June 24, 2021
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Communal Carnage

Presentation by media persons to the National Human Rights Commission of India, during their visit to Ahmedabad on March 20, 2002.

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Communal Carnage

Hon. Chairman of the Human Rights Commission,

We like to draw your kind attention to the following facts regarding the communal carnage that caused massive violations of human rights of both the majority and minority communities in Gujarat from Feb. 27 to still lingering incidents of killings on March 20.

(1) To start with, we like to bring to your notice a couple of incidents which shows how the media and some of their representatives were made the victims of intolerance, which in turn, was a gross violation of the freedom of expression. Several media persons, particularly from electronic media, were curbed and beaten up and their camera equipment heavily damaged;

(2) Gujarat Today, a daily run by a Muslim Trust, lost one of their branch offices, by a mob act of arson. Their main office, place of publication, is still under constant threat of attack;

(3) Star TV channel projecting the daily mayhem which reflected the ground reality was barred for few hours on a crucial day of carnage; while the Gujarati print media which grossly violated the code of ethics laid down by the Press Council of India, was totally untouched;

(4) The unequivocal condemnation done by the members of state legislative assembly and enlightened citizens was intentionally blacked out or terribly underplayed by the print media at the instance of the ruling party, which added fuel to the fire;

(5) Government of Gujarat has declared a one man commission of enquiry to investigate the entire event at Godhra and aftermath too. But we strongly feel that such an enquiry will have no relevance or usefulness or any power to punish the guilty, as evidenced by several such commissions? reports lying on the government shelf without any action in the past;

(6) For an investigation to be fair and impartial, we demand a CBI enquiry at the earliest to make it action-oriented and impartial. This is because the state government machinery is accused and the chief minister himself and entire police department falls under a category of accused party in the carnage;

(7) Accused of Godhra train incident and others even more inhuman acts of killings in different parts of the state should be handed over to CBI for investigation, because, even according to the nation's Home and Defence ministers, the Godhra carnage had international ramifications (ISI connection). No local or railway police should be allowed to investigate those accused of Godhra and following events, including burning of mass of people at Khokhra Ambika Mill Chawl, Naroda Patia, Gulmarg Society causing burning alive of the former member of parliament Ehsan Jafri and others, in the rural areas of Mehsana, Sabarkantha, cities of Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Vadodara, rural Godhra, Surat and Panchmahal and other affected districts;

(8) We like to draw your attention to the facts that High Court premises on Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway were well protected by police companies on Feb. 28, both inside the premises as well outside opposite the court building complex, but even then, two trucks were burnt on that road right near the doors of the HC by rampaging mob on Feb. 28;

(9) Similarly, Judges Baungalow on Premchandnagar Road in Ahmedabad, have enough of security arrangement and police chowky just across the road, a well organized mob burnt down a restaurant building. Can we not conclude that police force was told in advance to close their eyes wherever such so called 'retaliation' occurred against Godhra carnage? Such an inaction was seen everywhere for '72 hours' in the entire state;

(10) Human right violation of the constitutional provisions (article 25-26) of freedom of religion, was carried on here in entire state when the organized mobs desecrated and burnt down at least 100 minority religious places in Ahmedabad and 500 in other parts of Gujarat and erected their own stones of gods (riotous Hanuman- called Hulladia Hanuman) on those shrines; how are those criminals to be punished for such acts?

(11) India's Minority Commission was reported to have been assured by the chief minister during its visit to Gandhinagar that he would "rebuild those destroyed shrines"? why not take a similar assurance to your honour too? However, we are afraid, CM's assurance does not carry weight here because, one famous Vali Gujarati (respected by both the communities) Poet's Dargah, near underground bridge at Shahibaag, was razed to the ground and now we can see asphalt road well laid down there, flattening the whole historic Durgah ground! This despite, officials promising Mayor of the city to protect the same.

In short, we urge you to take all these facts into your account and do the needful.

(Signed) Batuk Vora, Teesta Setalwad, Mallika Sarabhai, Digant Oza, Indukumar Jani and others

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