01, Jan 2009
The Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, 2009 released by the Government of the United States of America provides a clear overview on the atrocities committed on the minority community in Gujarat in 2002 and the subsequent lacklustre efforts by the government to secure justice for the victims and provide them with relief and rehabilitation.
The report made the following significant observations:
- Several human rights groups believed those responsible for the 2002 violence would largely go unpunished despite sporadic judgements convicting Hindu assailants and the Supreme Court’s direct supervision of certain high-profile cases.
- In its 2006 response to the Supreme Court, the Gujarat police said it would reexamine 1,600 of the 2,108 cases that were closed after the riots. By June 2008 the Gujarat police dropped as many as 1,600 cases without trial, citing unavailability of witnesses.
- In many cases tried in Gujarat lower courts, the accused were acquitted due to lack of evidence or changes in testimony. Two women’s rights activists reported that the National Government had informed a U.N. agency in 2006 that up to that time, only six cases relating to 2002 violence had resulted in convictions, whereas 182 cases had resulted in acquittals. On May 1, 2009, the Supreme Court ordered retrials of all Gujarat cases by fast-track courts in Gujarat and monitoring of the retrials by the SIT.
- The situation for many persons displaced by the 2002 violence remained unchanged. The NGO Center for Social Justice, which carried out the initial survey of the families for NHRC, confirmed that the situation in the camps as reported in the 2005 survey by the NHRC monitoring committee was essentially unchanged: approximately 4,300 Muslim families (25,000 to 30,000 individuals) were still internally displaced and living in makeshift camps with inadequate infrastructure. Muslims in camps told the NHRC they feared retaliation by Hindu neighbours if they returned to their villages. They also feared Hindu neighbours would pressure them to withdraw the complaints they had filed in connection with the 2002 violence. The NGO also confirmed many poor families in the camps still had not received government food subsidy cards.
The entire report can be accessed here.