of people engaged in social and human rights work in Gujarat
We, the concerned citizens of Gujarat express our anguish at the current
situation prevailing in the state, that are exhibiting gross human rights
abuses and which is increasing vulnerability of people engaged in social
and human rights work. The legal processes, the pace and the nature of
the investigations vis-a-vis Godhra and post Godhra are glaringly evident
of the threat to common masses who have dared to name the accused.
The most recent and shaking event has been the arrest of Maulana Hussian
Umarji who is an accepted social and religious leader of Godhra. He
has been charged on the basis of a statement made by a history charge
sheeter Sabeer Bin Yameen Behra under Section 120B, 394 of the IPC, accusing
Maulana Hussain Umarji of hatching a conspiracy, recruiting youth and
executing the Godhra train burning incident. "A special investigation
team and Panchmahal police raided the house of the Maulana in the Signal
Falia area of the town around 3:45 am on Thursday." (Times of India,
Ahmedabad: Friday, February 7, 2003)
According to media reports also Maulana has been involved in relief and
in coordinating with the state in investigation procedures for the Godhra
and post-Godhra incident. Prior to this during the 2001 earthquake he
has been known to do a lot of relief work. (Times of India, Ahmedabad:
Friday, February 8, 2003)
Whereas on one hand, a person of Maulana's stature has been arrested on
the basis of a statement made by a history sheeter the examples that have
been set below show very clearly that even where victims and witnesses
have made clear statement the main accused have not been arrested or event
investigated. The following are illustrative examples:
- In FIR No. 101/2002
relating to incident of 28.02.2002 of Naroda Gaam, a complaint was lodged
by ASI Satuji Shivaji, where the name of the deceased or the name of
the accused were not known. After six months the police has recorded
a statement on 05.08.2002 naming one Bismillah Khan Pathan and eleven
other whose names are not mentioned. Apparently Bismillah and eleven
other are those Muslims who had witnessed the role of political leaders,
Dr. Maya Kodnani and Dr. Jaideep Patel. Arrests were commenced in September
wherein all twelve have been arrested one after the other and none of
them have been able to obtain bail so far.
- In FIR No. 193
of 2002 registered by Naroda Police Station, one Babubhai Pirubhai Shiekh
had witnessed and complained about the role of police officer supporting
the mob in looting and burning the houses on 28.02.2002 in Naroda Patiya.
The police is likely to cover up the case by filing 'B' summary.
- In FIR No. 142
of 2002 of Anjanwa village, District Panchmahals, the complaint is of
14 murders apart from looting, burning etc. Police mentioned 28 persons
as accused in the charge sheet and arrested only 6 of them till 12th
Dec. 2002. The police have shown 22 as absconding though they are known
to be freely moving around. There are five such names that appear on
the record of the statements who have not been shown as accused by the
police. The high court of Gujarat has directed the IO to submit an affidavit
explaining why these five persons named by the witnesses in their statements
on the records of the charge sheet have not been included in the list
- The court has
issued notices to attach the properties of all accused belonging to
the Muslim community in Godhra when they were unable to arrest those
mentioned in the FIR. So far those accused in cases of violence against
minorities in Naroda Patiya and Chamanpura and similar cases in other
parts of Gujarat have not been issued similar notices. And in most of
the cases the police is filing 'A' summary reports. E.g. In Ahmedabad
city alone, 959 cases were registered in connection with the violence
of Feb-Mar 2002, out of which in 416 cases, the police has filed this
'A' summary report (as on 30th October 2002).
- Many Muslim women
who have been targets of violence by the mobs and injured or killed
in police firing have been shown as accused in FIRs and those alive
have had to go through the ordeal of being in jails for long periods.
They could not obtain anticipatory bails.
that there is a marked discrimination in the investigation processes in
the Godhra train burning incidents and post Godhra events.
There are several other similar cases all over the state where the entire
judicial process of registering the complaint, investigation and the criminal
justice process is being scuttled by the state police. The police have
even recorded some statements of key witnesses who have alleged that some
relief camp organizers and NGOs pressurized them to give their earlier
statement accusing political leaders and police. The police and investigation
machinery is working overtime to wrap up all riot-related cases by letting
all rioters scot-free, and unleashing a series of arrests of innocent
minority people and social activists.
We appeal to all national and international human rights organizations
to campaign and ensure that the investigation process in Gujarat is done
in a transparent, non-discriminatory and fair manner so that there is
no violations of human rights in the investigations processes.
We appeal that the investigation processes should not be used for targeting
and intimidating minorities and secular and human rights defenders.
We urge immediate attention and action, to stop the continuation of gross
human rights violations happening in the state of Gujarat. -- Bhavna Ramrakhiani
(Ahmedabad Community Foundation), Hiren Gandhi (DARSHAN), Bhabani Das
(SAMERTH), Dinesh Parmar (Banaskantha Dalit Sanghtan), Wilfred D'Costa
(INSAF), Sheeba George (SAHRWARU), Sophia Khan (Vikas Adhyayan Kendra),
Persis P. Ginwalla (Behavioural Science Centre), Rafi Malek (Centre for
Development), Jimmy Dabhi, Ahmed Shaikh (Jamait-Ulema-I-Hind) and others