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April 26, 2003

Press Statement

Gujarat - A State Under Seige

Terror continues to be unleashed systematically against the Muslim minority in Gujarat through indiscriminate arrests and illegal detentions by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch of at least 80 Muslim youth, the selective application of POTA against 12 Muslims for alleged involvement in the Haren Pandya murder and 123 accused in the Godhra mass arson. Muslim women, relatives of allegedly absconding accused and even of detained persons, have also been brutally abused during questioning by the Ahmedabad police. A delegation of Muslim women petitioned the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner, Kaushik on this matter the day before yesterday. The Sunni Bohra community is the
singular target of these actions.

While the investigation into Mr Pandya's murder has been formally handed over to the CBI, it has effectively been entirely 'hijacked' by the City Crime Branch. Over the past fortnight, police officers like PN Barot and others directly accused of close proximity to the ruling political dispensation have been brought in and are terrorising people in order to extort money from them.

One year later, the Genocide in Gujarat continues through social and economic boycott of Muslims in atleast 10 of the 24 districts of the State and a politically vindictive state headed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi seeks to subvert all criminal investigations int the incidents of violence last year. Moreover a sinister and systematic plan to target over 325 Muslim-run Institutions, including madrassas and others has been put in place with the help of the Education department, Charity Commissioner's Office and the city and State police. A survey of madrassas has already been made supervised by the State Home Minister to put this Operation in place. Meanwhile, Christian Institutions have also been picked for objectionable questioning by the state's education department.

We appeal to the Nation, to Institutions of Democracy in the country, to the National and Regional Media and to all secular political parties to respond to the continuing tragedy, the low intensity terror and genocide that continues in Gujarat.

Human Rights Defenders, our associates in Gujarat, social workers, and Lawyers of the minority community fighting cases for Justice have all been threatened and face a serious threat to their lives. Activists and workers coordinating the Gulberg massacre, the Naroda gaon and Pattiya carnage especially are receiving regular threats.

The main accused in the Gulberg massacres run free in the Chamanpura locality and terrorise victim survivors trying to rebuild their homes destroyed through blood and murder on February 28 last year. About 45 families constrained by poverty who have had to go back to Naroda face verbal sexual threats from the major accused who are also free.                                                                
The role of the State Public Prosecutors in the major carnages has been highly questionable. The Godhra investigation, too is highly politically motivated and 123 accused on whom POTA was applied last month have not been seen by their families since then. Five were even injected with serum that dulled their senses (an objectionable practice violative of national and international law) during questioning.

While tribal areas of the State reel with the onset of hunger and yet another year of drought, the Constitution is being breached with impunity in Gujarat. It is time that the entire civil society, as well as all our institutions for enforcing the rule of law including courts take stock of the situation in Gujarat which is no less alarming than what prevailed during the Nazi regime in Germany.

Addressed By Teesta Setalvad, Prashant Bhushan, Kamal Mitra Chenoy.

Sahmat & Communalism Combat
8 VP House, Rafi Marg, New Delhi 110001
Tel 2371 1276, 2335 1424. E Mail: [email protected]
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