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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
DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY, LOSS OF LIVES, COMPENSATION
According to the Gujarat Government about 600 people have been killed since February 27th in incidents of arson (including the setting on fire of the train compartment at Godhra), communal killings and police and ‘private’ firing. This is a gross underestimate. Since charred bodies are still being recovered and the killings have not yet stopped, this figure is bound to go up. Relief organisations taking details from the camps put the figure at closer to 2000.
Estimates of damage and destruction of property are being placed at more than Rs. 3000 crores in losses in Ahmedabad alone.
Many mosques, dargahs and mazars have been broken and destroyed. The Indian Express of March 13 quotes Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Siddiqui, the Imam of the Jami Masjid as saying that he has identified 44 masjids, dargahs and tombs that were ransacked and damaged.
The mazar of the revered poet, Wali Gujarati (opposite the Police Commissioner’s office) was not only broken on February 28th but subsequently a saffron flag was placed on it. After that was removed by the police, the shrine was completely obliterated and then a tarmac road was built on the spot. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has denied any responsibility as far as the road construction is concerned but it is quite clear that this could not have been done without the involvement of some Government agency. At least ten mosques have been ‘converted’ into temples where puja is being held regularly. The Gumte Masjid, a sixteenth century ASI protected monument, has been broken down by rioters. This could not have been done without the use of bulldozers.
At Vasna, on the main highway to Rajkot, a large mosque has been demolished. We were told that there was a legal case in process regarding the land on which this stood and that Ministers in the Gujarat Government had been physically present when it was demolished.
Everywhere in Ahmedabad, shops, business establishments, buildings, homes, hotels, restaurants and small kiosks belonging to Muslims have been burnt, looted and destroyed in a planned and scientific manner. In some large shopping centers, only those shops belonging to Muslims have been burnt while others adjacent to them are untouched. This applies to restaurants, smaller shops and office-premises also. A systematic plan to break the economic backbone of an entire community to make it dependent and subordinate has been implemented.
The extent of damage all over the State can only be imagined. Our delegation visited Godhra by road from Ahmedabad and, on the way back, tried to count the number of Muslim properties that had been damaged on either side of the Highway. A rough estimate of what we saw
Between Godhra and Timba Road Station –11 shops, 3 houses, 2 trucks
Timba Road - a mosque, 23 establishments in the main market, a large building 4 railway quarters
Between Shivalaya and Ambava - 2 trucks, some kiosks
Ambava - 11 stores/galas, 1 house
Thasra - 2 houses and 1 timber godown
Dakor - 16 galas, 2 large houses, several cars
Alina - 10 houses
Mirzapur - 1 house
Mehmudabad-8 galas, Bhagyodaya Hotel, 1 mazar, 1 petrol pump, 1hotel, 4 handcarts, 4 houses
Near Ramod Police Station - Sarvottam Hotel
Ramol - innumerable shops and houses razed to the ground; several large factories; garages; petrol pumps; Satkar Restaurant; Sarvodaya Hotel and Supreme Hotel
These are only those visible from the main road. We may have missed many more All the hotels mentioned belong to members of a Muslim community known as Chelliyas who are hoteliers/restauranteurs. In the last few years they have built hotels and restaurants with seemingly ‘Hindu’ names, many of which have prominent signboards proclaiming them to be ‘Pure Vegetarian’. A year ago a Gujarati newspaper Sandesh published a list of all hotels and restaurants owned by them giving all the names as if to say whatever you may do, you cannot disguise the fact that your establishments are owned by Muslims. Others say that the arsonists used this list. This is probably closer to the truth for otherwise identification would not have been possible. Eyewitnesses we spoke to said that vehicles with tins of petrol and trucks with instruments were moving on the main highway without any hindrance. A large number of these structures look as though they have been demolished by bulldozers. Clearly it would have required time to break these buildings into the rubble now visible. Where were the police during the time it took?
But what about the compensation ? In a situation where FIRs are not being filed in the camps and where affected and bereaved people cannot go to the police station either because they are terror-stricken or because it is physically not possible to do so, the question of payment of compensation is reduced to a farce. Since in many areas all traces of the property are being removed, there is fear and apprehension that the empty spaces will be occupied by the criminals and looters. As far as those who have died are concerned, since FIRs regarding their killings are not being registered, not only will their dependents be denied any compensation but their killers, whether rioters or police personnel, will never be brought to book and a very grave miscarriage of justice will occur.
In the rural areas an even more horrible situation is being created. We were told by survivors that Muslim peasants and shop-keepers are being driven out in droves and their homes, shops, fields, livestock, implements are being torched. They are apprehensive that their land is being occupied.
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