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PUCL, 2 May 2006

“Demolition” of the Fatehpura dargah

-- By Kirit Bhatt, Rohit Prajapati, Chinu Srinivasan, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat, 2 May 2006


PUCL severely condemned the way the Mayor, the Police Commissioner and Municipal Commissioner of the city handled the issue of “demolition” of the Fatehpura dargah on Monday May 1, 2006.

  • Even the role of the Police in handling a restless public was totally at variance with norms to be followed in such situations; the Police went out of the way to instigate the people by directly aiming to fire upon and hurt sections of the people milling around.

  • · PUCL condemns unruly and inhuman behavior of the Police, ignoring and bypassing all guidelines and norms for acting in such situations.

  • It must be kept in mind that in handling such situations nothing should be done at the expense of peace, harmony and justice in society at a time when the people are tense and sensitive about the issue.

A meeting of the PUCL held here today severely condemned the way the Mayor, the Police Commissioner and Municipal Commissioner of the city handled the issue of “demolition” of the Fatehpura dargah on Monday May 1, 2006.

The meeting was attended by Kirit Bhatt, Dr. J. S. Bandukwala, Jagdish Shah, Trupti Shah, Chinu Srinivasan, Rohit Prajapati, Raj Kumar Hans, Shobha Shah, Maya Valecha, Dipti Bhatt, Rita Choksi, Bina Srinivasan, Shubhra, Sameena, Jaimina and Nagin Patel.

It was a well known fact that the provocative utterances of the city Mayor, Sunil Solanki, had already vitiated the atmosphere and created apprehensions among the minority community of the city. For instance the Mayor had taken exception to the reported stand of the Police Commissioner that if they (the Police) are informed at the last moment, the Police would not cooperate. In response, the Mayor had allegedly threatened to launch the demolition of the dargah (mazhar) with the help of an “army” of VHP and BJP workers.

This had spread a wave of terror among the minority community. Knowing the communally charged atmosphere built up by such immature and unwarranted statements of the Mayor, the Municipal Commissioner should have conducted a prolonged dialogue with the concerned community; instead he let the situation get out of hand by sending his demolition squad as well as the machinery for laying a fresh road over the demolished mazhar. This was done even as a dialogue was on between the concerned community leaders and the VMC authorities. Any mature government would have put a restraint on such a loose-talking Mayor. The State Government on the contrary seems to have given a green signal to the Mayor to go ahead. The statements of well-known BJP leaders of the city and the State regarding the demolition and the subsequent police firing exposed the Government’s intentions of creating a vertical split among the people.

Irrespective of the pressure by the political wings of the ruling party, it was imperative on the part of the bureaucracy to maintain total impartiality in the interests of peace and justice.

Even the role of the Police in handling a restless public was totally at variance with norms to be followed in such situations; the Police went out of the way to instigate the people by directly aiming to fire upon and hurt sections of the people milling around. The PUCL condemns such unruly and inhuman behavior of the Police, ignoring and bypassing all guidelines and norms for acting in such situations. It must be kept in mind that in handling such situations nothing should be done at the expense of peace, harmony and justice in society at a time when the people are tense and sensitive about the issue. Such repeated behavior demands complete reorientation of the methods of the Police.

We demand the resignation of the Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner who have no vision of maintaining calm in the city even as they are bent upon justifying their actions totally ignoring people’s sentiments in the matter. Action needs to be taken against the Police Commissioner and his officers who failed in their duty to maintain the security and to follow set norms of functioning.

We appeal to the people of Vadodara to exercise restraint and note the mischievous strategy of dividing people, especially poor people, on communal lines. This is, among other things, an exercise to gain legitimacy over the recent spate of illegal demolitions of many slums and hutments in the city even as the ruling party “prepares” for the coming Assembly polls.

If the Vadodara Municipal Corporation was sincere, it would develop priorities in consultation with all segments of society and lay bare their plans of how they propose to use the Urban Renewal Mission funds in a transparent manner.

We appeal to concerned people and progressive groups to fax protest letters to:

the Mayor of Vadodara (0265-2433060),
the Municipal Commissioner of Vadodara (0265-2433060),
the Police Commissioner of Vadodara (0265-2432582),
the Chief Minister of Gujarat (079-23222101),
the Union Home Minister of India (011-23093750) and
the National Human Rights Commission (011-23384863).


People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014