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  • Gujarat

    1. Overview. 1
    2. Human rights violations by the security forces 2
    3. Violence against women. 3
    4. Violations of the rights of the Dalits 4
    5. Status of the Internally Displaced Persons 4
    6. Application of national security laws 5


     

    1. Overview

    Ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the state government of Gujarat failed to bring to justice those responsible for the communal riots of 2002, except arresting BJP Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Radhanpur, Shankar Chaudhary and nine others in November 2005 for killing two Muslim youth on 1 March 2002.[1] Earlier, on 25 October 2005, Fast Track Court Judge C M Atodaria had acquitted 108 persons in connection with another post-Godhra riot case in which two Muslims were killed on 17 March 2002 for “lack of evidence” but indicted the Gujarat police for failing to prevent the incident despite heavy police presence.[2] The recovery of a mass grave on 27 December 2005 at Lunavada village in Panchamahal district[3] brought alive the fears of the post-Godhra riots. On 29 December 2005, Gujarat High Court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the mass grave at Lunavada village.[4]

    During 2005, Gujarat police personnel were responsible for serious human rights violations including arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and rape in custody. A total of 4,214 complaints against the police were recorded by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Government of India during 2005. Out of these, departmental inquiry was ordered into 518 cases and judicial inquiries were ordered into 6 cases. 247 police personnel were sent up for trial during the year. Of the 43 police personnel whose case trials were completed, 31 were convicted and 12 acquitted.[5]

    Children also became victims of sexual assault in police custody. On 28 July 2005, a minor girl was allegedly raped by Sub-Inspector BN Chawda and Assistant Sub-Inspector Raghuvirsinh Jadeja posted at the District Police Headquarters at Bhuj. The victim was arrested along with three other girls and a boy for alleged indecent behaviour on 27 July 2005. Hours after their arrest, all but the victim were released. ASI Jadeja allegedly brought the victim to his residence where he and Sub-Inspector B N Chawda allegedly raped her.[6] A preliminary medical examination on the victim reportedly confirmed rape. Both the accused police officers were arrested following a complaint filed by the victim.[7]

    The police enjoyed virtual impunity for the crimes. The NCRB recorded deaths of 20 persons in police custody and deaths of 5 civilians in police firing during 2005. But no police personnel was charge-sheeted for the custodial deaths.[8] In May 2005, the Gujarat High Court ordered the Police Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner of Police to take appropriate action against the four accused police personnel including Inspector AR Desai, constables Jujar Singh, Shailendra Singh and Manish Patel of Bapunagar police station in Ahmedabad for illegal detention and torture of Amit Babubhai Dabhi alias Montu, son of Babubhai Hanokhbhai Dabhi after his arrest on 28 April 2005. On 3 May 2005, the victim filed a First Investigation Report (FIR 185/2005) with the Bapunagar police station against the four accused police personnel; but the police allegedly omitted the name of Manish Patel from the FIR.[9]

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 1,307 cases of crimes against the Dalits in Gujarat which constituted 5% of the total cases of crimes against the Dalits in the country during 2005.[10] On 28 September 2005, a Dalit identified as Vijay alias Pravin Jitiya was burnt alive by four upper caste people at Hajipur village in Bhavnagar district.[11]

    Those displaced by Sardar Sarovar dams did not receive proper compensation and rehabilitation.

    As on 14 December 2005, 87 persons were still in detention under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in the state. In February 2005, the Supreme Court vacated the Gujarat High Court stay order restraining the POTA Review Committee from reviewing pending POTA cases.[12] The Review Committee recommended withdrawal of charges under POTA in a number of cases.

    2. Human rights violations by the security forces

    The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recorded a total of 4,214 complaints against the police personnel in Gujarat during 2005. That is, 7.3 complaints were registered against per 100 police personnel in the state. The NCRB also recorded deaths of 20 persons in police custody and deaths of 5 civilians in police firing during 2005. No police personnel was charge-sheeted for the custodial deaths.[13] The NHRC recorded 15 deaths in police custody, 54 deaths in judicial custody and 2 encounter deaths during 2004-2005.[14]

    The police were responsible for arbitrary arrest, detention and torture. On 28 April 2005, Amit Babubhai Dabhi alias Montu, son of Babubhai Hanokhbhai Dabhi was reportedly picked up from his house at Bapunagar in Ahmedabad by two policemen and taken to Mill police post on the charges of possessing illegal arms. Then the victim was taken to the Bapunagar police station in Ahmedabad where he was tortured by Inspector AR Desai, police constables Jujar Singh, Shailendra Singh and Manish Patel, all of whom belonged to the Bapunagar police station. Amit Dhabi was finally detained in the Gomtipur police lock up on 29 April 2005. For the next two days, Amit Dhabi was continuously tortured by the police before being left on the road side by the Mill police post in a near unconscious state. He had to be admitted to the V.S. Government hospital in Ahmedabad and a medico-legal case was registered with the hospital authorities (Out Patient Department registration no: 83 and indoor registration no: 11811). A First Investigation Report (FIR 185/2005) was filed on 3 May 2005 in the Bapunagar police station against the four accused police personnel but the police allegedly omitted the name of Manish Patel from the FIR. In May 2005, the Gujarat High Court ordered the police commissioner and the assistant commissioner of police to take appropriate action against the accused.[15]

    On 10 November 2005, two tribal village leaders identified as Dinu Gurjibhai Gamit and Rameshbhai Melekbhai Gamit of Motherkui village were reportedly beaten up with sticks and poles in front of the public by the police officers at Areth police outpost under Mandvi police station in Surat district of Gujarat. The victims were arrested on the basis of a case filed at Mandvi police station (number 113/2005) on 8 November 2005 by Haribhai Parmar after the Gram Panchayat, Village Council, passed a resolution against the quarry of Haribhai Parmar. The quarry was illegally operating and adversely affecting the environment and health of the villagers. On 9 November 2005, both the tribal leaders were granted bail by the Magistrate Court in Bardoli but the police registered a new case against them. They were detained and tortured.[16]

    3. Violence against women

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 6,343 cases of crimes against women in Gujarat which amounted to 4.1% of the total crimes against women in India during 2005. These included, among others, 324 cases of rape, 802 cases of molestation, 916 cases of abduction, 48 dowry deaths, 4,090 cases of cruelty by husbands and relatives.[17]

    Apart from societal violence, law enforcement personnel continued to target women. On 17 May 2005, a constable identified as Babu Katara posted in the Kagdapith police station was arrested for trying to rape an 18-year-old girl at the central bus station in the Gita Mandir area of Ahmedabad. The girl had sought help from the constable on duty to find the bus station. The accused was arrested.[18]

    HIV infected women continued to suffer from stigma and violence. On 14 February 2005, an HIV positive woman identified as Sumitra Patel of Dahrasana village of Valsad district was allegedly beaten to death by her brothers and relatives due to fear that she would spread the dreaded disease.[19]

    4. Violations of the rights of the Dalits

    The NCRB recorded 1,307 cases of crimes against the Dalits in Gujarat which constituted 5% of the total cases of crimes against the Dalits reported in India (26,127 cases) during 2005. By the end of 2005, 68 cases of Dalit atrocities were pending investigation by the police while another 7,207 cases were pending trial in courts. Although the charge-sheeting rate was 96.2%, the conviction rate for the crimes against the Dalits was as low as 3.9% during 2005.[20]

    The upper caste people were the main perpetrators of violence against the Dalits. On 28 September 2005, a Dalit identified as Vijay alias Pravin Jitiya was reportedly burnt alive by four upper caste people identified as Narsinh Parmar (who was the village head), Bahadur Vala, Dhiru Vava and Batuk Kukdiya at Hajipur village in Bhavnagar district. The reason for the killing was believed to be an old rivalry regarding gram panchayat, village council, polls.[21]

    5. Status of the Internally Displaced Persons

    According to the Status Report of Narmada Control Authority of 31 December 2005, a total of 4,729 families affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) were rehabilitated in Gujarat.[22] While the State Government of Gujarat claimed that not a single Project Affected Family (PAF) remained unrehabilitated, the facts on the ground showed a different story. The dismal reality in many Gujarat resettlement sites sharply contradicted the State Government's claims, and showed the rehabilitation of reservoir-affected families to be far short of the legally mandated standards. Moreover, only families affected by the canal network, project colony, and sanctuary had received rehabilitation and compensation.[23]

    In some villages including Mukhedi, Gadher, Hateshwar, Turkheda, and Andras, scores of affected people were not declared as projected-affected by the end of 2005. Others who were resettled had gone back to their original villages because of the poor conditions in the R&R sites.

    There were consistent complaints by the PAFs about the sub-standard condition of the rehabilitation sites in Gujarat. On 6 March 2005, police arrested Kantibhai Rumal of Savli Resettlement site, (Original village, Mokhadi) Tilakwada Taluka, Narmada District for threatening to commit suicide in the Sardar Sarovar dam. In early March 2005, Kantibhai reportedly sent a letter to Chief Minister Narendra Modi threatening that he and his family would drown in the dam unless they received proper compensation for their land submerged by the SSP alongwith other amenities.[24]

    The testimonies presented by the PAFs resettled at Parveta in the Sankheda taluka of Vadodara district 20 years back highlighted the deplorable conditions of the PAFs rehabilitated in Gujarat as a whole. According to the testimonies presented by Dineshbhai Tadvi of Sinduri village, Maharashtra, resettled in Lunadra village in Gujarat in 1992 at a meeting at Parveta in November 2005 marking the 20th anniversary of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the PAFs had no water, no land, and no access by road. A tank was built but there was no water in it. According to Jaswant Singh of Lunadra, the Gujarat Government did not fulfill any of its promises and since the SSP canal cut through their village, many had no access to their fields. Another PAF Jayantibhai Tadvi, a farmer stated that the land in the resettlement site was rocky and unfit for cultivation.[25]

    Narayanbhai Tadvi, who had moved to Parveta from Gadher village in 1989 complained that the lands of the 50 families that moved to Parveta were waterlogged and had yielded no crops for three years. They had no common land for grazing and their relations with the host community were strained. Many of them have been reduced to daily wagers.[26]

    6. Application of national security laws

    As on 14 December 2005, 87 persons were still in detention under POTA charges, while 14 persons were detained under TADA charges in Gujarat.[27]

    On 29 January 2005, the Gujarat High Court ordered an interim stay against the POTA Committee appointed by the Central Government from reviewing POTA cases on the ground that it had been conferred with unfettered powers.[28] On 1 February 2005, the interim stay was challenged by one Rahim Khan by a special civil application for vacating the interim stay. Rahim Khan alias Firoz Khan Badar Khan Pathan was an accused in the Memco bomb blast case. The applicant alleged that he was subjected to third degree torture and the confession was forcibly extracted during police remand.[29] In February 2005, the Supreme Court vacated Gujarat High Court stay order restraining the POTA review committee from reviewing pending cases under the now-repealed anti-terror law and directed the court to dispose of a petition challenging the panel's constitutional validity within seven weeks.[30]

    On 9 April 2005, the POTA Review Committee completed hearing on the applicability of POTA on 14 cases including Godhra train carnage, ISI conspiracy case, Tiffin bomb blast and former Gujarat Minister Haren Pandya assassination cases. It heard 200 accused.[31] The Committee sent its report to state government on 20 May 2005.[32] However, earlier on 13 April 2005, the Gujarat High Court stated that the POTA Review Committee's findings would not be binding on the state government and the final decision to revoke POTA cases would lie with the designated POTA court.[33]

    On 21 June 2005, the Union Home Ministry stated that accused persons in the Godhra train carnage case may be tried under the provisions of Indian Penal Code, Indian Railways Act, Prevention of Damages of Public Property Act, Bombay Police Act, but not under the provisions of POTA.[34] Earlier in May 2005, the Review Committee recommended to the Gujarat government to drop all charges against 131 accused under the Act in the Godhra train case. The committee found no prima facie case against the accused in the case. However, it upheld the application of POTA in the Akshardham case in which 46 persons were killed.[35] The state government had reportedly rejected the observations of the Review Committee of dropping all the charges against all the accused in the Godhra train carnage case on 10 June 2005.[36] Earlier, the state government submitted the Review Committee's report on Godhra carnage before the designated POTA Court.[37]

    In the ISI conspiracy case, the Review Committee confirmed applicability of POTA on 42 out of 52 accused in the case. In the AMTS tiffin bomb case, only one out of the 17 cases was found to be fit for POTA. However, POTA was applicable to all the 9 accused in the conspiracy to kill Ashok Bhatt and Bharat Barot case and the Surat Laliwala case.[38]

    In Haren Pandya murder case, the Committee recommended removal of POTA provisions as the murder was carried out with intention of revenge and not to spread terror. Moreover, the state government failed to produce substantial evidence against the 15 accused arrested in the case.[39]

    In late January 2005, the Crime Investigations Department of the Gujarat police filed cases under the Official Secrets Act against The Indian Express and Gujarati newspapers, Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh for carrying transcripts of a conversation between Dawood aide Mammumiyan Saiyeed and former Porbandar SP Rajkumar Pandian. In the transcript, Mammumiyan had alleged that he was in touch with Additional DGP (CID) Kuldip Sharma while on the run in connection with the Bombay blasts case. The case was filed by Sharma's department as he figured in the tape.[40]



    [1]. BJP MLA is held for mob killing, The Asian Age, 6 November 2005 

    [2]. 108 walk free in Godhra riot case, The Free Press Journal, 26 October 2005 

    [3]. Mass grave unearthed in Gujarat, The Hindu, 28 December 2005 

    [4]. Gujarat HC transfers grave probe to CBI, The Statesman, 30 December 2005 

    [5]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau of the Government of India

    [6]. 2 cops held for rape of minor, The Times of India, 1 August 2005

    [7]. 2 cops held for rape of minor, The Times of India, 1 August 2005

    [8]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau of the Government of India

    [9]. Asian Human Rights Commission, UA-89-2005: INDIA: Torture and illegal detention of a young man by the Gujarat Police, 3 June 2005, available at http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2005/1109/ 

    [10]. 2005 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau of the Government of India

    [11]. Sarpanch, 3 others burn dalit to death, The Asian Age, 5 October 2005

    [12]. SC vacates stay on POTA panel, The Indian Express, 22 February 2005

    [13]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau of the Government of India

    [14]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC of India 

    [15]. Asian Human Rights Commission, UA-89-2005: INDIA: Torture and illegal detention of a young man by the Gujarat Police, 3 June 2005, available at http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2005/1109/ 

    [16]. UA-215-2005: INDIA: Brutal custodial torture of two men from the tribal community in Areth police outpost of Surat District, Gujarat, Asian Human Rights Commission, 21 November 2005, available at http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2005/1358/ 

    [17]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [18]. Cop tries to rape 18-yr-old, The Times of India, 18 May 2005 

    [19]. Woman beaten to death, The Deccan Herald, 17 February 2005

    [20]. 2005 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau of the Government of India

    [21]. Sarpanch, 3 others burn dalit to death, The Asian Age, 5 October 2005

    [22]. http://www.aitpn.org/IRQ/vol1-1/story05.htm

    [23]. http://www.narmada.org/nba-press-releases/february-2004/kevadia.html

    [24]. http://www.narmada.org/nba-press-releases/april-2005/burnt.html

    [25]. Narmada: they have little to cheer about, The Hindu, 29 November 2005

    [26]. Ibid

    [27]. 135 languishing in jails under POTA, The Free Press Journal, 14 December 2005

    [28]. Gujarat HC stays review by POTA panel, The Deccan Herald, 31 January 2005

    [29]. Interim stay on review challenged, The Asian Age, 3 February 2005

    [30]. SC vacates stay on POTA panel, The Indian Express, 22 February 2005

    [31]. POTA Review Panel finishes hearing in Guj cases, Indiainfo.com, 19 April 2005, http://news.indiainfo.com/2005/04/09/0904pota-gujcase.html

    [32]. POTA panel gives report on Godhra carnage, The Times of India, 20 May 2005

    [33].  ‘Pota review panel finding not binding on state govt', The Asian Age, 14 April 2005

    [34]. On Godhra, Home quotes POTA panel, The Indian Express, 22 June 2005

    [35]. Terror angle in Akshardham, not Godhra: POTA panel, The Indian Express, 22 May 2005

    [36]. Gujarat rejects Pota panel's observations, The Statesman, 11 June 2005

    [37]. Gujarat tables panel report on Godhra before POTA court, The Deccan Herald, 1 June 2005

    [38]. Pota Review panel suggests revocation against 11 persons, The Asian Age, 16 May 2005

    [39]. POTA Review Committee hears Haren Pandya Case, The Free Press Journal, 10 April 2005

    [40]. Gujarat cops slap case on Express, wants CBI probe, The Indian Express, 4 February 2005

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