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Press for "comprehensive accountability" for Gujarat riots with future PM: Human Rights Watch to US govt

By Our Representative
The Human Rights Watch, top New York-based rights body, has insisted that the United States should press for “comprehensive accountability for the 2002 events in Gujarat” before any future Indian government that may take over in May 2014. In a recent statement, John Sifton, who works as Asia advocacy director of the Human Rights Watch, said that this is particularly significant against the backdrop of the fact that Narendra Modi is “now a top candidate to be India’s next prime minister", predicting "his BJP party" may lead in in the polls.
Regretting that the world opinion about Modi is starting to change, Sifton said, “Several countries that had previously suspended meetings with Modi because of the 2002 allegations have since met with him, including then-US Ambassador Nancy Powell, who met with him this February.” This has happened despite the fact that “outside of India, the lack of accountability for repeated instances of serious violence has led to condemnations and even travel restrictions for alleged perpetrators of abuses.”
Sifton made the statement early this month while appearing before the authoritative Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which is a US Congressional wing. The Human Rights Watch recently released full text of Sifton’s statement. Sifton recalled, “In March 2005 Chief Minister Modi applied for a diplomatic visa to visit the United States. Because of allegations regarding his complicity in the 2002 Gujarat violence, the United States denied his application and revoked an earlier visitor visa.”
The statement, running in 1,800 words, said, “For many years after the violence in Gujarat, the state government failed to press forward with any comprehensive investigations. Prosecutions began only after extensive pressure from activists and victim families, and interventions by India’s Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission. An investigation ordered by the Supreme Court to look into Modi’s role in the violence found no prosecutable evidence of his direct complicity.”
Regretting this, Sifton said, such a conclusion is being used by the officials from his BJP “to suggest that he has received a “clean-chit” from the courts.” However, he insisted, “There are still current legal processes underway in Indian courts, initiated by Indian activists and victim families seeking accountability. And independent of the question of Modi’s personal complicity in the violence, there are issues of the culpability of the state government in failing to protect its Muslim citizens.”
Sifton particularly noted how, in the “run-up to this year’s elections in India”, tensions escalated between Hindu and Muslim communities, “leading to a 30 percent increase in incidents of communal violence as compared to 2012.” He quoted official data to say that “the central government’s Ministry of Home Affairs reported 823 incidents of communal violence in 2013, in which 133 people died and over 2,000 were injured.”
Referring to the Muzaffarnagar violence of September 2013, in which at least 60 people died, Sifton said, “Inflammatory speeches by right-wing Hindu leaders and allied groups led to three days of violence, which spread to neighboring districts and only ended after a curfew was imposed and the Indian army was deployed to restore law and order. In addition to the 60 people killed, at least six cases of gang rape and sexual violence were reported. Muslim citizens from more than 150 villages were compelled to flee their homes, and even today, thousands of them remain displaced, fearful to return.”
Pointing towards “arbitrary arrests of Muslims in terrorism cases”, Siftron said, “Many Muslim men have been arbitrarily detained, interrogated, and tortured after bombing attacks, especially between 2006 and 2008. Later investigations found that members of Hindu extremist groups were actually responsible for some of these attacks. Authorities have also used draconian and abusive laws, including the Sedition Law and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, to target Muslims.”
“Not only do Muslims frequently fear arbitrary arrest, they can also fear for their lives. In July 2013, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed charges against senior Gujarat police and intelligence officials for the extrajudicial killing of four Muslims, including a 19-year-old woman”, Sifton said, adding, “The police had initially claimed that the four, who were suspected of conspiring to assassinate Modi, were intercepted and killed in an exchange of gunfire.”
“A later independent investigation found that the four were taken into custody and later executed by members of the Gujarat police. Some of the policemen are now being investigated in other cases of extrajudicial killings. In September, DG Vanzara, a senior official arrested along with 31 others from the Gujarat police for their alleged role in extrajudicial killings, wrote a letter claiming the killings took place while they were implementing Gujarat government policy”, Sifton said.
Sifton ended by putting forward a list of demands of the Human Rights Watch before the Obama administration while dealing with India future’s Prime Minister. These include:
  • Enact a stronger law to prevent communal violence. A draft Prevention of Communal Violence Bill is floundering because some political parties want to dilute its provisions.
  • Strengthen existing human rights commissions such as the National Commission for Minorities and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, which monitor the rights of religious minorities, Dalits, and tribal groups. In some cases, the effectiveness of these commissions has been compromised after the government has staffed them with non-expert, political appointees.
  • Repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
  • Discipline or prosecute as appropriate members of the security forces, regardless of rank, who unjustifiably fail to stop violence or do not act impartially during events of communal violence.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Mr. John Sifton, you did not understood your Job v.well!! You are a director of Human Rights! Do you know who shld be called HUMANS? These Islamist radicals the s...t people of the world...the very non-sense jargon which is multiplying like a cancer (courtesy to your security ideas) you can't call them Humans! If you call them Humans then you shld punish G.Bush, Obama first since they killed so many in Iraq, afghanistan etc going after the 9/11 tragedy etc. Modi( or anyone who was responsible for Gujarat roits) did the same....he went after inHumans who set fire in a train due to religious bias!! that killed so many! Did you ever studied the reason behind roits!! Gujarat was after train prepators who were being shielded by local muslims just as Bin-Laden was being shielded in Abottabad/pakistan!! Have your ever convicted Obama and his predecessors for their inhuman behavior!! Did'nt your dog(Human Rights Watch found) smell that!! Or it was given golden bone to eat in lieu of.

Tell you what...I really pity your thoughts...so limited...so low?. Courtsey to such blunders of people like you...every one in the world is suffering from these beasts in so called human form.

Why people kill wild animals when they enter human residential areas? Cuz they do not understand humanist and continue to be wild in human areas and pound on innocent people to kill them...is the reason we reciprocate. These islami inhumans are in same category of wild animals (please do not mistake them for humans!) and shld be killed...you shld also kill the people who support them! I think Gujarat govt. shld not be sidelined for this, instead they shld be lauded to fight and punish the culprits and their supporters to upkeep the humanity for once and all!

Mr. John, this is for your kind information that because of people like you who cannot differentiate between humans and animals in human form the population of these inhumans is increasing by day so far so that they are slitting throats(of real humans) in public and dare to video tape it too! No one is able to conquer them.! Its pity, and this pity is growing by day since we are not able to curb the fundamental/roots of these inhumans aka wild animals in human areas! instead to upkeep our snobbish characters trying to be world heros we are caging real humans who try to kick off these inhumans!! are we not set for "OUT OF MIND PERSON" title?? MIND YOU if you continue your non, se-nse they are going to grow such that there will be all inhumans around and then there will be no humans so what will happen of your human RIGHTS!!

Lastly, a small piece of advice for you is: Understand your job, its implied meanings and be responsible to humans only please.

Hope you will come up with ideas to finish this breed of inhumans in human form and will cut their roots so that we can restore humanism around and no one will be silted, no one will live under the fear of terrorism.

Thank you, and I look forward to it.

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