Friday, August 31, 2012

Fissures in figures of shrines damaged in post-Godhra riots

All eyes are now on the Gujarat government after the Supreme Court asked it to furnish details about the religious structures damaged during the 2002 riots. It is to be seen what figure the government comes up with following its appeal in the apex court against the Gujarat high court’s directions to compensate for the damage done to shrines and get them repaired.
    The Gujarat government has long been maintaining that 535 religious places were damaged during the post-Godhra riots. It has also claimed that of these damaged shrines, 294 had been repaired by December 31, 2002.
    The government further stated last year that 241 places of worship had remained unattended even as per the survey conducted by the litigant before the HC – Islamic Relief Committee, Gujarat (IRCG).
    The IRCG, on the other hand, could furnish a list of only 513 places of worship that were damaged during the riots.
    But IRCG’s chief, Shakeel Ahmed says, “We were never in a position to contradict the government’s claims. It has been our contention that our list will never portray a complete picture, for we lack the resources to conduct a survey. State should get the survey done to find out exact figure.”
    On the other hand, on basis of criminal complaints received during the riots, the government came to know that damage was done to 562 religious places — 302 dargahs, 209 mosques, 30 madresa, 18 temples and 3 churches across the state. Only in Banaskantha, Dangs, Jamnagar, Navsari, Amreli and Surat (rural) there was no incident of such attack.
    These data was provided to the state government in August, 2002, by the intelligence bureau, when the later was asked by the home minister to review the law and order situation. Interestingly, the same report also highlighted the fact that the minorities were dejected following non-implementation of recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission.
    A decade later, the HC castigated the Narendra Modi government for the not heeding the recommendations. With directions to table the report before the assembly, the HC set up a channel to deal with the issue of conducting a survey and giving compensation for the damages shrines.
    When the order was passed in February this year, the government immediately issued instructions to all district collectorates to initiate the process of survey and damage assessment. But it was the time when Modi had began his Sadbhavna Mission.
    As soon as Modi’s one-day fasting as part of the mission was over, the state government moved the SC against the HC order.