Gujarat riots’ victims do not want to return home: Survey

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: The first two years after the 2002 Gujarat riots were the most difficult for the victims as the rehabilitation camps were forcibly closed down, points out a survey on the socio-economic condition of the riot victims released in the Capital .

Titled “The Wretched”, the survey conducted in March 2007 in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Panchmahal, Bharuch, Anand, Mehsana, Dahod and Sabarkantha was aimed at assessing the living conditions of each and every family affected by the riots. The survey team members interviewed 4,182 individuals.Addressing a press conference here, scientist Gauhar Raza said a majority of the respondents did not want to go back to their homes because of the fear psychosis prevailing in the State.“Even six years after the riots, Muslims fear identifying their Hindu neighbours who saved their lives during the riots and Hindus also fear claiming proudly that they were the ones who helped their Muslims friends during the carnage.”

For all the wrong reasons

Pointing out that for the past five years Gujarat had remained in the news for all the wrong reasons, Mr. Raza said: “The Gujarat Government refused to fulfil its constitutional duty towards the victims of the carnage. They not only disbanded the relief camps but also adopted an active policy of discrimination towards the families that were displaced during the carnage. In the absence of any support system, civil society came to the rescue of the victims and took the plunge to provide material, physical and psychological help. This in the normal course is the job of the Government machinery.”

Shabnam Hashmi of Act Now for Harmony And Democracy (ANHAD) said: “While a large number of people heard about the massacre of 2,000 Muslims during the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, a majority remains totally ignorant about the existence of thousands of second class citizens who have not been able to return to their homes even six years after the carnage. After the riots, we have been fighting for the rights of victims to provide them self-employment and rehabilitation. The Gujarat Government hasn’t helped them in the rehabilitation programme.”

Ms. Hashmi said since the Gujarat Government was to disburse the Centre’s al Government’s rehabilitation package for the riot victims, one member from an NGO working in the State should have been included in disbursement committee.