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

Download / Print Report


Relief and Rehabilitation


1 Relief

1.1. From the night of February 28, when brutal and systematic attacks against targeted sections of the Muslims population in Ahmedabad city began, distressed residents were shepherded out of their homes and localities, often in hired buses, in the dead of the night by community leaders. Over night, relief camps came up in the city and by March 5 a staggering 98,000 refugees were housed there. Even by the admission of the district magistrate and collector of Ahmedabad, there were 66,000 refugees in these camps. In none of these efforts was any state presence visible.

1.2. By March 1, a similar situation was observed in over one dozen districts of Gujarat (see Detailed Annexures: List of Camps, Volume III). Independent sources show that outside Ahmedabad, as many as 76,000 refugees were housed in camps all over the state. Official figures put this amount at about 25,000. In any event, even by the state government’s own assessment, at least 91,000 persons were displaced as a direct result of the carnage. Independent assessments put these at closer to 1,74,000 refugees in the state of Gujarat after the first flush of brutal violence; a staggering figure by any standards. Besides, not all the survivors moved into camps— many went to the homes of their relatives and so on. Including them in the calculation, independent estimates put the total number of displaced Muslims in Gujarat at not less that 2,50,000.

1.3. In the days following the first bout of brutal violence, agents of the state, notably the collectors/district magistrates of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Mehsana, Himmatnagar, Anand, Sabarkantha, Banaskantha, Bharuch and Ankleshwar districts, as also the officials of some police stations, obstructed truckloads of privately mobilised relief material — milk, foodgrains, etc. — from reaching the camps. Thereafter, the same officials harassed and penalised the refugees by, among other things, not giving them sufficient food. The conduct of these IAS and IPS officials calls for strong penal action.

1.4. The Tribunal is greatly concerned and outraged by the fact that only the leadership of the Muslim community was involved in the running of the relief camps because others did not come forward. Though some non-Muslim NGOs did contribute substantial amounts of aid to these relief camps right until August, the vast bulk of relief assistance to the refugees came from the community itself.

1.5. The government is under a constitutional obligation to protect the basic rights of every citizen and duty bound to start and run relief camps for the violence affected. Instead, for days and weeks, the Gujarat government adamantly refused even to recognise the existence of refugees (a direct consequence of the state sponsored carnage). It refused to register the relief camps and denied relief assistance — water, food, medical aid, sanitation — from state coffers.

1.6. In blatant and brazen contrast to the Gujarat state’s attitude to the earthquake victims just one year earlier, when the ghastly earthquake of January 26, 2001 rocked the state, this time neither the Gujarat government nor the government of India applied to the UN and other international agencies for relief and rehabilitation measures.

1.7. Equally, the Tribunal notes with concern and anguish that an insignificant number of international aid agencies came forward in the case of the Gujarat carnage, to help the victims. Given the scale of the state-perpetrated violence and given the response of international aid agencies to such carnages in other areas in the past, it was incumbent on the United Nations relief agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as well as international humanitarian organisations, to provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to all those displaced and dispossessed by the communal carnage in Gujarat, without discrimination. That this did not happen speaks volumes about the political dimensions of aid and intervention by foreign countries when mass crimes of this kind occur.

1.8. Similarly, the fact that major national newspapers which, during such calamities in the past, have always set up independent relief funds, did not do so in the context of Gujarat 2002, speaks for the silence and complicity that surrounds relief and rehabilitation of the survivors of the Gujarat carnage. This bodes ill for India’s polity.

1.9. Six relief camps had to approach the Gujarat High Court (special civil applications 3773 of 2002) through a writ petition — supported by the Citizens for Justice and Peace — and a senior advocate had to be flown down from Mumbai for arguments, before the Gujarat government gave an assurance in court that it assumes responsibility for providing adequate relief to the camps — food, water (30 litres per person per day), public toilets, medical aid, timely payment of rupees 5 per person per day and shamianas for protection from the scorching heat. Justice Pradeep PB Majmudar delivered the order on this writ petition on April 22, 2002. The petition had also urged army protection for the relief camps since, on more than one occasion, instigated by politicians belonging to the ruling party and the police, relief camps had been attacked.

1.10. The attitude of the chief minister of Gujarat, Shri Modi and that of his cabinet colleagues obviously percolated down to the entire state administration and police, towards innocent persons made victims of a state sponsored carnage and rendered refugees in their own homes and homelands, is nothing short of shocking. For this alone, Shri Modi and his cabinet are guilty of gross dereliction of their constitutional obligation and duty.

1.11. On March 6, none less than Gujarat’s minister for food and civil supplies, Shri Bharat Barot had the temerity to state in a much publicised interview that since Hindus in his constituency, living close to the Dariakhan Ghumbat camp in Ahmedabad, felt insecure with so many Muslims living in a camp nearby, the camp should be closed down.

1.12. As recently as September 9, at Becharaji, Mehsana, during his Gujarat Gaurav Yatra, none other than the chief minister made a shocking public declaration: ‘‘What should we do? Run relief camps for them? Do we want to open baby producing centres?’’

1.13. The first time that the Shri Modi condescended to visit the Shah-e-Alam Relief Camp in Ahmedabad city was a full month after the carnage broke out, on April 4.

1.14. Again on May 31, a public interest litigation (special civil application number 5311 of 2002) had to be filed in the Gujarat High Court by the Citizens for Justice and Peace and Communalism Combat to elicit an assurance from the state that relief camps would not be forcibly closed down. On June 4, the petitioners obtained an oral assurance from the government pleader that there would be no closure of the camps at least until June 30, 2002. It was on this precise date, that the state government, through the collector of Ahmedabad, began exerting pressure on camps and threatened penal measures against camp managers, if they did not ‘voluntarily’ sign a statement saying they wished to close down their camps. On June 26, when the matter came up for hearing, the petitioners, several camp managers and refugees filed 25 affidavits, detailing the extent of abdication of primary duty by the state and shocking instances of coercion and pressure being used against refugees and camp managers.

1.15. Due to the callous attitude of the government and threats of penal action against individuals, a camp at Jahangirnagar, Vatwa was forced to shut down on June 1. As a result, over 600 refugees were forced to reside under the open sky despite heavy rainfall. None of these refugees had until mid-May received any compensation for the destruction of their homes. In a way, the pending writ petition, ensured resumption of rations and shifting of some of the refugees to camps in permanent places like the Haj House and Qureshinagar. Shri Javed Munnabhai Sheikh, the administrator of the Patrewali Masjid relief camp, Saraspur, Ahmedabad was threatened directly by the collector on the issue of the number of refugees living there. Invariably, the collector would come for a headcount in the afternoon – when some of the refugees would have gone out for a few hours — not in the morning or at night. This was a deliberate ploy used by the state administration to discredit the camps. While the Tribunal has detailed some of the specific instances where direct coercion was used to threaten camp managers to shut down, there was not a single relief camp in Gujarat where officials did not try and browbeat the managers. Camps in rural areas were forcibly shut down in mid-May itself. This appears to be a clear ploy on the part of the Gujarat government to portray an image of normalcy, when there is nothing about Gujarat that is normal even now.

1.16. The writ petition pertaining to relief is still alive before the Gujarat High Court. To enable a proper assessment of the condition of the refugees and the scope and extent of government rehabilitation, the petitioners also conducted a detailed, state wide refugee survey. They presented this before the court in the form of an affidavit and urged that a monitoring committee for rehabilitation be put in place. They have also demanded that the court ask for complete accountability from the Gujarat government regarding the Rs. 150-crore rehabilitation package announced by the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he visited Gujarat on April 4.

1.17. Certain aspects of the survey are important. It points out that apart from the nearly 20,000 persons who remained in camps in early-May within Ahmedabad city (only 13,500 as per government figures), another 2,000-odd persons were still living in camps located elsewhere in the state, but they all had ceased to exist for the government. These camps – Nandasan, Gandhinagar district (419 persons), Dasaj, Mehsana district (400 persons), Lunava, Shivali, Gunja near Visnagar, and Unjha, all in Mehsana district (with100 persons, 400 persons, 50 persons and 250 persons respectively), Lunavada, Panchmahal district (460 persons), and Vadali, Sabarkantha district (200 persons) – were summarily closed down between mid-May and early July and the government assumed no responsibility for their relief or rehabilitation needs. The state admited in court that there are only 13,482 refugees in the state (all of them in Ahmedabad city). To these, the state was then supplying foodgrains grudgingly through the district collector; with only three-four days ration being dished out at a time. This is not, however, an accurate picture of the number of displaced persons. The actions of the state government on the ground, therefore, run contrary to their assurances made to the court. Moreover, the actions of the state government and its agencies in coercively shutting down relief camps is malafide, given the abject refusal of the government of Gujarat and its chief executive, Shri Modi, to actively engage in any rehabilitation or reconciliatory measures. The reluctance of the Gujarat government to provide relief to the inmates of these camps (where even water and foodgrains had to be obtained through court orders), and its subsequent use of coercion to close them down, is intrinsically connected to an abject and crude refusal to concern itself with rehabilitation of it’s citizenry.

1.18. None will argue that life in a relief camp should continue forever. But the scale and brutality of the violence at a dozen places across the state of Gujarat, where victims were quartered, and girls and women gang raped before being burnt to ashes to destroy evidence, requires re-location of the victim-survivors to more conducive surroundings where life, liberty and security can be somewhat assured. Hence the attitude of the Gujarat government in coercively closing down camps, thus forcing victims to ‘disappear’, is shocking, to say the least. Moreover, it is linked to the issue of the refusal of the government to rehabilitate the victims of the carnage. Both are violations of the just and humane principles underlying Indian constitutional law and international covenants related to violence, refugees and state responsibility.

2. Compensation

2.1. This brings us to the crucial issue of compensation for the enormous human and material loss during such mass man-made disasters and crimes. Can the amount of Rs. 1.5 lakh ever compensate for the loss of a life deliberately, cruelly and brutally taken away? What when a family loses not one but over five family members, men and women, especially those who are in the prime of their lives, leaving bitter heirs behind? What about the loss of livelihood, dignity, a sense of family and security?

2.2. The Gujarat government showed itself in a crudely partisan and anti-constitutional light when it initially announced discriminatory amounts of compensation for the survivors of the Godhra tragedy and the post-Godhra carnage.

2.3. The history of compensation in our country is a chequered one. Each time there are mass crimes of the kind of the carnage witnessed in Gujarat, governments have issued GRs announcing compensation. In Mumbai, after the 1992 violence, largely against the minorities, the government announced compensation to the tune of Rs. 2 lakh for every life lost. Obtaining this amount by the bereaved families was facilitated by NGOs who continually put pressure on the government. However, the family members of at least 174 "missing persons", whose bodies were either not found or deliberately burnt beyond recognition, have, till date, been denied this compensation. In addition to this, the government’s insistence that a Rs. 7,000 bond be given by the survivors lends further indignity and injustice to the paltry compensation.

2.4. A survivor of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi was granted Rs. 2 lakh as compensation ten years after the pogrom, by an order of the Delhi High Court.

2.5. The death of a military officer under mysterious circumstances, due to gross negligence and callousness, saw the Supreme Court awarding Rs. 6 lakh to the widow of the deceased (Charanjit Kaur v/s Union of India AIR SC, 1994). In a historic judgement by the Supreme Court in DK Basu v/s State of West Bengal, 1996, the court laid down the fundamental principles of monetary compensation, ruling that appropriate compensation is "indeed an effective and sometimes, perhaps, the only suitable remedy for redressal of the established infringement of the fundamental right to life of a citizen by a public servant." The court also held that in the assessment of compensation, the emphasis should be on the compensatory and not on the punitive element. The award of compensation in public law jurisdiction is also without any prejudice to any other civil action for damages.

2.6. These are just a few of the judicial awards of compensation made in a variety of cases. The Gujarat high court itself had awarded Rs. 2 lakh as interim compensation to the widow of Narendrasinh Zala, a 29-year-old assistant intelligence officer, who was subjected to mental and psychological torture that led to his death in police custody in 1997. (Dharmishtaben Narendrasinh Zala v/s. State of Gujarat 1997).

In this case, the court ruled that when great loss and injustice is caused to a person who has lost her beloved, and her life has become miserable by way of an atrocity by a police officer, she is not in a position to undertake any orthodox litigation and proceeding. Therefore, interim compensation can be awarded under Article 226.

2.7. Suffice it is to say that in the case of mass crimes like the Gujarat carnage, or other such instances of selective and targeted crimes against sections of the population, like the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, or the anti-Dalit violence that takes place periodically, the discretionary dole that the state announces as compensation is in no way commensurate with the loss of life, dignity, livelihood and property of the victims.

2.8. Similarly, abdicating its primary role as protector and provider of all its citizenry, the Gujarat government has made no efforts to compute the extent of the loss of lives, the quantum of the destruction of homes, belongings, businesses and agricultural properties to date.

2.9. A measly Rs. 2,500 is being given as dole to persons for loss of household goods (ghar vakhari) and, though the Prime Minister had announced that Rs. 50,000 would be given for loss of homes, less than 10 per cent of those who have obtained home compensation from the Gujarat government (at least 25 per cent of the total affected have not received anything at all) have got more than Rs. 30,000 each. For most of the survivors of the Gujarat carnage, the state government has rubbed salt on the wounds already suffered, by giving them paltry amounts of Rs. 1,200-2,500 each or less.

3. Rehabilitation

3.1. The Gujarat government has shown a similar callous indifference to the rehabilitation of the victims of continued violence. Barely a year ago, when a devastating earthquake struck the same state, the Gujarat government evolved an elaborate Earthquake-2001 Rehabilitation Package No. 1 for the earthquake affected and similar Packages No. 2, 3, 4, 4a, 4b, 5 followed. The Tribunal has closely examined these packages. They show an elaborate and responsible concern on the part of the state government to categorise the damage to homes and compensate the loss on the basis of this categorisation. These packages show that the state government awarded damages from Rs. 7,000, for a hut that had fully collapsed, to Rs. 8,000, 15,000, 30,000, 45,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh, depending on the extent of damage. Besides, the packages show government involvement in the repair and replacement of infrastructural facilities like health, sanitation, roads, education, water supply and power. It also talks of the restoration of community assets and economic livelihood. It talks of restoration of cultural and heritage sites. The packages include the suspension of property tax and other taxes for a year and grants-in-aid to sustain the municipalities. It talks of a detailed survey to be conducted by the state, using technical teams, photographs and other data, to assess the damage. Only the bare details of these seven-eight packages announced by the government of Gujarat, run by the same party, just over a year before the carnage, have been detailed here. The intent is to simply establish how deeply discriminatory, callous and objectionable the conduct of the Gujarat government is in the context of the carnage.

3.2. Not only has no comprehensive rehabilitation package been declared even five months after the violence, no survey has been conducted. And by its behaviour and action, the government has made it clear that it wishes to have nothing to do with the physical and psychological rehabilitation of its own people, the Muslims of Gujarat. In fact, unofficial NGO surveys and reports suggest mass migrations from Gujarat to Mumbai, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, UP and Bihar. The number could be a staggering 15,000.

3.3. Apart from the loss of about 2,000 lives, the destruction of businesses is worth at least Rs. 3,800 crore. The damage caused to private homes and agricultural properties of at least 3,00,000 victims of Gujarat has not been computed. Not less than 270 mosques, dargahs and other shrines, representative of our composite culture, were systematically destroyed in the first five days of the carnage. Instead of showing shock and remorse at the fact that the religious places of worship and the cultural heritage of the minority community were damaged and destroyed, Shri Modi has made public pronouncements, stating that there was no question of his government either buying land to re-house survivors, for whom returning to a threatening environment is an impossibility, or of repairing or rebuilding mosques, dargahs and shrines that have been damaged.

3.4. Reporting on a meeting of a 100-odd representatives from among the Muslim community with the CM, The Times of India said, "CM outrightly rejected the demand that riot-affected victims from the worst-affected areas like Naroda Patia, Chamanpura, Sardarpura, Best Bakery, Panvad and other carnages be provided with alternate resettlement sites… He also refused any government fund to rebuild the ransacked shrines. The CM’s tough talk came at a gathering organised by the Gujarat Minorities Finance Development Corporation chairman, Shri Gani Qureshi." (The Times of India, Saturday, June 8, 2002). It becomes clear from this and other reported decisions that the Gujarat government does not feel in the least obligated to rehabilitate the victims on humanitarian, egalitarian, constitutional or on any other grounds.

3.5. This attitude of the chief minister and his government is in direct violation of the recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that has directed the government to rebuild all the shrines of religious and cultural importance that have been destroyed. In fact, according to a news report that appeared in The Pioneer on August 28, 2002 titled, ‘ASI ordered to repair Gujarat monuments’, it was reported that the union minister for culture and tourism, Shri Jagmohan had ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to repair any protected monuments damaged or destroyed in either the Gujarat earthquake or the carnage. According to the ASI, some of the protected monuments to be repaired include historic mosques like the Ishanpur Masjid at Paldi, Ahmedabad and ‘makbaras’ (tombs) from the Sultanate period, destroyed during the carnage, and the Lothal and Dholavira sites of the Indus Valley civilisation that were damaged during the earthquake. Evidence recorded before the tribunal shows that many historic, religious and cultural sites were systematically targeted in the violence. It is to be hoped that this decision of the central tourism and culture ministry is implemented swiftly.

4. Situation of Muslims in Gujarat

4.1. The Tribunal notes with concern and dismay, the continuing misery of the victim Muslim community in Gujarat. In areas where the most brutal incidents of mass killing, quartering and killings (often after sexual crimes against women and girls were committed) took place, statewide surveys by independent groups show that there is no question of the victimised section of residents returning to their original place of residence. (See Detailed Annexures: status of Refugees, Volume III). These include survivors of Ghodasar, Sardarpura, Pandharwada, Ode, Sanjeli, Randhikpur and Chanasma massacres, as also residents of villages in Gandhinagar district itself, where Muslims were in a small and hopeless minority. They also include areas like Gulberg society, Ahmedabad. Though many residents of Naroda Gaon and Patiya have returned, this has been under duress, after the forced closure of the refugee camps where they had sought shelter. Many others have been rehabilitated by Muslim NGOs in different parts of Ahmedabad, while a significant number have migrated to other states.Agricultural land holdings owned by Muslims in districts are being callously taken over by miscreants and dominant interests.

4.2. In many villages, especially in Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Panchmahal and Dahod districts, Muslims who have returned to their battered homes were facing a strictly enforced economic boycott by the dominant castes and communities through their refusal to buy milk products from them, to hire them as labour on their fields, etc. A near permanent loss of livelihood, and therefore a reduction to penury, was an imminent and serious likelihood. The urgent need for intervention by central and state agencies is a must before this enforced destitution causes further alienation and marginalisation of these populations.

4.3. In welcome contrast to the above, in many regions of Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts, it appears that a sincere effort was being made by members from the dominant community to isolate those in their midst who have led and fomented trouble, and to take a stand against violence in the future. In Chhotaudaipur, where sections of the Adivasi population have been misled and misused by dominant sections of their own and other castes, there has been a genuine expression of remorse, too, about the incident.

4.4. That only a fragile peace prevails in the state can be gauged from the fact that, with the slightest hint of fresh aggression or trouble, vulnerable sections of the Muslim population who have returned to their original or new places of residence rush back to the security of those camps that are still running. This happened, the Tribunal has noted, for a whole week around the time of the July 12, 2002 rath yatra, which the Gujarat government, in its irresponsible attitude to governance, refused to postpone or re-route. The same thing happened again, on September 24, when the attack on the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar took place. Overnight, the refugee camp at Haj House had to provide for over 4,000 terrified persons, while the capacity of the camp is only 1,925. Needless to say, on such occasions, not only has the Gujarat government failed in providing a sense of security to large sections of its own citizenry, it has not even provided the ration and costs to camp managers who have borne the entire expenses.

4.5. It is shocking and unfortunate that while the situation on the ground remains grim in the state, where no remorse has been expressed, no justice is in sight, where relief has only grudgingly been given and rehabilitation measures have been meagre, the sole desire of the government appeared to be to proclaim ‘normalcy’ before the country and the world. At no time was this babble of normalcy exposed more effectively than during the visit of the two teams of the Chief Election Commission to the state in August 2002. The extensive visits of the teams to the towns and villages of Gujarat, their assessment of the status of criminal investigations, the pathetic plight of homes that even six months after the violence lie in a state of total disrepair, are shocking pointers to the extent that the government of Gujarat has gone, and continues to do so, to literally delegitimise the rights and the very existence of a section of its citizens — the Muslims of Gujarat.

4.6. The story of Gujarat today, especially of cities like Ahmedabad, is one of brutally enforced ghettoisation of the Muslim minority in their residential colonies as much as in their business and trade enterprises. This phenomenon has been growing steadily over the past two decades (See chapter, Build-Up in Gujarat, Volume II) but the present carnage has made it very acute. In parts of Ahmedabad, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Muslim minority to live, inhabit and move freely in areas that are now seen as "Hindu". This state of affairs should be unacceptable in any part of Constitution-bound India.

4.7. During the violence, communal polarisation had taken place in public and private hospitals, in schools and in many other public arenas. The Tribunal finds that not only is this ugly reality in Gujarat shocking, there is no effort at all on any significant scale, either by the state or in civil society, to protest and rectify the situation through short and long-term measures.

4.8. For the religious minorities, the state of affairs in Gujarat is blatantly discriminatory and in violation of the Indian Constitution. The Tribunal regrets to record that with the connivance of the state, they have already been reduced to the status of second-class citizens.

5. Violation of Basic Human Rights

5.1. The crimes against humanity that took place in the state of Gujarat after February 27, were all gross violations of basic human rights. The survivors were rendered destitute. All the homes, schools, cultural and religious places, that have been damaged or destroyed need to be rebuilt.

5.2. All the offences were offences under sections 302/307, 295 and 153 of the Indian Penal Code.

5.3. Despite the mass crimes committed against large sections of the population of Gujarat, the police response to the crimes was such that justice was not done. This is evident from the fact that mass FIRs were filed, often even panchnamas were not recorded and an investigation of forensic evidence was not undertaken.

Our examination of the voluminous evidence, including the statistics gathered by different groups, clearly reveals that in each case the system was not geared to cope.

5.4. In Gujarat, even the appointment of public prosecutors followed neither constitutional principles nor the basic principles of criminal justice.

5.5. Section 164 of the IPC empowers the judge to inform himself/herself about the truth. This is a section that can be, but has not been used in many cases, to get at the truth.


Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace