of the Concerned Citizens' Tribunal on Gujarat
[A tribunal consisting of Justice VR Krishna Iyer (Retd.); Justice
PB Sawant (Retd.); Justice Hosbet Suresh (Retd.); Justice Lone (Retd.);
KG Kannabiran, President PUCL; Dr. KS Subramanian, IPS (Retd.); Dr. Ghanshyam
Shah, Social Scientist; Ms. Aruna Roy, MKSS, and Dr. Tanika Sarkar, Historian
was set up by some prominent citizens of the country. The tribunal was
named as Concerned Citizens' Tribunal.
The tribunal held public sittings in different parts of Gujarat for
about a fortnight with (Justice) Iyer as its chairperson. It issued an
interim report on May 14, which was received by us from Shri Gautam Thaker,
General Secretary Gujarat PUCL, and Convenor of Gujarat branch of Indian
Radical Humanist Association. We reproduce below this report - Chief Editor]
The Concerned Citizens Tribunal - Gujarat 2002 (Chairperson Justice V.R.
Krishna Iyer (Retd.) has been conducting sitting in different locales
in Gujarat over the past fortnight. The Tribunal has received serious
and grave accusations of the large-scale violation of human rights of
sections of the population in the State. These violations include barbaric
attacks on life and dignity, including brutal sexual violence on women,
the systematic destruction of homes and livelihood and attacks and destruction
on places of worship of the minority community. Fire was used to kill
after human beings had been quartered and mutilated; worse still, the
bodies of the victims were charred beyond recognition. Homes and businesses
that were rampaged and destroyed through arson were thoroughly looted
It is a matter of serious concern that thousands of men, women, and children
(including unborn babies) were killed; hundreds of thousands were internally
displaced or are missing; large number of women were widowed or children
orphaned and many maimed and injured for life. Economic life of the people
and mutual trust among communities has been totally destroyed. A pervasive
sense of fear haunts the people and the displaced persons are unable to
return to their homes.
During the course of the hearings, where several dozen testimonies were
recorded and many more placed on record, witnesses have repeatedly testified
to their abject loss of confidence in the government administration including
the police. The Tribunal received large-scale complaints from victims
about police inaction, participation and connivance in the crimes that
were committed. Worse still, the agency of the police, according to the
testimony of witnesses, has been working to positively sabotage the due
process of law. The Tribunal recorded evidence that revealed that the
police have simply not followed the legal procedure for the registration
of crimes and the process of investigation.
Searching evidence about heinous crimes against women was also recorded.
The Concerned Citizens Tribunal also recorded evidence, through oral testimonies
and written evidence about government policy and functioning that relates
to the build up atmosphere and tensions prior to February 27 in the State
Apart from recording the testimonies of over 1500 victims, the Tribunal
heard the evidence presented by representatives of the media, academics,
representatives of the Vishwa Samvad Kendra, and police and government
officials who's names remain undisclosed in the course of its hearings.
The Collector of Godhra Jayanthi Ravi, the Police Official in charge of
Panchmahals district, the Collector, Baroda, Bhagyesh Jha also met the
The Tribunal has examined scores of witnesses from Ahmedabad, Abasana
(Ahmednagar district), Himmatnagar (Sabarkantha district), Kadih and Visnagar
(Mehsana district), Kalol, Dailol, Pandharwada, Eral, Godhra (Panchmahal
district) apart from hearing testimonies of witnesses from Dahod, Bharuch,
Ankleshwar, and Varodara. In Ahmedabad, in order to facilitate inquiry,
evidence was recorded at many caps including the Shah Alam Camp, the Chartoda
Kabrastan, Sundaramnagar, Kankaria, and Anand Flats. Many relief camps
housing the Hindus were also visited. Besides, voluminous evidence has
been placed on the record of the Tribunal that includes statistics of
losses, details of FIRS filed, fact-finding reports by independent teams,
and official documents.
On the visit of the Tribunal to Godhra, panel members visited the burned
down coach of the Sabarmati express as well as the locale of the crime.
The Tribunal noted that the heat/fire raged at great intensity within
the compartment, killing hapless travelers, smelting rails, and charring
the insides of the coach completely. The Tribunal received evidence on
the origin of the Godhra incident. The Tribunal, having recorded the evidence
will now examine and analyse the voluminous material placed on record
in detail before the report is published by August 15, 2002.
Evidence has been received accusing the VHP and the Bajrang Dal of recruiting
volunteers, training them in the use of arms and ammunition, collecting
information about houses, shops, and other business establishment of the
minority community and effectively and fully using them in the violence.
Evidence has also been received that the attack on the minority community
was started simultaneously in all the places in the State on 28th February
2002. It was reported to the Tribunal everywhere they went that when approached
by the public for help during the violence, the police told them they
were under orders not to do anything.
Relief and Rehabilitation - Interim Recommendations
The Tribunal recommends that the utterly unprecedented scale of social
violence in the State of Gujarat since February 27, 02 necessitates that
compensation should be seen not in terms of the meager dole that is now
on offer but be re-conceived in the nature of reparation for loss of life,
dignity, destruction of economic activity, and assaults on the freedom
of faith, from the State.
The pathetic conditions in the Relief Camps need special attention from
government agencies, Central and State, that have hitherto being paying
both the camps and the internally displaced citizens housed within, less
than lip service.
The Tribunal recorded the testimony of several dozen people who do not
want to go back to the village or the locality that they were uprooted
from because all trace of their homes and belongings have been destroyed
and the assailants roam scot-
Therefore, the Tribunal recommends that no relief camp should be closed
down by the State until the rehabilitation process is complete.
Moreover, the Tribunal
states that the rehabilitation process must involve the purchase of land,
reconstruction of homes, places and opportunities of work and restoration
of religious places of worship and cultural shrines by Government.
The Tribunal recommends
that all the measures detailed by the National Human Rights Commission
in its Interim Report be immediately implemented. -- Justice P.B. Sawant;
Justice Hosbet Suresh; K.G. Kannabiran, Dr. K.S. Subramanian.