PUCL Bulletin may 2002

Sunday, 17 March, 2002

People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Baroda

Memorandum to the President, Prime Minister of India, NDA Allies,
Leader of the Opposition Party, and Members of Parliament and the
Human Rights' Commission

We, the members of the PUCL Baroda want to bring to your attention
the atmosphere of terror and fright which members of the minority
community have been experiencing both during the day and at night
since the Godhra massacre. The situation has deteriorated especially
after the shila daan on March 15, 2002.

On March 15 the police despite its own restrictions allowed
celebrations in 42 temples in the city and the situation tensed up.

Since then every day and during the night elements of extremist Hindu
organisations (the VHP, Bajrang Dal and the RSS) continue to promote
a reign of terror and immobility among the Muslim community. Today is
the 18th day of this atmosphere of fear. While the Muslim community
has by and large been restrained in the face of attacks and insults,
they now seem to be nearing the end of their tether. We fear a
terrible backlash unless law and order is restored immediately

The following are some of the incidents that have occurred in the
last 24 hours:

1. Today in the afternoon, 32 persons of the minority community
being accompanied by two police vehicles (Police Inspector Vanecha
was in the police team among others) to retrieve their belongings
from their homes were attacked by a mob of 3000 in the Makarpura area
of Baroda. Two persons of the minority community died on the spot,
four are lying in a critical condition in the ICU in the Medical
College Hospital and 18 others are injured. The names of some of the
attacking members are Raju More, Hira Lal Lotan Patil, Dilip Sinh
Jati Sinh Raj, and one Sharma from the IAF.
2. On March 15, in front of the Pani Gate Navapura Naka Police
Chowki three boys burnt a house belonging to the minority community
while six policemen stood watching. Similarly in front of the Mandvi
Police Control Room, one shop was burnt without any police action and
on Shastri Baug Road, very close to the police point Syed Studio was
3. In Bahar Colony on Ajwa Road, which is a Muslim Colony,
tension has been reigning since the last 3 days when a Jhoppad patti
was put on fire. This morning two Muslim factories in Sardar Estate,
both mainly employing Hindu employees, were set on fire. From 10 am
onwards police was being called. Police dismissed these calls as
rumours. Finally police arrived at 1 pm when a group of men were
returning after namaaz. The police fired into the gathering. Two
young men were injured in the police firing, one died later. The
women of the minority community were most upset and angry at the
policeís inability to manage the mob. They wanted to request the
police to place a point in their colony. The police refused to listen
to them and in fact did laathi charge on them to drive them into
their homes.
4. In Piramitra area of Dandiya Bazar a Muslim house was burnt
day before yesterday and today morning there was a period of intense
mutual stone throwing. RSS elements have sworn revenge and a fight to
finish by tonight. Police has been deployed in the area but is not
proving to be very effective.
5. At Rain Basera, Machchipith, under Karelibag Police Station, several
6. women were assaulted by the police during "combing operations." Four
7. policemen entered the basti at around 3:00 pm on 16 March 2002. They
8. indiscriminately beat and threatened women and children, beat and
9. arrested men, and damaged property. All during this time, they let
10. loose the coarsest abuse, with explicit sexual and religious
11. In particular

Sabiraben Ahmedbhai Shaikh, aged 45, was beaten so badly that her
left arm was swollen and bruised
- Faridabanu Bachchubhai Shaikh, aged 30, Hajirabibi Gulamhusain
Dhobi, aged 32, and Hamidabibi Ahmedkhan Pathan were kicked on the legs.
Hajirabibi was also kicked on the chest and Faridabanu in the pubic
-Mehrunnissa, aged 18, was threatened with a sword (apparently
confiscated), the point of the sword touching her abdomen.
-Sultana Razzakbhai, aged 18, was threatened with a rifle which was
pointed and rested on her chest
In addition, at least 4 men were beaten badly, and 11 arrested.

6) In Roshan Nagar, Ashapuri, 21 Muslims were arrested from their
homes on 28 February 2002 on a complaint that loudspeakers were used
at the local madrasa. They were taken to Fatehgunj polce station. At
the lockup, they were mercilessly beaten, so much so that welt and
other marks were visible more than a week after the incident.
Two (Ali Nabi Bholey Khan, aged 40, and Mohhamed Umar Abdul Latif, aged
35), were beaten so badly that they needed to be taken to Jail Hospital.

In contrast to Hindus arrested the next day who were charged with
Section 188, the Muslims were charged under sections 137, 143, 144, 153,
and 188. Moreover they were released on bail only on the 5th March 2002.

They were not produced at the Cicuit House, but were shut up in the
police van outside the Circuit House before being remanded to Central
Jail. Apart from beatings, they were not allowed to urinate, when they
asked for water, were told to drink urine. Bearded men, including
Maulana Mohhamed Yusuf, had their beards pulled and police threatened
to cut them off

In the face of all the experiences cited above, we wish to state that
neither the administration nor the police have been found to be
competent to deal with the situation. In fact, we have evidence that
the police have been taking orders from representatives of the ruling
party. We fear that the situation is not very different in Ahmedabad
and the rest of the state. In this situation we demand that

  1. the state of Gujarat be handed over to the Army immediately.
    Increased and effective use of Army is required in the state.
  2. the present government be dismissed and Governorís rule be
    imposed in Gujarat
  3. an enquiry be conducted into the role of the police and the
    administration and guilty police officers be suspended immediately.
  4. normalcy be restored in the state as soon as possible by
    reopening schools, banks and shops so that the confidence of all
    sections of society is restored. State transport services should also
    be restored and the situation in the villages and tribal areas should
    be made normal.

We also demand that the same set of rules be made operational for all
sections of society. Licenses of pistols held by some Muslim lawyers
in Baroda have been confiscated. We demand that licenses of pistols
held by party office bearers, corporators and VHP office bearers also
be withdrawn. (We would be happy to furnish names of some of these
individuals if need be.)

Further, the role of the media needs to be regulated. While in the
national electronic media there is a virtual blackout on what is
happening in Gujarat today, the local electronic media has been
carrying provocative stories and interviews which have resulted in
inciting communal sentiments further.

We urge that this memorandum be considered seriously and immediate
appropriate action be taken to prevent further loss of life, trust
and property in our state. We look forward to your action to this

Kirit Bhatt, Manzur Saleri, Chinwala, Tapan Das, Deeptha Achar,
Santosh Dash, Bharat Desai. Johannes Manjrekar, Raj Kumar Hans,
Jagdish Patel (PUCL), Trupti Shah, Deepa Ghelani (Sahiyar Stree
Sangathan) Michael Moses, Anand Moses (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti),
Swati Desai ( NAPM Gujarat), Thakore Shah, Narpat Sinh Solanki
(Vadodara Kamdaar Union), Maya Valecha, Rohit Prajapati (Inquilabi
Communist Sangathan), Nandini Manjrekar, Amita Verma ( Gujarat Forum
for Womenís Studies), S. Srinivasan, Renu Khanna ( SAHAJ), Preeti
Patel, Geeta Rathwa, Shobha Shah (Shishu Milap)

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