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Fleiro’s letter to Advani

Following is the text of the letter Mr Eduardo Fleiro, former minister of state for external affairs, sent to the Home Minister Mr LK Advani on March 15, 2002

Dear Home Minister,
I visited Gujarat recently as a member of the Congress delegation. I have since been receiving messages from different parts of that State that inspite of assurances and protestations from the Union and State Governments, Gujarat continues to burn. Yesterday, Nitin Parmar, a nephew of our colleague in the Lok Sabha Pravin Rashtrapal was stabbed to death in the Shahpur locality whilst his father was admitted to V.S. Hospital, Ahmedabad for treatment of sword injuries. Eight others were also hospitalized, 4 with stab injuries, one injured in private firing and 3 women with burn injuries. I have also received information that some extremist organizations have misguided the Adivasis of Vadodra and some other areas and provided them with cash, liquor and weapons and send them in thousands to attack defenceless people. "In Panvad taluka the Adivasis informed the Police in advance that they would attack yet the Police did not demand deployment of the SRP or the Army and the shops of the Muslims were looted in front of the Police. The vehicles parked in front of the police station were also burnt without any fear. Every day some village or the other is being looted and burnt whilst the local administration sends messages that the situation is calm and under control. Most of the Muslims of the surrounding villages have taken shelter in Chotaudaypur. You are kindly requested to send an effective contingent of the Army so that the remaining Muslims can live peacefully". These are extracts from a fax message received by me on March 13 from the residents of some areas in Vadodra district and I am enclosing the same for your perusal. Defenceless people of all the different communities are being attacked and are dying in Gujarat. To avoid further loss of innocent life, Army protection should be provided in all sensitive areas. The Army across Gujarat has in fact been pulled back to the barracks though the Police is unable to control the situation.

2. I am given to understand that there are about 50,000 displaced persons in several relief camps in Ahmedabad. Another estimated 25-30 thousand persons have been displaced in other towns and regions of the State. The foodstuffs being provided by the State Government to these camps are unfit for human consumption. The State Government having allowed life and property to be systematically destroyed, has now abdicated its constitutional duty to provide relief to the victims. In such circumstances Government of India should step in and provide immediate relief to these camps in the form of milk, foodgrains of adequate quality, medicines and medical assistance.

3. The K.G. Shah Commission should be scrapped. Its verdict will lack credibility. Government should request the Chief Justice of India to appoint a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or of any High Court outside Gujarat to hold the inquiry into the incident at Godhra and subsequent events. 

4. The role of the Police in Gujarat has been scandalous. Eye witnesses say that our former colleague in Parliament Ehsan Jaffri contacted the Police several times on March 1, the day of his death, and that he expected that the Police Commissioner C.P. Pandey would protect his life and his family but that was not to be. The Gujarat Police cannot be trusted with a fair and impartial investigation hence I urge that the task of criminal investigation relating to the recent violence in Gujarat should be handed over to the CBI.

5. A report in the Hindi newspaper Jan Morcha published from Ayodhya by Sheetla Prasad and dated 24.2.2002 i.e. 3 days before the massacre at Godhra is captioned "Bajrang Dal Activists on Sabarmati Express beat up Muslims, forcing them to shout Jai Shri Ram Slogans" (English translation). Similar reports were also published in the international press including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and New York Times. Yet the intelligence agencies of the Union and state governments remained inactive and as a result the gruesome incidents took place. May I request you to look into this matter and take necessary steps to fix responsibilities. 

6. A pamphlet in Gujarati is being widely circulated across the State calling for total economic boycott of Muslims including Muslim shops, films in which Muslims act, any form of employment for Muslims etc. Inciting such communal hatred is an offence under the Indian Penal Code. Government should take immediate action to apprehend the culprits. I am enclosing a copy of the pamphlet.

7. In a tape recorded interview to Rediff.com Prof. Keshav Ram Kashiram

Shastri, the chairman of the Gujarat unit of the Vishva Hindu, Parishad stated that the shops in Ahmedabd were looted on the basis of a list prepared by the VHP in advance. "In the morning we sat down and prepared the list" he revealed. He added that the situation could get aggravated and bigger riots were possible. "There will be war. So much poison has spread that it is difficult to contain it now", he said.

What steps has Government taken or proposes to take in the context of the disclosures made by Prof. K.K. Shastri?

Some of our neighbouring countries, where religious fundamentalism flourished for more than a decade often with State patronage, are now striving to abandon this noxious path. It would be ironical and most unfortunate if quite the opposite happens in India. I urge you to deal resolutely with all forms of religious extremism in an evenhanded rather than in a selective manner, so that peace, harmony and the Rule of Law prevail throughout the length and breath of the Nation. 

With personal regards,
Eduardo Faleiro
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