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Gujarat violence a genocide: women’s panel 

New Delhi: A women’s fact-finding panel that toured Ahmedabad and six riot-ravaged Gujarat districts said on 16 April that the pattern of state-sponsored violence against Muslims there ‘‘clearly indicates genocide’’. 

They found that Muslim women were especially targeted by the Sangh Parivar-led mobs and have documented numerous instances of mass rape, sexual abuse, torture and humiliation. 

Apart from the laws of the land, several international conventions that the country has signed stand violated in letter and spirit, they said. ‘‘Examining the facts, documenting testimonies, we have arrived at the preliminary conclusion that the role of the State in the events of Gujarat since February 28 has violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’’ the panel told newsmen at a Press conference.

The women’s activists from Delhi, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu and Ahmedabad found it difficult to narrate the gory details of what they had seen and heard. Sheba George of Ahmedabad broke down, saying,‘‘We are Gujaratis and Indians....to people who ask me what I am doing, I tell them Gujarat is my karmabhoomi ‘’.

‘‘While nothing can justify or rationalise inhuman acts such as the burning of the bogie near the Godhra railway station,’’ the panel found that ‘‘the post-Godhra carnage did not happen as a spontaneous reaction to burning one bogie, but that it was a calculated response— the culmination of a hate campaign carried for over a decade to promote the Hindutva ideology.’’

The fact-finding team accused several elected representatives like sarpanchs with VHP-Bajrang Dal allegiance of being directly involved in the carnage. Maya Kodnani, the BJP legislator from Narora-Patiya on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, did not bother to check the reports that there had been several cases of rapes and torching of women and children, they said. They found Kodnani — herself cited in an FIR for direct participation — openly sympathetic to those who had carried out criminal acts. 

The group, comprising Syeda Hameed of Muslim Women’s Forum, Delhi, Ruth Manorama of National Alliance of Women, Bangalore, Malini Ghose of Nirantar, Delhi, Sheba George, journalist Farah Naqvi and Tamil Nadu-based Mari Thekaekara, was in Gujarat for five days in March. 

‘‘We have been shaken and numbed by the scale of brutality of the violence that is still continuing in Gujarat,’’ they said in the introduction of their 60-page report (TOI). 

Full text of the report is available from: 
Delhi: Dr. Syeda Hameed (syeda@mantraonline.com),
 Malini Ghose (nirantar@vsnl.com), Farah Naqvi (farah_naqvi@hotmail.com); 
Bangalore: Dr. Ruth Manorama (ruth@blr.vsnl.net.in); Tamil Nadu: Mari Thekaekara (marimarcelt@yahoo.co.in); 
Ahmedabad: Gagan Sethi (janvikas_eq@icenet.net), Sheba George (sahrwaruad1@sancharnet.in).
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