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SACW | 2 April. 02

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire - Dispatch | 2 April 2002 http://www.mnet.fr __________________________ #1. India: - Gujarat: Who are the guilty? (Dipankar
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2002
      South Asia Citizens Wire - Dispatch | 2 April 2002


      #1. India: - Gujarat: Who are the guilty? (Dipankar Gupta and Romila Thapar)
      #2. India: Gujarat - What you can do. (Sabrang)
      #3. India: Eyes and ears - Enquiry commisions on Riots(AG Noorani)
      #4. India: What RSS tells Muslims & How its Misrepresents of views
      of others....
      #5. Despite riot after communal riot, India still hasn't put a law in
      place to ensure uniform compensation for victims (Iqbal A. Ansari)
      #6. Gujarat : Now they burn houses deserted by their frightened
      victims (Joydeep Ray)
      #7. India's communal carnage should have ended when troops went in.
      Instead, the hate is spreading
      (Meenakshi Ganguly)
      #8. India: Hindutva As A Caste Weapon - Why Gujarat? (Praful Bidwai)

      #9. ***** Call For Entries - The Karachi International Film Festival
      2002 ******



      The Hindu
      Apr 02, 2002
      Opinion - Leader Page Articles

      Who are the guilty?
      By Dipankar Gupta and Romila Thapar

      The best way of fighting communalists is not by tiptoeing around them
      in the hope of letting sleeping dogmas lie, but by taking them on
      frontally every time they break the law.

      NARENDRA MODI'S eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the Prime
      Minister was really quite a mild affair. Mr. Vajpayee upbraided Mr.
      Modi, but in the mildest manner possible. He was not even rapped on
      the knuckles! Instead of pulling him out of his chair, the Prime
      Minister suggested a variety of confidence-building measures to the
      errant Chief Minister. He was asked to construct homes for those
      affected, find them jobs, give them armed escorts, get businesses to
      contribute to their relief and rehabilitation, and so on. Not once
      was it mentioned that the Government of India would use all its
      powers to punish the guilty - and that this also included Mr. Modi.

      Unfortunately, the demand to punish the guilty is not on the agenda
      of the Opposition either. All they want is the removal of the Chief
      Minister. This is really political gamesmanship. Of course, Mr. Modi
      ought to go, but if he sinks alone and is not weighted down by those
      other criminals who killed, burnt, maimed and looted then he might
      emerge as a political martyr. To bring credibility to Mr. Modi's
      ouster, he needs to be punished along with all those who are actually
      red in tooth and claw. This includes those who torched the railway
      coaches in Godhra as well as those who stalked and killed Muslims in
      Ahmedabad, and elsewhere in Gujarat, in recent weeks. It is indeed a
      sad reflection on the politics of our times that the Opposition has
      not come out with such a demand.

      This is not the first time that a Government is directly implicated
      in fomenting and leading communal riots in the country. The 1984
      killings of Sikhs is a cruel predecessor of what happened recently in
      Gujarat. The way the civil liberties groups mobilised in 1984 was,
      however, quite remarkable. Instead of doing social science and
      discovering caste and class antagonisms behind the killings, the
      People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and the People's Union
      for Civil Liberties (PUCL) jointly conducted a first rate social
      forensic study and brought out a report entitled "Who are the
      Guilty?" The data in this little booklet were compiled on the spot by
      PUDR activists in Delhi even as they went about trying to bring
      relief to the besieged Sikhs. This booklet named those who were
      directly involved in the murder and mayhem, it gave evidence of
      responsible politicians leading mobs from the front, and it also
      carried authentic eye-witness accounts. This booklet sent shock waves
      all the way up. Though a thousand maneouvres were dreamt up by the
      Government in power, the fact that the perpetrators of the killings
      were named made it very difficult for even these people to emerge
      again as legitimate political actors. "Who are the Guilty" should
      indeed be a prototype of how citizens can respond to riots in this
      country. It is obvious that citizens can no longer sit on the
      sidelines when communal carnages occur in the belief that the state
      machinery will do its job and punish the guilty. Most of those in
      state administration see themselves as Government servants and not as
      servants of the public. This is why they are not as mindful of
      citizens' interests as they are of the wishes of the Government in
      power. In such a situation the public must assert itself and demand
      the names of individuals who led and participated in the communal
      killings, regardless of which community they may belong to. It is
      only by putting such people on trial that confidence can meaningfully
      be restored in Gujarat. This will also send warning signals to all
      would-be rioters in the future. As Justice Verma, Chairman of the
      Human Rights Commission, recently commented, police inaction in
      Gujarat is tantamount to police complicity. If the guilty are tried
      and punished then this will also expose another lie on which
      communalists thrive. The popular assumption is that these sectarians
      are as willing to kill for a cause as they are to die for a cause.
      This is a complete fallacy. None of the hotheads of the RSS, or
      Bajrang Dal or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad will ever die for a cause.
      In which case, why are they so willing to kill for a cause? The
      answer to this is very simple. It is because they know that no harm
      will come to them as they enjoy active or tacit protection from the
      Government of the day. It is cover of this sort that makes sectarian
      activists appear so frightening. Take away Government support and
      they will all expose themselves as paper tigers.

      It is time now to remember how Jawaharlal Nehru handled the RSS and
      the Hindu Mahasabha when he was at his best. Partition had just
      happened and Hindu sectarians were having a field day, even in the
      city of Delhi. Nehru did not reason and plead with them. He locked
      them up in jail whenever they broke the law. When Mahatma Gandhi was
      assassinated, Nehru again acted swiftly and unambiguously. He banned
      the RSS and other allied organisations and exposed their shallow
      bravado. The leaders of the RSS made several overtures to Nehru (and
      Patel) to lift the ban against them. Golwalkar even tried to curry
      favour with the Government by promising to fight communism. In a
      letter to Nehru he said the ban on the RSS should be lifted so that
      the swayamsevaks could help the Government in ridding the country of
      the red menace. No mention now of the Muslims, nor of any other
      religious minority. When that did not work the RSS tried satyagraha,
      which was again a flop. Eventually the RSS leadership had no option
      but to agree to a written constitution as demanded by the Government.
      This constitution had to clearly state that the organisation would
      treat all faiths with equal respect and would refrain from entering
      politics and resorting to violence.

      Nehru was clearly not intimidated by the rhetoric of these sectarian
      Hindu activists and simply called their bluff. It was Nehru's
      uncompromising stand against communalists that allowed the Congress
      to win election after election, from the perfervid post-Partition
      days right up to 1967. The best way of fighting communalists is not
      by tiptoeing around them in the hope of letting sleeping dogmas lie,
      but by taking them on frontally every time they break the law.

      Mr. Vajpayee would like Mr. Modi to find jobs for the devastated, get
      industrialists to donate money, Bhuj style, hold hands with the
      aggrieved families, even set up goodwill marches, and so forth. All
      sweet talk and a few pieces of silver! What the Prime Minister has
      cleverly sidestepped, and what the Opposition has not pressed upon
      him, is that nowhere has he asked of Mr. Modi: "Who are the guilty?"
      Without raising this issue, no amount of relief and goodwill missions
      will help in restoring confidence in Gujarat. If the guilty are not
      punished by the due process of law then this might engender cynicism,
      and, what is worse, vigilante-style reprisals - both of which are
      deleterious to the well being of the country as a democratic
      republic. As citizens we have the right to demand that the guilty be
      punished first! And Mr. Modi is not the only one we are thinking of.



      Date: Mon, 1 Apr 2002 16:07:42

      Hello Friends,

      We all are human beings & individuals who want to live our lives
      with the premise of freedom. The freedom to follow our beliefs,
      our own way of life, to earn money to support our life-style, to
      invest & reap the profits of our investment in our children, in
      our homes, in the society we live in & also the country we call
      Live & let live is & should be our motive.
      Why does it trouble us when another person prays differently?
      Does it matter to our creator by which name we call him? What
      makes one way of prayer superior to others? Is our creator so
      petty that he will be be-littled if a person does not accord Him
      the reverence which you think is right?
      What answers can you give my friends?
      In this vein the carnage of Gujarat & also other places around
      the world, where the fight actually boils down to, my God & way
      of prayer is superior to yours. It would be laughably insane if
      the stakes were not so high. Lives, children, a way of living,
      has been destroyed.
      This is what the writer & columnist Anil Dharker has written in
      the Bombay Times on 25th March 2002, an excerpt follows;
      * "..The need of Gujarat's victims is extreme & urgent and cannot
      wait: if anyone wants to do something for our fellow-countrymen
      who have undergone the worst possible trauma, the time to act is
      now. The first thing to do in an emergency is to send supplies &
      ** Sabrang, the agency which acted as a pressure group for the
      implementation of the Srikrishna Report after the Bombay riots of
      1992-1993, is setting up a cell to deal with the Gujarat tragedy.
      Like it did in the Bombay riots, it plans to set up a Citizens
      Enquiry Commission for Gujarat, on the lines of the People's
      Commission comprising Justice Hosbet Suresh & Justice S.M Daud for
      Bombay. It also plans to launch five Public Interest Litigations
      immediately before the Supreme Court and the Gujarat High Court.
      Fali Nariman has already agreed to argue the case before the
      Supreme Court.
      Other initiatives are also being planned but, obviously, they
      cannot get anywhere without public help.
      Contact Sabrang directly on(022)605 3927 or (022) 648 2288.Or
      write to them at PO Box 28253,Juhu Post Office, Bombay-400
      049. E-mail Sabrang@....
      In addition to this, there is something else you can do. All this
      will need is a couple of hours of your time. All of us at some
      time or other, have received a chain letter ..The idea is to
      replicate what is done in the most powerful democracy in the
      world, the United States of America, where people constantly
      write to politicians to redress matters.
      Your letters should be addressed to the President of India,
      Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi, to the Prime Minister of India, 7,
      Race Course Road, New Delhi,110 001 & the Chief Justice Of THE
      Supreme Court, Supreme Court, New Delhi 110 001.
      What you can say is along the following lines:

      Dear Sir,
      We are extremely disturbed by the recent happenings in Gujarat
      when hundreds of innocent men, women and children have been
      killed, maimed or injured and thousands have been made homeless
      and their businesses destroyed. We are distressed that the
      Government of Gujarat did not try to stop the violence, and now
      gives no relief to the victims. From news reports, we also learn
      that the government of Gujarat is making no effort to bring the
      perpetrators of the violence to justice.
      We appeal to you to intervene so that the relief is quickly
      brought to the needy and justice is quickly brought to the

      Yours' sincerely,

      If you send these three letters directly, and ten of your friends
      send them too, and then ten each of your ten friends. Delhi will
      have to take notice.
      Remember that Gujarat now is no longer a matter of this religion
      or that. It is a question of helping human beings in deep
      distress. And it is a question of restoring respect for the rule
      of law.



      The Hindustan Times, Tuesday, April 2, 2002

      Eyes and ears
      AG Noorani

      Formally, the commission of inquiry into the Ahmedabad riots of 1969
      was appointed by the state government. In truth, its appointment and
      composition were settled by the Centre. It had made it plain that it
      would itself appoint a commission of inquiry, as the Commissions of
      Inquiry Act, 1952 empowered it to do unless the state acted first and
      to the Centre's satisfaction.

      Apart from the fact that several questions hang over the head of the
      commission of inquiry set up by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the
      institution of the commission itself is in none too good a shape.

      It is, nonetheless, a vital necessity in our legal and political
      system. However, a commission acts on the work of an investigating
      agency which records statements. This means the state police.

      As the Liberhan Commission merrily meanders its course towards the
      discovery of the truth about the demolition of the Babri masjid, give
      some thought to the report of the citizens' tribunal on Ayodhya
      published in December 1993. It comprised two former judges of the
      Supreme Court, Justices O. Chinnappa Reddy and D.A. Desai, and a
      former Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, Justice DS Tewatia.

      The tribunal had appointed a commission of inquiry, headed by Kamala
      Prasad, a former chief secretary to the government of Bihar, and
      consisting of distinguished academics. This commission visited
      Ayodhya from February 9 to 11, 1993, examined 84 witnesses, met a
      number of people and consulted a lot of material. The tribunal
      examined some more witnesses and received many submissions
      thereafter. Cannot this precedent be emulated for a citizens' inquiry
      into the Gujarat killings in 2002 with particular focus on Godhra and

      The citizens' inquiry is in the good, authentic Indian tradition. It
      was developed during the freedom movement and pursued for quite some
      time after Independence.

      Volume 17 of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi contains the
      "report of the commissioners appointed by the Punjab sub-committee of
      the Indian National Congress on the Punjab Disorders" culminating in
      the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Its author was Gandhiji. He gave his
      colleagues, C.R. Das, Abbas S. Tayabji and M.R. Jayakar, a hard time
      with his concern for accuracy and credibility, as Jayakar recorded in
      his memoirs. History accords this report far greater respect than it
      does to the official Hunter Report.

      The difference between an official inquiry and a non-official one
      lies mainly in the coercive machinery of the law which the former
      enjoys, in the summoning of witnesses and production of records,
      besides, of course, the advantage in resources. But the test in each
      case is identical - regard for the truth displayed in thoroughness of
      investigation and rigour in analysis; in short, integrity and ability.

      Judged by this test, many an official inquiry received wide public
      acceptance. Reports by both are aimed at public edification. A
      commission of inquiry set up under the Act of 1952 is a fact-finding
      body. It can censure. It cannot reprimand, let alone award a sentence
      of punishment or order payment of compensation.

      Persons who serve on a citizens' inquiry enjoy the same legitimacy as
      does any citizen who goes about exercising his fundamental right to
      freedom of speech and expression (Article 19(1)(a) of the
      Constitution). This, the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly, includes
      the right to know. A journalist has additional protection because, as
      the US Supreme Court ruled in the Richmond Newspaper Case (1980), the
      media function as "surrogates for the public." So would a citizens'

      There are precedents galore before and after Independence. The report
      of the Kanpur Riots Inquiry Committee, submitted by its Chairman
      Bhagwan Das to the Congress president on October 4, 1931, is a
      classic which was recently published in book form. It was banned
      during the Raj because it went into the latent causes of communal
      conflict. There was the Peshawar Inquiry into the outrages in
      Peshawar in 1930. It was headed by Vithalbhai Patel.

      In 1968, two senior members of the bar, Purshottam Trikamdas and
      Sarjoo Prasad, served on a non-official inquiry into the police
      outrages at Indraprastha Bhavan in Delhi. That report set out in
      detail the procedure they followed and can serve as a model for such
      inquiries. Besides, there are many instances of inquiries into
      communal riots conducted by academics and others on behalf of
      institutions like the Gandhian Institute of Studies and the Centre
      for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi.

      Whether it is a statutory inquiry or any other, the tests in both
      cases are the same - fairness in the procedure, thoroughness in the
      inquiry and objectivity and honesty in the appreciation of evidence.

      One misconception must be dispelled. In 1993 the Srikrishna
      Commission issued, but later withdrew, notices, under Section 10 (A)
      (2) of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, to two former judges of
      the Bombay High Court, Justices H. Suresh and S.M. Daud, for holding
      a 'parallel commission of inquiry' on the riots. The latter had been
      assigned the task of holding a citizens' inquiry by the Indian
      People's Human Rights Commission, which filed a writ petition in the
      Bombay High Court challenging the legality of the notices. The
      petition was withdrawn following the withdrawal of the notices.

      The provision is clearly aimed at scurrilous attacks which would
      "bring the commission or any member thereof into disrepute". Section
      10A is of doubtful constitutional validity. There was no "officious
      meddling" as Justice Srikrishna imagined. He was assured that the
      citizens' inquiry would, in fact, assist him by placing its material
      before him.

      There is, therefore, no legal impediment to the establishment of a
      citizens' inquiry into the killings in Gujarat. Indeed, there is
      every reason for its early establishment so that it begins its task
      expeditiously - before the evidence disappears. Two precautions must
      be kept in mind. It should not comprise retired judges who, having
      creditably espoused public causes, revealed their commitments. Next,
      the inquiry must be transparent and fair.



      The Hindu, March 28, 2002

      Don't become pawns, RSS tells Muslims
      By Our Special Correspondent

      NEW DELHI, MARCH 27. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
      today justified its recently- adopted resolution — ``let Muslims
      understand that their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority''
      — describing it as ``a statement of fact''.

      The RSS spokesperson, M.G.Vaidya, said the statement had not
      been understood in the proper perspective. ``There are certain
      irritants, some incidents act as irritants ... 2 lakh Kashmiri Hindus
      have become refugees, Amarnath pilgrims were attacked, attempts
      are made to convert Hindus to other faiths, and finally, ... it does no
      credit to the Muslim community to allow itself to be made pawns in
      the hands of extremist Muslim leaders and Hindu-baiting political
      elements,'' (read the last as non-BJP parties).

      However, though Mr. Vaidya said that the controversial statement
      in the resolution was quite innocuous, he did not agree that if one
      were to substitute Muslims in that sentence with Sikhs to read ``let
      Sikhs understand that their real safety lies in the goodwill of the
      majority,'' that sentence would also be a ``statement of fact''.

      Mr. Vaidya also did not agree with another formulation of that
      sentence. ``Let the Scheduled Castes understand that their real
      safety lies in the goodwill of caste Hindus.'' No, he said, the RSS
      never believed in caste differences, ``what is being suggested is
      totally different from what was said about the Muslims in the
      statement,'' Mr. Vaidya insisted. ``You are stretching this too far,''
      he told the correspondent asking the question. There was no
      explanation why if that statement was a ``statement of fact'' in
      relation to one community, and nothing more vicious, why did it
      seem wrong when one minority community was replaced by
      another in the very same formulation?

      Mr. Vaidya claimed that ``similar statements, similar expressions''
      had earlier been used by different persons without everyone
      making it into a major controversy.

      He claimed that during the debates in the Constituent Assembly a
      similar view was expressed by the then Congress leader, Mahavir
      Tyagi, and another Muslim leader, Aziz Rasul, had rejected the
      idea of reservation for Muslims on the ground that would give no
      chance to the minorities to earn the goodwill of the majority

      On the Gujarat violence, Mr. Vaidya said that no Government could
      have done better, the Modi Government had done what it could do.
      He said the Godhra outrage had provided the spark: ``if there had
      been no Godhra, there would have been no violence following it.''

      o o o o

      The Hindu April 1, 2002


      Sir, — We are shocked to find that an RSS spokesman, in
      justification of the Sangh's recent resolution, has referred
      mischievously to remarks by the late Mahavir Tyagi in the
      Constituent Assembly (March 28). The remarks were made on
      August 27, 1947, on an amendment moved by a member of the
      Muslim League who sought to introduce separate electorates.
      Tyagi opposed this and supported general electorates which
      necessitate seeking and retaining the confidence of the majority.
      The RSS spokesman has used the speech selectively and out of

      The tenor of Tyagi's speech is opposed to the RSS ideology, both
      in general and as recently manifested in the specific context of
      Gujarat. For instance, in his speech Tyagi said: ``We cannot
      recognise religions as far as the state is concerned"; ``we will
      legislate in a manner that will be a guarantee against all injustice;"
      ``we belong to that part of the country which has guaranteed at the
      very outset safety of life and property to everyone in this country";
      and ``we do not believe in discarding minorities or finishing them or
      killing them...'' Those who heard Tyagi had no misconceptions
      about what he was saying or what he stood for throughout his life.

      Uma Rani and Anil Nauriya,
      Mahavir Tyagi Foundation,
      New Delhi



      Indian Express
      Tuesday, April 02, 2002

      Since pain is the same, let the compensation be the same too
      Despite riot after communal riot, India still hasn't put a law in
      place to ensure uniform compensation for victims, says Iqbal A.
      Ansari, Secretary General of the Minorities Council
      Iqbal A. Ansari

      The public discourse on riots in India hasn't paid attention to the
      absence of a law on the rights of their victims. The issue acquires
      special importance given the riots in Gujarat, which are the result
      of the failure of governance resulting in loss of life, limb,
      shelter, property, places of worship, honour, and social and
      professional dislocation of thousands.

      Except for the victims of anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi in 1984, all
      payment of compensation to riot victims has been ex-gratia. This
      hasn't just led to a sweeping variation from Rs 20,000 to Rs two lakh
      depending on political expediency, but the underlying arbitrariness
      undermines the basic principle of the rule of law. Moreover, damages
      other than life and limb undeservedly suffered by large number of
      people - e.g. displacement, dislocation, causing permanent
      vocational, social and educational losses, including schooling of
      children - don't get due attention.

      Rehabilitative measures are supposed to lie in the domain of
      charitable social work. Officially, it is being looked in token
      fashion after by a non-statutory National Foundation For Communal
      Harmony, which is under the Union Home Ministry. This neglect has
      happened despite the efforts of the National Commission For
      Minorities (NCM) since 1980 when ''it strongly urged upon the
      government to pass appropriate legislation and formulate schemes for
      giving compensation to victims of communal riots'' on the ground that
      ''the State cannot be absolved from its responsibility of protecting
      life and property of the citizens.''

      Justice H.R. Khanna, whose opinion on the matter was sought by the
      NCM, noted ''the rising trend in some countries to pay compensation
      to victims of violent crimes eg. New Zealand (1963), Britain (1964)
      and subsequently in Canada, Northern Ireland and USA and Australia.''
      (NCM report, 1980)

      In its Sixth Report (1981) the National Police Commission (NPC)
      observed that ''it is the duty of the administration to compensate
      these unfortunate sufferers (of communal riots) for the loss and
      suffering undergone by them and to assist them in their

      The 1985 UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of
      Crime and Abuse of Power also requires governments to establish and
      strengthen judicial and administrative mechanisms to enable victims
      to obtain redress - expeditious, fair, inexpensive and accessible.
      Clause 11 provides that ''victims should receive restitution from the
      State whose officials or agents were responsible for the harm

      In India, it's the judgement of Justice Anil Dev Singh of the Delhi
      High Court on the Civil Writ Petition No 1429 (Smt Bhajan Kaur vs
      Delhi Administration) which proved pathbreaking in holding the State
      liable to pay adequate compensation for having failed to protect the
      life of citizens guaranteed under Article 21.

      In the event of the State's failure to prevent the loss of innocent
      lives, ''it cannot escape the liability to pay adequate compensation
      to the family of persons killed during riots''. The judgement's
      argument is based on the view that ''it is not open to the State to
      say that the violations are being committed by private persons for
      which it cannot be held accountable. Riots more often than not take
      place due to weakness, laxity and indifference of the administration
      in enforcing law and order...''

      Though the Delhi government paid the anti-Sikh riot victims
      compensation of Rs 3.50 lakh, the court's advice to the Union and
      state governments is to enact laws ''to locate the responsibility for
      the riots whenever and wherever they occur and the persons held
      responsible for the same should be made to pay compensation and the
      law should provide for confiscation of their properties so as to
      secure payment of compensation out of the assets so confiscated.'' In
      fact, the ruling even recommended that ''if a government official or
      officials didn't act in time or were indifferent to mob violence,
      they should also be required to make reparations to the victims and
      face disciplinary proceedings''.

      In August 1997, the Minorities Council was represented to the NCM in
      August 1997 and subsequently to the NHRC for direction to the Union
      and state governments for application of the judgment to victims of
      other riots in the country and for enactment of a law on
      compensation. This resulted in the NCM making a statutory resolution
      for treating the Delhi High Court judgment as the general law for
      awarding proper compensation to victims of all communal riots. Though
      the NHRC indirectly endorsed the NCM resolution, it evaded
      responsibility under the cover that the matter was with the Supreme
      Court. But the case that was pending before the Supreme Court related
      only to the limited issue of enhancement of the amount paid to Sikh
      victims from Rs 2 lakh with interest to Rs 7.5 lakh and payment of
      compensation to other Sikh victims in Kanpur, Jabalpur, Bokaro, etc.

      In December 1997, the NCM appointed a committee on communal riots
      headed by Justice V.M. Tarkunde for which this writer, as the
      committee's convener, submitted a comprehensive report. It was
      adopted by the NCM and sent to the government in March 1999.

      There is an urgent need to enact a law on the rights of victims of
      riots, to provide for a tribunal or a commission of inquiry for
      fixing responsibility and determining losses and compensation. The
      Central government should neither have the power to appoint the
      commission nor to reject its findings. The panel should be appointed
      by an independent panel and have the power to initiate legal
      proceedings against erring officials and police personnel.

      It is this fear of accountability and liability to pay compensation
      which will have a ripple effect in starting a process of reforms of
      the system. The chances of punishment - and just a transfer - and of
      substantial monetary losses will instill fear of law in the
      bureaucracy and the police, keep their passions and prejudices in
      leash and make them perform their duty in accordance with the law
      rather await for ''orders from above''.

      It will be the duty of law makers to simultaneously provide
      protection to officials, so that legitimate rights and interests of
      their career do not get adversely affected for being independent and



      Indian Express
      Tuesday, April 02, 2002

      Now they burn houses deserted by their frightened victims
      In one week, mobs set fire to over 50 Ahmedabad houses whose
      residents wait in relief camps, police say fire spreads too fast,
      they are short of staff
      Joydeep Ray

      Ahmedabad, April 1 Inmates should not be asked to leave the
      camps until appropriate relief and rehabilitation measures are in
      place for them and they feel assured, on security grounds, that they
      can indeed leave the camps. - NHRC report on Gujarat

      The Gujarat government needn't worry about people in relief camps
      wanting to return home. Arsonists in Ahmedabad have, over the past
      week, made sure that many of those in the camps don't have homes to
      return to: they have burnt down deserted houses in various parts of
      the city even as Chief Minister Narendra Modi talks of normalcy.

      And those whose homes are still safe fear that they, too, will be
      attacked if they return.

      Ramol in Amraiwadi, Vatva, Madhavpura, Gomtipur and Danilimda... the
      story is the same everywhere.

      - Fifty houses were set on fire on Sunday evening at Behrampura in
      the Danilimda area; they'd been vacated by fleeing residents on
      February 28. About 500 yards away are the Behrampura police outpost
      and an additional police picket but that didn't help much when the
      mob got to work.

      - The previous night, the target was Rajpur in the Gomtipur area. The
      damage: six houses belonging to Muslims burnt down

      - Last Monday, a row of houses in the Ramal area

      - The same day, houses and shops left unprotected burnt at Saiyedwadi
      in the Vatva area and a house burnt in Madhavpura.

      Mehboob Ali, a resident of Kasai ni Chali - the scene of yesterday's
      arson - has been staying at the Shah Alam camp for the past month.
      ''I was told my house had been burnt last night. I wonder how people
      came and burnt so many houses without the police being aware, even
      though there's a checkpost a few yards from our colony,'' said Ali.

      Ali and his neighbours in the same camp say they can't muster the
      courage to visit their burnt houses. ''What's the guarantee that,
      like our houses for this camp, the police assured us that our
      property would be protected. Now everything's been reduced to
      ashes,'' Salim Habib Shaikh, another resident, said.

      Asked how the mob managed to get to the houses, Joint Commissioner of
      Police M K Tandon said, ''Our men were on guard on the main road but
      a group of people came from the rear and set the houses on fire. Only
      when our men saw the smoke did they realise that the houses had been
      set ablaze. We are still trying our best to ensure that property is
      safe, even though we have a manpower constraint.''

      It's not an explanation bought by those affected. ''We aren't
      convinced by the logic given by the police. So many houses were burnt
      and the police opened fire only after our houses were gutted. It's
      quite difficult to believe," said Naseer Ali Shaikh, a resident of
      Bukhari ni Chali who has now shifted to a relative's house in

      The anger is simmering in Gomtipur too. ''It's not so easy to burn
      houses and it can't be done in a few minutes. The mob came ready with
      fuel and took their time burning our houses'', said Mohammed
      Sirajuddin, resident of Nagpur Vora ni Chali. Again, the police have
      a defence. ''Only a few people came and threw petrol bombs and acid
      bombs on houses. The fire spreads very fast to adjoining houses. Our
      men keep patrolling but it's not possible to set up pickets
      everywhere. It's unfortunate but such incidents do take place,'' ACP
      Chandrakant Vora said.

      DCP (Zone-VI) B S Jebaliya, in whose area there have been three
      incidents of arson in the last 10 days, said "We've also noticed that
      some people are targeting vacant houses. But we have made arrests in
      all cases to send a message to miscreants that stern action will be

      It's-under-control Modi

      AHMEDABAD: On Monday, CM Modi said large-scale violence had been
      brought under control, small incidents were being played up.
      Meanwhile, during the day:

      - The Army was called out in the Khanpur area of Ahmedabad on Monday
      after a mob tried to attack some houses
      - A mob set on fire at least eight houses at Adundara village near
      Kadi in Mehsana district; curfew continued in Kadi town.
      - Two people injured in violence three days ago died on Monday
      - Indefinite curfew continued in Gomtipur



      APRIL 8, 2002 / VOL. 159 NO. 13

      The Fire This Time
      India's communal carnage should have ended when troops went in.
      Instead, the hate is spreading

      Unforgiven: Violence in Gujarat in mid-March

      Muslims are intolerant ... They only look out for one another ...
      Even America has discovered that. This is murderous talk, heard these
      days with astonishing frequency throughout India, in teahouses, in
      crowded commuter trains, in the classroom, at the dinner table. They
      need to be taught a lesson ... The time has come ...

      In late February, India experienced a paroxysm of violence between
      Hindus and Muslims. A group of Muslims in the western state of
      Gujarat burned 58 Hindus alive on a train. In response, Hindus went
      on a three-day rape, pillage and murder rampage that claimed the
      lives of 427 people. It was the worst violence between the two
      communities since riots in Bombay in 1993 claimed 800 lives.

      But after the clashes in 1993, the hate swiftly receded. Today, the
      opposite is happening. The chaos in Gujarat was supposed to be
      quelled when the army was belatedly sent in. In fact, looting and
      murder continue with both sides engaging in vengeful attacks. Nearly
      300 people, mostly Muslims, have died since the first wave of
      violence, almost all in Gujarat. In some places, police allow rioters
      to continue un-molested. One special target of Hindu fury: those who
      resist the hate. Last week, a mob stripped and then beat a Hindu
      woman to death for protecting her Muslim friend; another mob fatally
      stabbed a Muslim man for having married a Hindu. "These people always
      take our women as one of their wives to beget Muslim children," says
      one activist for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the extreme Hindu
      movement linked with India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

      The truly frightening thing is that it's not just fanatics taking
      part in the anti-Muslim pogrom. Murder has gone middle class:
      businessmen are killing businessmen, farmers are fighting farmers,
      mothers are urging mobs to attack neighbors' children. Across the
      country, in the cities and out in the villages, Hindu "self-defense"
      groups are ransacking Muslims' shops and burning their homes.
      Vigilante patrols from each side keep watch over their respective
      communities. Among Hindus, talk of finishing the job left undone from
      the genocide of partition, in which up to a million people died in
      the bloody split of the subcontinent, is open and common. In the past
      month, more than 100,000 Muslims have fled their homes; business
      losses are estimated at $600 million.

      Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has described the pogrom merely
      as "unfortunate." Pravin Togadiya, general secretary of the VHP,
      warns that he can see Hindu sentiment getting even more out of hand.
      Said one rioter in Ahmadabad, capital of Gujarat, as he watched his
      comrades pillage a cluster of Muslim homes: "We want to make sure the
      Muslims never come back." If there is one immutable law of nature, it
      is that violence begets violence, and hatred spawns more hate (think
      of the Middle East). India's long national nightmare may just be



      The Praful Bidwai Column for the week beginning April 1
      Hindutva As A Caste Weapon
      Why Gujarat?

      By Praful Bidwai

      Each day Mr Narendra Milosevic Modi stays in power, he inflicts grave
      wounds upon the people of Gujarat, the 95,000 victims of communal
      violence in refugee camps, the integrity of the administration--and
      on India's secular-democratic Constitution and laws. Like a hardened
      criminal who will commit more and more offences to cover his tracks,
      Mr Modi is trying to evade culpability for the worst pogrom in
      India's history by blaming, victimising, and maligning others: his
      own relatively honest Indian Police Service officers27 of whom he has
      summarily transferred, non-governmental organisations, and even
      Opposition MPs. He has abused non-BJP MPs as "hypocrites" who
      "systematically exaggerate" the gravity of the Gujarat situation by
      misusing Parliament.

      Mr Modi’s remark that the current disturbances in Gujarat will stop
      the moment Parliament ends its session is a grievous affront to that
      institution and a ludicrous distortion of the truth. As the chairman
      of the Central government-sponsored National Human Rights Commission,
      Mr Justice J.S. Verma, has himself said after a three-day visit to
      Gujarat, the situation there is far from normal; citizens are in the
      grip of insecurity and a "fear psychosis". Mr Verma’s remarks on the
      state government's many failures confirm what civil society groups
      such as the 28-member conglomerate of NGOs, Citizens’ Initiative from
      Ahmedabad, have been saying for the past three weeks.

      Indeed, new evidence is emerging of the shocking role played by two
      of Mr Modi's own cabinet colleagues on the crucial first day of the
      post-Godhra violence. Health minister Ashok Bhatt and urban
      development minister I.K. Jadeja personally occupied police control
      rooms on February 28 to direct the "revenge" attacks. It is during
      their presence there that former MP Ehsan Jaffrey’s desperate, six
      hour-long appeals for rescue were ignored--before he was charred to
      death. That was also the beginning of the Naroda-Patiya butchery of
      90 Muslims. The activities of the first day set the stage for the
      massacre that followed.

      India’s Milosevic is now instructing his police to fudge First
      Information Reports by diluting charges against communal killers from
      "murder" to "murder in dacoity". Worse, the Gujarat police are
      omitting individual names of marauders and murderers. Mr Modi is also
      ill-treating people in refugee camps, where conditions are altogether
      ghastly. In one camp, with 9,000 people, there are only four toilets.
      In another typical case, the daily food rations are a pathetic 60
      grammes--that too of wheat full of worms and dirt. Such is the
      abiding ferocity of the communal hatred in Gujarat that the other day
      a Hindutva mob killed a Hindu woman because she gave shelter to a
      Muslim. The quality of violence is comparable to what was witnessed
      during Partition in Punjab.

      What explains the frightful intensity of this communalisation? Why is
      Mahatma Gandhi’s Gujarat in an even tighter grip of hatred, revenge
      and bestiality than, say, Uttar Pradesh? How come educated bhadralok
      people, respectable doctors and lawyers, participated in the killing,
      burning and looting? Why do Gujarat's Hindutva supporters hate
      Muslims so much?

      To start with, it bears recalling that modern India's first communal
      riot was recorded in Gujarat, in 1713. Gujarat is India's only state
      in which the BJP rules on its own. It has a clear majority of votesin
      contrast, it has always stayed below 40 percent in UP. The VHP too
      has an active presence in each Gujarat village with a population
      exceeding 500. The BJP’s student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi
      Parishad, claims to have a branch in every town and village. It is
      not for nothing that Gujarat has been called Hindutva's crucible or
      "laboratory". The victims recently placed in the crucible have been
      Christians, Adivasis (who are nature- or ancestor-worshippers, not
      Hindus), Dalits, and of course, Muslims.

      It is impossible to understand Hindutva's overwhelming strength in
      Gujarat without noting the general influence of Right-wing thinking
      in the culture of this business-oriented state and society which
      places a premium on commercialising all human relationships. At the
      political level, the Right's influence goes back to Gandhi's
      withdrawal in the late 1920s from active involvement in Gujarat in
      favour of national politics, and the importance of Sardar Vallabhbhai
      Patel's role.

      It is on this fertile soil that three major factors have shaped
      Gujarati society and politics. The most important is the early
      consolidation of a powerful alliance between the patidar land-owning
      farmers in the villages, and Brahmins and Banias in the cities. This
      divided the state between "Bhadra Gujarat" and "Aam Gujarat", say
      Gujarat-based social scientists Achyut Yagnik and Suchitra Sheth.
      “The expanding and modernising middle class of Gujarat has been
      looking for a new identity to validate its present and protect its
      future." Hindutva has furnished this identity. When faced with a
      challenge "from below", from Dalits and OBCs wanting to share power,
      the upper-caste elite reacted violently, especially after the
      impressive 1980 electoral performance of the KHAM
      (Kshatriya-Harijan-Adivasi-Muslim), coalition put together by
      Zinabhai Darji.

      The savarna (upper caste) reaction took the form of a violent
      agitation in 1981-82 against Dalits and the reservation system. "The
      myth of Gandhi's Gujarat--peaceful, tolerant and
      non-violent--exploded", say Yagnik and Sheth. This was repeated even
      more militantly against the OBCs in 1985-86. Remarkably, the leader
      of this Right-wing campaign against any dilution of bhadralok power
      was none other than Mr Narendra Modi. Its predominant ideology was
      Hindutva, the binding cement of savarna unity baptised in blood. This
      was originally targeted at the Hindu low castes, but soon turned
      against Muslims.

      "While the ideology of Hindutva was gaining ground", say Yagnik and
      Sheth, "moderate voices were getting weaker and more inaudible. By
      the early 1990s, community leaders … no longer wielded any authority
      over their youth and the traditional structures of community control
      had crumbled. These youngsters, in their late teens and early
      twenties have grown up on a diet of anti-minority invective and the
      voices of moderation, of liberal thought and tolerance have been
      missing from their environment."

      A second factor has been the growing influence of conservative and
      religious ideas through the NRI community. Gujarat has the highest
      population of any Indian state of non-resident Indians in the
      professional classes living in North America. Their "long-distance"
      nationalism is especially reactionary, and feeds Hindutva. This
      segment of the NRI community is more orthodox, traditional and
      backward-looking than its resident Indian counterparts. It provides
      the role-model for young Gujaratis whose anti-minority orientation is
      only matched by their disdain or hatred for Gandhi, whom they regard
      as effete and "effeminate".

      There is a third factor too. This is Gujarat’s weak liberal culture.
      Gujarat has certainly had a tradition of tolerance, and peaceful
      co-existence of ethnic groups and religions: e.g. Hindus, Muslims and
      Parsis. But tolerance is not the same thing as modernist liberal
      respect for pluralism. One reason for a lack of this, apart from the
      strength of the Right, is the weakness of Gujarat's labour movement.
      Once militant, this was compromised by the imposition of the
      pro-employer Mazoor Mahajan union based on the romantic notion of
      "trusteeship": industrialists as the "trustees" of labour, not its
      exploiters, which they are.

      The disarming of the labour movement an early stage meant that
      Gujarat’s elite was under little pressure to make human rights,
      labour rights and other concessions, or to respect liberal values. As
      the great historian E.P. Thompson often said, a liberal culture
      doesn’t come out of thin air; it arises from the people’s struggles,
      when workers and peasants fight at the barricades. This didn’t happen
      in Gujarat.

      Since the early 1990s, the bhadralok's growing assertiveness or
      aggressiveness has increasingly taken the form of xenophobia and
      crude Hindu-chauvinism. It is in Gujarat that textbooks were first
      severely rewritten to distort history by glorifying everything Hindu
      and maligning everything non-Hindu. The effects have been aggravated
      by changes in the social geography of cities like Ahmedabad, and
      creation of Hindu and Muslim ghettos, resulting in declining social
      interaction between communities.

      Thus, Gujarat’s Muslims, 100 percent Gujarati-speaking and probably
      the most culturally integrated in India, have been turned into the
      bhadralok’s villains and targets. Ironically, this happened in a
      state where the penetration of Islam was remarkably peaceful,
      according to scholars. Traditionally, Gujarat’s Muslims were
      themselves divided into 130 different communities vastly disparate in
      descent, occupation, lifestyle, and religious customs. For instance,
      the Bohras and Khojas were severely persecuted by Sunni Muslims, not
      Hindus. Hindutva has been as blind to differences among Muslims as it
      has been to divisions among the Hindus.

      Hindutva's overwhelming of Gujarat has delivered a devastating blow
      to the state’s society and economy. Gujarat, India’s most
      industrialised state, has for years, topped the foreign investment
      charts and attracted more than twice the amount of such investment
      per capita than Maharashtra. After the carnage, economic growth is
      certain to slow down. Rising unemployment will fuel greater
      frustration, social strife and violence. Gujarat’s future looks
      bleak. But unless the Hindutva juggernaut is stopped and communal
      forces are sent packing, much of India could soon begin to resemble
      Gujarat. That would spell India’s descent into barbarism.--end--



      2nd KaraFilm Festival

      !!! CALL FOR ENTRIES !!!

      The Karachi International Film Festival 2002

      September 2-8, 2002 - Karachi, Pakistan.

      Organized by filmmakers, the KaraFilm Festival is a celebration of
      the moving image and of storytelling. Our goal is to promote an
      appreciation of the art and craft of filmmaking among a wide
      population as well as to encourage creativity and high standards
      among filmmakers. The 1st KaraFilm Festival, held last year, drew
      participation from India, Sri Lanka, the United States and Canada in
      addition to Pakistan and featured 35 film screenings over three days.
      It is back this year, bigger and better.

      Filmmakers are invited to submit films in any of the following categories:

      1. Short Shorts (Fictional Work Up To 15 minutes in Length)

      2. Medium-Length Shorts (Fictional Work Between 15 and 60 minutes in Length)

      3. Feature Films (Fictional Work Over 60 minutes in Length)

      4. Documentaries (Non-Fictional Work of Any Length)

      Work may originate on Film OR Video.

      The Deadline for Submissions is June 15, 2002.

      For details on how, where and what to submit, please go to our website:



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