March 5, 2002
Urgent appeal from citizens of Gujarat & India
Also see, Carnage in Gujarat
The situation in Gujarat is desperate. It is a tragedy of appalling human proportions. Earlier, the State indulged in direct and systematic acts of murder, terror and targeting of economic properties of the minority community in Gujarat. Now it is actively preventing relief and rehabilitation from reaching the affected areas; relief camps in the city that are being treated like concentration camps.
Six days after brutal violence has rocked Gujarat state, especially Ahmedabad city, the sheer scale and dimension of the tragedy and it's lasting impact is being callously rejected by the State Government. Though the loss of life has been officially placed at around 500, our estimate is that it may touch a staggering figure of 2,000.
While Rs. 2 lakh an compensation was immediately announced to the surviving relatives of the victims of the Godhra tragedy, the Gujarat government is revealing it's sectarian approach by simply not declaring payment of compensation to the victims of violence post-Godhra. We are collectively demanding that such compensation be announced and the areas that are today housing thousands of internally displaced persons be declared as relief camps.
Fifteen make-shift camps located in different parts of Ahmedabad, all within Muslim bastis, house at least 35,000 internally displaced persons. It is feared that this figure may touch 50,000 once a complete survey of the city is carried out. These figures do not reflect the figures of displaced persons from other towns and villages.
The condition at these relief camps is pathetic, everyone is suffering from mental trauma; the government and administration is treating them like prisoners in concentration camps: the survivors are not allowed to step out or move about freely, even for basic commodities. The immediate need is for milk, oil, grains, rice, tea and temporary building materials like mandaps etc., since at the moment the survivors are housed in make shift accomodation in extremely unsanitary conditions.
Many of the survivors suffer from burns and other serious injuries; medicines and medical attention and health care is the need of the hour. There is also the genuine fear of an epidemic breaking out.
The situation is so desperate that even the bodies of the deceased -- brothers, sisters and children killed in the most brutal and inhuman manner -- have not been denied the right of to a dignified departure. Bodies lie in the most de-humanised state and the State is refusing to look into this.
Sir, it would be in order that in your capacity as the President of India, the Constitutional Head of the Indian State, you make a generous contribution from the President's Fund for the Reparation of the Loss of Life, Dignity and Property of the citizens - religious minorities-in Gujarat. What Gujarat, especially the city of Ahmedabad, experienced over the past week was an utter and complete breakdown of constitutional authority. The moral and physical response to the scale of the tragedy needs your active intervention in every way possible.
Teesta Setalvad, Javed
Father Cedric Prakash
Father Francis Parmar
Meera Goradia, Arvind
Lodaya AND SEVERAL OTHERS