Sabrang Alternative News Network,   December 20, 2006



BACKGROUNDER: Victim survivors of the Gujarat Genocide, especially those committed to their struggle for justice have been reduced to a life of every day terror and harassment. Five years later, people in Shaikh Mohalla in Sardarpura village of Mehsana district, Gulberg society in Ahmedabad, Ode village in Anand district and other areas live as internally displaced refugees without bare civic rights like ration cards, BPL cards, electricity and water. Victims of the Ode massacre still look in vain for the missing bodies of their lost ones and repeated inquiries to the police face a cold response.


DISCRIMINATORY JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT: While criminals responsible for mass crimes have been granted bail by the high and low judiciary in Gujarat, 84 accused of the Godhra mass arson wilt in jail having been refused bail for four years.


Victim survivors of the Pandharwada massacre who located the mass grave are in vain trying to get a CBI probe into the scandalous dumping of the remains of Pandharwada and other massacres in the Paanam river off Lunawada town (despite the existence of a large graveyard) but instead face intimidation and threat of arrest from the police. Of the 413 officially declared missing persons, bodies of 228 are still not discovered pointing to large scale illegal dumping of bodies. The NHRC has been appealed to contact an all- Gujarat inquiry into this.


The Modi government is trying to use fraudulent BPL card holdings (ostensibly given to minority victims of the genocide) as a pre-election sop to grant cheap housing. In fact the BPL lists need to be scrutinized and examined. Ghettoization and segregation in Gujarat has reached unprecedented levels with even the jails being communalized in the state.


The bitter reality of Gujarat is not simply the functioning of the Gujarat government but the ambivalent position of the opposition in the state, the dominant partner in the UPA coalition in the Centre. The promise of a CBI inquiry into the major carnage cases was pre-election hype that has not materialized into a real promise. Even today while the state government continues with a regime of low intensity terror all over the state, the center’s

UPA is a mute opposition and spectator.


COMPENSATION: In 2002 then NDA government had given Rs 200 crores (App. US $50 million) rehabilitation package to Gujarat. In March 2003, one year later, the cynical and callous state of Gujarat returned about Rs 116 crores (US$ 29 million) claiming that no more relief needed to be done.


The state of Gujarat has paid compensation of only Rs. 1.5 lakhs (Rs. 90,000 [US $2,000] in cash & Rs.60,000 [US $ 1,500] in Narmada Bonds) as compensation to the next of kin of those killed in the rioting.  This amount is totally inadequate and arbitrary and amounts to a failure on the part of the State to fulfill its constitutional obligation of compensation. Significantly the Hon’ble Delhi High  Court has in 1996 (six years earlier) directed the payment of compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs (US$ 6,000) and interest from 1984 (aggregating to Rs. 3.5 lakhs) to those killed in the 1984 anti Sikh riots. On that basis and allowing even for a 7% annual rate of inflation from 1996 to 2002, the amount of compensation would be required to be approximately 3.00 lakhs (40% increase on 2 lakhs) and interest on this amount from 2002 to 2007 at 8% per annum: an additional Rs. 1 lakh = 4.00 lakhs !.

Compensation for injuries/ disabilities sustained should be pro rata to this amount that is Rs 7 lakhs per loss of life.


LET DOWN BY THE CENTRE: After announcing a Rehab Package of Rs 7 lakh per loss of life in 2004, the Centre appears to have had a re-think. The same man, MOS (Home) Sriprakash Jaiswal who made the initial announcement of the package, in a reply to an unstarred question (number 2486) in the Lok Sabha on December 12, surprised everyone by saying that “the centre has not taken a final decision” on the package.


Regarding Destruction of houses/homes: The position re: compensation of houses is even worse. The state of Gujarat had fixed an arbitrary and irrational ceiling of Rs. 50,000 as compensation for destruction of houses and in most cases has paid only a pittance. The Women’s Parliamentary Committee in its Aug 2002 Report had recorded that it had been informed that 18924 houses had been partially damaged (11,199 urban & 7095 rural)

for which Rs. 15.55 crores (US$ 3.75 million) had been paid as compensation. This works out to an average of only Rs. 870 (US$20) per house!!  In fact the Committee noted that a number of persons / recipients had shown them cheques of as little as Rs. 40 (US$1) to Rs. 200 (US$5)!!


Amounts paid so far (i) to relatives of those killed (ii) to those whose houses were destroyed and damaged – is totally inadequate, and at times even illusory. Moreover no compensation has been provided to women who were raped / molested/ attacked although the Respondents Home Department had informed the Women’s Parliamentary Committee in Aug 2002 that there had been 185 attacks on women and at least 11 cases of rape. In fact rape /molestation was far more pervasive – but a number of the victims were killed/ burnt and others have been unwilling to file complaints with the police having regard to their partisan and callous responses. I reiterate that constitutional obligations require that at least a compensation of Rs 3 lakhs (US$ 9,000) and interest from 2002 (Rs. 1.5 lakhs) be paid to the relatives of those killed.


That amounts pro rata be paid for disabilities & serious injuries. Women who were raped & molested should be given compensation equal to that awarded for persons who were killed. The ceiling amount for house compensation should be raised to 1.5 lakhs in the rural area and 3 lakhs in the urban areas and compensation based on fair assessment of data and records, including the Panchnamas contemporaneously recorded be paid along with interest from 2002.


The National Human Rights Commission after considering the responses of the Government of Gujarat to its preliminary Reports/findings concluded in its Report/ Proceedings of 31st May 2002, “there was a comprehensive failure of the State to protect the Constitutional rights of the people of Gujarat”.


[For reference to the text: Rs. 1 lakh (100,000)= US $3,000; Rs 1 crore (10 million)= US $250,000]  

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