PUCL Bulletin may 2002

March, 2002

K.G.kannabiran
National President
People's Union for Civil Liberties

An Open Letter to President of India,
Sri K. R. Narayanan

Dear Mr. President,

We call on you in hour of crisis. The People's Union for Civil Liberties was founded by Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan in a time of national crisis such
as this. As the president of PUCL, I appeal to you on behalf of PUCL to provide this sane voice in this hour of darkness.Independent India has seen a series
of massacres of the minorities starting with slaughter of Sikhs in 1984, the slaughter of Muslims after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1993 and
slaughter of Christians in the last few years.

In Gujarat today we have reached a level of genocide that shocks the whole world even after the attack on the World Trade Centre and the bombing of Afghanistan. This is surely no matter for national pride. The burning ground of Gujarat today is the scene of planned genocide.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide says:
Article II
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the followinng acts committed to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious
group, as such:

  • Killings members of the group
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members ofthe 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 the group to another group.

Article III
The following acts shall be punishable:

  • Genocide;
  • Conspiracy to commit genocide
  • Direct and public incitement to commit genocide
  • Attempt to commit gencocide
  • Complicity in genocide

It is a bitter truth that ministers of the Government today who cried hoarse at Indira Gandhi's abuse of power are eloquently silent today on the events of
Gujarat. A large number of people have been rendered homeless and huddled into refugee within camps in the state in which they have been living for
generationns.

The deplorable condition of these camps bear testimony to the political will of the governmet. The Chief Minister Mr. Narender Modi is planning to disband
these camps so that this concentrated evidence of his misdeeds can be dispersed and invisibilised. Miserable though the camps may be the refugees are not ready to leave as certain death awaits them outside.

The constitutional value system that should inform our governance and the International Convenants of Refugees prohibit such refusal to take responsibility for the lives of the citizens. There is also a declared economic boycott of the minorities that is being enforced by street power to deprive
them of their right to life and livelihood. That this is happening in Gandhiji's Gujarat is a profound shame. When the RSS assasinated the Mahatma no pogrom was launched against the RSS as whole or against the community of Nathuram Godse. He was tried and punished by due process of law.

Similarly the criminals responsible for the Godhra killings should be identified, arrested, tried and strictly punished. The response to their heinous crime cannot be a planned nationwide pogrom against innocent and vulnerable minorities.

You have been requested to summon a joint sitting of the Houses to pass the POTO when Gujarat is burning. This is a subversion of all principles of governance. As President you have a historic role to play at this juncture. The making or unmaking of democracy will hinge on your actions. The people of the country are waiting to fulfil your role. The world is watching you. The NHRC has already expressed its dissatisffaction with the Gujarat government's report in no uncertain terms. The NHRC as you are aware was created with the sole purpose of ensuring that the International Covenants including the ones on the genocide are honoured. The NHRC has also declared the POTO to be in opposition to the provisions of Part III of the cconstitution. The manner in which the government is ignoring the reality of Gujarat and proceeding with its agenda on terrorism is disturbing. The numbers killed in Gujarat exceed terrorist killings in the last ten years.

Unless the government is willing to name the VHP, Bajrangdal and RSS as terrorist organizations it would be a farce to go ahead with the joint sitting of the houses to consider POTO. When Graham Staines was killed your voice spread hope and confidence among us.

Your response now on this issue is critical to the survival of democracy in this country. We urge you to act now and restructure the skewed priorities of the
nation. We have the confidence in your capacity to do so and look to your leadership.

K.G.Kannabiran
National President
PUCL

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