March 9, 02
Urgent Appeal to the Chief Justice of India
Protection and Basic Amenities for Relief Camps in Ahmedabad
To Mr. S.P.Bharucha,
Supreme Court of India
This is an urgent appeal made by concerned citizens of Gujarat and the rest of India. We urge you, given the seriousness of the matter, to kindly intervene by treating this primary communication as a Public Interest Litigation. It urges protection from the State for the preservation of life, which is a Fundamental Right under the Indian Constitution.
From Feb 28th, following the reprehensible incident at Godhra, the whole of Gujarat State was consumed with barbaric violence blatantly encouraged by both the Government and the State Machinery. There is ample evidence of crude and open State Complicity and Violence. The Brutal and Pre-Mediated Violence that continued until the day before yesterday, has left 35,000 residents of the city internally displaced.
They are in relief camps in different parts of the city, entirely managed by members of the community. These camps are in far-flung areas of the city. The residents of these camps are in an extremely vulnerable situation. Given the levels of brutality that were evidenced in the recent carnage and also given the organised nature of the mass crimes committed, thousands of persons living in the camps are fearful of being victims of further violence. Hence the State should intervene, through a directive from you to ensure immediate protection by the Army at all these camps. This is our first plea to you, Sir.
Though a week has passed, since the brutal violence began in Gujarat, stray and brutal incidents of violence have not stopped and the city is tense and on edge with wild rumours. Just the day before yesterday we had mass stabbing and savagery against the Muslim minority in a village, barely half a kilometre outside Ahmedabad. Hence the issue of providing protection to these camps is quite critical and urgent.
Besides, the state government has simply refused to take charge of the rehabilitation of 35,000 displaced citizens. Nearly one and a half dozen relief camps in the city are being entirely manned by the community leaders with some help in relief coordination from NGOs. The condition in these camps is pathetic.
Besides, many of these camps are out in the open without basic amenities and the citizens are experiencing great insecurity after the brutal experience that they have gone through. In the Vatwa camps, where one Mahesh Patel of the VHP has been identified as the chief instigator and accused in the violence that occurred on March 1, audio cassettes with cries and howls of ‘maro maro’ are played at night on loudspeakers even now, to further shake the already terrorised residents.
The condition at these relief camps is pathetic, every resident is suffering from mental trauma. The Government and the administration is treating them like concentration camps: the survivors are not allowed to step out or move about freely, even for basic commodities. The immediate need is for milk, oil, grains, rice, tea and temporary building materials like mandaps etc since at the moment the survivors are housed in make shift accommodation in extremely unsanitary conditions. Many of the survivors suffer from burns and other serious injuries; medicines and medical attention and health care is the need of the hour. There is also the genuine fear of epidemic. In such a dire situation the State is maintaining a cold and calculated distance by providing relief. Is this not sufficient case for a case of discrimination against the minority that is ultra vires of the Indian Constitution?
The issue of rehabilitation on government land with constructed homes is looming large especially as in many areas, persons are not willing to go back. Relocation without sensitivity and examination can however be mindless as locations of communities have more to do with economic reasons, the sources of livelihood rather than any other; there needs urgent attention to be paid to the matter.
A directive needs to be issued to the State Government by your Lordship, to ensure that ration cards are made afresh and swiftly for all inmates of relief camps. This will ensure to some extent their right to residence in future. If this is not done there is a real danger that the State, which has already displayed a blatantly partisan and fascist role, may tomorrow actually rob these residents of Ahmedabad of their basic right, that of citizenship.
There are eyewitnesses, written and photographic evidence of blatant State complicity in the genocide. The evidence of selective destruction of Muslim shops was clear. For kilometre after kilometre in Ahmedabad city and through the State, dhabas, garages, laundries, bakeries and garages and factories owned by the minority community have been gutted or destroyed even as the shops next to them were completely unharmed.
Hence we appeal to you, in your position as Chief Justice,
Prof KN Panikkar, Gautam Thaker, Mihir Desai,
Fr. Cedric Prakash, Dr Hanif Lakdawala, Teesta Setalvad,
Sophia Khan, Fr. Francis Parmar, Javed Anand, Wilfred D’Costa,
Bhavna Ramrakhiani, Sudhir Ghodke and many others.
Details of Relief Camps
These are the relief camps that have been contacted by the NGOs working in various areas of Ahmedabad till today.
Chartoda Kabrasthan (Gomtipur) 3000 people
Madhavbai Mill Compound (Gomtipur) 3000 people
Nagoripatel Ni Challi (Saraspur) 1000 people
Amanchowk 4500 people
Rakhial/Sundaram Nagar(Bapunagar) 3,000 people
Gayatri Society (Bapunagar) 2500 people
Shah Alam Dargah 5000 people
Bibi Talav 1500 people
Al-Medina 1500 people
Al-Kuba 1500 people
Alif Nagar (all around Shah Alam Vatva Road)1500 people
Shahibaug area 3000 people
Shahpur 3000 people
Odhav area 2000 people