SPECIAL URGENT APPEALS
RESTORE PEACE IN GUJARAT - INDIA
28 March 2002
After the 27 February 2002 incident in Godhra, whereby a Muslim mob set fire
to a train carrying Hindu radicals returning from Ayodhya, the wave of
revenge continued especially in the Hindu-majority state of Gujarat. As a
result, minority Muslims fled for their lives and instead live with fear in
several relief camps.
Gujarat's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State Government is facing severe
criticism for the appalling conditions in state-run relief camps for 60,000
Muslims displaced by the large-scale killings, arson and looting by Hindu
mobs. NGOs accuse the State Government of discriminating against the
victims of violence, mostly Muslims, living in shelters throughout the
Aid workers say there is an acute shortage of food, cooking oil, sugar and
other needs such as medicine, clothes and blankets. Local newspapers
reported that each camp, housing about 3,000 people, had only six toilets
and people received only 60 grams of wheat a day.
Besides food and shelter, aid workers say there is also an urgent need for
counselling to help the dispossessed cope with psychological trauma.
*** Please respond immediately
Please write polite letters to the Chairman of the National Human Rights
Commission of India to pressurise the State Government of Gujarat to carry
out the following:
- protect and support all refugees of the recent communal violence and those
aid workers who are helping them;
- provide proper and adequate relief measures to all victims not only for
rehabilitation but also compensation;
and voice your support for the setting up a judicial enquiry by a sitting
Supreme Court/High Court judge to look into the entire situation and bring
the guilty to justice.
Send letters to:
Honourable Justice J S Verma
National Human Rights Commission
Sardar Patel Bhavan, 1st floor
Fax : 91-11-3340016
Send copies to:
1. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Telephone Number (41-22) 917-9000
2. Diplomatic Representative of India in your country.
We are deeply concerned about the recent violence at Gujarat State,
following the Godhra incident. While condemning the gross violations of
human rights that led to the loss of many innocent lives and many
minorities, mainly Muslims, being displaced as refugees in their own homes,
we appreciate those who sheltered and protected the minority in the face of
death and destruction to their own lives and property. In your recent visit
to the State, you have personally witnessed the destruction that has
occurred and we applaud your effort to thoroughly investigate the entire
We hope that you will communicate our concerns to the State Government of
Gujarat and that your efforts would lead to the their effective protection
and support for the refugees and those aid workers who are helping them;
their provision of proper and adequate relief measures to all victims for
rehabilitation and compensation. We also humbly support the call for the
setting up of a judicial enquiry by a sitting Supreme Court/High Court judge
to look into the tragedy and bring the guilty to justice.
You will be aware of the need for justice to be done before the people of
Gujarat can start the process of genuine reconciliation. This process will
require the cooperation and participation of many, local people and civil
society organisations but it is a necessary process to prevent recurrence of
the terrible incidents witnessed after 28 February 2002.
*** Please avoid typing 'cc ACPP' at the end of your letter and send copies
to us separately for monitoring purpose. Thank You for Your Continued
Violence Rampage from 27 February 2002 Onwards
In Gujarat State (in the western part of India), the violence began late
February after a train filled with Hindu radicals returning from a
pilgrimage in Ayodhya was set on fire by a Muslim mob, killing 58 Hindus on
board. The next day Hindu mobs took to the streets with pistols, knives and
cans of kerosene. The ensuing backlash against Muslims has left more than
600 dead, mostly in Gujarat State.
The first three weeks of March have brought the worst Hindu-Muslim violence
in a decade and outbreaks over the weekend of 23 and 24 March resulted in
several more deaths. At least 147 Muslim-owned properties have been
destroyed to date.
More than 60,000 people were displaced from their homes into makeshift
relief camps. Shah Alam in Ahmedabad (the capital of Gujarat) is one of the
largest relief camps. The vast majority of the people in this camp are
A high-level human rights delegation headed by the Chairman of the National
Human Rights Commission, Justice J S Verma was in Gujarat recently to
investigate the communal violence. The visit occured amid widespread
criticism of the State Government for failing to contain the violence. In
an interview with the press on his return to New Delhi, Justice Verma
criticised the State Government of Gujarat for its "inefficiency" in
controlling the recent communal violence in the state. He added that the
state was far from normal even three weeks after the first clash between
Hindus and Muslims.
What is the reason for local concentrations of communal violence?
A research in six cities - three riot-prone and three entirely or mostly
peaceful - of Ashutosh Varshney, the director of the Centre of South Asian
Studies at the University of Michigan, suggests that pre-existing local
networks of civic engagement between the two communities -- business
associations, political parties, trade unions, professional associations,
clubs -- stand out as the single most important cause. Where such
integrated networks of engagement exist, tensions and conflicts get
regulated and managed. Where they are missing, segregated lives lead to
Local sources, International Herald Tribune, South China Morning Post, Far
Eastern Economic Review, BBC News.
[Related background on conflict at Ayohdya can be found in UA020207(3).]
Thank You for Your Continued Support.
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