Violence in Gujarat
Report by Citizens'
Initiative on Violence
14th March, 2002 Ahmedabad
Almost a fortnight has passed after the incident of 27th and the normalcy
of Gujarat which is being paraded to the external world is so hypocritical
and hollow that it is ridiculous. One has only to move in the areas on
the other side of the river-Lal Darwaja, Bapunagar, Vatva, Shah-e-Alam,
Naroda, Gomtipur, Rakhial, etc. (the old city area) to see the hollowness
of the claims. Yes, normalcy has been restored, but only in the other
part of the city, the more "developed" part of the city, the
more affluent part of the city, and of course, the predominantly "Hindu"
part of the city.
The entire episode of Gujarat 2002 is nothing short of a pogrom, bringing
to mind Nazi Germany, and Bosnia against the Muslim community. The facts
and details being provided by the victims debunk the theory of a "reaction"
which is being spouted by the Chief Minister and his entire administration.
That the Union home minister L.K. Advani gave a "clean chit"
to the state Chief Minister only strengthens the theory that the Central
leadership was hand-in-glove with the state administration in carrying
out the pogrom.
Further to our report "why do we call this a state-sponsored terrorism",
we have to add that when we met the victims dotting the over 37 relief
camps being run in the city of Ahmedabad alone (56 in the entire Gujarat)
we encountered a pattern in the whole operation, and it was the same in
every camp. What emerged is this: approximately a month or so before the
incident of Godhra took place, there were groups of people, parading as
census enumerators in some place or as health officials in other, going
around the Muslim localities gathering information and filling forms about
the families, no. of persons in the family, assets of the family etc.
At one place they also reported that on the 26th February some persons
came to their house and made a 'X' marking on it. Rush. Pick up your history
textbooks. The Nazis did the same. The victims are scared of filling up
the forms being circulated by the 'Citizens' Initiative' for fear that
it may be a similar design to further stifle them.
The people in the relief camps, when visited by the two former Prime Ministers
of India V. P. Singh and I. K. Gujaral, reportedly told them in no uncertain
terms: "We have now become terrorists. Do not blame us henceforth."
There was a method even to the burning of the houses and the shops that
was carried out. They short-circuited the shop/house and then threw LPG
cylinders into the premises which exploded in it. People have reported
that the flooring of the premises have come out of the foundation and
the ceiling has given way as if made of some liquid. A "reacting"
mob came in possession of LPG cylinders in such huge numbers, were armed
with cutters and galvanised wires, and pouches of chemicals and acid,
all in a span of 2-4 hours!!!! So neat has been the job that the adjacent
premises of Hindus have not been touched at all.
The people in the relief camps have reported that the women were raped
or made to run the length of the street naked and then doused with petrol
and put on fire, thus destroying all evidence of the crime. They have
also reported that when men were being torched to death and they (women)
went to help them the men in the mob simply undressed in front of them
thus preventing them from taking the next step.
Two ancient shrines and mosques of the Muslims were razed to the ground
or damaged heavily by the mobs. Talk of Bamiyan Buddhas? We have a Taliban
in our backyard.
All this has, quite naturally, affected the children. The children in
the relief camps we visited are so traumatised and shocked that we doubt
whether they will ever be able to believe and trust in words like "secular",
"Constitution", "Hindu", "government", "police",
and such like. It would be nothing but gibberish to them. The following
incident may perhaps give an indication of the psyche of the children
of the Hindu community: two young boys, aged about 10 years, were playing
in their apartment compound. One boy turned to the other and asked him,
"Are you a Hindu or a Muslim?" The stunned boy replied "A
Hindu, why?" The first says, "That's fine, then. If you were
a Muslim I would have killed you." Can we expect them to say anything
else when they hear their parents speaking such language in their homes?
More on ethnic cleansing. As if the damage and destruction of life and
property was not enough they even wish to finish them off educationally.
At the moment the effort of the Citizens' Initiative, apart from distribution
of the relief material, is to help the victims take legal action and file
police complaints. This is because when the individuals file the complaints
the police see to it that the names of the accused are deleted. This is
a widespread practice and is being reported very frequently.
Following the massacre in Gujarat the Citizens' Initiative has come out
with a radio programme of ½ hour on communal harmony - "Chhoti
Si Aasha" - which is being aired by Vividh Bharati at 8.00 a.m. in
Memorandum to The National Commission for Minorities
The prima facie findings based on data collection through structured questionnaire
and interviews of about 650 victims located in 33 relief camps:
Indoctrinated and organized groups led by VHP and Bajrang Dal moved from
area to area in the city arousing communal hatred, gathering and mobilizing
into a mob and then leading the mob to unleash attacks as per already
identified plan. Such organized core groups led the attack in each reported
During the attacks the BJP, VHP and BD cadre moved in trucks, four wheelers,
with mobile phones, weapons, firearms and explosive material like LPG,
Oxygen cylinders in various parts of the city as per their identified
plan. The attacks revealed a certain pattern and conspiratorial planning.
Cadres of BJP, VHP and BD had already gathered intelligence by conducting
survey in the guise of health department officials, corporation officials
in the minority areas and identified the minority houses, shops etc.,
in the last one month. Based on such intelligence the plan was attacked
prepared before hand.
The pattern also revealed that first there was looting and then of the
property and then setting fire to Lorries, shops, industrial units and
assets of the minority.
In various areas, such as Naroda Patia, Bapunagar, Chamanpura etc., the
above-mentioned organized groups of the Sangh Parivar engaged in large
scale and brutal violence in which they battered, stabbed, and burnt alive
by dousing people with petrol, kerosene and diesel.
In all these events the modus operandi was to surround the minority settlements,
close all routes of escape, comer the people into one location and then
looted the property of the vacated area and then burnt the same systematically.
The people cornered were killed with sharp weapons and the houses they
had taken shelter or cornered into were set on fire resulting in many
A large number of women were sexually assaulted and gang raped in the
presence of their own relatives with the police looking on passively.
Many of the women who were thus raped were also slashed with sharp weapons
and subsequently burnt to death. Most of the women who survived are in
a state of shock and trauma and unable to report these brutalities even
to their own relatives, leave alone the police. But women and men who
have witnessed the events have reported this.
Barring a few exemplary police officers who helped people to escape or
protect from the attacks. The rest of the police generally had been passive.
But in many cases police was colluding with organized attacking groups
in killing, burning property, human beings. There are reports of police
closing the escape routes when the minorities attempted to escape the
attacks, some even fired on the people who try to escape the attack.
Assistant Commissioner of Police P.N. Barot has been appointed to investigate
some of the most serious cases such as Gulbarga (where Eshan Jaffrey and
many others were burnt alive) and Naroda Patia (where many women and children
were raped and killed). Our analysis of his track record of investigations
throws serious suspicion on the motives and competencies of this officer.
According to most of the complainants he has not named any of the accused
in the FIRs in spite of the victims' insistence. A number of citizens
from the minority community have expressed serious reservations about
this officer being appointed as the investigating officer for these cases.
More than 23 mosques and Dargahs have been desecrated and demolished during
the last fortnight of violence, only in Ahmedabad. From our investigation
and interviews with a large number of victims it becomes amply clear that
there is a prima facie case that the government functionaries and political
leaders were involved in the atrocities described above.
The abysmal failure
of the Government to protect the life and property of its citizens has
been established beyond doubt. In the face of this strong prima facie
evidence of the culpability of Government of Gujarat, it would be against
the principles of natural justice to entrust the investigation to the
police and the commission of inquiry controlled by the same Government.
The appointment of retired Justice K.G . Shah as the commission of Inquiry
has shocked all secular citizens. The judgment of Justice K. G. Shah (while
in service) on the Dabgarwad case of Ahmedabad had made unnecessary inferences
against minority which were struck down by the Hon. Supreme Court Of India.
A large number of students appearing for the SSC and HSC examinations
scheduled to begin from the 18~ of March are at present living in relief
camps. It is grossly unfair to conduct the exams in these conditions.
The Government has been insensitive to the traumatic and violent situation
that the students of all communities has gone through over the past fortnight,
and has not made any provision for the security of these students in the
examination centers. In such a scenario it would be a blatant violation
of the human rights of the students if the government goes ahead with
the examinations as scheduled. It has been also reported that the police
has now started framing up many victims of the attacks under criminal
charges and are threatened with arrests. This is suspected to be a ploy
to put pressure on the victims not to file complaints or statements. There
is an urgent need to restrain the government from such repressive measures.
We request the National Commission for Minorities to immediately recommend
- Entrust the investigation
to the CBI or a specially constituted impartial investigating team.
- Appointment of
a multimember commission of inquiry comprising judges from outside Gujarat
preferably sitting judge/s from the Supreme Court
- The Army should
continue to be deployed and/or to be on stand-by till normalcy returns
to economic and social life and a sense of security is felt by the minorities.
- All the victims
of this communal attack who have suffered losses should be entitled
to complete reparations.
- Restoration of
status quo ante as on 27th February, 2002 with regard to all religious
and cultural monuments and places destroyed.
- Special provisions
for Board examinations for all students who are physically and psychologically
unable to appear for the Board examinations. Alternatively, the examinations
for the entire state are postponed for three weeks so as to enable the
Government to make provisions for the security of the students giving
For Citizens' Initiative.
-- Binoy Acharya, Ashim Roy, Victor Moses (Fr.), Lalji Desai, Prasad Chacko,
Bhavana Ramrakhiani (Ms.), Vinay Mahajan, Rafi Malek "