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Report of the CPIM / AIDWA delegation to Gujarat

» Introduction Read
» Godhra, Panchmahal district Read
» In the rural areas outside Godhra Read
» Officially recognised deaths / Politics Read
» Destruction of property, loss of lives, compensation Read
» Ahmedabad Read
» Relief Camps Read
» Voices of anguish / Conclusion Read

We visited 5 camps in Ahmedabad where Muslim victims were being provided with shelter. We visited one camp in Ahmedabad where there were Hindu riot victims. The administration could not tell us of other Hindu camps although according to them there may have been 4-5.

The camps were :1. Shah Alam Dargah (9000 people), Sundram Nagar (3,500 people), Bapu Nagar Aman Chowk (8000 people), Juhepura Sankalit Nagar (3000 people) Dariyakhan Ghummat and Kankaria Primary School 7 and 8 (700 dalits)

With the exception of the Kankaria camp, the camps are all being run by members of the Muslim community, with help from NGO’s and citizen’s groups. It seemed tragic that it is the community most affected which had to support its members. They are catering to victims who are pouring in from a 40 km radius. 32 Hindu families of the Narsee ji Mandir area, near Shah Alam area, who are living in the Mandir since the 28th because they were afraid and because 3 or 4 of their homes were burnt are also being fed and looked after by the Shah Alam camp organisers

It took the Government till March 5 to realise that there were thousands of people in camps in terrible distress. A GR was issued on that date, a copy of which is available with the delegation stating the quantum of relief to be made available to each victim in terms of grain, oil and 5/- per head per day for the purchase of vegetables, masalas etc. Yet when the delegation visited the camp a week later it found that the Shah Alam camp and the Bapu Nagar camps have received altogether 1500 kgs of rice each along with some tins of cooking oil and packets of powdered milk. No cash assistance has been received by any of them. This just about covers one day's requirement. In Ahmedabad we also saw FCI godowns with stacked foodgrains but clearly distributing it in relief camps is not what the Government plans to do. There were numerous injured survivors in the camps but till a day earlier the only doctors were volunteers from the community. Two Government doctors visited the Shah Alam camp for two hours, but even though there are many women in the camp who need urgent attention, there are no lady doctors. Three babies have been born in the Shah Alam camp and one in the Bapunagar camp with no medical assistance.

Sanitation and the supply of water are also problems. For 9000 people in the Shah Alam camp the Municipal Corporation has provided a mobile toilet with just 5 seats and a temporary toilet with 5 seats .There is no drainage or any arrangements for cleaning or garbage removal. In contrast local volunteers are working around the clock to keep the camps inhabitable. The delegation came across an NGO called the Kamdar Swasthya Suraksha Mandal which was cleaning the Bapu Nagar camp and had also cleaned 8 other camps. Two water tankers a day are provided to the Shah Alam camp everyday but the organizers of the camp are responsible for emptying of the tankers and if they are late then the tankers leave. 

One or two camps have Government compensation forms to be filled in against which the victims are supposed to get yellow cards. Volunteers spend hours trying to fill up the forms for the victims. This is a difficult task since the forms are very complex and detailed and demand a lot of information, not all of it available to people who have lost their homes and all their documents. The shortage of forms can be comprehended by the fact that while there are more than 8000 people in the Bapu Nagar camp,they have been given only 200 forms. There is no provision being made for the filing of FIRs against loss of property and life. Since most of the thanas are far away from the camps, it is not possible for the victims to go there. Only in Bapu Nagar camp were the former residents of Akbar Nagar (which has been razed to the ground) able to go to the thana across the road (behind which their homes once were) to file their FIRs. About 20 FIRs a day are actually registered by the thana authorities when there are more than 300 to be filed.

No government officials had visited any of these camps except those who accompanied the all-Party delegation that visited the Shah Alam Camp.

The Kankariya camp had 175 dalit families from the Shah Alam Toll Naka area. Gopal Bhai Sharma who was in charge of the Kankaria Municipal Schools 7 and 8 told us that 700 people from this area came to this camp on the 28th after they were attacked after the rioting started on the 28th morning. He said that stones and acid were thrown on these people by Muslims living in an 11 story building nearby . Bhagaji was killed. 40 houses were burnt. They have been back since to see their houses which are undamaged. They are all daily wage-earners and dalits. The women work as domestic servants in their neighbourhood. They are all anxious to return home and start working again but are demanding that a police chowki be established in the area.

We were happy when they informed us that they had been getting rations from March 4 and that all their FIRs had already been lodged with the police. Without this help these poor families would have been in even further distress. Unlike the other camps we did not find any volunteers or help here. The camp is in an upper caste neighbourhood. The CM Narendra Modi, Fakirbhai Vaghela and the Leader of the opposition Amarsingh Chowdhury have all visited the camp. Various officials have also been regularly visiting the camp. We could only wish that the other camps had received similar attention.

But on the contrary, till March 10 not a single Minister or a single Government official had visited even a single camp, apart from at the time of the visit of the all party delegation. Since we were late for our appointment with the Collector, K Srinivas we met the Additional Collector Urmila Patel, along with officials in charge of the relief operations. When we pointed out this blatant double standard in aid to relief camps the only reply was that employees are too scared to go to the Muslim camps. What about officials? Actually many non- Muslim relief workers were moving in and out of the camps with no problem. It appeared to be a deliberate canard against the Muslim community that relief workers would be attacked, propaganda to justify the clearly discriminatory approach between Muslim and Hindu camps. Shockingly the officials expressed ignorance about the fact that no rations were being sent or that FIRs were not being filed. They said that the Police Commissioner was to have ensured a desk at each camp to file the Firs and were surprised that it was not so. 

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