themselves startling and brazen revelations made by professor Keshavram Kashiram Shastri, the 96–year–old chairman of the Gujarat unit of the VHP, in an interview to rediff.com, there is evidently an attempt to deny past preparation and planning, intensively so in Gujarat since last year. In the interview, Shri Shastri said that the list of shops owned by Muslims in Ahmedabad was prepared on the morning of February 28 itself. This was in response to the allegation that shops in Ahmedabad were looted on the basis of a list prepared by the VHP in advance, and that the violence was not a spontaneous outburst against the Godhra outrage.

Asked why they did it, he responded, “’Karvunj pade, karvunj pade’ (‘It had to be done, it had to be done’). We don’t like it, but we were terribly angry. Lust and anger are blind.” He said the rioters were “kelvayela Hindu chokra” (“well–bred Hindu boys”). The impunity with which Shri Shastri could speak with the candour that he did in his interview on March 12, and again on March 29, when he told the same journalist that the organisation (VHP) had been asked to pull back, is shocking, to say the least. That the Gujarat government has taken no action whatsoever against Shri Shastri speaks volumes about the BJP–VHP nexus.



At the advanced stage of training, the more seasoned members were told they would have to participate in fights or riots (ladhai–jhagda, danga–fasaad) whenever necessary. They said that, as Bajrang Dal leaders, they would, necessarily, be the most active, but young men, too, should always be prepared. They might be woken up in the middle of the night and should be ready to participate. The recruits were promised that when they participated in a riot, the organisation would pay them double the money that they lost in regular wages. Young men were also assured that if ever they were injured or killed during a riot, their families would receive adequate compensation.

The speeches at these meetings followed a basic pattern. Leaders would be brought in to brainwash the young members against Muslims. The single point agenda, evidence before the Tribunal has recorded, indicates that the desire was to demonise the Muslim community as also to create an armed cadre of young men, indoctrinated, full of hatred in their hearts, and sufficiently trained to perpetrate the grossest forms of physical abuse on their victims.

The Tribunal collected concrete information about the kind of mental training and brainwashing imparted to young men at the secret, weekly meetings: “We were told that until now it is the Muslims who have been harassing Hindus. ‘They have molested Hindu sisters and Hindu daughters. In Hindi films today, all the top heroes are Muslims, but there are no Muslim heroines. It is Muslims who are forging ahead in our country. They don’t let their daughters out in public but they spoil our Hindu daughters. Muslims are the ones who always use force. Our country was once a Hindu nation. The Muslims invaded us by force, married our mothers and our daughters and converted us to Islam.’”

According to the witnesses, in the Bajrang Dal camps, young men are told: “Under the pretext of prayers [namaaz], Muslims gather at 2 p.m. every day and maulvis instruct them in several activities. They specially employ young men, pay them a salary and send them to college to spoil Hindu girls. Muslims are involved in several such nefarious activities.” They said that they wanted to start a similar practice amongst Hindus. That was what the secret 10 p.m. meetings were meant for. Here the members would all band together, worship/invoke Hanuman and prepare “to give Muslims a fitting reply.” The secret meetings — gupt shakhas — also gave special training in the use of arms.

The Tribunal records that in Gujarat, quite apart from the political patronage and impunity from the law accorded to these outfits, there is enough money to finance the mobilisation. The source of such funds, used increasingly for blatantly unlawful and unconstitutional activities, needs to be investigated.

Only a sick and degenerate leadership can want the whole of Indian society to descend to such demeaning levels of hatred whereby any excuse is good enough to unleash bloodshed and mass violence.

Reports in credible national dailies and periodicals show that the VHP and the Bajrang Dal have been regularly conducting arms training camps in different parts of the country, for the last two years at least. From the statements on record, the objective behind these camps is evident, as are the objectives of their organisers and the instructors who conduct them: to spread venom against the minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, and to prepare a band of heavily indoctrinated, well–trained youth ready at a moment’s notice to pounce on the minorities. “We are preparing these able–bodied persons to fight any eventuality. With the ISI spreading its tentacles, these people are being trained to challenge the anti–Hindu forces... It is not the gun that matters, but self–confidence.” (Ved Prakash Sachchan, joint convenor of the UP unit of the Bajrang Dal, in an interview to The Times of India, June 13, 2001.) Such are the declared activities at these camps. The Tribunal has on its record, details of such arms training by these outfits in different states all over the country.

Given this background and the detailed evidence gathered by the Tribunal in the course of its investigations for a fortnight in Gujarat in May 2002, on the objectives and the kind of training given in the course of these camps, it is clear that they are a means to poison minds and generate hatred among Hindu youth towards other faiths and their followers. For Indian society, the consequences of such systematic and large–scale indoctrination and training, which is blatantly unconstitutional and seriously threatens internal peace, cannot be overemphasised.

Testimonies recorded by the Tribunal from Vadodara showed that about two months prior to the Godhra incident, a big meeting (sabha) was held at Tarsali bus stand near Vijaynagar colony. About 2–3,000 people attended. It was a meeting for people from the Bajrang Dal and was attended by the international general secretary of the VHP, Shri Praveen Togadia as well a religious leader whose speech was telecast on the local television channel.

The Tribunal recorded evidence that showed objectionable and criminal statements were made and telecast. Witnesses testified before the Tribunal saying that Hindus should not interact with Muslims on a normal basis but should only maintain good relations with those Muslims who have good looking wives, so that when the time came they could do what they had to do.

In August 2001, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal had organised a VHP Bharti (Join VHP) programme. Nearly one lakh people marched through the streets of Ahmedabad even though curfew was declared. This went on until September. One of the main programmes was held at the VHP’s Vanikar Bhavan, Paldi. Their main avahan (call) was, “Muslim ko nasht kar do!” (“Destroy the Muslims!”).

Hate Speech and Hate Writing
Since the BJP came to power in Gujarat in 1998, the parent RSS and its progeny have been conducting a relentless hate campaign against the minorities, which goes against the laws of the land and violates international covenants, many of which India is a signatory to. After the Godhra tragedy, where, in an unpardonable act, 58 passengers aboard a train were burnt alive on February 27, the hate speeches and hate literature has been geared to both incite and justify the gross violence against Muslims.
At the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha of the RSS, held at Chennenahalli, near Bangalore, from March 16–19, the RSS gave a clean chit to Shri Modi’s role during the Gujarat carnage. Describing the violence after the Godhra incident as a “natural reaction of Hindus”, the RSS asserted that no government could have controlled the “upsurge”.

At the conclusion of the conference, two days later, with over 2,000 innocent Muslims having been brutally killed, not to mention the other indignities heaped on the community in Gujarat, the RSS thought it fit to lecture to Indian Muslims on their “extremist leaders” and “Hindu–baiters”. A resolution adopted at the three–day conference of the Sangh, said: “Let Muslims understand that their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority.”

 The attitude of the top leadership of the VHP to the post–Godhra carnage embodied not just open support and celebration of the mass crimes, but also the threat to repeat Gujarat’s example all over India. On March 6, The Hindustan Times quoted the all–India vice–president of the VHP, Shri Hareshbhai Bhatt as saying that he was proud that Hindus have finally stirred:  “What happened at Godhra was an offence. What happened after Godhra was a reaction... The VHP has taken a long–term decision that all Hindus will boycott Muslims economically, financially and socially. Muslims have to change their mindsets if they have to live here.”

Since the Gujarat carnage, the working president of the VHP, Shri Ashok Singhal, its international general secretary, Shri Praveen Togadia, and other prominent leaders have revelled in repeated public utterances gloating over the violence against Muslims, instigating further hatred against them and threatening to force all Indian Muslims into refugee camps, as in Gujarat.

On September 3, describing Gujarat as a “successful experiment,” Shri Singhal said, “Godhra happened on February 27 and the next day, 50 lakh Hindus were on the streets. We were successful in our experiment of raising Hindu consciousness, which will be repeated all over the country now.” The very next day, he expounded on his proposition. Shri Singhal spoke in glowing terms of the fact that in the state of his dreams, entire villages had been “emptied of Islam” and large numbers of Muslims had been forced to seek the shelter of refugee camps. “People say I praise Gujarat. Yes, I do.”


Courtesy: Amit Dave, Reuters

On August 9, the VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore demanded that Muslims should amend certain verses (Ayaat) in the Koran.

On September 9, the chief minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi, addressing a rally in Mehsana district during his Gaurav Yatra, said: “Relief camps are actually child-making factories. Those who keep on multiplying the population (read Muslims) should be taught a lesson.” (The Hindu, September 10)

Shri Modi’s very offensive remarks created a national uproar. When, following news reports, the National Human Rights Commission demanded a copy of the taped speech of the chief minister, the Gujarat government pretended that no such tape existed, until Star News telecast the same. Undeterred by all this, Shri Togadia announced at a press conference, “The VHP will distribute all over the country one lakh copies of the cassette of Modi’s speech delivered on September 9, to make the people aware of the double standards of the so-called secularist parties including the Congress.” (The Deccan Herald, September 24).

Shri Togadia  added, “The time was ripe for forming a separate army of Hindu youths who would protect the religion from attacks by jehadis.” (The Times of India, October 18, 2002)

Quite apart from the public statements and utterances that have been widely publicised in the national media after the Gujarat carnage, the plethora of hate pamphlets in circulation in Gujarat before, during and since the carnage are testimony to the calculated use of demonising tactics, by these outfits, to spur their cadres into action.

Evidence in the form of the originals and translations of these pamphlets were placed on record before the tribunal. Many of these have been in circulation, intermittently, over the past four years. But the period between February and April, 2002 saw the proliferation of such literature, some identifying the author, others anonymous, but all a foul testimony to the debasing levels of hatred that the ideologues of a ‘Hindu State’ can reduce ordinary people to. The Tribunal records with horror, the deep–rooted conspiracy and design that is evident from a perusal of all these pamphlets.

From openly asking for a blatantly anti–constitutional boycott of Muslim shops and establishments, there are also exhortations to violence against Muslim women and children that are too shocking and painful to detail here. They reveal a depth of hatred that can be no good for the people it grips and takes hold of. Only a sick and degenerate leadership can want the whole of Indian society to descend to such demeaning levels of hatred whereby any excuse is good enough to unleash bloodshed and mass violence.

The Tribunal has recorded dozens of testimonies from different parts of Gujarat that show how in the past four years, 3–4 times a year, tens of thousands of such pamphlets would flood Gujarati homes, thrust upon even those Hindus who are repulsed by their contents. From February–April 2002, the circulation of these pamphlets intensified considerably. It is astounding that no action was initiated by any wing of the Gujarat state intelligence or police against such hateful and incendiary writing; nor did the judiciary take suo motu action, which it is empowered to do.

While most of the hate pamphlets are anonymous, there were at least four for which both the VHP and BD claimed proud authorship. It is a matter of profound shame that even in these cases no action was initiated against the errant outfits and their office bearers.

One such pamphlet which bears special mention here, is one that mentions, with name and full address, a VHP office bearer as the author and publisher of this VHP/BD pamphlet: Chinubhai N Patel, Vishwa Hindu Parishad Office; Vanikar Smarak Bhavan, 11 Mahalakshmi Society, Mahalakshmi Cross Roads, Paldi, Karnavati. Tel. 6604015, 6631365 Tel. (res.) 7454699. This pamphlet, which was in wide circulation, openly propagated hatred against Indian Muslims:

“The terrorist and traitorous Muslims of this country get weapons from more than 50 Muslim nations to carry out their religious wars. They are supplied with AK–56 and AK–47 rifles, automatic machine guns, small canons, rocket launchers and several kilos of RDX… The entire country is sitting on a heap of weapons and heading towards civil war and internal strife... When Pakistan attacks India, the Muslims living here will revolt...  In 1947, they only had sticks, swords and spears but now they have modern weapons... They are plotting to kill crores of Hindus and we will be fighting these traitorous Muslims in every lane and by-lane of the country... If the Parliament and the Kashmir assembly can be attacked then what safety is there for the citizens of the country?…”

Provocative statements by VHP office bearers and by elected representatives in Gujarat in the immediate aftermath of the reprehensible killing of 59 Hindus on a train in Godhra, are widely believed to have been interpreted by VHP cadres, sympathisers and other individuals in Gujarat as a call to violence, which led to widespread killings throughout the state, earlier this year.

Communalisation of the State and Civil Society in Gujarat
Undeterred by the country–wide condemnation and outrage at the Gujarat carnage, the VHP’s office bearers, especially Shri Singhal and Shri Togadia, have been touring the country and making newspaper headlines each day, pouring fresh vitriol against the minorities and undermining the constitutional scheme itself. The fact that they continue to do so, unchecked by the political executive, the law and order machinery, or by suo motu action by the judiciary, is a sorry comment on the state of the rule of law, or the lack of it, now prevalent in this country.

When the country’s chief election commissioner (CEC), Shri JM Lyngdoh decided that in the circumstances still prevailing in Gujarat, elections (free and fair) could not be held immediately as desired by Shri Modi and his party, both Shri Modi and Shri Togadia alleged that the CEC was a “Christian who was taking revenge for the attack on Christians in Dangs in 1999.” This is nothing short of the denigration of a constitutional authority on sectarian grounds.

The agenda of these outfits for Gujarat becomes clear when you see their unabashed proclamation of Gujarat as a “Hindu Rashtra” (“Hindu state”). During their tour of several areas of Gujarat in May, Tribunal members saw signboards all over the state, welcoming people to ‘Hindu Rashtra’. “Karnavati city of this Hindu Rashtra welcomes you,” proclaims a board painted in saffron, in the heart of Ahmedabad. (Karnavati is the VHP’s preferred name for Ahmedabad). In Chhotaudaipur, 200 km south of Ahmedabad, the signboard on the highway is more direct. It simply says: “Welcome to Hindu Rashtra’s Chhotaudaipur town.”

These signboards are just one part of the legacy of nearly five years of BJP rule in Gujarat. Whenever cornered, the BJP claims it has nothing to do with the ‘hidden agenda’ of the Sangh Parivar, but neither the party nor the government it runs has any difficulty with their fraternity’s open challenge to the constitutional idea of India by Hindutva’s long cherished dream of a ‘Hindu India’.

Even the Congress party, which returned to power in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) two years ago, has been reluctant to pull down these boards, despite a directive to this effect issued recently by the new state Congress president, Shri Shankersinh Vaghela.
 
Indictment in Communal Crimes
Virtually every judicial commission of inquiry officially appointed to investigate communal riots since Independence and Partition, has indicted organisations affiliated with or allied to the RSS/VHP/BD/BJP combine, including the Maharashtra-based Shiv Sena, for their role in violent crimes against India’s minorities.

Yet, the Indian state has been reluctant to prosecute those guilty of these crimes. Such failure amounts to official complicity and shows reluctance on the part of governments to give justice to a section of its citizens. The Tribunal recommends that such crimes are dealt with seriously and swiftly and punishments accorded so that the demands of internal peace, justice and reconciliation are met.

Through their high-pitched, ‘Who casts the first stone?’ propaganda, Hindu majoritarian outfits seek to absolve themselves of any blame or responsibility for the violence and bloodshed, in the public eye. Expert evidence placed before the Tribunal shows that in conflict after conflict, these outfits defend their actions as “justifiable retaliatory acts by Hindus in self-defence” against attacks started by Muslims.

However, after detailed investigations, most judicial commissions of inquiry have concluded that Hindu communal organisations systematically inject the poison of communalism into the atmosphere and cause deliberate provocation to prompt a reaction from Muslims, a reaction which is then projected as proof of Muslims having thrown the first stone.

In their findings on the Jabalpur riots of 1967, Ahmedabad (1969), Kanyakumari (1982), Jamshedpur (1979), Ranchi (1969), Bhiwandi–Jalna, Mumbai (1970), Tellicheri (1971), the various judicial commissions of inquiry appointed by the appropriate state and central governments to probe into the violence have indicted one or other member of the Sangh Parivar and other votaries of Hindutva. That they have escaped subsequent action is, of course, another matter. A singular exception was the anti–Sikh riots in November 1984 where the Congress party and its then leadership must bear the blame for the massacre of 3,000 Sikhs in the nation’s capital.          

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Preparation for Violenc        
State Complicity, Government of Gujarat, 2002, Role of Chief Minister


Courtesy: bpr.berkeley.edu

The post–Godhra carnage in Gujarat was an organised crime perpetrated by the state’s chief minister  and his government. The state’s complicity is evident from the various acts of commission and omission of the government and its officials.

It was the chief minister who declared that the Godhra incident was pre–planned when the investigating agencies had not reached such a conclusion. Shri Modi’s cabinet, notably the minister for home, Shri Gordhan Zadaphiya, reiterated strongly that Pakistani hands were behind the Godhra act. These statements were irresponsible, given the sensitivity of the situation and the anger that they generated. Once they generated a climate ripe for apportioning blame, for the acts of a few criminals, the entire Ghanchi Muslim community of Godhra was branded. This led to a feeling of justifying the systematic massacre, plunder, loot and cultural decimation of the entire Muslim community in Gujarat thereafter.

It was the chief minister who decided that the charred, unidentifiable dead bodies be taken from Godhra to Ahmedabad in a motor cavalcade. As the cavalcade headed for Ahmedabad, senior members of his party and organisations affiliated to it shouted slogans and incited mobs to retaliate. The CM’s role in condoning this behaviour, and in using official machinery to propagate the unsubstantiated view that the Godhra tragedy was a sinister conspiracy, is condemnable.

The VHP gave a call for a Gujarat Bandh on February 28 and for a Bharat Bandh on March 1. The Gujarat BJP president, Shri Rajendrasinh Rana, was quick to announce the state BJP’s support for both the bandh calls. The state government’s reluctance to take adequate steps in the wake of the proposed bandhs amounted to an abdication of all its responsibilities and an open invitation to anarchy.

Shri Modi played an active role, along with at least three cabinet colleagues, in instructing senior police personnel and civil administrators that a “Hindu reaction was to be expected and this must not be curtailed or controlled.”
On the evening of February 27, two cabinet colleagues of the chief minister, Shri Ashok Bhatt and Shri Pratap Singh Chauhan, met at Lunavada in Panchmahal district along with others. In this meeting, the manner and methods of unleashing violence on Muslims were planned in detail.

It is clear from what happened in Ahmedabad and its environs on February 28 and all over the state on March 1–3 and thereafter, that there was deliberate connivance and support of the government.

The sectarian approach of the government and the inaction on the part of the administration allowed the violence to spread. According to dozens of testimonies before the Tribunal, even some ministers of the Gujarat government led the carnage and rapes, in many cases. The CM did not take adequate preventive measures, nor did he keep the army on stand–by. Though the situation was grim, and tension was at its peak, Shri Modi falsely claimed on March 2 (Newshour, Star News, 2/03/2002): “Gujarat mein bahut tezi se shanti prasthapit ho rahi hai, normalcy aa rahi hai… Ahmedabad ek prakar se kal raat ke baad, puri taraha incident-free raha hai.” (“Gujarat is well on the road to peace and normalcy is slowly returning here… Ahmedabad too has been largely peaceful since last night.”).

This, while the attacks in Panchmahal district, Mehsana, Kheda, Nadiad, Bhavnagar — which included hacking, lynching and burning alive of people — continued. This was done deliberately to mislead the rest of the country and the world, though what was going on in Gujarat was clear to the whole world through the print media, radio and TV.

Shri Modi claimed on March 3 (Talking Heads, Star News, 3/03/2002), that the Army was called for on the evening of February 28, and joined duty from the morning of March 1. Although 12 columns of the Army (approximately 600 troops) had reached Ahmedabad and other sensitive areas on March 1, they were kept on standby. Military intelligence puts the blame on the state government.

The facts mentioned in this report clearly establish that chief minister Shri Narendra Modi is the chief author and architect of all that happened in Gujarat after the arson of February 27, 2002.

Electoral constituencies of ministers in the state cabinet were more prone to violence; in some cases, ministers themselves were leading the mobs. It may not be a mere coincidence that Bapunagar, the constituency of the home minister , Shri Gordhan Zadaphiya, witnessed one of the worst communal scenes since the 1969 riots, when the area was the hardest hit. Some of the senior BJP leaders and ministers in Shri Modi’s cabinet were also alleged to have participated in the destruction of minority places of worship.

Minister for revenue, Shri Haren Pandya and health minister, Shri Ashok Bhatt led the mobs enthusiastically in Ahmedabad. Shri Bharat Barot, a sitting MLA, was also at the forefront. Residents of Paldi, from where Shri Pandya was elected, actually saw him lead arson attacks. Shri Pandya’s election promise the last time was “to wipe any trace of Muslims out of Paldi.” Smt. Maya Kotdani, an MLA, has also been named by a few dozen witnesses as an active participant in the violence. Gujarat ministers Shri Nitin Patel and Shri Narayan Laloo Patel led violence, arson and even sexual violence against women in Kadi and Unja in Mehsana respectively.

The utter disregard for the loss of life and property and the anguish that a section of the citizenry suffered due to unprecedented violence could be seen in the fact that until Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee flew into Ahmedabad and visited the Shah–e–Alam Camp, Shri Modi had not visited a single one. This, despite the fact that there were as many as 66,000 persons, according to collector’s figures, huddled in camps in Ahmedabad, while independent assessments put the figure at close to 98,000.

Instead of providing succour and assistance, which is the fundamental duty of a government towards its citizens, terror tactics through lathi–wielding policemen were employed with the residents of these camps. In areas of Gujarat outside Ahmedabad, too, there were as many as 60,000 persons internally displaced, living in terrible conditions. But the government and the administration did precious little to give them prompt and adequate relief.

The attitude of the government showed it had no regard for the life, well–being and future of students from the minority community. Traumatised and distressed students had requested a postponement of the annual examinations. But the state government, and later even the Gujarat High Court, rejected their plea. On April 10, the Gujarat government took a decision to shift out all centres located in the minority dominated areas, out of concern for the lives of students belonging to the majority community. However, minority community children were still expected to travel to examination centres located in majority dominated areas.

The CM announced Rs. 2 lakh as compensation for the victims/survivors of the Godhra tragedy. But the compensation declared by the CM for the survivors of the carnage that followed was Rs. 1 lakh for the family members of each victim. (When widespread criticism was made about the discriminatory stand of the state, the amount was equalised by reducing the compensation to the Godhra victims’ families to Rs 1 lakh, rather than by increasing the amount to Rs 2 lakh in all cases.)
As of now, there is no information on how many families concerned have been paid the compensation amount. As regards the injured, the government decided to pay compensation amounts ranging from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 50,000. This compensation amount was decided in accordance with the norms fixed for the victims of the earthquake on January 26, 2001, a government notification said. Here, again, there is no statistical data offered. As regards the destruction of homes, properties and businesses, the state government has been perfunctory and callous in announcing compensation. There are no clear guidelines; some have been paid paltry sums ranging from Rs. 500 to a few thousand rupees, without any proper assessment of the loss suffered.

The government of Gujarat has been utterly secretive about the disbursal of the Rs. 150 crore promised by the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee for rehabilitation on April 4. The chief minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has not merely violated the spirit and the law as laid down by the Indian Constitution. He has, in effect, blatantly defied every constitutional institution, including that of the Prime Minister. Shri Narendra Modi is accountable for criminal negligence of duty in failing to provide any relief and rehabilitation to the victims of carnage in Gujarat.

On March 1, the CM announced a judicial commission of inquiry into the Godhra tragedy alone, appointing retired judge, Shri KG Shah at its head. Again, only after widespread protests, did he announce (March 5) the inclusion, in the terms of reference of inquiry of the judicial commission, of the post–Godhra carnage. The appointment of the KG Shah Commission was the subject matter of serious controversy because of the conduct of this particular judge in an earlier matter and also on the simple ground that due to the situation in Gujarat, where judges, academics, professionals and others live under threat of fanatic groups who have become a law unto themselves, the criteria of a free, fair and independent inquiry demands the appointment of a senior judge (preferably judges) from outside the state. Now, the government has included Justice GT Nanavaty (former judge of the SC) as an additional member, without specifying as to what would happen if the two judges differ on any matter.

The terms of reference of the KG Shah Commission are also controversial. They do not refer to the need to look into the causes of the disturbances/events/killings as also the need to pinpoint the groups, individuals and organisations behind the violent provocation, and also the role of the police and the administration in controlling the spread of riots and on the failure of the state government in taking prompt and effective relief measures for the victims of the riots.

The RSS and the VHP control key functionaries in the state. Chief minister Shri Modi is an RSS pracharak. Home minister Shri Zadaphiya, is a VHP activist. Shri SS Bhandari, the governor of  Gujarat, who has not deemed it fit to send a true report on what is happening in the state to the centre, is also an RSS leader. As a consequence of all these factors, the Gujarat government has functioned not as a constitutionally bound, non–partisan and independent body, but one controlled by, and answerable to, the Sangh Parivar.

Courtesy: Amit Dave, Reuters

As a result, while the government had made certain arrests, no arrests of Bajrang Dal/VHP and BJP workers were undertaken. The arrest of at least 150 such accused, whose names figure in FIRs, are being avoided by the state government.
Not only the criminal justice system, the entire administration has failed. IAS and IPS officers who are supposed to be independent, have succumbed to the pressure of the Sangh Parivar. “There is no civil service left in Gujarat,” said the former Indian cabinet secretary Shri TSR Subramanian (The Indian Express, April 10). “What has happened is something much more fundamental than Gujarat: The civil service is gone. There is no such thing left”.

Role of CM and His Ministerial Colleagues
The facts mentioned in this report clearly establish that chief minister Shri Narendra Modi is the chief author and architect of all that happened in Gujarat after the arson of February 27, 2002. It is amply clear from all the evidence placed before the Tribunal that what began in Godhra, could have, given the political will, been controlled promptly at Godhra itself. Instead, the state government under chief minister Shri Narendra Modi took an active part in leading and sponsoring the violence against minorities all over Gujarat. His words and actions throughout the developments in Gujarat show that he has been openly defying the Constitution and indulging in actions which are positively detrimental  to the interests of the country.

Shri Modi was the one who took Godhra to the rest of Gujarat. He was the one who directed the police and the administration not to act. He was the one who refused to help the likes of former member of Parliament, Shri Ahsan Jafri  and the large number of people in Shri Jafri ’s home, who were all butchered later on.

He refused shelter and succour to the victims of the carnage. He refused, and continues to refuse, basic human amenities and was using coercion and other tactics to wind up refugee relief camps.

He has refused to buy land and rehabilitate persons in new locations or to give transparent accounts of the Rs. 150 crore rehabilitation package announced by Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee during his visit to the state on April 4, 2002. He has no remorse for the rapes, the butcherings, the loss of properties, the agony of displacement and the acute insecurity and lack of belonging felt by large numbers of the people of Gujarat.

As late as September 3, the international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shri Ashok Singhal made a shocking statement that received wide publicity, in which he described Gujarat as a “successful experiment” and warned that it would be repeated all over India. Shri Singhal further stated that the success of the Gujarat exepriment lay in the fact that entire villages were “purged” of Islam and Muslims.

This outrageous and pathetic statement was not only anti–constitutional but also in violation of the law itself, for which he could be prosecuted. But Shri Modi, by not expressing any outrage at Shri Singhal’s remarks, and by indulging in blatant minority–bashing himself, appears to have accepted Shri Singhal’s warning that whatever happened in Gujarat was an experiment, a precursor of things to come in the rest of the country.

He has made no secret of his hatred for the minorities, and his utterances from time to time keep emphasising that he is still an RSS pracharak (propagator) with a hostile attitude. His role as CM is nothing short of an extension of his functioning as an RSS pracharak.

His ministerial colleagues have toed his line and are, therefore, equally guilty of the commissions and omissions committed by the chief minister. These rabid, communal, anti–national and anti–constitutional statements and conduct on the part of the chief minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues make them unfit to hold any public office. The interests of the people of this country are not safe in their hands.   

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, State Complicity, Government of Gujarat

State Complicity, Police Misbehaviour, Gujarat 2002


Courtesy: Reuters

Evidence before the Tribunal clearly establishes the absolute failure of large sections of the Gujarat police to fulfil their constitutional duty and prevent mass massacre, rape and arson — in short, to maintain law and order. Worse still is the evidence of their active connivance and brutality, their indulgence in vulgar and obscene conduct against women and children in full public view. It is as if, instead of being impartial keepers of the rule of law, they were a part of the Hindutva brigade targeting helpless Muslims.

To start with, the Godhra incident would not have taken place had the police taken due precautions right from the beginning. Given Godhra’s history and communal background, the police should have maintained a strict vigil as kar sevaks crossed Godhra, on their way to Ayodhya and on their return journey, more so because the climate in the country was already tense because of the VHP’s Ayodhya plan. On their way to Ayodhya, the kar sevaks had indulged in provocative acts at Godhra station. Despite these warning signs, there was not enough deployment of forces. In the circumstances, one may well ask whether this was a case of intelligence failure on the part of the police force, or a deliberate absence of pre–emptive action?

Once the Godhra tragedy had occurred, the Gujarat police made no preventive arrests. The only two arrests made on February 27 were those of Shri Mohammed Ismail Jalaluddin and Shri Fateh Mohammed, who were picked up at Astodia that night, for shouting slogans.

Since 1998, there has been a proliferation of hate speech and incendiary pamphlets all over Gujarat. The Gujarat police are guilty of not initiating or pursuing criminal action against the hate–mongers for four long years, even after hate speech and hate writing had frequently been used to create an ‘appropriate’ social climate to precipitate violence against the minorities.

There is adequate evidence recorded by the Tribunal from rural and urban Gujarat, which points to systematic data collection by the VHP/RSS/BD outfits, aided by sections of the state administration under the direct control of the fraternal BJP. Throughout the sinister planning and plotting, the Gujarat police maintained a discreet distance, adopting a non–interfering stance to blatantly unlawful activities.

On March 12, rediff.com posted an interview by the Gujarat VHP chief, KK Shastri on its website. He revealed in the interview: “In the morning (February 28), we sat down and prepared the list (of Muslim shops ands establishments to be targeted). We were not prepared in advance.” The police have not thought it fight to initiate any inquiry or action against Shri Shastri despite his self–confession of the VHP’s criminal misconduct.

The Tribunal received direct information through a testimony from a highly placed source of a meeting where the chief minister, two or three senior cabinet colleagues, the CP of Ahmedabad, and an IG police of the state were present. This meeting took place on the late evening of February 27. The meeting had a singular purpose: the senior–most police officials were told that they should expect a “Hindu reaction” after Godhra. They were also told that they should not do anything to contain this reaction.

The Tribunal also has evidence of a secret meeting, held late in the evening of February 27, in Lunavada village of Sabarkantha district. Phone calls were made to invite 50 top people of the BJP/RSS/BD/VHP. Fifty top people, the Tribunal was told, met at this undisclosed destination and detailed plans were made on the use of kerosene, petrol for arson and other methods of killing. The state intelligence did not or could not track such meetings and preparations for the gruesome violence that was to follow.

“The police tried their best, but they couldn’t stop the mobs. They were grossly outnumbered when the mobs grew,” Ahmedabad’s police commissioner, Shri PC Pandey had pleaded. But in most cases, inadequacy of forces is a mere excuse touted by serving police officers who fail in their primary duty. Even in Gujarat this time, in several cases where good officers held out against political pressure, the same small deployment was enough to act decisively and control the situation. In the vast majority of cases, however, the police either did not act or acted on behalf of the mob.

PC Pandey publicly changed his stand four months later when, on June 1, 2002, in an interview he stated that “VHP and BD were responsible for the violence in the state.”

The shocking levels of police complicity in the Gujarat carnage cannot be over–emphasised. On February 28, of the 40 persons shot dead by the police in Ahmedabad city, 36 were Muslims. This, despite the fact that it was the minority community which was being targeted by huge and well–armed mobs on that day, at both Naroda Gaon and Patiya as well as Chamanpura.

Gujarat Police has finally admitted that it killed more Muslims than Hindus in its ostensible attempts to stop what was clearly targeted Hindu violence against Muslims. Of the 184 people who died in police firing since the violence began, 104 are Muslims, says a report drafted by Gujarat police force itself. This statistic substantiates the allegations of riot victims from virtually every part of the state that not only did the local police not do anything to stop the Hindu mobs; they actually turned their guns on the helpless Muslim victims.

At some places in the state though, this trend, of more Muslims falling to police bullets than Hindus, was reversed. In both Bhavnagar and Banaskantha districts, five Hindus died in police firing on rioters. No Muslim was killed in Banaskantha, only one died in Bhavnagar. The superintendents of police of both districts were promptly removed from their posts. The number of Muslim and Hindu deaths in police firing, despite having been computed by the Gujarat police, have, so far, not been released. Coming out with the truth would only inflame the situation, it is feared.

Shri Pandey’s comments, telecast during the ‘Newshour’ bulletin of Star News on February 28, on the role of the police under his command was telling: “These people also, they somehow get carried away by the overall general sentiment. That’s the whole trouble. The police are equally influenced by the overall general sentiments.” Here we have a top police official being indulgent towards his policemen who “somehow” get carried away by “general sentiments”, when the least that could be expected of him would be a categorical assertion that those in the force who had failed to enforce ‘the rule of law’ were a disgrace to the uniform they donned and would themselves be punished in accordance with the law.

The Tribunal has enough evidence to establish that the Gujarat carnage was not simply a case of failure or abdication of duty; in far too many cases, the police were accomplices in the carnage.

On February 28, as carefully planned mass killings were engineered in 30 different locations all over the state, two senior cabinet ministers sat in the police control room in Ahmedabad and the state police control room in Gandhinagar and directly influenced police action, or inaction. Gujarat’s health minister, Shri Ashok Bhatt — who, incidentally, faces a criminal charge for the murder of a police head constable, Desai, on April 22, 1985 at Khadia in Ahmedabad — was in the police control room (PCR) at the Ahmedabad police commissionerate in Shahibaug for more than three hours on February 28. And urban development minister, Shri IK Jadeja who is considered Modi’s right hand man, had parked himself in the state police control room at Gandhinagar for four hours from 11 a.m. onwards on the same day.  To have cabinet ministers sitting inside the state and city police control rooms can mean only one thing: they were there to influence the independent functioning of the police.

The police chiefs of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Mehsana, Panchmahal, Dahod and Sabarkantha stand individually indicted for their failure to control unprecedented violence under their respective jurisdictions. The SPs of several of Gujarat’s 24 districts are also directly culpable. The Tribunal has enough evidence to establish that the Gujarat carnage was not simply a case of failure or abdication of duty; in far too many cases, the police were accomplices in the carnage.

When Vadodara’s commissioner of police, Shri DD Tuteja was contacted by concerned citizens and traumatised survivors to protest against the overall failure of the police to respond to complaints, he is claimed to have remarked, “Aapka naukar kiska kaam karega?” (“Who’s work would your servant do?”), implying that the police is subservient to the ruling party in power.

To begin with, police failure to quash rumours, deliberately floated to inflame passion and fuel violence, is unpardonable. In addition, from February 27 to April 10, it failed miserably in taking decisive action to control the violence that followed. The daily newspaper Sandesh was used to actively promote fear and insecurity in the minds of the majority while the minority was being targeted. However, the police did precious little to diffuse the situation.

As if this were not bad enough, the police itself committed atrocities against Muslims, especially in Vadodara  (Bahar Colony, Noor Park and other areas) and Ahmedabad (Gomtipur and elsewhere). Even women were beaten and thrashed, often on their breasts and vaginas. In fact, such widespread sexual misbehaviour of the police with Muslim women marks a new low in police misconduct against the minorities.

It is a matter of public knowledge that in the past 3–4 years the VHP and the Bajrang Dal have distributed trishuls on a large scale in Gujarat. Barely disguised as a ‘religious symbol’, trishuls are sharp, three–pronged weapons that can easily cause fatal injury. Yet it took no steps to seize the weapons, stop the training camps or act against its practitioners in any other way.

Police conduct after the Gujarat carnage, with regard to the registration of crimes, conducting of investigations etc., has been marked by a desire to please political bosses and an utter disregard for the law of the land. This is nothing but calculated miscarriage of justice. The police are required to file separate FIRs for each incident. Instead, separate incidents of crime committed by different aggressors at different places at different times have been clubbed together in single omnibus FIRs. Panchnamas have either been made 3–4 weeks after the incidents or not at all. Also, if the charge-sheets filed in the Gulberg (Chamanpura), Naroda Gaon and Patiya massacres are anything to go by, the names of the main accused have been conveniently dropped.

Worse still, in places like Pandharwada, Anjanwa, Mora (Panchmahal district), Randhikpur and Sanjeli, Fatehpur and Dailol (Dahod district) as well as in villages in Bharuch, Sabarkantha, Mehsana and Himmatnagar districts, the Tribunal has evidence of the police bullying victim–survivors into filing FIRs wherein only mobs are mentioned, without naming the assailants and mob leaders whom the victim–survivors had clearly recognised during the incidents of violence. The CPs of Ahmedabad and Vadodara are also culpable for similar police misconduct.
 

Communalisation of the Police Administration
Evidence before the Tribunal clearly indicates that since the assumption of power by the BJP in Gujarat in February 1998, there was a calculated move to sideline Muslim police officers. Muslim officers were given non-executive posts. (they were assigned to crime investigation etc.). The eight Muslim officers, from a total of 141 IPS officers in the state, were kept away from decision–making posts.

The Tribunal notes with shock that, as a result of this discriminatory practice by the Gujarat government, the younger batch of Muslim IPS officers who joined service in ’92–’93 have not known executive policing because they have simply been denied the opportunity to test their executive capabilities.

The Tribunal recorded the testimonies of many police officials who, for obvious reasons, cannot be identified. In every police chowki, the normal practice is to make head constables in–charge of a beat or outpost. Since the BJP assumed power in Gujarat, it has ensured that in the few instances where a head constable might be a Muslim, he would not be in–charge of the beats/outposts under the chowki.

Evidence led before the Tribunal indicates that ministers in the BJP government in Gujarat made public statements to ensure that Muslims in the state’s police force were sidelined. For instance, in 1999, Shri Mahen Trivedi, the minister of state for home, stated publicly at a police function: “We have told you that we don’t want Muslims in controlling posts. Why is he posted there?” (Confidential testimony of police officers before the Tribunal).

Police-parivar nexus
All vital and sensitive postings in the Gujarat police were systematically politicised and saffronised by the BJP immediately after coming to power.
Here are some examples of the police–parivar nexus:
1. Police Inspector VB Raval, (PCB, Ahmedabad City) Crime Branch: He participated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid as a kar sevak and proudly displays a photograph thereof as a trophy. This deed of his is said to have fetched him such a plum post.
2. Shri RD Makadia, DCP Zone IV: Very close to VHP leader Shri Praveen Togadia; works as his agent.
3. Shri Savani, DCP Zone V: A close ally of Shri Togadia.
4. Shri RB Jebalia, DCP Zone VI: Hails from Amreli district, as does Shri Togadia. He is said to be under a personal obligation to Shri Togadia, though he may not be outright communal.
5. Shri PB Gondia (IPS), DCP Zone III: His father is an ex–MLA (Congress.) He was offered a BJP ticket from Panchmahal dist. during the last Assembly elections. He was ready to contest but his father persuaded him not to.
6. Shri Parghi (IPS), DCP Zone I: Brother–in–law of Shri Gondia. He was seen moving in his official vehicle along with Shri Haren Pandya during the riots.
7. Shri DJ Patel, DCP Zone II: Also very close to Shri Togadia.
Himmatnagar (Sabarkantha)
8. Shri ND Solanki, SP Himmatnagar: His father is an active office–bearer in the VHP.


Politicians of all hues resort to punitive transfers, which only reinforces the oft reiterated demand for an independent police force in the country. In Gujarat, such transfers take place at the behest of the Sangh Parivar.

After the carnage, several police officers suffered for their upright behaviour in controlling violence and preventing further loss of life. From the evidence placed before the Tribunal these are:
  • Shri Vivek Srivastava, SP, Kutch: The young officer arrested a Home Guard commandant after he assaulted a Muslim woman. The commandant is a known VHP worker. Shri Srivastava was shunted to the post of SP (Prohibition).
  • Shri Praveen Gondia, DCP Zone IV, Ahmedabad City: Shri Gondia registered FIRs against prominent BJP and VHP leaders for their role in the rioting. He was transferred to Civil Defence.
  • Shri Himanshu Bhatt, SP, Banaskantha: He suspended a sub–inspector who had allowed a Hindu mob to plunder a village in the district. The PSI is close to several BJP and VHP leaders. Shri Bhatt was transferred to the Intelligence Bureau.     
  • Shri Rahul Sharma, SP, Bhavnagar: The riots erupted when he had only been in charge for 25 days. Shri Sharma fired on a mob that was trying to set a madrassa (school) on fire, and put all its leaders behind bars. By his firm act, 400 young lives were saved. A local BJP leader wanted the culprits released but Shri Sharma refused to oblige. The officer is now DCP (Control Room).
  • Shri Ajit Srivastava, PI, Khanpur police station, surveillance branch, Ahmedabad city: On February 28, this officer saved the lives of 35 Muslim women who were trapped inside some hutments with a mob surrounding them within his jurisdiction. He risked his life and limb by jumping into the fire that had already started and fortunately saved them. Later that day, around 8 p.m., while he was in the Madhopur police station area, Shri Srivastava risked his left for the second time the same day to rescue 134 Muslims surrounded by an over 20,000–strong mob. In the process, he prevented what could very likely have been two more incidents of ghastly massacre in Ahmedabad city.
  • Shri Vinod Mall, SP Surendranagar: For having efficiently controlled violence and foiled attempts at provocation in his district, he was given a promotion posting in Ahmedabad which effectively deprived him of direct charge of a district.
  • The Gujarat government under the BJP has used the IB (Intelligence Bureau) to promote the sangh parivar’s political agenda of targeting the minority community. In the past, police stations maintained details of places of residence and business of members from the minority community, to ensure them protection whenever necessary. The present government grossly misused the IB machinery to find out who lived where, making their cadre’s job of loot and arson easy.
The present government had attempted to use the police to put together a selective census of Christians and Muslims but was compelled to withdraw after a nation–wide protest. The Gujarat police, under instructions from the government, instituted a ‘Cell to Monitor Inter–Community Marriages’, a step that is in gross violation of the Indian Constitution.

Some lists of politically convenient appointments to the police department were placed before the Tribunal. (See Box) This needs further investigation and, if true, the situation must be redressed. This is imperative if a clean and politically untarnished police force is to be put in place to ensure justice and peace.

Apart from the police, the BJP has filled several posts within the state’s Home Guards with members of the VHP. The head of the Home Guards in Mehsana district is also a senior VHP functionary. (Significantly, the public prosecutor in Mehsana district, Dilip Trivedi, is also the VHP’s district chief. Moreover, the district magistrate/collector, Amrut Patel is a close relative of Shri Narayan Laloo Patel, a BJP minister and one of the prime accused for leading attacks in the district).

Over the last 5 years more than 8,000 VHP workers have been inducted into the state Home Guards, with many district chiefs being VHP office–bearers. The Home Guard’s position is a critical one for the maintenance of law and order in rural areas. Through massive infiltration over the past four years, the BJP and its rabid wings have virtually taken control of the Home Guards machinery.

The intense insecurity felt by Muslims in Gujarat is borne out by the fact that even Muslim policemen are/were afraid to put name tags on their uniforms and had sought special permission to be on duty without their name tags. Special IG, Shri AI Saiyed, with over 25 years of service, was asked to help a group on his way to Karai in Gandhinagar district. When Shri Saiyed tried to help the hapless people, he was himself attacked when the mob saw his name.

The height of the ‘fear and favour’ policy of the current political dispensation is borne out by CM Modi’s treatment of senior officials. On September 18, the Gujarat state intelligence bureau chief and his two deputies were summarily transferred on punishment postings because Star News gained access to police tapes on Shri Modi’s shocking anti–Muslim remarks made at Bahucharaji near Mehsana on September 9.

The Tribunal is of the view that a significant section of the Gujarat police is guilty of gross dereliction of duty and of flouting the Indian Constitution and Indian criminal law. Therefore, all the individual policemen named by the Tribunal in the list of accused must be promptly prosecuted.

Legal Remedies
Sections 107–110 and sections 143–152 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) give adequate preventive and punitive powers and deem it the duty of district magistrates and police chiefs to prevent breach of peace and ensure the rule of law. And the All India Service Rules (1969) provides for the punishment of errant IAS and IPS officials.

Apart from violating Indian penal and constitutional law, dereliction of duty is a clear violation of the ‘All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, Part III – Penalties and Disciplinary Authorities’. Under these rules, there already exist provisions for the dismissal from service of IAS and IPS officials guilty of “any act or omission which renders him liable to any penalty specified in rule 6.”

Communalisation of bureaucracy
The Tribunal has received substantial evidence of the deep communal-isation of the state bureaucracy. Collectors and deputy collectors are appointed on the basis of political expediency. Again, in these posts they do not perform their constitutional duty. They have in fact been subverting basic rights guaranteed through the Indian Constitution and to which they are sworn, whether in the matter of relief and rehabilitation or compensation claims or law and order.

The Tribunal, for instance, received specific complaints about three deputy collectors from Naroda, Rakhial and Ahmedabad city who have not only served more than their four–year term but are patronised by BJP MLA Sushri Maya Kotdani who is directly indicted in killings and massacres and Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya. Their names are Shri Manoj Macwana (deputy collector, Rakhial), Shri Manoj Patariya (deputy collector, Naroda) and Shri Gaurav Prajapati (deputy collector, Ahmedabad). Besides this, many DMs/collectors have been indicted in specific cases as in Bharuch and Ahmedabad city and their names have been included in the List of Accused with a strong recommendation from this Tribunal that they be swiftly prosecuted and punished.        

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002  Year 9  No. 81-82, State Complicity, Police Misbehaviour                                         
Role of the Central Government (NDA I) in Gujarat Genocidal Carnage
The complicity of the state government is obvious. And, the support of the central government to the  state government in all that it did is also by now a matter of common knowledge. Within hours of the Godhra arson, an organised carnage was planned and ruthlessly executed over the next 72 hours in 15 of Gujarat’s 25 districts. It was apparent that thanks to the instructions from the state government, the administration and the police stood paralysed as the brutal massacres. Yet the government of India turned a blind eye.

The culpability of the central government in the Gujarat carnage lay in its failure to invoke its executive powers available under Article 355, read with Entry 2.2A of List 1 and Entry 1 of List II and Entry I of List III of the Constitution of India, to take over the administration of law and order in Gujarat, and to send in the Army under direct orders of the Centre.

At no time during the Gujarat carnage did the central government and its functionaries show any initiative or commitment to constitutional values, impelling them to intervene and intervene swiftly and effectively to end the violence.
Late on February 28, after he had cancelled a scheduled foreign visit, the PM met RSS and VHP leaders in the nation’s capital, not to discuss the quartering and massacre of innocents in Gujarat, but to dialogue on the Ayodhya issue! Later, the Cabinet Committee on Security met and merely ordered the Army to be on alert. The attitude of both Shri Vajpayee and Shri Advani appeared to aim at diverting the nation’s attention away from Gujarat, and directing it instead towards Ayodhya and the happenings there.

The conduct of the railway minister, who rushes to the spot whenever a train accident takes place, failed in his duty to visit Godhra, to survey the situation for himself and to order an immediate inquiry into the cause of the fire. Questions about the fire in the railway compartment at Godhra still beg for an answer. Who pulled the chain? How did the fire occur?  Surely this merited the urgent attention and immediate intervention of the railway minister? Yet, to this date, the minister has not visited Godhra. What explanation has he to offer for his utter inaction? It was not until the media made specific inquiries that the internal Western railway reservation list of that day was made available. From this, it is not at all clear if all those killed were kar sevaks.

The Prime Minister’s prevaricating statements, saying different things at different times at different places, left everybody in utter confusion. On April 4, when he visited the Shah–e–Alam Camp, he bemoaned the burning alive of women and children, the rapes and killings and urged the Gujarat government to observe its duty. But only a fortnight later, at his party’s national executive meeting in Goa on April 22, he said the Gujarat carnage would not have occurred but for the Godhra arson.

The inaction on the part of the central government and the utterances of its spokesmen occupying responsible positions show that not only had the central government failed in its duty but it  also had no intention to discharge it at all. Contrast this conduct of the central government with its prompt action after the Akshardham Mandir massacre.

His statement at his party’s national executive in Goa bears mention. “Wherever there are Muslims, there is a problem… What happened in Gujarat? If the passengers of the Sabarmati express, innocent, unblameworthy, had not been deliberately burnt alive, Gujarat’s tragedy (Gujarat ki trasadhi) could have been avoided. But this did not happen. People were burnt alive. Who were they? Intelligence is investigating but we still need to ask, how did this all happen? The latter happenings should not be criticised till we understand who set Gujarat on fire. Who lit the fire? How did it spread? Our country is multi–religious, multi–linguistic. We believe in cooperation, we believe in sarva dharma sambhav (respect for all religions). We are proud of our secularism… From Goa to Guwahati, wherever I go, the Indian is not a kattarwadi. Yeh maati ek hai (the Indian is not a fanatic. This soil is one). But whenever I travel around the world, our officials in all the embassies tell me, ‘militant Islam raaste mein kaante bo raha hai’ (‘militant Islam is sowing thorns in our path’). One Islam there is which is tolerant to all, that believes in truth: samvedna aur daya sikhata hai (it preaches compassion and mercy). But the kind of Islam being perpetrated in the world today is a violent, intolerant Islam that has no room for tolerance.”

Such statement, made after the worst state–sponsored carnage against Muslims post-Partition had been so cynically carried out, is unfortunate, to say the least.

The role of the then Union home minister and now deputy prime minister, Shri LK Advani appears to be patently partisan. It appears that like Shri Modi, he too keeps forgetting that he holds constitutional office and is not a Sangh pracharak.
Shri Advani is one of the leading figures in the central government who has irresponsibly peddled the theory of a “foreign hand” behind the Godhra arson without any proof; described Godhra as an “act of terrorism” and the subsequent carnage as a “communal riot”; debunked the findings of official investigations as contained in the FSLR; repeatedly praised Shri Modi as “being the best chief minister India has seen in 50 years” and lauded him as being the best example of “good governance”; and, most dangerously, given a clean chit to indicted organisations like the VHP and BD, who were openly gloating over the violence.

Shri George Fernandes, the Union defence minister, emerges from the entire episode as a pathetic character. While he no doubt visited Gujarat immediately after the outbreak of the violence to oversee the role of the Army, and for which he undoubtedly deserves appreciation, it appears he learnt nothing from whatever he may have surveyed. Had he done so, he would not have made the statement that he did in the Lok Sabha on April 30. That statement not only added insult to the injury of those brutalised by the pogrom but also undermined all human values. If a minister of his rank and a politician of his experience chooses to liken the mass instances of gender violence (perpetrated against 150–200 women and girls) and the subsequent slaughter of most of them, as “nothing new”, it is sufficient indication of the seriousness with which the whole carnage was looked upon by the central government. His attempt at whitewashing his statement at a later stage made things even worse.

As the Union law minister, it was expected that Shri Arun Jaitley would have more respect for the rule of law than Shri Modi. Instead, he showed complete disregard for the basic human rights of innocent men, women and children who fell victim to the carnage. He patted Shri Modi’s back, the man who was the root cause of the massacre of humanity in the state of Gujarat. His attitude was and is sufficiently representative of the view and attitude of the central government to the entire incident.
In short, the inaction on the part of the central government and the utterances of its spokesmen occupying responsible positions show that not only had the central government failed in its duty but it  also had no intention to discharge it at all. Contrast this conduct of the central government with its prompt action after the Akshardham Mandir massacre. This only shows that if the central government intended to take action, it could have done so. The fact that the central government failed in its constitutional obligations during the post–Godhra carnage is indisputable. In the event of any international authority also indicting the state government, which we believe to be inevitable, the central government will have to bear a major share of the blame and will be liable for censure.      


Failure of the criminal justice system 

  • There was no recording of complaints made by affected persons, even while the incidents were taking place.
  • FIRs were recorded after several days.
  • Even the recorded FIRs contained incorrect versions and not the versions as reported by the complainants.
  • The names of the culprits, even when disclosed, were not recorded.
  • In fact, the complainants were told not to name the accused, otherwise the complaints would not be recorded.
  • The FIRs of individual victims were not recorded and omnibus complaints containing several incidents were recorded, which would deny proper investigation and stall the delivery of criminal justice.
  • In many cases, the panchnamas of the scenes of offence have not been made.  The forensic evidence has not been collected.
  • The leaders of the mob violence have not yet been arrested.
  • The police participated in the violence and, in spite of clear and well-documented evidence against the police, no policeman has been prosecuted or proceeded against otherwise.
  • Search and seizure of weapons and looted material have not been effected at all, despite direct evidence of armed mobs committing the crimes.
  • Most of the prosecutors who are in charge of these cases owe allegiance to the organisations perpetrating the crimes, with the result that the victims have no confidence in the due process of law.
  • From the evidence recorded, many persons, politicians and officials among others,have been repeatedly mentioned by witnesses, as directly taking part and inflicting violence on innocent victims and also leading the mobs. 
Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Role of the Central Government
Communalisation of Public Space Hospitals, Gujarat 2002
 
Courtesy: Reuters

One of the most disturbing and sinister truths about some prominent masterminds behind the Gujarat carnage was the fact that many of them hailed from the medical profession and, despite their professional allegiance to the Hippocratic oath, violated it to lead mobs to rape, pillage, maim and kill and that too, in the most barbaric ways. Dr. Praveen Togadia, Dr. Jaideep Patel, Dr. Amita Patel and Dr. Bhartibehn, Dr. Maya Kotdani (the latter three are BJP MLAs) are all doctors by profession who were named by victims as masterminds and leaders in brutal crimes.
Dr. Praveen Togadia, international general secretary of the VHP, is well- known for his frequent threats of hatred and violence. He is a cancer surgeon by profession and also owns the Dhanvantri Hospital at India Colony, Ahmedabad. Doctors belonging to the Muslim minority testified to the fact that, on February 28, Shri Togadia had put in an ad–slide of his, which was telecast on Citicable in Ahmedabad city, asking all doctors and nurses to report to his hospital. He was making this appeal to all doctors. Many witnesses who deposed before us raised the question of whether this was also part of a master plan, to keep, through threats and warnings, Hindu doctors away from Muslim–run hospitals.

Justice AP Ravani spoke of his personal acquaintance and knowledge of (Hindu) doctors being threatened and told (by the VHP) not to treat Muslims. He knew of one doctor in the Shahibag area who must have attended to 17–20 deliveries for women staying in camps. The doctor was personally threatened by Shri Togadia himself, “Stop this, otherwise consequences will not be good.” Other doctors have also confided to Justice Ravani saying they too had received similar threats.

Soon after the bodies of the kar sevaks had been cremated, from the evening of February 28, the bodies of another set of victims started pouring in, this time bearing another identity. They were Muslims from Chamanpura, Rakhial, Bapunagar, Behrampura, and late, at night, Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya. 

The ‘borders’ drawn within Ahmedabad have ensured a severely ghettoised existence. This has been an unfortunate fact for the past three decades and it has had serious implications for inter–community interaction and relations. In the recent state–sponsored genocide, it was used cleverly by large, well–organised and well–armed mobs numbering several thousand, through bloodshed, violence and intimidation, to restrict the passage of ambulances from the inner, old city to either the Vadilal Sarabhai (VS) Hospital or the Sola Civil Hospital. This was another cruel method of preventing victims from receiving urgent medical attention.

At least six injured persons rescued from Chamanpura (Gulberg society), testified before the Tribunal confirming that the VS Hospital had refused them treatment, demanding that a police statement be obtained first. This, from a group of persons who had been brutalised and traumatised, having been witness to 60–70 of their close relations or neighbours stripped, raped, cut into pieces, and burnt alive.

One eyewitness from Jamalpur stated, “The worst conduct was at the Sola Civil Hospital. Here Bharti behn and Anita behn, both BJP corporators (Bharti behn is from Mani Nagar), were actually telling doctors whom to treat or not to treat.” At the VS Hospital, which gave more access to the minorities initially due to the presence of Congress corporators on the hospital’s managerial board, there were attempts to deny treatment to Muslims that were not entirely successful.

Even in the second week of April, while violence in the city of Ahmedabad had trickled down to stray incidents, fear stalked public spaces — hospitals, schools, government offices and even the Gujarat High Court. One witness told the Tribunal that on April 11, groups of 15-20, armed with unsheathed swords, stalked the corridors of the VS Hospital each night and no one challenged them. They did not directly harm or kill but the message spread through nurses and class IV staff was that the area was out of bounds for the marked — the Muslim population in Gujarat.
But no incident can typify the extent of communalisation of hospitals more than the brutal murder of a Muslim who had brought a severely injured person to the VS Hospital by ambulance on May 7, while the Tribunal sat. The youth was stabbed when he alighted from an ambulance carrying a patient who had been stabbed in the Juhapura locality. The assailants were sangh parivar activists who were demonstrating against the alleged “partisan attitude” of the hospital authorities against Hindu patients. 

As bad as the perpetration of crimes by medical professionals during the Gujarat carnage, and the attempts to brutally communalise hospital spaces, were the attempt by the police in Ahmedabad and Vadodara to actually harass and stop ambulance services belonging to the minority community. At the height of the carnage, these ambulance services were the only ones to provide desperately needed medical support, reaching help, saving groups, carrying mutilated bodies, etc. The fact that even they were stopped, as were trucks carrying relief, indicated the premeditation of the carnage at the very top levels as also the genocidal nature of its entire execution.

Several witnesses who deposed before us actually detailed how, in Ahmedabad, one police officer, stopped the Nobel Ambulance Service personnel at Bawa Lababi to prevent it from reaching Danilimda, Char Rasta, Sardarbridge and Calico, despite the fact that they had curfew passes.
The Tribunal recorded the written statement of Dr. Ishaq Shaikh, vice-president, Al Ameen Garib Niwas General Hospital, Ahmedabad. This 40-bed hospital had over-stretched itself in service of the community from February 28 onwards. He described how, from 12.30 p.m., there was a flood of patients – virtually a patient per minute. With this pressure they had to make painful decisions of which patients to treat and which to leave to their fate.

Twice on February 28, when Dr. Shaikh tried to drive a grievously injured patient to the Vadilal Sarabhai Hospital in his ambulance, he was attacked at Raipur between 4 and 5 p.m. When this happened a second time, mayor Himmatsingh Patel helped them out by calling for an ambulance from the Ahmedabad municipal corporation.

A severe strain on community health services was evidenced during and after the carnage, with the state abdicating its primary role. In the numerous relief camps that sprung up across the city/state, there was a severe problem of clean drinking water, sanitation facilities and adequate food. Children were suffering from jaundice, a water-borne disease, diarrhoea and dehydration. One child died in a camp in mid-April. The strain on small privately run hospitals increased. On April 3, Dr. Shaikh was brutally beaten by inspectors Modi and Parmar as he tried to take his ambulance to Shamser Bagh, Gomtipur, where two persons had been shot in the leg. He was pounced upon by the police and beaten badly. 

Justice AP Ravani spoke of his personal acquaintance and knowledge of (Hindu) doctors being threatened and told (by the VHP) not to treat Muslims. 

This most appalling state of affairs can be appreciated and properly understood from the fact that victims and doctors had petitioned the NHRC, pleading for SRP protection within hospitals. This is a sad commentary on the situation in Gujarat during those months, and reflects the depth of communalisation of Gujarati state and society. Muslims were terrified to go to government run hospitals to claim their dead because systematic efforts were made to create an atmosphere of dread and terror there. Menacing groups of Bajrang Dal and VHP youths would stalk the casualty departments of hospitals, 50–60 at a time.

In 1992, this sense of fear did not prevail within hospitals. 
There were countless injuries caused by swords. The mutilation of breasts in the case of women was common. There were some cases of mutilation of the penis. In yet another Vadodara hospital, a doctor conducted 17 post-mortems, the majority of whom were women who had been gang-raped. There were three survivors of gang rape. In one case, the police had intervened and saved the victim from death. A woman from Kheda district who was gang raped, had her head shaved and an Om cut into her head with a knife by the rapists. She died a few days after she was admitted to hospital. There were other instances of Om engraved with a knife on the back and other parts of women’s bodies, as well as of some men. According to the doctors, the deaths of the few Hindus, both men and women, who were admitted to hospital, were of people who had disobeyed prohibitory orders and fell victim to violent circumstances.   

Dr. Ali Shaikh, Vadodara, a witness who appeared before the Tribunal, ran a 15-bed nursing home in a building near the Panigate police station in Vadodara. The building is just five minutes away from the police station, and all the vehicles, mobile vans etc. belonging to the police station were usually parked outside it. Despite this, his clinic and everything inside it, including the ICU and expensive medical equipment, was looted or destroyed on March 1. Two days later, the nursing home was burnt. As of May, the police had not taken any action in the matter. The witness tried to return to the premises about three weeks later and to resume his practice, when he was assaulted by a group of people. He and his son had a narrow escape. 

The Tribunal records with shock and horror that, two-and-a-half months after the crimes, even when insurance officials  visited the building for a survey, the crowd, comprising of local people who lived around the clinic, did not allow them to enter the premises. That these incidents could occur in such close proximity to the Panigate police station makes the whole situation almost farcical. Another community health centre — the Muslim medical centre in Bhoiwada was also destroyed and burnt.

The Gujarat government is culpable of failure to protect the lives of at least 2,000 victims. It is also guilty of failure to provide medical aid and relief to victim-survivors in life–threatening situations. 
To allow the spaces occupied by doctors and hospitals, which are sacred by sheer nature of the job they do, to be vitiated by hate speech and propaganda sounds a serious warning to the extent of percolation of communal ideology in  Gujarat.
The fact that many leaders and perpetrators of the crimes are doctors surely behoves upon the Indian Medical Association to initiate disciplinary action against them for never can the mandate of a doctor, who’s first job is to save and preserve life, become exactly the opposite — of being the one to snatch life away.      

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Communalisation of Public Space, Hospitals
Relief and Rehabilitation, Gujarat 2002
Relief 
From the night of February 28, when brutal and systematic attacks against targeted sections of the Muslims population in Ahmedabad city began, distressed residents were shepherded out of their homes and localities, often in hired buses, in the dead of the night by community leaders. Over night, relief camps came up in the city and by March 5 a staggering 98,000 refugees were housed there. Even by the admission of the district magistrate and collector of Ahmedabad, there were 66,000 refugees in these camps. In none of these efforts was any state presence visible. 

By March 1, a similar situation was observed in over one dozen districts of Gujarat. Independent sources show that outside Ahmedabad, as many as 76,000 refugees were housed in camps all over the state. Official figures put this amount at about 25,000. In any event, even by the state government’s own assessment, at least 91,000  persons were displaced as a direct result of the carnage. Independent assessments put these at closer to 1,74,000 refugees in the state of Gujarat after the first flush of brutal violence; a staggering figure by any standards.  Besides, not all the survivors moved into camps — many went to the homes of their relatives and so on. Including them in the calculation, independent estimates put the total number of displaced Muslims in Gujarat at not less that 2,50,000. 

In the days following the first bout of brutal violence, agents of the state, notably the collectors/district magistrates of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Mehsana, Himmatnagar, Anand, Sabarkantha, Banaskantha, Bharuch and Ankleshwar districts, as also the officials of some police stations, obstructed truckloads of privately mobilised relief material — milk, foodgrains, etc. —  from reaching the camps. Thereafter, the same officials harassed and penalised the refugees by, among other things, not giving them sufficient food. The conduct of these IAS and IPS officials calls for strong penal action.

The Tribunal is greatly concerned and outraged by the fact that only the leadership of the Muslim community was involved in the running of the relief camps because others did not come forward. Though some non–Muslim NGOs did contribute substantial amounts of aid to these relief camps right until August, the vast bulk of relief assistance to the refugees came from the community itself. 

For days and weeks, the Gujarat government adamantly refused to register the relief camps and denied relief assistance from state coffers. In blatant and brazen contrast to the Gujarat state’s attitude to the earthquake victims just one year earlier, when the ghastly earthquake of January 26, 2001 rocked the state, this time neither the Gujarat government nor the government of India applied to the UN and other international agencies for relief and rehabilitation measures. 

Equally, the Tribunal notes with concern and anguish that an insignificant number of international aid agencies came forward in the case of the Gujarat carnage, to help the victims. Given the scale of the state-perpetrated violence and given the response of international aid agencies to such carnages in other areas in the past, it was incumbent on them to provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to all those displaced and dispossessed by the communal carnage in Gujarat, without discrimination. 

Similarly, the fact that major national newspapers which, during such calamities in the past, have always set up independent relief funds, did not do so in the context of Gujarat 2002, speaks for the silence and complicity that surrounds relief and rehabilitation of the survivors of the Gujarat carnage. 

Six relief camps had to approach the Gujarat High Court (special civil applications 3773 of 2002) through a writ petition — supported by the Citizens for Justice and Peace — and a senior advocate had to be flown down from Mumbai for arguments, before the Gujarat government gave an assurance in court that it assumes responsibility for providing adequate relief to the camps. Justice Pradeep PB Majmudar delivered the order on this writ petition on April 22, 2002. 

‘‘What should we do? Run relief camps for them? Do we want to open baby producing centres?’’ — Chief Minister Narendra Modi

The first time that the Shri Modi condescended to visit the Shah–e–Alam Relief Camp in Ahmedabad city was a full month after the carnage broke out, on April 4. As recently as September 9, at Becharaji, Mehsana, during his Gujarat Gaurav Yatra, none other than the chief minister made a shocking public declaration: ‘‘What should we do? Run relief camps for them? Do we want to open baby producing centres?’’ 

Again on May 31, a public interest litigation (special civil application number 5311 of 2002) had to be filed in the Gujarat High Court by the Citizens for Justice and Peace and Communalism Combat to elicit an assurance from the state that relief camps would not be forcibly closed down. On June 4, the petitioners obtained an oral assurance from the government pleader that there would be no closure of the camps at least until June 30, 2002. It was on this precise date, that the state government began exerting pressure on camps and threatened penal measures against camp managers, if they did not ‘voluntarily’ sign a statement saying they wished to close down their camps. On June 26, when the matter came up for hearing, the petitioners, several camp managers and refugees filed 25 affidavits, detailing the extent of abdication of primary duty by the state and shocking instances of coercion and pressure being used against refugees and camp managers.

The writ petition pertaining to relief is still alive before the Gujarat High Court. 

Compensation
The Gujarat government showed itself in a crudely partisan and anti–constitutional light when it initially announced discriminatory amounts of compensation for the survivors of the Godhra tragedy and the post–Godhra carnage. Abdicating its primary role as protector and provider of all its citizenry, it has made no efforts to compute the extent of the loss of lives, the quantum of the destruction of homes, belongings, businesses and agricultural properties to date.

A measly Rs. 2,500 was given as dole to persons for loss of household goods (ghar vakhari) and, though the Prime Minister had announced that Rs. 50,000 would be given for loss of homes, less than 10 per cent of those who have obtained home compensation from the Gujarat government (at least 25 per cent of the total affected have not received anything at all) have got more than Rs. 30,000 each. For most of the survivors of the Gujarat carnage, the state government has rubbed salt on the wounds already suffered, by giving them paltry amounts of Rs. 1,200-2,500 each or less.

Rehabilitation
The Gujarat government has shown a similar callous indifference to the rehabilitation of the victims of continued violence. Barely a year ago, when a devastating earthquake struck the same state, the Gujarat government evolved an elaborate Earthquake-2001 Rehabilitation Package No. 1 for the earthquake affected and similar Packages No. 2, 3, 4, 4a, 4b, 5 followed. 

The Tribunal has closely examined these packages. Details of these seven-eight packages announced by the government of Gujarat, run by the same party, just over a year before the carnage, clearly establish how deeply discriminatory, callous and objectionable the conduct of the Gujarat government is in the context of the carnage.

By its behaviour and action, the government has made it clear that it wishes to have nothing to do with the physical and psychological rehabilitation of its own people, the Muslims of Gujarat. Shri Modi has made public pronouncements, stating that there was no question of his government either buying land to re-house survivors, for whom returning to a threatening environment is an impossibility, or of repairing or rebuilding mosques, dargahs and shrines that have been damaged.

Situation of Muslims in Gujarat
The Tribunal notes with concern and dismay, the continuing misery of the victim Muslim community in Gujarat. In areas where the most brutal incidents of mass killing, quartering and killings (often after sexual crimes against women and girls were committed) took place, statewide surveys by independent groups show that there is no question of the victimised section of residents returning to their original place of residence. 

These include survivors of Ghodasar, Sardarpura, Pandharwada, Ode, Sanjeli, Randhikpur and Chanasma massacres, as also residents of villages in Gandhinagar district itself, where Muslims were in a small and hopeless minority. They also include areas like Gulberg society, Ahmedabad. Though many residents of Naroda Gaon and Patiya have returned, this has been under duress, after the forced closure of the refugee camps where they had sought shelter. Many others have been rehabilitated by Muslim NGOs in different parts of Ahmedabad, while a significant number have migrated to other states.Agricultural land holdings owned by Muslims in districts are being callously taken over by miscreants and dominant interests.

In many villages, especially in Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Panchmahal and Dahod districts,  Muslims who have returned to their battered homes were facing a strictly enforced economic boycott by the dominant castes and communities through their refusal to buy milk products from them, to hire them as labour on their fields, etc. A near permanent loss of livelihood, and therefore a reduction to penury, was an imminent and serious likelihood. 

In welcome contrast to the above, in many regions of Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts, it appears that a sincere effort was being made by members from the dominant community to isolate those in their midst who have led and fomented trouble, and to take a stand against violence in the future. In Chhotaudaipur, where sections of the Adivasi population have been misled and misused by dominant sections of their own and other castes, there has been a genuine expression of remorse, too, about the incident.

It is shocking and unfortunate that while the situation on the ground remains grim in the state, where no remorse has been expressed, no justice is in sight, where relief has only grudgingly been given and rehabilitation measures have been meagre, the sole desire of the government appeared to be to proclaim ‘normalcy’ before the country and the world. At no time was this babble of normalcy exposed more effectively than during the visit of the two teams of the Chief Election Commission to the state in August 2002. 

The story of Gujarat today, especially of cities like Ahmedabad, is one of brutally enforced ghettoisation of the Muslim minority in their residential colonies as much as in their business and trade enterprises. In parts of Ahmedabad, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Muslim minority to live, inhabit and move freely in areas that are now seen as “Hindu”. This state of affairs should be unacceptable in any part of Constitution–bound India.

For the religious minorities, the state of affairs in Gujarat is blatantly discriminatory and in violation of the Indian Constitution. The Tribunal regrets to record that with the connivance of the state, they have already been reduced to the status of second–class citizens. 

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Relief and Rehabilitation
Partisan Role of the Media, Gujarat 2002


The Tribunal recommends that all the recommendations made by the Editors’ Guild in its report on the Gujarat carnage be implemented. On February 28, the two largest circulation, multiple-edition Gujarati newspapers, Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar, which are fairly dependent on the state government’s largesse, played up the unsubstantiated official version of there being a ‘foreign hand’ behind the Godhra tragedy. It was only 3-4 weeks later that reports rubbishing this theory began to appear in newspapers. But by that time, the damage had already been done.

Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar have been playing a blatantly communal role since the BJP returned to power in Gujarat in 1998. The BJP government’s patronage of these dailies needs to be looked into carefully, so that they do not continue to act as mere government agents. In the recent carnage, too, the role of Sandesh was particularly mischievous, while some smaller circulation newspapers like Gujarat Today, Sadhbhav and Gujarat Mitra acted responsibly. 

On February 28, the day after the Godhra tragedy, Sandesh published photographs of the burning coach of the Sabarmati Express with the headline, ‘Fifty Hindus burnt alive’ above the masthead. Besides, it also had a gruesome colour spread of photographs of the Godhra corpses. This was the first major breach of media ethics and law in the context of the Gujarat carnage. Witnesses told the Tribunal that copies of this issue of Sandesh were widely photocopied and flaunted by cadres of the RSS/VHP and BD in rural areas, to provoke anger and prompt the participation of ordinary people in the carnage that followed. 

In the same issue, another front page headline that read, ‘From among those abducted from the Sabarmati Express, two dead bodies of Hindu girls found near Kalol in mutilated state’ had the following report: “Vadodara, Thursday: News about the dead bodies of two girls, abducted from the bogies during the attack on the Sabarmati Express yesterday, found in a mutilated and terribly disfigured form near a pond in Kalol, has added fuel to the already volatile situation of tension, not only in Panchmahal, but in the whole state. In an act of inhumanity that would make even a devil weep, both girls had their breasts cut off. It is evident from the dead bodies that the victims had been repeatedly raped. There is speculation that the girls might have died because of gross sexual abuse.” After investigations, the police found the report to be entirely baseless. 

The police, too, stands indicted in this case by choosing to remain silent and doing nothing to expose the newspaper and initiate action against it for publishing a totally baseless but highly inflammatory story. Meanwhile, Sandesh continued, unchecked, to paint Muslims as murderers and traitors. On March 1, a report titled, ‘Call from the mosque: Slay the non-believers — Islam is in trouble’ told its readers: “On February 27, at 11.30 a.m., a mosque located along the railway tracks incited a crowd with the call: ‘Slay the non-believers… Islam is in danger.’ Responding to the call, the crowd attacked the surviving Ram sevaks from the torched train compartments, who were sitting by the railway tracks.” This, too, was a story without any basis. 

On March 7, Sandesh carried a report with a damaging headline, suggesting that Indian Muslims returning from the Haj pilgrimage could be a potential ‘terrorist’ threat to Hindus. Titled, ‘Hindus in danger! Possibility of attack with terrorists’ support! Frightening scheme of attack by returning Hajis!’ 

‘When Muslim leaders shouted slogans like ‘Hindustan Zindabad!’, read a Sandesh headline on March 8. The report said that the Circuit House witnessed ‘an unprecedented event’, when Muslim leaders of the city came together to shout slogans like the one mentioned above, and appeal for peace. The implication was clear: that Muslims are inherently anti-national and violent, whose raising of patriotic slogans and appealing for peace was ‘unprecedented’. 

Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar have been playing a blatantly communal role since the BJP returned to power in Gujarat in 1998. In the recent carnage, the role of Sandesh was particularly mischievous; some smaller circulation newspapers like Gujarat Today, Sadhbhav and Gujarat Mitra acted responsibly. 

Typically, the opening lines of most reports concerning the post-Godhra violence began with, “In the continuing spiral of communal rioting that broke out as a reaction to the demonic (or barbaric) Godhra incident...” The denunciatory words used liberally to describe the Godhra incident were strikingly absent when reporting the subsequent genocide. Clearly, like the Gujarat government, Sandesh, too, continued to justify the carnage in the rest of Gujarat as a ‘reaction’ to the heinous arson in Godhra. 

Inflammatory tactics were used consistently by Sandesh. Reports on gruesome acts, like the burning alive of people, were published in bold letters, under banner headlines. Photographs of burnt, mangled bodies were a regular feature on the front page, or the last page reserved for important local news. In the first week of violence in the state, Sandesh published colour photographs of scenes of the carnage, superimposed with a ‘burst’ giving readers the latest figure of casualties. Photographs of trishul-wielding ‘Ram sevaks’ were splashed on the front pages in the first week. The photographs served to instill terror amongst Muslims and to provoke intense passions and mutual hostility between the two communities.

​Sandesh did worse than ignore the journalistic code of conduct that prohibits naming the communities involved in violent conflagrations. It published reports like: ‘a mob of religious fanatics’ (read Muslims) who were abducting tribal women, having to face the wrath of the people; or:  ‘religious fanatics’ about to attack a temple causing tension in certain areas in Vadodara city, bringing ‘devotees’ (read Hindus) out on the street to protect their place of worship.

Throughout the violence, Sandesh cynically propagated the idea of Muslims being anti–national and pro–Pakistan. Areas in the city or the state with a sizeable Muslim population were described as ‘mini-Pakistan’. On March 7, a report claimed to have discovered Godhra’s ‘Karachi connection’: an entire area in Karachi named Godhra. On March 1, the headline of a news item claimed that a ‘mini-Pakistan’ was in existence in the Navayard area of the city. The article went on to say that such ‘pockets’ were being created in the city, and asked the police to take note of the ‘criminal’ UP migrant labourers who lived in this area. That Muslims in such bastis were living in complete terror at the time, was a trivial detail the Sandesh reports had no use for. 

On March 1, a report claimed that the entire Sabarmati Express would have been put to flames had it not been delayed. The headline claimed, ‘A mob of 7-8,000 was waiting for the Sabarmati Express to arrive at Godhra.’ The mob, Sandesh reminded its readers, was made up of ‘religious fanatics’. 

Gujarat Samachar, the other leading Gujarati paper, also played a role in inflaming passions, though not as consistently as Sandesh. Reportage on the Godhra incident, in particular, was inflammatory and irresponsible. But it also carried reports highlighting the need for communal harmony.
On February 28, the lead story on page 1 carried the headline, ‘3–4 young girls kidnapped.’ The source of this information was not mentioned. On page 10, a report quoted VHP leader, Shri Kaushik Patel, who claimed that 10 girls had been kidnapped. The reporter, evidently, had not cross–checked the concocted claims, either with the IGP or the railway police. The report did not mention the names of any of the girls or any other details about the alleged kidnapping. 

On March 6, the Gujarat Samachar carried a report on the last page with the headline, ‘The Plan was to torch the whole train, not just one bogie.’ A box item on the last page stated that, ‘a mob was ready for the second attack.’ Again, the source of information was not mentioned; the tone and tenor of the reports, however, suggested they were reports based on careful investigation. 

Throughout the violence, Sandesh cynically propagated the idea of Muslims being anti–national and pro–Pakistan. Areas in the city or the state with a sizeable Muslim population were described as ‘mini-Pakistan’.


On March 7, Gujarat Samachar carried a box item on the last page, claiming that, “ISI is creating trouble in Gujarat; Kalota and his colleagues are important link; the deputy commander of ‘Huji’, arrested in Kolkata, has confessed to the conspiracy.” The report uses the term ‘Rambhakt’ several times for the travellers on the Sabarmati Express on that fateful day. On March 6, the headline of a report read ‘Torching of the train at Godhra was pre-planned. Kalota was tipped off by a railway officer on how to cut open the vacuum pipes.’ The source of information was not mentioned.

On March 16, a page 1 story titled, ‘Indiscriminate firing from Fatehganj Mosque,’ was a complete fabrication.

On March 18, a photograph on page 1 showing bombs recovered by police during combing operations in the Danilimda area of Ahmedabad, had a caption that said: “People talking of secularism should be asked if protecting criminals is secularism.”

There were many other stories that contributed actively to the belief that Muslims were mobilising on a large scale to attack Hindus. It is evident from the communal pogroms and conflicts in recent years, that a section of the mass media is being increasingly used to peddle the familiar communal tactic of depicting the victim as the aggressor and vice versa. On March 24, a heading on page 1 of Gujarat Samachar read, ‘Sat Kaival temple receives threat; Sarsa temple and pathshala under threat of being blown up using remote control.’ And a heading on page 2 in the same issue read, ‘Possibility of attack with deadly weapons; Secret agencies receive information; Religious and educational institutions will be targeted. All DSPs alerted.’ On March 26, Gujarat Samachar had a story on the last page, ‘Sabarmati Express incident was nothing but a pre–planned incident; many youths ready to commit crimes on just one signal from Bilal.’ There was absolutely no basis to any of these reports.

However, unlike Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar also carried some positive stories. Here are some examples: 
  • Muslims saved a Hindu shopkeeper’s shop in Halol. (March 2, p.5)
  • Residents of Ram–Rahim tekra in Ahmedabad are an example of communal harmony. (March 5, p.1).
  • Hindus saved the life of a Muslim woman in Halol. (March 5, p.5).
  • No one wants riots. Rare scenes of communal harmony in sensitive areas of the city. (March 6, last page).
  • Elol village near Himmatnagar is an example of communal harmony. (March 6, p.5).
  • A Muslim woman offered shelter to a Hindu family. (March 7, p.3)
  • At Bhoj village in Padra taluka, Muslims were given shelter in a temple. (March 7, p.8).
  • “Oh! He is our Rahim Chacha… our guruji…” and they saved him. (March 10, p.11; An article by Bhaven Kachchhi in Sunday supplement.)
  • At Lilapir Dargah of Talaja, devotees include all — Hindus and Muslims. (March 11, p.5).
  • An old Muslim woman saved from a mob by a Hindu youth. (March 22, p.2)
  • A pregnant lady taken to hospital by a Muslim youth risking his life. (March 28)

Gujarat Today is an 11–year–old Gujarati daily with a claimed circulation of 70,000. It is published by the Lokhit Prakashan Trust, Ahmedabad. The paper was started by Muslim liberals, and is probably the only Gujarati daily with a large Muslim readership. The paper carries news from villages and district towns that are not generally covered by the mainstream media. Given that Muslims constitute the vast majority of the readers of Gujarat Today, the role it played during the carnage is particularly noteworthy and significant
There was no editorial on the Godhra carnage on February 28, to condemn the heinous crime of torching a train compartment, whatever the provocation. Principles apart, the daily, it would seem, was even oblivious to the enormous communal consequences of what had happened. However, thereafter, the extensive coverage of the incidents, helplines and information about the police and the administration was factual.

The daily also made a consistent effort to report on instances of communal harmony, and to project the view of Hindu liberals and progressives who were critical of the Hindutva project in Gujarat. Some examples are reports on: how the lives and properties of 175 Muslims of Naroda in Ahmedabad were protected by local shepherds; how Hindu doctors in Bhavnagar saved properties from burning and made efforts to treat the injured; relief in the form of foodgrain and clothes provided by Hindus to victims in Jhagadia; a group marriage of Hindu and Muslim youths in Mangrol.  
Also reported was news from Prantij, where a woman sarpanch successfully stopped riots occurring in her village. The March 8 edition carried news items about peace committees in Vagra, Palej, Dholka and Bharuch. On March 10, the paper had a report on how Hindu families saved the lives of 15 Muslims in Kavitha village near Borsad. While there were reports from Juhapura, of how Muslims saved Hindus, there was also a report on how looting of both Hindus and Muslims took place. 

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Role of Media


The March 12 issue carried news of a Hindu family in Dehgam, which sheltered 20 Muslims in their house, and a boxed item about a relief camp in Bhalej village, Kheda district, run by Hindus and Muslims. The March 15 issue had a report of how Muslim women saved the lives of Hindus. News of unity among the Hindus and Muslims of Lambadia and Sami was reported in other issues of the paper.

The Gujarat government, the Tribunal notes, was selective about action against TV channels and publications. While it banned some local TV channels, and also a national channel — Star News — on March 2, because it had exposed the government’s inaction, it took no action against newspapers like Sandesh. The ban was lifted on the assurance that the CM would be given a chance to air his views on the channel.

The English language newspapers, with their local editions in Gujarat, did a commendable job through most of that period.                     

Build-Up in Gujarat before 2002 through Segregation and Discrimination

Courtesy: AFP
 
In the past four years of BJP rule in Gujarat, several unconstitutional measures have been initiated. Since February 1998, when the BJP was returned to power for a second term, fundamental rights of citizens have been violated, the rule of law flouted and the security of the life and property of citizens, particularly the religious minorities and Dalits, consistently threatened. No action has been taken against the culprits. A plethora of outfits like the Hindu Jagran Manch and Dharam Raksha Samiti spawned by the sangh parivar, have been engaged in the task of mobilisation for intimidation, threats, terrorisation and violence.

From the evidence placed before the Tribunal, it is evident that a full catalogue of the words and deeds of the sangh parivar in the last four years, and the BJP government’s unabashed support and encouragement to these on the one hand, and dogged refusal to book the perpetrators of hatred and violence on the other, is itself an appropriate subject for a separate report. Given below are mere examples to illustrate how the calculated spreading poison has been systematic and sustained, especially since 1998.  

Targeting the Minorities
The whole of 1998 and 1999 saw a spate of attacks on minorities, especially on Christian institutions and Christian religious persons in remote areas of Gujarat state, as well as in cities like Rajkot and Ahmedabad. But no action was taken by the state government against the offenders. 
Around Christmas time in 1998, 17 churches were destroyed in Dangs in south Gujarat in a concerted attack on the minority led by VHP leaders Janubhai Pawar and Swami Aseemanand.      
 
During 1998, as part of the attacks on Christians by the BD, VHP, RSS, and BJP all over Gujarat, some incidents took place in Vadodara as well. One of the major incidents was the attack on the five-day National Convention of Christians (Alpha Group). The gang, led by Shri Niraj Jain (VHP leader) and others allegedly belonging to the VHP and Bajrang Dal, started threatening the participants to stop the convention and quit as “they resorted to forcible conversions of Hindus to Christianity.” Police supported them. 

In many parts of Gujarat, the police visited Christian institutions at Christmas time (1998) asking how many people attended Christmas mass. Should this be allowed in a country that calls itself both secular and democratic? Each act of violence over the past four years was preceded by hate-mongering and vicious propaganda through pamphlets signed by Janubhai Pawar of the Hindu Jagran Manch (VHP). No action was taken until a year later; in December 1999, he was arrested at Dangs before Christmas. 

Social and economic boycott enforced through terror and violence is happening every other day in BJP–ruled Gujarat, where the writ of the RSS runs large.

A private members Bill, “to prevent conversion by coercion or force”, but which did not consider conversion to Hinduism an offence, was sought to be rushed through the state legislature in November-December 1999. It was ultimately held back because of the outcry by local groups. The campaigners pointed out that existing provisions within the Indian Constitution were adequate to prevent conversions by inducements and coercion and that the maximum number of conversions, post-Independence, have been of tribals to Hinduism.

In August 2000, Pakistan–trained terrorists shot down 33 Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir and in the cross fire another 100 died. The VHP leader, Shri Praveen Togadia, took it upon his organisation to ‘avenge’ these deaths and targeted unsuspecting Muslims of Gujarat. At a press conference in Ahmedabad on August 1, 2000, he declared, “We will give a fitting reply to these killings here, in Gujarat.” For the next ten days, the law and order machinery was held to ransom, as gangs of the RSS/VHP/BD led by elected representatives of the BJP destroyed Rs. 15 crore worth of Muslim property in Surat, Ahmedabad, Khhedbrahma, Lambadiya, Rajkot, Porbander and other Gujarat cities. Not a rupee in compensation was paid to any of the victims. Leaders and activists of RSS/VHP/BD figure in the FIRs of the police, yet no action has been initiated against them.

In September 1999, police fired 80 rounds of bullets on Muslims from Rajpurani Pole near Mandvi, in Vadodara to stop any Muslim who would come out on the road to save his/her property or to protect the Jumma Masjid. Shri Nalin Bhatt, then a minister in the state government, personally directed the firing by the police. He even made the statement, “Muslims have no place in Hindustan. Either they go to Pakistan or Kabrastan (graveyard).” In the current riots, some BJP leaders and members of violent mobs made similar statements.

Enforcing Ghettoisation 
On February 8, 2000, a horde of people ransacked the homes of Muslim families who had bought homes in Paldi, a posh and predominantly Hindu inhabited locality of Ahmedabad. The families who had just bought a flat there were terrorised, their belongings destroyed. Two municipal corporators of the BJP led the mob, shouting, ‘Jai Sri Ram!’ One senior VHP leader was also present. The motive was to terrorise Muslims to move out of a pre–dominantly Hindu locality. (The Asian Age, February 9, 2000).

What happened in Paldi is becoming more and more common all over Gujarat state. This violates Article 14 (Equality before the law), Article 15 (Non–Discrimination on grounds of religion, race, gender, caste), Article 16 (Equality of opportunity in matters of employment), Article 19  (Protection of the freedom of speech, expression and movement), Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty), Article 22 (Protection against arrest and detention), Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion).

This was not an isolated incident. Social and economic boycott enforced through terror and violence is happening every other day in BJP–ruled Gujarat, where the writ of the RSS runs large.

Encouraging the RSS
In early December 2000, the then CM Keshubhai Patel took the lead in lifting the ban on government servants from joining the RSS. In response to a national outcry within and outside the Indian Parliament, on December 15, 2000, the Prime Minister, Shri Vajpayee, assured the Indian Parliament that there was no question of army or government officials being allowed to join the RSS. On February 6, 2000, Shri Vajpayee announced that he saw nothing wrong in the move since the RSS was a cultural organisation. However, the BJP government in Gujarat was forced to rescind its earlier directive following relentless pressure from the opposition parties and even some of the BJP’s NDA allies.

Soon after the Gujarat government announced its no ban on government servants from joining the RSS policy; it played the role of a generous host at a national meet of the RSS, an organisation that openly espouses its goal of a Hindu State. Photographs of the then union home minister, Shri LK Advani, standing alongside the then chief minister Shri Keshubhai Patel (the latter donned in the trademark khaki shorts of the RSS), at the head of the rally, were published by major national newspapers throughout the country. 

On January 11, 2000, following its convention, the RSS heaped lavish praise on the state government for the “free services” it provided to the three-day ‘Sankalp Shibir’. Pucca roads were laid overnight especially for the event and free drinking water and sanitation services provided. The Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation stationed 260 new buses at the venue to facilitate transportation of participants. This amounted to a blatant misuse of government and semi-government machinery. Billboards put up by the VHP all over Gujarat since 1998, proudly proclaim: ‘Welcome to Hindu Rashtra’. (‘Welcome to a Hindu State’).

Discrimination Politics
The Gujarat government has also taken a series of administrative measures that directly violate the Constitution. These are:
  • A selective census specially directed at Christians and Muslims in the state.
  • A selective census of SCs and STs initiated to ascertain ‘when they converted to Islam or Christianity.’
  • A directive to the state police asking them to ‘investigate’ every case of inter–religious marriage. This followed spurious propaganda by the RSS–VHP–Hindu Jagran Manch combine that Muslims were abducting and marrying Hindu girls in order to convert them to Islam, while Christians were guilty of forced conversion. 
  • Inter–community marriages between couples are frowned upon by the state. In 1998, the government directed the police to set up a special cell to investigate every case of inter–community marriage. Recently a Christian groom was forced to convert to Hinduism even after his marriage to a Hindu girl took place in a civil ceremony before the courts. 

Imposing Hindutva 
Muslim children have had to sit for exams on Id day. A few years ago, the Gujarat government also tried to remove Good Friday from its list of public holidays. A volley of protests from the Christians forced them to shelve the plan.
In January 2001, the education department of the Gujarat government issued a circular, directing all schools in the state to subscribe to the RSS mouthpiece, Sadhana. The directive was allowed to lapse thanks to widespread criticism and protest.
In January 2002¸ the Gujarat state’s education department ordered that all grant-in-aid schools must perform dharti poojan on January 26, the day on which a killer earthquake had devastated Gujarat a year ago. The fact that such activity is contrary to the practice of religious minorities was deliberately ignored. A government circular issued earlier this year, informed tribal welfare institutions receiving grants from the government that a part of the sanctioned amount this time would be paid to them in kind — copies of Hindu scriptures.                      

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Build-Up in Gujarat
Nothing But Genocide, Gujarat 2002

 
Nothing but Genocide

Over the past three decades, a disturbing trend in mass crimes has been the single-handed targeting of vulnerable sections of the population. This includes caste massacres against Dalits or lower castes, and violence against the country’s minorities. On several occasions, responsible persons and organisations have termed massacres such as the recent one in Gujarat, the one in Delhi in 1984 and those in Hashimpura (Meerut) in May 1987, when PAC personnel killed more than 40 Muslim youth, as genocide killings. 
After World War II, an International Convention was brought into existence worldwide on December 9, 1948 to Prevent and Punish the Crime of Genocide. In all, it has 19 Articles, of which Article II and III are particularly important. Article II defines the crime of Genocide as: “…Genocide means any of the
following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such:
  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of one group to another group.
  • The Convention has also enumerated the offences that are punishable and they are 
  • Genocide;
  • Conspiracy to commit genocide;
  • Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
  • Attempt to commit genocide;
  • Complicity in genocide.”
Under the Convention, the acts that are punishable are, genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, the direct and public incitement to commit genocide, the attempt to commit genocide and complicity in genocide. The persons who can be punished for these crimes are any of the persons committing any of the above acts, even if they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.

Under the Convention, it is a responsibility of member states to make legislation to give effect to the provisions of the present legislation; and to provide penalties to persons responsible to be tried by a competent tribunal of the state, or such international penal tribunals whose jurisdiction the contracting party may have accepted.

To prove the crime of genocide, there has to be evidence of the physical destruction of a section, community, racial or ethnic group as well as the evidence of mental harm.  At the crux of it all, the evidence needs to point to an “intention” to destroy and harm; it is a crime not computed in numbers of dead or harmed but in the intention and desire to commit it — the sheer planning, pre–meditation, extent and thoroughness of the killings. 

Genocide is a crime not computed in numbers of dead or harmed but in the intention and desire to commit it — the sheer planning, pre–meditation, extent and thoroughness of the killings. 

The Gujarat carnage was especially coloured by state complicity in the violence, premeditation and planning behind the attacks on the lives, dignity, livelihoods, businesses and properties of a section of the population — Muslims — and a selective assault on their religious and cultural places of worship. Muslim women were targeted as objects of their community and similarly abused with an inhuman level of violence and sexual crimes. Economic and social boycott of the community was openly encouraged and continues in many parts of Gujarat, to date. Agricultural land holdings of Muslims, small and large have been taken over by dominant community and caste groups. Livelihood for Muslims has been snatched away and there is a clearcut and ongoing design to economically cripple the community.

The chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi has been held by this Tribunal to be directly responsible, along with cabinet colleagues, and organisations that he leads and patronises — the BJP, RSS, VHP and BD. For all these reasons together there is no way that the post–Godhra carnage in Gujarat can escape being called squarely what it was — Crimes against Humanity and Genocide.

The case for genocide against the VHP and the Bajrang Dal as well as Shri Narendra Modi and members of his cabinet is being made for the following reasons:
  • There have been a number of statements and pamphlets from the VHP and the BD and its leaders in the past, which establish that they have been consistently against the Muslim community, making them the target of verbal and physical attacks and have been provoking people to economically and physically attack Muslims and, thereafter, subject them to economic and social boycott.
  • There is sufficient evidence to show that the carnage in Gujarat, post–February 27, was led by theVHP and the Bajrang Dal.
  • The carnage was at six levels: Physical destruction of a part of the community; economic destruction; sexual violence and rape of a large number of Muslim women; cultural and religious destruction; resistance to rehabilitation; publicly declared desire to physically and morally destroy the Muslim community of Gujarat.
  • The offences that were committed in the first flush of organised violence continue at a lower intensity under the same political dispensation even today (See Detailed Annexures: Status of Refugee Survey, Volume III).
  • The chief minister is equally liable for prosecution for genocide for the following reasons:
  • Refusal to take any preventive measures and protect the lives and properties of Muslims;
  • Connivance in and facilitation of the carnage;
  • Transfer of good police officers;
  • No action against erring police officers or party functionaries who were named by victims;
  • Persistent threats to close down privately run relief camps;
  • Abusive comments against the affected and victimised community that qualify as Hate Speech;
  • Refusal to comply with the NHRC recommendations;
  • Total failure in the provision of relief and rehabilitation;
  • Absence of punitive action against provocative press and other organisations;
  • Influencing criminal investigation — the omission of the names of VHP/RSS/BJP functionaries from charge-sheets although their names appear in FIRs.
  • The case for the Gujarat carnage being nothing short of genocide is clinched by the fact that Muslim journalists, Muslim police officers, Muslim bureucrats, Muslim teachers have had to function only after concealing or changing their identities and this continues to be a trend even now.
Considering these facts and the distinct tendency and trends that mass crimes committed against marginalised groups have taken in past years, it is a grave lapse on the part of the government of India, which has, to date, not enacted any law in compliance with Article V of the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948. India has signed the Genocide Convention in 1948 and ratified it in 1958. Under the Convention, a state that is signatory is bound to effectively act upon and legislate upon the intents of the legislation. So far, India has not enacted any law in compliance with the Convention. 

Note on the International Criminal Court
The ICC came into existence from July 1, 2002. India has, however, refused to ratify the treaty. Under the treaty, any person can be tried and punished for crimes against humanity, acts of genocide, etc. before the International Court, irrespective of where the crime is committed. India, not being a ratifying party, cannot be forced to hand over any person charged or convicted to this Court. 

The genocide in Gujarat could not have been taken up at the ICC since the Court came into being only on July 1, 2002. However, since it is not the first time that mass crimes of this kind have been allowed and condoned internally, it is vital, as a safeguard for the future, that India ratifies the ICC treaty and subjects itself to international scrutiny, especially in respect of heinous crimes committed by government functionaries. If the carnage in Gujarat had taken place post-July 2002, and India had still not ratified the ICC treaty and acceded to the Court, the issue could have come up through the UN Security Council reference.     

Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Genocide
Recommendations, Short Term of the Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Gujarat 2002


Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Recommendations, Short Term,
Recommendations, Long Term of the Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Gujarat 2002


Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, Recommendations, Long Term,
Accused, Policemen and Bureaucrats as Recounted by Witnesses, Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Gujarat 2002


Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, The Accused, Policemen & Bureaucrats
Accused, Politicians & Others as Recounted by Witnesses, Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Gujarat 2002


Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9  No. 81-82, The Accused, Politicians & Others