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It is not communal riots but ethnic cleansing: SAHMAT

National and international organisations continue to condemn Gujarat violence and demand that the culprits must be brought to justice, ANDALIB AKHTER reports


Survivors of the attack, who are now spread over many relief camps in the city, recall how the local police totally sided with the riotous mobs. The Noorani mosque was first attacked and burnt with the help of LPG cylinders, tyres, petrol and kerosene. When some Muslims youths tried to resist the mobs, the police fired upon them and even killed some of them. Residents in the camps claimed that the SRP force present refused to provide them sanctuary and forced them towards the waiting riots.

  NEW DELHI: In the latest reports relating to Gujarat carnage, the Amnesty International and the SAHMAT, the well known human rights organisations have also accused the Modi government in Gujarat of collaborating with the rioters and asked the Centre for a free and fair inquiry in the whole incident. 

Questioning the legitimacy of the enquiry by a judicial commission appointed by the state government, the Amnesty said, ”inquiry must be carried out by an agency appointed by the centre since the Gujarat government and its agency are themselves suspected of culpability in violence”. 

The Amnesty says unless the culprits were brought to justice, others might feel free to repeat the acts. ” The expectation of immunity from prosecution may in fact have been a cause for the open systematic and brutal nature of the violence in Gujarat” the report observed. 

Amnesty also points out that little has been done to ensure the safety, well being and rehabilitation of the displaced victims. 

The absence of the authorities, the inadequacy of food, shelter and medical help have been detailed, as has the lack of security to the survivors. The report also documents the systematic and discriminatory violence targeted against Muslims and discriminatory approach in providing relief subsequently. 

Similarly the SAHMAT, in its report has also emphasised the immediate importance of bringing the perpetrators to book and prosecute them under the criminal laws of the country. “The government of Gujarat and its chief executive are widely believed to be responsible for this carnage. Therefore, the C G Shah enquiry instituted by them has little credibility” the report observes. 

It exhorts the central government to constitute a high level and time bound judicial enquiry by a sitting supreme-court/ high court judge to look into the entire episode to bring the guilty to justice. 

“The union government must direct the Gujarat government to set up such an enquiry commission, and to provide it all necessary assistance expeditiously, so that it can arrive at its finding at the earliest”, it says. The SAHMAT also questioned the role of local Gujarati press and asked the press council to examine their role. “Where the laws of the land have been transgressed exemplary action must be taken, so that the communal fires are not fanned again”. 

In its report ‘ethnic cleansing in Ahmedabad’ prepared by the Sahmat team comprising Dr. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Vishnu Nagar, Prasenjit Bose and Vijoo Krishnan observed that the incident in Ahmedabad was not a communal riot but a pogrom. “All evidence suggests that what happened there was a completely one sided and targeted carnage of innocent Muslims, something much closer to a pogrom or ethnic cleansing”, says the report. The report says, “The selective violence that was perpetrated was done with remarkable precision, suggesting meticulous planning and collation of information over a protracted period. It also clearly indicates collusion and not merely indulgence of the state machinery and the ruling political establishment. The ground for this communal genocide was cleared in Gujarat much before the Godhra massacre”. 

The report has contested the official reports of casualties calling it understatement and said that the number of people killed in Ahmedabad alone would be nearly 1, 000 as against the official figure of 700 which includes the Godhra victims. “An overwhelming majority of those killed are Muslims, including women are children. While most fell victims to killer mobs led by VHP Bajrang Dal activists, there were several instances of deaths due to police firing on helpless Muslims. Some eyewitness accounts suggest large-scale massacres of Muslims still continuing in the countryside. In certain cases, entire families have been exterminated in village with nobody left to lodge complaints or claim the dead bodies” says the finding. It says the most prominent forms of violence experienced were pogroms led by local level VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders in Muslims dominated areas which were ghettoised by the Muslims. Naroda Pattiya has been cited as the worst instances of such an attack where a Muslims settlement of about 25,000 inhabitants was completely destroyed by rioters. " Survivors of the attack, who are now spread over several relief camps in the city, recall how the local police totally sided with the riotous mobs. The Noorani mosque was first attacked and burnt with the help of LPG cylinders, tyres, petrol and kerosene. When some Muslim youths tried to resist the mobs, the police fired upon them and even killed some of them. Residents in the camps claimed that the SRP force present refused to provide them sanctuary and forced them towards the waiting riots. Once the resistance was broken with the help of the police, the rioters stormed inside the settlement burning and looting at will”, the report records. “It will take generation for the victim to recover from such a pointed and vicious communal onslaught”, observed the SAHMAT report. 
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