Saturday, April 16, 2016

US report notes Gujarat govt "failure" to provide justice to 2002 riot victims, "curb" on Patels' right to agitate

By Our Representative
Revising the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat, the US state department’s new 67-page report on human rights situation in India has expressed “concern” over the Gujarat government’s “failure to hold accountable those responsible for the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 persons, the majority of whom were Muslim.”
Referring to the slow process of justice, the report states, “On September 16, the Gujarat High Court’s acting Chief Justice assembled a new bench to hear the appeals from Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi, along with others who authorities had sentenced to imprisonment for their role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. This was the fifth bench to hear these petitions.”
It says, this happened even as Zakia Jafri “appealed the rejection by the Gujarat High Court of a petition challenging a special investigative tribunal’s conclusion finding insufficient evidence to prosecute 63 individuals, including police, security, and other senior state government officials accused of complicity or dereliction of duty in the 2002 Gujarat riots.”
Referring to a Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) study on internally displaced persons (IDPs) of India, the report says, it found there were 3,964 “internally displaced Muslim families in 86 settlements in Gujarat” even more than a decade after the riots.
It underlines, “30 percent of the IDPs did not receive government assistance and the government inadequately compensated the remainder despite central government directives. The state government denied social welfare benefits to registered IDPs. Camps reportedly sometimes lacked basic amenities, such as drinking water, power, sanitation, health care, and education.”
Referring to how Gujarat police allegedly harassed those fighting legal cases for the Gujarat 2002 riot victims, the report refers to efforts to implicate activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand in “embezzlement”, adding, “The Supreme Court granted defendants anticipatory bail after several denials in lower courts in Gujarat.”
Apart from communal riots, another major issue of human rights violation in Gujarat the US report refers to is the manner in which agitations in Gujarat, especially the the recent Patels’ pro-reservation stir.
The report refers to how on August 28, the Gujarat High Court had to order “Ahmedabad Police’s Criminal Investigation Department to investigate the custodial death of Swetang Patel”, who was along with several individuals on August 25 “following violence related to a protest organized by a Patel community organization.”
Pointing towards how internet is sought to be banned to curb agitations, the report notes, “On September 15, the Gujarat High Court upheld a local government decision to ban mobile internet services during violent protests organized by the Patel community organization Patidar Committee Campaign for Affirmative Action.”
It adds, “District administrations and police authorities in Gujarat suspended mobile internet services including 2G, 3G, and other mobile communication services for six days starting on August 25. On September 12, the Navsari district authorities banned internet services again for two days as a precautionary action prior to a proposed rally.”
“State authorities invoked preventive detention laws most frequently in Delhi but also in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Kashmir”, the report says, adding, “NGOs have criticized Gujarat’s Prevention of Antisocial Activities Act, which allows authorities to file a charge sheet up to 90 days after arrest.”

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