PUCL Bulletin, March 2003

Harrasment of people engaged in social and human rights work in Gujarat
Feb 2003


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 of accused.

  • 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.

This substantiates 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

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