Concerned Citizens Tribunal - Gujarat 2002
An inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat
Government of Gujarat
The post-Godhra carnage in Gujarat was an organised crime perpetrated by the state’s chief minister and his government. The state’s complicity is evident from the various acts of commission and omission of the government and its officials.
1.1. It was the chief minister who declared that the Godhra incident was pre-planned when the investigating agencies had not reached such a conclusion. Shri Modi’s cabinet, notably the minister for home, Shri Gordhan Zadaphiya, reiterated strongly that Pakistani hands were behind the Godhra act. These statements were irresponsible, given the sensitivity of the situation and the anger that they generated. Once they generated a climate ripe for apportioning blame, for the acts of a few criminals, the entire Ghanchi Muslim community of Godhra was branded. This led to a feeling of justifying the systematic massacre, plunder, loot and cultural decimation of the entire Muslim community in Gujarat thereafter.
1.2. It was the chief minister who decided that the charred, unidentifiable dead bodies be taken from Godhra to Ahmedabad in a motor cavalcade. As the cavalcade headed for Ahmedabad, senior members of his party and organisations affiliated to it shouted slogans and incited mobs to retaliate. The CM’s role in condoning this behaviour, and in using official machinery to propagate the unsubstantiated view that the Godhra tragedy was a sinister conspiracy, is condemnable. Thus, it was the chief minister who was primarily responsible for the spread of violence, post-Godhra, in the rest of Gujarat.
1.3. The VHP gave a call for a Gujarat Bandh on February 28 and for a Bharat Bandh on March 1. The Gujarat BJP president, Shri Rajendrasinh Rana, was quick to announce the state BJP’s support for both the bandh calls, giving a clear signal to the administration that it need not take a hard line against those who enforce the bandh. The state government’s reluctance to take adequate steps in the wake of the proposed bandhs amounted to an abdication of all its responsibilities and an open invitation to anarchy.
1.4. Shri Modi played an active role, along with at least three cabinet colleagues, in instructing senior police personnel and civil administrators that a "Hindu reaction was to be expected and this must not be curtailed or controlled."
1.5. On the evening of February 27, two cabinet colleagues of the chief minister, Shri Ashok Bhatt and Shri Pratap Singh Chauhan, met at Lunavada in Panchmahal district along with others. In this meeting, the manner and methods of unleashing violence on Muslims were planned in detail.
1.6. It is clear from what happened in Ahmedabad and its environs on February 28 and all over the state on March 1-3 and thereafter, that there was deliberate connivance and support of the government.
1.7. The sectarian approach of the government and the inaction on the part of the administration allowed the violence to spread. According to dozens of testimonies before the Tribunal, even some ministers of the Gujarat government led the carnage and rapes, in many cases. The CM did not take adequate preventive measures, nor did he keep the army on stand-by. Though the situation was grim, and tension was at its peak, Shri Modi falsely claimed on March 2 (Newshour, Star News, 2/03/2002): "Gujarat mein bahut tezi se shanti prasthapit ho rahi hai, normalcy aa rahi hai… Ahmedabad ek prakar se kal raat ke baad, puri taraha incident-free raha hai." ("Gujarat is well on the road to peace and normalcy is slowly returning here… Ahmedabad too has been largely peaceful since last night.") This, while the attacks in Panchmahal district, Mehsana, Kheda, Nadiad, Bhavnagar – which included hacking, lynching and burning alive of people— continued. This was done deliberately to mislead the rest of the country and the world, though what was going on in Gujarat was clear to the whole world through the print media, radio and TV.
1.8. Shri Modi claimed on March 3 (Talking Heads, Star News, 3/03/2002), that the Army was called for on the evening of February 28, and joined duty from the morning of 1st March.
(Although 12 columns of the Army (approximately 600 troops) had reached Ahmedabad and other sensitive areas on March 1, they were kept on standby. Military intelligence puts the blame on the state government. News reports maintained that the initial delay was due to the absence of clear instructions from the Gujarat government. (The Times of India, Ahmedabad, March 11, Pg. 7). (See chapter on Godhra, Volume II).
1.9. In the past, communal riots had been mostly an urban phenomena that did not spread to the villages. But this time, due to the sectarian politics of religion, it spread to the villages as well. One of the worst incidents was at Sardarpura village where 38 villagers were hacked and torched. This is what Shri Modi had to say about the gruesome killings on March 1: "In some villages, especially in one village of Mehsana district, due to rumours, due to suspicion, due to mistrust, due to tension on both sides, there was an incident (emphasis added) in the Sardarpura village." He took no steps to nip the rumours in the bud.
1.10. Other ministers in the state cabinet displayed the same attitude. Electoral constituencies of ministers in the state cabinet were more prone to violence; in some cases, ministers themselves were leading the mobs. It may not be a mere coincidence that Bapunagar, home constituency of the minister of state for home, Shri Gordhan Zadaphiya, witnessed one of the worst communal scenes since the 1969 riots, when the area was the hardest hit. Some of the senior BJP leaders and ministers in Shri Modi’s cabinet were also alleged to have participated in the destruction of minority places of worship. Minister for revenue, Shri Haren Pandya and health minister, Shri Ashok Bhatt led the mobs enthusiastically in Ahmedabad. Shri Bharat Barot, a sitting MLA, was also at the forefront. Residents of Paldi, from where Shri Pandya was elected, actually saw him lead arson attacks. Shri Pandya’s election promise the last time was "to wipe any trace of Muslims out of Paldi." Smt. Maya Kotdani, an MLA, has also been named by a few dozen witnesses as an active participant in the violence. Gujarat ministers Shri Nitin Patel and Shri Narayan Laloo Patel led violence, arson and even sexual violence against women in Kadi and Unja in Mehsana respectively.
1.11. The utter disregard for the loss of life and property and the anguish that a section of the citizenry suffered due to unprecedented violence could be seen in the fact that until Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee flew into Ahmedabad and visited the Shah-e-Alam Camp, Shri Modi had not visited a single one. This, despite the fact that there were as many as 66,000 persons, according to collector’s figures, huddled in camps in Ahmedabad, while independent assessments put the figure at close to 98,000. Instead of providing succour and assistance, which is the fundamental duty of a government towards its citizens, terror tactics through lathi-wielding policemen were employed with the residents of these camps. In areas of Gujarat outside Ahmedabad, too, there were as many as 60,000 persons internally displaced, living in terrible conditions. But the government and the administration did precious little to give them prompt and adequate relief.
1.12. The attitude of the government showed it had no regard for the life, well-being and future of students from the minority community. Traumatised and distressed students had requested a postponement of the annual examinations. But the state government, and later even the Gujarat High Court, rejected their plea. On April 10, the Gujarat government took a decision to shift out all centres located in the minority dominated areas, out of concern for the lives of students belonging to the majority community. However, minority community children were still expected to travel to examination centres located in majority dominated areas.
1.13. The CM announced Rs. 2 lakh as compensation for the victims/survivors of the Godhra tragedy. But the compensation declared by the CM for the survivors of the carnage that followed was Rs. 1 lakh for the family members of each victim. (When widespread criticism was made about the discriminatory stand of the state, the amount was equalised by reducing the compensation to the Godhra victims’ families to Rs 1 lakh, rather than by increasing the amount to Rs 2 lakh in all cases.) As of now, there is no information on how many families concerned have been paid the compensation amount. As regards the injured, the government decided to pay compensation amounts ranging from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 50,000. This compensation amount was decided in accordance with the norms fixed for the victims of the earthquake on January 26, 2001, a government notification said. Here, again, there is no statistical data offered. As regards the destruction of homes, properties and businesses, the state government has been perfunctory and callous in announcing compensation. There are no clear guidelines; some have been paid paltry sums ranging from Rs. 500 to a few thousand rupees, without any proper assessment of the loss suffered.
1.14. On March 1, the CM announced a judicial commission of inquiry into the Godhra tragedy alone, appointing retired judge, Shri KG Shah at its head. Again, only after widespread protests, did he announce the inclusion, in the terms of reference of inquiry of the judicial commission, of the post–Godhra carnage. (On March 5.) The appointment of the KG Shah Commission was the subject matter of serious controversy because of the conduct of this particular judge in an earlier matter and also on the simple ground that due to the situation in Gujarat, where judges, academics, professionals and others live under threat of fanatic groups who have become a law unto themselves, the criteria of a free, fair and independent inquiry demands the appointment of a senior judge (preferably judges) from outside the state. Now, the government has included Justice GT Nanavaty (former judge of the SC) as an additional member, without specifying as to what would happen if the two judges differ on any matter.
The terms of reference of the KG Shah Commission are also controversial. They do not refer to the need to look into the causes of the disturbances/events/killings as also the need to pinpoint the groups, individuals and organisations behind the violent provocation, and also the role of the police and the administration in controlling the spread of riots and on the failure of the state government in taking prompt and effective relief measures for the victims of the riots.
1.15. The RSS and the VHP control key functionaries in the State. Chief minister Shri Modi is an RSS pracharak. Minister of state for home, Shri Zadaphiya, is a VHP activist. Shri SS Bhandari, the governor of Gujarat, who has not deemed it fit to send a true report on what is happening in the state to the centre, is also an RSS leader. As a consequence of all these factors, the Gujarat government has functioned not as a constitutionally bound, non-partisan and independent body, but one controlled by, and answerable to, the Sangh Parivar. The role and the functioning of the Gujarat government, therefore, is directly determined by its penetration by the Sangh Parivar including its most extreme elements, the VHP and Bajrang Dal. This fact underlies the conduct of the Gujarat government before, during and after the peak period of communal violence in the state during February-March 2002. As a result, while the Government had made certain arrests, no arrests of Bajrang Dal/VHP and BJP workers were undertaken. The arrests of at least 150 such accused, whose names figure in FIRs, are being avoided by the state government.
1.16. Not only the criminal justice system, the entire Administration has failed. IAS and IPS officers who are supposed to be independent, have succumbed to the pressure of the Sangh Parivar. "There is no civil service left in Gujarat," said the former Indian cabinet secretary Shri TSR Subramanian (The Indian Express, April 10).‘‘What has happened is something much more fundamental than Gujarat: The civil service is gone. There is no such thing left. Over the years, the civil service has turned from a steelframe to non-existent. And that is a shattering thought.
"When the government wants something done it has the ability, it has the takat (strength). It can do it in village after village, town after town. That it has not done so in Gujarat is a telling indictment not only of the way of the present government, but also the collapse of the police and civil magistracy,’’ he says.
1.17. The government of Gujarat has been utterly secretive about the disbursal of the Rs. 150 crores promised by the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee for rehabilitation on April 4, 2002. In all this, the conduct of the chief minister Shri Narendra Modi, has not simply violated the spirit and the law as laid down by the Indian Constitution. He has, in effect, blatantly defied every constitutional institution, including that of the Prime Minister. Shri Narendra Modi is accountable for criminal negligence of duty in failing to provide any relief and rehabilitation to the victims of carnage in Gujarat.
2. Role of Chief Minister and His Ministerial Colleagues
2.1. The facts mentioned in this report clearly establish that chief minister Shri Narendra Modi is the chief Author and Architect of all that happened in Gujarat after the arson of February 27, 2002. It is amply clear from all the evidence placed before the Tribunal that what began in Godhra, could have, given the political will, been controlled promptly at Godhra itself. Instead, the state government under chief minister Shri Narendra Modi took an active part in leading and sponsoring the violence against minorities all over Gujarat. His words and actions throughout the developments in Gujarat show that he has been openly defying the Constitution and indulging in actions which are positively detrimental to the interests of the country.
2.2. Shri Modi was the one who took Godhra to the rest of Gujarat. He was the one who directed the police and the administration not to act. He was the one who refused to help the likes of former member of Parliament, Shri Ahsan Jafri and the large number of people in Shri Jafri ’s home, who were all butchered later on.
2.3. He refused shelter and succour to the victims of the carnage.
He refused, and continues to refuse, basic human amenities and was using coercion and other tactics to wind up refugee relief camps.
2.4. He has refused to buy land and rehabilitate persons in new locations or to give transparent accounts of the Rs. 150 crore rehabilitation package announced by Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee during his visit to the state on April 4, 2002. He has no remorse for the rapes, the butcherings, the loss of properties, the agony of displacement and the acute insecurity and lack of belonging felt by large numbers of the people of Gujarat.
2.5. As late as September 3, 2002, the international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shri Ashok Singhal made a shocking statement that received wide publicity, in which he described Gujarat as a "successful experiment" and warned that it would be repeated all over India. Shri Singhal further stated that the success of the Gujarat exepriment lay in the fact that entire villages were "purged" of Islam and Muslims. This outrageous and pathetic statement was not only anti-constitutional but also in violation of the law itself, for which he could be prosecuted. But Shri Modi, by not expressing any outrage at Shri Singhal’s remarks, and by indulging in blatant minority-bashing himself, appears to have accepted Shri Singhal’s warning that whatever happened in Gujarat was an experiment, a precursor of things to come in the rest of the country. He has made no secret of his hatred for the minorities, and his utterances from time to time keep emphasising that he is still an RSS pracharak (propagator) with a hostile attitude. His role as CM is nothing short of an extension of his functioning as an RSS pracharak.
2.6. It is unfortunate that all his ministerial colleagues have toed his line with no regard to the oath that they took under the Indian Constitution. They are, therefore, equally guilty of the commissions and omissions committed by the chief minister. These rabid, communal, anti-national and anti-constitutional statements and conduct on the part of the chief minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues make them unfit to hold any public office. The interests of the people of this country are not safe in their hands.
Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace