Indian Americans reaffirm efforts towards justice on Eighth Anniversary of Gujarat Genocide
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2010
February 28, 2010 was the eighth anniversary of the Gujarat genocide. Between February 28 and March 2, 2002, a three-day retaliatory killing spree was perpetrated against Indian Muslims from the state of Gujarat by mobs incited by rhetoric of hate by extremist Hindutva leaders. By the time the brutality had subsided, international human rights groups such as the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International estimated that over 2000 civilians were killed, hundreds of women were gang-raped, over 150,000 were displaced, and the socio-economic infrastructure of the Muslim community was systematically targeted.
Human Rights Watch’s findings in their 2002 report titled “‘We Have No Orders To Save You’ State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat” in addition to those of numerous Indian human rights and civil liberties organizations indicate that the attacks on Muslims throughout the state were planned, well in advance of the Godhra train burning tragedy which killed 58 karsevaks traveling in the train.
The Coalition government lead by Bharatya Janata Party (BJP), a political wing of Rashtrya Swaym Sevak (RSS), failed to act in a timely manner which amounted to aiding and abetting the violence in Gujarat. Prime Minister Vajpayee, his hard-line deputy, L. K. Advani, and other ministers continued to express their support for the local political leaders involved in the pogrom and blame the victims.
The Gujarat genocide is still continuing. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims living in the villages of Gujarat are subjected to a brutal economic boycott and sustained ethnic cleansing. In a report released on March 8th, 2007, titled “India: Five years on – the bitter and uphill struggle for justice in Gujarat,” Amnesty International had mentioned that the Government of Gujarat remains unrepentant for its failings to protect the Muslim minority and to ensure that victims obtain justice, truth and reparations. Furthermore, according to an April 2008 report titled the “Marginalized Status of Muslims in Gujarat” assisted by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, “The Muslim community in the State of Gujarat continues to suffer serious deprivations of economic, social and cultural rights as a result of the ongoing legacy of the 2002 state-sponsored communal pogroms.”
On Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, the Supreme Court rejected the plea for a CBI inquiry into the post-Godhra communal riot cases in Gujarat which are currently being probed by the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) stating that a fresh investigation would delay the process. This is very unfortunate as the petitioners Devendra Bhai Pathak and Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had listed out serious and significant lapses on the part of the five-member SIT. CJP alleged that certain members within the SIT were now accused of having a role in the post-Godhra riots themselves.
The 3000 pages petition filed by CJP documents the serious lapses that undermine the credibility of the SIT. The orchestrated violence at Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gam, Gulbarg society, Ode, Mehsana, Anand and Sabrkantha is yet to be investigated transparently and without State Government interference.
The groups perpetrating the genocide brought immense shame to India and did great harm to the country’s name; only through justice to all the victims confidence can be restored. This increasing impunity towards the leadership and rank and file who plan and execute these communal violence for politics of hate can only be checked with swift and unbiased application of law and order. The law and order record after the 1984 pogroms of Sikhs, Muslims in 2002 and religious cleansing of Christians in Orissa in 2007 and 2008 is dismal at best.
It is encouraging to see the movement towards passing a Communal Violence Bill; however the current version of the Communal Violence Bill is in fact drafted poorly and may become another tool for the practitioners of politics of hate to prosecute their agenda. According to the National Consultation on the Communal Violence Bill 2009 which met on February 13th and 14th, 2010, the current bill is very dangerous as it gives the authority to declare a communally disturbed area only to the state government which has often been complicit in perpetrating communal violence. Further, there is no provision in the bill to hold any public servant accountable for incidences of communal riots in his jurisdiction and neither is there any provision to specifically protect marginalized communities.
Therefore, IMC-USA continues to support individuals and organizations struggling for a transparent and fair investigation into the violence and demands that the Indian government assure that the upcoming Communal Violence Bill 2009 discourages politics of hate not protect it.
IMC-USA commends all Indians engaged in exposing the horrible crimes of communal elements and the great dangers that the Hindutva ideology poses to India and considers them as true patriots. These patriotic Indians continue to sacrifice to keep India as a pluralistic and secular society. We also wish to thank decent men and women of all faiths or no faith, who stand shoulder to shoulder in this patriotic struggle to make India a moral and rightful contender of Global leadership.
Dr. Hyder Khan
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“THE MARGINALIZED STATUS OF MUSLIMS IN GUJARAT”
“‘We Have No Orders To Save You’ State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat”
“India: Five years on – the bitter and uphill struggle for justice in Gujarat,”