Justice Against Genocide: An Agenda For Gujarat

The genocide in Gujarat is a festering woun on Indian democracy and secularism. Justice for the victims is an uphill struggle in the face of the BJP’s continuing reign of terror and intimidation in the State. A group of concerned citizens and organizations from both within and outside Gujarat gathered on 1 st June 2004 at Prashant, Ahmedabad to draw up a charter of demands for the Government of India for justice and healing in Gujarat. We reproduce some of the salient demands they made of the UPA Government.

Gujarat Citizens Charter

G ujarat was the crucible of Hindutva politics and continues to be wounded by the genocide and wanton refusal of the state government to ensure justice and healing. Therefore, the test case of the secular resolve of the new UPA government will be its ability to take resolute and often difficult decisions to restore justice and hope to the people of Gujarat.

We demand:

Legal Justice

1. The UPA government should support the recommendations of the Amicus Curiae in the Supreme Court [Writ Petition (Cri)No.109 of 2003] which proposes that, a retired judge of the Supreme Court and a retired police officer of impeccable credentials should be empowered to (a) re-examine all cases of closure, acquittal and bail related to cases registered in relation to the post-Godhra carnage; (b) if they find prima-facie miscarriage of justice at the stages of FIR, investigation, prosecution and trial, they should be empowered to order and supervise reinvestigation and/or retrial; and (c) monitor all ongoing investigation, prosecution and trial.

2. Repeal of POTA with retrospective effect, and cancellation of all POTA charges in Gujarat, in recognition of the painful fact that the state government openly misused this draconian Act to victimize exclusively members of the minority community, with very little genuine evidence.

3. The UPA government should institute a Special Judicial Commission to enquire into the Godhra incident, because the people of India have the right to know the exact facts behind the fire in the S6 compartment of the ill-fated Sabarmati Express on 27 th February, 2002

Compensation & Rehabilitation

4. UPA should announce a compensation package based on the most progressive features of the compensation packages that were announced for the survivors of the Kaveri riots, 1984 riots and others. Supervision of fair and timely implementation of this revised package should be entrusted to a Commissioner appointed by the Central Government.

5. A generous package of soft loans for housing and livelihoods should be given to all affected families.

6. Rehabilitation colonies that have been established through non-government initiatives (because of the total inaction by the State Government) be granted recognition and regularization in order to make them eligible for land title, electricity, water supply, approach roads, primary schools, etc. For families still unwilling to return to their

original homes because of fear, government should establish new settlements at suitable locations consented to by the affected families, and ensure basic facilities.

Accountability & Preventive Measures

7. UPA government should establish a machinery to ensure prosecution of all civil and police officers, who failed in their duties to prevent and control the violence, to protect the victims, and to extend relief and rehabilitation.

8. Similarly it should institute legal measures for the prosecution of the Chief Minister and other cabinet colleagues, for planning, instigating and abetting the carnage, and refusing to perform duties for relief and rehabilitation.

9. Enquiry by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court into the allegations of deliberate partisanship in the appointment of public prosecutors and judges in the post- Godhra trial cases.

10. A special group should be set up to monitor and take appropriate action against all individuals and organizations that preach or provoke hatred amongst people of different faiths.

11. The UPA should enquire into the systematic manufacture of hatred against minorities through textbooks and ensure their immediate replacement with liberal and secular educational material.

12. There has always been a precedent adopted by most governments in independent India to rebuild places of religious and cultural importance when these have been destroyed in communal violence. This healing precedent should be applied to the nearly 700 places of worship and cultural importance destroyed in the post-Godhra carnage. Particularly important is the rebuilding of the symbols of Gujarat syncretic culture like the Mazar of Wali Gujarati in Ahmedabad.

 13. In order to prevent recurrence of open state abetment of communal violence, abdication of responsibilities for relief and rehabilitation, and subversion of the justice system, the UPA government should undertake codification and passage of a national law. This law should delineate the statutory duties and accountability of the Government to prevent communal violence, protect victims and organize relief, compensation and rehabilitation, and lay down strong penalties for failure to perform these duties.

Batuk Vora, Digant Oza , Fr.Cedric Prakash, Gagan Sethi, Harsh Mander, Mallika Sarabhai Mukul Sinha, Parthiv Shah, Prasad Chacko, Rafi Mallik, Saumya Joshi [Fade-in Theatre], Stalin K. [Drishti Media Collective] Wilfred D’souza [INSAF] Zakia Jowher     .........  and others