September 16, 2008
The Prime Minister
Dr Manmohan Singh
Government of India
Two villages in the Dangs district, dominated by the Muslim minority
have been subject to brute police torture (photographs attached) and
villagers forced into the forests. Speaking to the writer IG Gujarat
Shivanand Jha said that everything was under control but this appears to
be administrative gloss.
The Combat Human Rights Forum (CHRF) has dispatched a factfinding team
late last night consisting of Shri Suresh Bhosle, a Dalit Panthers
activist, Sumedh Jadhav and Avinash Kamble. The report will be submitted
before the media at the earliest.
It has been reported to us directly that this morning a battery of
Forest officers and police descended on the village of Nandapeda near
Ahwa in the Dangs, Gujarat. They pulled out the doors and the windows,
pulled out the wooden ballis which support the roof; they pulled
out wood from the roof of the huts of the villagers. The forest
department decided late night that it was illegal wood and they must
recover it. The Gujarat ATS meanwhile rounded up a few people.
Nandapeda is the only village with majority Muslim population in the
Dangs district, considered the poorest district in the whole of India.
The families have been living in the village for over 100 years.
From the reports made orally (that need to be verified) it appears
that state government officials have has been pressurizing the Muslims
to convert to the Hindu religion or face eviction from their land. Some
of the residents of this village moved the Gujarat High Court against
the government's pressure of converting and changing their religion. The
CJP had assisted this legal initiative and a stay obtained from the
The shocking thing about the developments in Dangs is that the
petitionetrs had alleged a month ago that the state of Gujarat officials
were behaving in an Unconstitutional fashion and coercing poor people to
convert to Hinduism. The petitioners are Ahmedbhai Dalaabhai Vani,
Noormahammed Musabhai Vani, Ibrahimbhai Kalubhai Vanzari, Yusufbhai
Rasoolbhai Aagevan, Razzak Radakiya Nayak, Ahmed Radakiya Nayak, Saiyed
Danubhai Vani, Gafoorbhai Ismailbhai Chauhan, Ibrahimbhai Ahmedbhai,
Shabbirbhai Bhaliyabhai Vani, Gulam Rustam Vani, The petitioners have
stated that they are residing in village Nandanpeda of District Daang
since long back. That the land, upon which the petitioners are residing,
is in possession of the petitioners and their ancestors since about 100
years. That the respondent no. 1 (that is the The In-Charge Secretary,
Daang District) had called the petitioners at the Circuit House, Ahwa,
Daang at 4.30 pm on 13/06/2008 in presence of the respondent no. 2 (the
Sarpanch, Village, Nanderpeda),and others and asked them to change their
religion and faith and convert themselves as “Adivasi” and if they defy
the authorities they shall have to face ‘dire’ consequences and even
threatened them of forceful evacuation of the present land of the
petitioners where they are residing since about 100 years. Other
respondents in the special application were The Collector of the
District,and the Mamlatdar.
are unconfirmed reportthat on June 13th 2008 a senior officer
had called a meeting in Ahwa and asked them to change their religion or
vacate the land. CC is in possession of photographs showing the damages
and a VHP leader making inflammatory speeches. Many of the poor people
have been put in jail.
After this meeting police and forest officers had been harassing them.
Police have been searching old cases registered against any person of
the community and asking them to furnish bail papers. The police
targeted 33 people against whom some petty crime or a scuffle with the
neighbors was registered.
Claiming that repeated representation before authorities for
regularization of their land has been in vain, petitioners requested the
court to restrain the government from pressurizing them to convert from
their religion. Justice Jayant Panchal had in July sought explanation in
this regard from the secretary in-charge, district collector and the
After hearing all parties, Justice Anant Dave admitted the case on
September 11, 2008 and ordered to maintain status quo on the disputed
land. On the next day the police captured approximately 80 villagers for
transporting cattle into Maharashtra and also apprehended some villagers
who were going on motorcycles using the reason of cow slaughter, though
there were no cattle in the tempo.
The villagers gathered. There was a clash between the villagers and the
police. People were beaten on both the sides. One policeman was also
beaten up. Police then opened fire and a number of villagers got bullet
injuries. They were taken to Ahwa civil hospitals. The relatives were
not allowed to meet them. Police apprehended eight villagers for beating
a policeman and though a local lawyer went for their bail, it was not
Next day the police came and in the name of combing operation attacked
and ransacked the village. Villagers were beaten up brutally including
women and children. All men fled to the jungles. The police not only
took away all the goods but before going they poured kerosene into the
eatable good so that they could not eat anything too.
VHP proposed a rally on September 15. After a lot of
pressure the VHP rally was stopped but they declared a Bandh on
September 16, 2008.The VHP gave a deadline to the collector it is heard
to get the village vacated. (Inflamatory speeches by the VHP are in our
We urge that urgent action is taken in this regard
Teesta Setalvad, Suresh Bhosale, Sumedh Jadhav, Avinash Kamble
Citizens for Justice and Peace
Combat Human Rights Forum