Gujarat Update March 28, 02

Reality What we saw

Teesta Setalvad Fr Cedric Prakash Wilfred D’Costa


Yesterday was exactly one month since the train at Godhra was torched and today completes one month since Ahmedabad and several parts of Gujarat witnessed large scale murder, arson, rape and loot. The flames of hatred and violence have not yet ebbed as reports come in from remote areas of how the homes and shops of Muslims are still being burnt.

The state of the relief camps is a clear indicator of the treatment meted out to the displaced minority community. Conservative figures put the number in these relief camps at about 1,50,000. Though the official death toll is put at 700 + ..the real figure could be two or three times that number since several hundreds are still reported missing. The stark irony of the current situation is that some poor Hindus are housed in “Municipal Schools” which have become relief camps. We visited one of them on the 26th (Kankaria Municipal School No. 5) and were amazed at the contrast between this camp which reportedly houses 500 and that which houses Muslim refugees. In this official Hindu camp, the residents apparently get very good meals and are well provided for with even a Red Cross tent pitched on the grounds. Most of the people are there with their belongings and say that they have left the huts because of fear.

The Muslim dominated areas continue to be curfew bound while the other side of the city has the privilege of enjoying the inauguration of a Mc Donald establishment. Urgent and frantic appeals from Muslims of these areas come in. The food commodities and other essential items are in short supply and there is every possibility that these settlements may become refugee camps if curfew is not lifted as soon as possible.

A vicious anonymous leaflet signed by “A Hindustani” and entitled “eent ka jawab patthar se do” (respond to bricks with stones) is currently doing the rounds in several sensitive areas of Ahmedabad, warning of attacks on Muslims on March 29th the day the country celebrates Holi. The language used in it is highly inflammatory and will definitely heighten the tension in all areas.

The media very specially those at the national level continue to play a very active role with more and more of them joining Human Rights group asking that Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat be tried for genocide at the International Court of Justice