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

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Annexure 6

Interim Findings and Recommendations of the Tribunal

This was sent to the Gujarat Government and the Indian government for their reactions

Concerned Citizens Tribunal Gujarat 2002:

Tentative Conclusions and Observations

Having considered all the material that are placed before us, and having visited and seen several places that were the scene of violent incidents, and the relief camps where the affected lived, and having heard a large number of victims, officials and other concerned people, we have arrived at the following tentative conclusions.

I. Godhra

1. We visited Godhra and inspected the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express, met the collector and the deputy superintendent of police. We have also taken into account the report of the Forensic Science Laboratory of Ahmedabad. In the incident of burning of the coach S-6, 58 persons lost their lives, of which 26 were women, 12 were children and 20 men. The evidence placed before us shows that the bodies were charred beyond recognition. Only five bodies were identified, not on the basis of their physical features, but on the basis of the things on their person. There was no conclusive evidence of who the passengers were. We also found that about 43 persons were injured, but most of them had minor injuries. About 5 or 6 persons were hospitalised for a short period. One of them died and the rest were discharged.

2. Having examined the evidence, the Godhra incident of February 27, 2002 does not appear to be a pre-planned or a premeditated one. Our examination of coach S-6, which was burnt, showed that the fire had occurred from within and not from outside. There is no reliable material to say as to who had set fire to the coach.

3. Yet, it appears that the state government rushed to the conclusion that it was a deliberate and a pre-planned attack on the kar sevaks by a particular group of Muslims. This is one of the reasons for the spread of violence in the state.

4. There appears to be a failure of intelligence on the part of the state law and order machinery, as is evident from an absence of anticipation of trouble, despite the communal history of Godhra town, and despite what had happened earlier on the Railway Station, where the Sabarmati Express had halted on its onward journey to Faizabad/Ayodhya.

II. Post-Godhra

5. The evidence discloses that the decision to take the bodies from Godhra to Ahmedabad was taken by the chief minister, Mr. Narendra Modi. At the outset, the bodies were taken in a parade from Godhra to Ahmedabad in a motor cavalcade, inciting people along the way. Dr. Jaideep Patel, one of the main accused in the Naroda incidents, was also traveling along with the bodies.

6. The chief minister after visiting Godhra, by the evening of February 27, 2002 declared that a foreign hand was behind Godhra and the state party chief of the BLP supported the VHP called bandh the next day. This announcement of the chief minister also appears to have contributed to the spread of violence to all of Gujarat.

7. Witnesses deposing before us testified to the fact that the chief minister called a meeting of senior police and other officers on that very night of February 27, 2002. At this meeting specific instructions were given by him in the presence of state home minister on how the police should deal with the situation on the bandh day. We were informed that instructions were given in this meeting by the chief minister specifically not to take action against any Hindu reaction to Godhra. Earlier in the evening, his two cabinet colleagues, Ashok Bhatt and Pratap Singh Chauhan, had met at Lunavada in Panchmahal District and in this meeting, the manner and methods of unleashing violence on the Muslims were planned in detail.

It appears from what happened in Ahmedabad and its environs on February 28 and all over the state on March 1, 2 and 3 and thereafter, was with the deliberate connivance and support of the Government.

III. Official Response

8. A large number of witnesses testified that the next day, i.e. on the day of the bandh, there was absolutely no police bandobast. The Gandhinagar state and Ahmedabad control rooms were taken over by two ministers i.e. Mr. Ashok Bhatt and Mr. Jadeja. Repeated pleas for help from people were blatantly turned down. The police commissioner of Ahmedabad, Mr. P.C. Pandey was specifically mentioned in this connection.

9. The organised, violent incidents by large mobs, whether they took place at Naroda, Gulberg Society, Chamanpura, Gomtipur, Sundaramnagar, Vatwa in Ahmedabad on February 28 or in Vadodara and other places thereafter, reveal a similar feature viz., the abdication of responsibility by the police and the administration. The government failed to control the violence and safeguard the lives and liberties of a large number of people, particularly those belonging to the minority Muslim community. In several districts, similarly, huge "tolas" (mobs) attacked the Muslim community. Most of the victims were butchered and then burnt. The women were disrobed and raped in public, and then slaughtered and burnt.

10. The typical incident in this connection, which is now well known, is that of Mr. Ahsan Jafri, who was trying to protect the lives of about 150 Muslims gathered in the compound of the Gulberg society. The late Mr. Jafri, a former member of parliament, tried several times to contact the chief minister Mr. Modi and the commissioner of police, Mr. Pandey to deploy force immediately, to counter the 1,000-strong mob that had gathered outside the compound of the Gulberg society. But his pleas were not responded to. All the houses in the society were attacked excepting a bungalow belonging to a Hindu. A few weeks prior to the incident, Mr. Jaffri had actively campaigned against Mr. Modi in the bye-election from the Rajkot constituency. This was held against Mr. Jafri and he was brutally done to death and all those who had come to him to seek his protection were also slaughtered and burnt.

IV. Pre-Planned Organised Violence

11. The scrutiny of the evidence, which came before us, also reveals that there was systematic preparation for unleashing the violence all over the State. The attackers had with them the lists of persons and properties of the victims. The lists could not have been prepared without an access to government records and agencies like the state intelligence, the sales tax department, the revenue department and the state electoral rolls. The Muslim localities were identified before hand, as also the property and business houses belonging to the Muslim community.

12. Apart from carrying petrol and kerosene and using gas cylinders, the members of the mob used chemicals. The chemicals had the capacity of destroying the identity of the persons burnt by burning at high temperature and for a long period of time. There was also evidence of the use of gelatin sticks. The inflammable materials were used on a large-scale. All these things were not possible unless there was a good deal of preparation much in advance, and to the knowledge of the Government machinery.

V. The Failure of Government to Control Violence

13. While the Tribunal was examining witnesses during the first fortnight of May 02, almost two months after the first incidents in the State, the violence was still continuing in Ahmedabad and at other places. We could feel the impact of violence in as much as we also had to seek protection. This shows that the violence was not only on a large scale, but also lasted for a long time. This was another indication of the Government’s failure to control violence and its incapacity to restore peace and normalcy for a long time.

VI. Lack of Prompt Relief and Rehabilitation Programmes by Government

14. We visited several relief camps in Ahmedabad, Godhra, Vadodara, Bharuch, and Ankleshwar and recorded the testimony of over 1,500 victims. Over 1,50,000 persons were given shelter and protection by relief camps, organised not by the State, but by private groups all over the state. Even after the violence, the chief minister and the Government of Gujarat showed a callous disregard towards relief and rehabilitation of the victims. It was through court orders on petitions filed by the citizens that adequate water, grain and medicines were made available by the authorities. Despite assurances to the contrary in Court, the Government of Gujarat continued, and continues, to coerce the relief camps to close down without adequate rehabilitation.

15. Even medical facilities were denied to the victims and to persons who had taken shelter in the relief camps. The armed workers of the Hindu communal organisations were preventing the Muslim victims from getting access to many government, semi-government hospitals and private clinics. This also indicates the failure of the government machinery.

16. The State government’s initial announcement with regard to compensation to the victims of the violence showed palpable discrimination between Hindu and Muslim victims. This was withdrawn only after a hue and cry of the people all over the country. This indicates the communal bias of the state government.

17. The state of Gujarat has done nothing till date even to compute the damage to life and property. On the other hand, the chief minister made public statements that the government will not buy land and rebuild houses for the victims, nor will it rebuild religious shrines. It is shocking that even six months after the violence, no official lists of dead or missing persons have been compiled, no detailed rehabilitation package (like at the time of the earthquake) made public, and pathetic amounts of compensation have been doled out. There are also no principles and guidelines laid down to compute compensation, nor has a comprehensive rehabilitation package been declared.

VII. Failure of the Criminal Justice System

18. The evidence shows that the investigation process was totally inactive, in that,

(i) There was no recording of complaints made by affected persons, even while the incidents were taking place;

(ii) FIRs were recorded after several days;

(iii) Even the recorded FIRs contained incorrect versions and not the versions as reported by the complainants;

(iv) The names of the culprits, even when disclosed, were not recorded;

(v) In fact, the complainants were told not to name the accused, otherwise the complaints would not be recorded;

(vi) The FIRs of individual victims were not recorded and omnibus complaints containing several incidents were recorded, which would deny proper investigation and stall the delivery of criminal justice;

(vii) In many cases, the panchnamas of the scenes of offence have not been made. The forensic evidence has not been collected;

(viii) The leaders of the mob violence have not yet been arrested;

(ix) The police participated in the violence and, in spite of clear and well-documented evidence against the police, no policeman has been prosecuted or proceeded against otherwise;

(x) Search and seizure of weapons and looted material have not been effected at all, despite direct evidence of armed mobs committing the crimes;

(xi) Most of the prosecutors who are in charge of these cases owe allegiance to the organisations perpetrating the crimes, with the result the victims have no confidence in the due process of law;

From the evidence recorded, many persons, politicians and officials among others, have been repeatedly mentioned by witnesses, as directly taking part and inflicting violence on innocent victims and also leading the mobs. A list of the names of some of these persons is annexed.

VIII. The Role of the Ruling Party and Its Affiliates

19. People in a significant number of testimonies have stated that the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal and its affiliates, which are linked with each other, have been responsible for the violence. A systematic effort at communalising sections of the Hindu community was on since 1986. In this process, organisations like the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal with an anti-Constitutional public posturing, loaded with threats, intimidation and violence, had been polarizing the society, communally. This has resulted in creating a communal divide and hatred. By the time the tragic Godhra incident took place, these organisations had assumed a militant character, especially in Gujarat. These organisations had been doing and continue to do, till date, with impunity, the recruiting of members and conducting of training camps. Trishuls and swords were and are being distributed among the persons who are enlisted as members in these organisations. These organizations, for recruiting their members, even issued advertisements in local newspapers, distributed leaflets and other literature mainly with a view to provoke hatred against Muslims.

IX. Role of the Central Government

20. The Central government has failed in discharging its Constitutional responsibility. In the face of the incident that had taken place in Godhra on the morning of February 27, 2002, and in view of the fact that both Godhra and parts of Gujarat were communally sensitive places, the state government was expected to be more alert, more dexterous and more duty conscious in maintaining law and order. Instead, the state government had decided to abdicate its Constitutional duties and functions by declaring a bandh. No authority with even a modicum of a sense of responsibility to the lives, liberty and property of the people would have, in such a situation, abdicated its function. On the other hand, the state government directly provoked communal violence by making such an irresponsible declaration. That was a prima facie declaration of the intention of the state government not to govern and abide by the provisions of the Constitution. This itself was sufficient for the central government to immediately take steps to intervene, and save the people of the state from the violence, which was bound to follow. There is no evidence, that the central government, after learning of what the state government had decided to do, had taken any steps to restrain the state government from adopting the suicidal step, nor of any positive steps taken by it, to save the people from the aftermath of the Godhra incident. The people who testified before us, while indicting the state government also questioned, with anguish, the dubious role that the central government had played during the crucial period.

On the other hand, when the nation and the world was condemning the violence in Gujarat, senior members of the central cabinet made public statements defending and justifying the role of the state government. They also gave a certificate of good conduct to the chief minister of the state.

A final report will be prepared in due course after getting the response from the governments, if any.

(Signed by Members of the Concerned Citizens Tribunal)

Dated this day, 25th of August 2002

Concerned Citizens Tribunal –Gujarat 2002; c/o Sabrang; "Nirant" Juhu Tara Rd; Mumbai 400049 Phones: Convenor, Teesta Setalvad 022-6602288/6603927

Email: [email protected]



Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace