PUCL Bulletin, Sept., 2002

Artists' forum demands justice for victims of violence in Gujarat

As a continuation of efforts by the artists forum an eminent group of artists and literatures met at ISI on 9th July, at 5:30 pm. to discuss further action regarding the situation in Gujarat.

Participants: Mahashweta Devi, Harsh Mander, Rajmohan Gandhi, K. Sachidanand, Ashok Vajpayee, Ganesh Devi, Krishna Kumar, Anand, Uma Chakravarty, Meena Radhakrishna, Prakash Luis, Apoorvanand, Sehba.
Harsh Mander talked about the situation in the camps and pointed out that the way the state authorities were subverting relief and rehabilitation methods is unprecedented. Despite the assurance from the Prime Minister's and affidavits in courts the Gujarat Government is cutting down food supplies to the relief camps in Ahmedabad.

The volunteers running the camps and the inmates are constantly under direct or covert threat from the authorities. The camps are in fact being closed down forcibly.

Other issues brought up in the meeting were:

  • There is improper or no assessment of the damage to houses and property of the victims. The few rehabilitation packages being distributed are paltry and insufficient.
  • Follow up on FIRs and action against the culprits is essential to restore confidence amongst the victims. Letting the culprits go Scot-free would set a very dangerous precedent.
  • NHRC's inaction after the report is a matter of concern. Letters should be sent to the commission requesting the members to see to it that the report is implemented. To achieve this, if required they should even go to the Supreme Court.

After intense discussion the decisions taken at the meeting were.

  1. Immediate filing of a PIL in the supreme court demanding the a) implementation of NHRC recommendations and b) The appointment of a commissioner with the power of the supreme court to oversee the implementation of the court's orders.
  2. A delegation will meet the members of NHRC to prompt them to go to court with the demand for implementation of its findings as the NHRC is authorized to do so by the statue of law
  3. The legal action against the culprits and follow up on the FIR's will be done separately from the PIL.
  4. Planning for a national campaign later in the year should start now. The campaign will involve people from all over India converging towards Gujarat and meeting in Ahmedabad on a pre-determined date for a convention and the re-building of Wali Daccani's Mazar. It was decided to start collecting names of representatives from various cities to organize the national campaign at a mass level.
  5. Organize artists and writers groups to visit Gujarat and spend time with the children in the camps. -- Indian Social Sciences Institute, 9 July 2002

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