The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to amicably resolve with the Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat (IRCG) the issue of restoring religious places damaged or destroyed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
A Division Bench, headed by Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyaya, was hearing an IRCG petition filed in 2003, seeking directions to the government to repair and restore the holy places.
The IRCG sought compensation from the State government on the ground that the National Human Rights Commission had also recommended it.
While the IRCG claimed that 295 mosques and dargahs were destroyed or damaged, Advocate-General Kamal Trivedi, who earlier agreed that the number of religious structures damaged or destroyed was 64, on Tuesday brought down the figure to 37. He contended that the government did not formulate any policy to restore the damaged religious structures. Mr. Trivedi pleaded inability to give any assurance on behalf of the government as it was a “policy matter.”
Annoyed at the Advocate-General's stand, the Chief Justice said, “File an affidavit in this regard and we'll pass the order right away.” He asked the government to “sit together keeping all the grievances of the past aside and amicably solve the issue.”
The Chief Justice said the government should “move forward” keeping the people and their sentiments in mind. “Policies can be formulated in exceptional situations and exceptional cases that would keep the State together,” he said, and directed the Advocate-General to approach those Ministers who had the power to take decisions in this regard.