Concerned Citizens Tribunal - Gujarat 2002
An inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat

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1. Alienation

1.1 Hate speeches and the atrocities that follow against sections of our people are generating fissures and divisions in our society. Deep-rooted and serious alienation is being caused by these hate campaigns against minorities in different parts of the country. As is evident especially in Kashmir, Muslims all over India are experiencing this alienation. In the absence of any concerted effort, on the part of government, central or state, to check growing hate politics and brutal violence, it is difficult to see how the problem of alienation and its damaging consequences can be remedied. Among those engaged in this cynical project are the chief minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi, his ministerial team, the Bajrang Dal and the VHP represented by people like Shri Praveen Togadia and Shri Ashok Singhal.

1.2. The current practitioners of hate, preach and pursue the same philosophy that contributed to the tragic partition of the country in 1947. Having made impressive organisational gains since then and having spawned numerous affiliates — VHP, Bajrang Dal etc — the same forces are back to playing the same game. Through word and deed they relentlessly send out the message that Muslims are not safe in this country. The inevitable consequences are clear for everyone to see.

1.3. Apart from numerous instances of brutality and bestiality, and the sheer scale and magnitude of the malevolence, the Gujarat carnage is perhaps epitomised by the fact that even High Court judges — one sitting, the other retired; both Muslims – experienced deep insecurity and utter vulnerability at the time. With the government offering them no protection whatsoever, both had to flee their homes. The house of Justice Divecha (retired) was ransacked and partly destroyed. When the Tribunal met him in May, two months after the carnage, Justice Kadri, a member of the bench, did not feel safe enough to return to his official accommodation. This threat to the judiciary cannot be treated lightly. Every citizen is fully entitled to equal protection of law. But when judges are not safe, what of the common man?

2. Muslims as Second Class Citizens

2.1. Reducing Muslims to the status of second-class citizens would appear to have been the central objective of the perpetrators of the carnage. Eight months after the violence, the Muslim community in Gujarat continues to face terror and economic boycott. There is little hope of speedy justice being done. Many of the accused, almost all the chief culprits, are out on bail. Evidence placed before the tribunal showed how, in villages where people have dared to return, organised economic and social boycott had reduced them to penury. This is the story in parts of Gandhinagar, Sabarkantha, Anand, Bharuch, Ankleshwar, Mehsana and Dahod districts as also in Ahmedabad and Vadodara city. Tens of thousands have not been able to resume work because of the comprehensive economic crippling; even insurance claims have not been met in many cases. Far from helping a badly bruised and battered community, with word and deed, Shri Modi’s government continues to gloat over their predicament. This state of affairs calls for immediate intervention from every institution of the state and civil society, not only in Gujarat but also from all over the country.

3. Women

3.1. An issue that needs to be recognised and sensitively handled is the high number of female-headed households, widows and victim-survivors of sexual violence. Special measures need to be taken for the material, emotional and psychological healing of this section.

4. Children

4.1. There are at least 33,000 children and young persons who have faced attacks on their own person or been eyewitness to most gruesome forms of violence being inflicted on their near and dear ones. Both state and society must make consistent efforts to reach out to them so that the trauma that they have been inflicted with is dealt with in a humane fashion and does not become the cause of growing alienation.

5. Ghettoisation

5.1. Cities of Gujarat, especially Ahmedabad, have seen increasing ghettoisation since 1991. This enforced ghettoisation following frequent communal clashes, isolates communities from each other, ruptures normal social interaction and inter-dependencies, and creates a dangerous climate within localities and colonies where demonisation and stereotyping of the ‘other’ becomes so much easier. This is hardly conducive to peace and social harmony in a multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society like ours. Active steps at the policy level need to be taken to reverse the trend, which is being so cynically promoted by the RSS/Vishwa Hindu Parishad/BJP.

6. Communalisation of Public Space

6.1. Gujarat, claimed as the laboratory of Hindutva where ‘a successful experiment’ was recently conducted by proponents of this ideology, has seen a gross communalisation of public spaces in many of its cities, Ahmedabad probably being the worst. Today, there are many schools, especially elite and middle class ones, that will simply not admit Muslim children. Despite complaints being filed, the government has done little to curb or control this sort of discrimination. During the Gujarat carnage, medical doctors were seen leading the carnage and clinics and hospitals were used to plan the attacks. Dr. Praveen Togadia of the VHP is a cancer surgeon while his second-in-command in Gujarat, Jaideep Patel, is also a doctor. During the carnage, the Sola Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad, was almost entirely out of bounds for severely injured Muslims in need of urgent medical attention. The VS hospital, on the other hand, was accessible and that is where most of the injured were taken. Until late April, goon squads of the Sangh Parivar sporting saffron scarves around their necks stalked the VS hospital’s corridors, brandishing bared swords to terrorise Muslims into running away. Muslims in the police force, other government departments, or in the public sector, too, have been completely alienated and have to face constant humiliation and threats.

7. Impact on Education

7.1. With regard to the state examinations for the Standards X and XII, which took place in end-March and early-April 2002, the Gujarat government was openly partisan. The examination centres of Hindu children were relocated to majority-predominant areas, while terrorised Muslim students were forced to appear for examinations in Hindu-majority localities where VHP/BD goons roamed the streets. The government refused to re-schedule exams, whether of Std X and XII or RTBA and MA II, despite pleas from Muslims as thousands of students were physically dislocated and emotionally tormented by what the community had been through.

8. Economic Decimation

8.1. The state-sponsored carnage economically crippled the Muslim community which suffered losses to the extent of Rs. 3,800 crores, according to independent estimates. The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce has estimated the primary damage to industrial outfits, hotels and establishments belonging to the Muslim minority at around Rs. 2,000 crores. Non-Muslims, too, suffered heavily due to the disruption of economic activities. Of the over 20,000 persons who lost their jobs as a result of the destruction of hotels belonging to Muslims, some 7-8,000 were from the tribal Rabari community. Today, the majority community, too, feels the impact of the economic devastation sorely. (See chapter on Economic Destruction, Volume II).

9. Religious and Cultural Desecration

9.1. Like other parts of India, Gujarat too has been home to a live syncretic culture enriched by different traditions. Local history, shrines, language and poetry reflect this. One tragic consequence of the Gujarat carnage has been the systematic targeting of numerous symbols of Muslim culture, be they the shrines of great Indian classical singers, litterateurs, dargahs or centuries-old mosques. (See chapter on Religious and Cultural Desecration, Volume II).

10. Minority Identity a Target

10.1. The situation in Gujarat was so malignant that for weeks it was difficult for Muslims to be hailed by their names even in elite Hindu-predominant parts of the city of Ahmedabad. Many Hindus shaved off their beards for fear of being mistaken as Muslims. In the genocidal climate that prevailed, every aspect of a Muslim’s identity was a target for violence.

11. Forced Migration

11.1. The sheer brutality of the violence triggered a mass migration of Muslims from Gujarat. Daily wage earners from Naroda have fled to Karnataka and Maharashtra, their native states. Thousands from Panchmahal and other districts moved to Rajasthan and UP. In many cases, Muslim girls have been sent back to their native places in rural UP, thus putting an end to their education.

12. Impact on Muslim minority in other states

12.1. The impact of the recent carnage in Gujarat, and the years of hate campaigns that preceded it, is not restricted to Gujarat alone. It has already impacted into intra-community and state-citizen relations in other parts of the country. It is therefore critical that drastic measures are initiated soon, to bring justice to the victim-survivors of the Gujarat carnage, ensure reparation and heal the deep wounds caused by the unprecedented violence. It is imperative that the government of India absorbs the full message and meaning of Gujarat and ensures that this sort of violent mobilisation is not allowed to grow and spread in other states of the country.

13. Conservative Trends among Women

13.1. Experience shows that any community which feels threatened and vulnerable tends to cling harder to past traditions and lapses into more conservative religio-cultural practices, especially with regard to women. The apparent burgeoning of the burqa in Mumbai after the 1992-1993 pogrom against Muslims is a case in point. The widespread incidents of sexual crimes against women have given rise to a similar trend in Gujarat.

14. Arming of Civil Society

14.1.The common man’s threat perception has increased dramatically since the carnage in Gujarat. The Tribunal gathered evidence to show that there was a steep rise in the demand for ammunition by those licensed to carry firearms. The largest gun dealer in Ahmedabad, and arms dealers in Vadodara, have recorded a marked increase in the sale of cartridges, revolvers, pistols, and guns. There are over 3,300 licensed arms holders in Surat. This growing need among citizens in Gujarat to arm themselves, is a dangerous trend, to say the least. With faith in the state and the police machinery totally eroded, this can only lead to more violence and internal conflict.

15. Hidden Agenda

15.1. Irrespective of what some of them might otherwise proclaim, by their actual conduct, the saffron brotherhood comprising of the RSS/VHP/BD/BJP/Shiv Sena among others, has increasingly demonstrated its hostility to the Indian Constitution since the late-eighties. Now, with state power in their hands, the hidden agenda is being pursued from within the government. The sectarian and undemocratic worldview inherent in the very ideology of Hindutva has, in the past decade, been explicit in the politics of hate and violence preached and practised by its proponents. The political atmosphere in the country has been increasingly vitiated since the Somnath to Ayodhya rath yatra of the then BJP president, Sri LK Advani in 1990, culminating in the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.

16. Decline in India’s International Stature

16.1. India’s respected stature before the global community as a secular, democratic nation has been irretrievably damaged by the state-sponsored carnage in Gujarat. That this is so is apparent from the recent statements of Prime Minister, Shri Vajpayee and the deputy Prime Minister, Shri Advani, both being forced to admit, while on foreign soil, that the Gujarat carnage was a "blot on the nation."

17. Brutalisation of Women, Adivasis and Dalits

17.1. The violence in Gujarat was marked by the cynical manipulation and mobilisation of a section of Adivasis and Dalits for loot, rape and mass murder. The Sangh Parivar has worked assiduously and intensively since 1998, indoctrinating and training Dalits in urban areas and Adivasis in the tribal belts. Women from middle and upper middle class Hindu houses have participated in the violence. In Naroda and some parts of Vadodara there have been disturbing signs of their egging on their men to brutal violence. They even actively participated in the looting of shops.

18. Attack on Akshardham

18.1. The terrorist attack on Akshardham on September 24, 2002, shocked the country. It appeared to be a direct reaction to the Gujarat carnage. The mindless attack on innocent worshippers at the Akshardham temple suggests a blind desire for revenge and retaliation. It is the selfsame politics that governed the carnage unleashed after the Godhra tragedy.

18.2. Unless this cynical cycle of violence and counter-violence is stopped, economic progress, a healthy society and development all around will be sacrificed. Neither Gujarat, nor India can afford this. The deep schisms caused by the Godhra tragedy, the post-Godhra carnage and the Akshardham attack will take years to heal. The lives lost, often in the most inhuman and degrading way, cannot be recovered; homes destroyed, looted and burnt will take years of tearful labour to reconstruct; properties lost and destroyed in the calculated violence have been lost forever.

18.3. More difficult than effective reparation and reconstruction will be the hugely difficult task of restoration of trust between victim-survivors and the rest, a faith so utterly destroyed in the most brutal way.

18.4. After the attack on the temple, which claimed 28 innocent lives, the plea of a parent who had lost a child in the massacre comes to mind. Telecast all over the networks, she pleaded strongly that her sorrow was private, that she did not want her grief to be converted into political capital. Victims of the arson who lived at Naroda had made similar pleas following the Godhra carnage but they went cynically unheeded.

18.5. Genuine reconciliatory measures at community levels, unmindful of political considerations need to be undertaken. Justice must be done and the guilty punished for peace and reconciliation to result. How successfully the physical and emotional healing takes place is dependant on the sincerity of the efforts made by politicians, the administration, the police and other sections of society.

The system needs to be cleansed and a genuine commitment to secularism and democracy reaffirmed.

18.6. The message that needs to go out is that the poison of communalism, which is the politics of hatred and division, can take us only further on the road to disaster. The ordinary Hindu, the Muslim and people of other faiths have no faith in this; it is cynical politicians who have been playing with this dangerous fire.

19. All is Not Lost

19.1. If this report, concerned with unveiling the truth and identifying the hate- mongers, the instigators and the perpetrators of violence, points to a very grim reality, it must not be concluded that there is no room for hope any longer. The Tribunal remains convinced that the vast majority of Indians, whatever their caste, creed, or community, still believe in tolerance and compassion. Even at the height of the state-sponsored carnage and at great personal risk, many individuals and organisations showed great courage, and, through word and action, worked for peace and amity.

This is true of Gujarat as much as the rest of India. It is to such individuals and organisations that the state should turn, and engage with them to initiate an action plan for political cleansing, for cleansing of the administration, for the secularisation of public space and for the speedy delivery of justice to those so brutally and morally wronged by the hate-bred violence.


Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace