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Murderers roam free as riot victims cower in fear

Last fortnight, the largest of these, the Shah Alam relief camp, was officially closed and 3,000-odd refugees were rendered homeless. Many did not know what to do or where to go. 

The camp, which had played host to more than 12,000 refugees, continued to housing the homeless even after camps around the city started closing down one by one. There are still 11 camps operating in the city, some official, others unofficial, homing about 5,000 refugees. Of these, 4,610 live in official relief camps and about 390 in unofficial ones that were "closed" months ago. 
There are quite a few people who have absolutely no place to go, says Shabana Shaikh, a resident of Naroda Patia. "They just asked us to leave without any prior intimation. A few have been given homes by some private trusts. But what about us? What are we going to do?," asked a homeless person.

"How can we ever go back to houses where our family members were killed?", asks Hinabanu Ghanchi, of Saijpur who lost two of her family members. Javed Husain another resident of Naroda Patia says, "All our hopes were pinned on this camp. We thought that until we do not find a new place for ourselves in a safer locality, we will continue to stay here. Now we have no option but to leave." 

On another front, Gujarat police continues its policy of open discrimination by arresting very few culprits in riots cases. Even as organised mobs ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 attacked Muslim localities during the communal carnage, the Gujarat police has made just a handful of arrests, citing difficulties in identification of the culprits involved as the main reason. 

Although police boasts of 40,000 arrests during riots, investigations reveal that a majority of these arrests were preventive in nature. In serious cases of communal violence like in Naroda Patia, Gulbarg Society or Best Bakery, the number of arrests is less than 100 people while the number of names for involvement in violence in these cases crosses over 20,000. 

Giving reasons for the few arrests, joint commissioner of police crime branch, PP Pandey said, "In a mob situation, victims are not acquainted with the culprits, and thus cannot identify them. This happened during Delhi riots in 1984 and even during the Babri Masjid demolition."

ABDUL HAFIZ LAKHANI, AHMEDABAD

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