Gujarat officials "indifferent" to communal riot victims, "don't care" to implement PM's 15 point programme for minorities

Allubhai
By Our Representative
Living in a continued state of fear even nine months after the attack on his son, allegedly by Bajrang Dal activists on March 24, 2017, Allubhai of Vadagam village in Dhansura block of Aravalli district, Gujarat, complains that no action has yet been taken against those who tried to instigate the communal divide by seeking to whip up the love jehad bogey.
A teenager, his son was listening to a Bollywood song being played in a car, says Allubhai, a daily wage worker. The boy was spotted by a local, and accusations flew high that he was seeking to molest a Hindu girl. At around 9 pm, a group of goons entered the Muslim mohalla in Vadagam, wielding iron rods and swords, hockey sticks, engaging in wanton destruction of property.
"Instead of taking our complaints, the police detained six of us", Allubhai says, adding, "Even 79 year old Aminaben was put behind bars. On being freed, we were forced to flee our village. Badly injured, my son was picked up from the Civil Hospital in Modasa. While following a compromise with elders we have returned, wounds are still fresh in our memory."
Participating in a workshop organised by Ahmedabad-based NGO Rehnuma, the incident which Allubhai narrated was cited as an example to suggest how the Prime Minister's 15 point programme for minorities is not being implemented in its letter and spirit in Gujarat.
Sahara rehab site in Modasa town
The workshop was held as part of a discussion on "Minority Appeasement: Myth or Reality?", an action research report, funded by European Union and prepared by Rehnuma, the minority rights NGO promoted by Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad.
The report states, "Victims living in Vadagam have gone unheard by the police and not a single FIR has been registered", adding, this is just one example of "lack of response to the victims", which is promoting "further alienation of religious minorities, a factor that defeats the core objectives of the 15-point programme."
Tanay Gandhi, a researchers who introduced the report, said, "Even today, the authorities refuse to call the Vadagam incident communal incident and compensate to those who suffered." Situated near Modasa town, Vadagam had remained free of the 2002 Gujarat communal flareup, which affected the areas around it in a big way.
The report also gives the example of how victims of the communal riots in Modasa town and adjacent areas have been living in sub-human conditions in the rehabilitation settlement Sahara even today. The report says, "The community living has no awareness of the 15-Point Programme or the benefits they were entitled."
"There is a dire need for quality drainage, piped water supply, garbage disposal, paved roads, schools, hospitals etc., in Sahara colony. And while the victims have been rehabilitated, these important facilities have been overlooked and the ownership of the land and buildings has still not been transferred to the victims", the report states.
The report regrets, senior officials, including the Superintendent of Police and the district collector, refused to answer questions regarding the steps taken by the administration to combat communal violence, identify riot-prone areas etc., as required under the 15 point programme.
"While awareness of the communal violence prevention points of the 15-point programme was good enough, the willingness to discuss what was done according to the guidelines is non-existent", the report says.

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