Gujarat riots: 'Absence of pre-emptive measures led to carnage'

NEW DELHI NOV. 24. Taking a strong view of the failure of intelligence agencies to anticipate the potential dangers of the Godhra carnage earlier this year, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Empowerment of Women noted that it was the absence of pre-emptive measures which led to the violence, death and destruction of the magnitude witnessed.

In its report on `Violence against women during riots', tabled in the Lok Sabha recently, the committee took a stern view of the fact that instead of taking preventive measures, the violence was sought to be explained as a fall-out of Godhra. Also, it noted with regret that no effort had been made by the State machinery to either confiscate the widely circulated hate literature or identify those responsible for the circulation, which further vitiated the atmosphere.

The committee had based its observations on the members' visit to the violence-affected areas and inputs received from the Ministries of Home Affairs and Human Resource Development. The State was found wanting not just in taking preventive action but also in providing relief, security and rehabilitation to the victims. The committee noted a gender bias in distribution of compensation with many women living in relief camps totally ignorant of the compensation package. Some also complained of discrimination in the distribution of compensation.

Given the fact that some women were not paid compensation for the deceased male members of their family on technical grounds, including lack of proof of death and failure to identify the bodies, the committee said efforts should be made to complete the process of payment to pending cases including those of unidentified bodies. Similarly, the committee felt that a sympathetic view should be taken in the cases of those reported missing.

Though the State Government had informed the committee that Rs. 7.62 crores had been disbursed in 4,954 cases for completely destroyed houses and Rs. 15.55 crores for 18,294 partially damaged houses with individual compensation ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 50,000, the committee was shown several cheques ranging from Rs. 40 to Rs. 200.

Besides, many complained that surveys were conducted in their absence and in an arbitrary manner while others claimed that landlords had been paid the compensation ignoring the real victims who had lost all their belongings.