Ruled by the Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP), Gujarat remained one of the most intolerant
States in India. Vandalizing of paintings and physical
assault by Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad symbolized
The police registered a
case of rape and murder against Kadi police station
sub-inspector Rakesh Pathak, in whose residence a woman
constable, Shirin Karimbhai had received gunshot injuries
and died in hospital on the night of 25 November 2004. The NHRC directed the State government
to pay compensation of Rs 1 lakh for custodial death
of Haji Mohd Nabuji Tentwala in 1995. The NHRC registered
32 custodial deaths in 1999-2000, 38 in 2000-2001, 52
in 2001-2002 and 51 in 2002-2003 in Gujarat.
However, major human rights
violations continued to revolve around the Gujarat riots
of February-March 2002 and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The Supreme Court held the modern day Neros responsible
for the Gujarat riots while transferring the trial of
the Best Bakery case from Gujarat to Maharashtra. While
the Supreme Court transferred a few cases for trial
outside of Gujarat, around half of the communal violence
cases i.e. 2,032 out of 4,252 were closed down by Gujarat
Police after classifying them as “true but undetected”.
The alleged encounter death
of Ishrat Jehan Shaikh, Javed, Jishan Johar, and Amjadali
Akbarali Rana alias Salim was termed by Peoples Union for Civil Liberties
and other NGOs as “One more encounter for Modi’s sake?”
Undertrials involved in
the Godhra carnage case alleged of harassment by jail
authorities during namaz and poor medication inside
the Sabarmati jail. Of the 305 persons booked under
Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 for alleged involvement
in Gujarat riots and subsequent crimes, only seven are
Hindus. As the Congress-led United Progressive
Alliance reaffirmed to repeal POTA, the Gujarat assembly
adopted the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC)
Act and referred to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Human rights defenders whether
noted dancer Mallika Sarabhai, Teesta Setalvad, Fr.
Cedric Prakash or Shabnam Hashmi faced harassment, intimidation
and physical attacks for either attempting to provide
justice to the victims of Gujarat riots or for exposing
the truth about the riots.
Oppression of the Dalits
continued unabated in Gujarat. Stigmatization and social
boycott of the Dalit are common irrespective of what
positions they hold in the government.
Despite failure to rehabilitate
all the dam oustees, mainly the indigenous/tribal peoples,
in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh on 13 March 2004,
the State government of Gujarat cleared an additional
10 metres for the Sardar Sarovar dam in clear violation
of the Supreme Court order of 2000. Although the Narmada Control Authority’s
website shows ‘zero families’ for rehabilitation, according
to Narmada Bachao Andolan, 11,000 families remained
to be resettled at the current height of the dam at