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by Batuk Vora

Ahmedabad: March 11:

Can there be real peace in Gujarat after the gruesome communal frenzy running riot following the Godhra carnage?
Can the historic amity between the two communities be revived? Can a reconciliation be achieved?
Can the planned destruction of homes and businesses of minority community be rehabilitated?
Can those 60,000 homeless-jobless refugees be kept alive through massive relief and rehabilitation with a full sense of security? How are those 20,000 Hindus moving out from their ?unsafe? homes to be brought back? Can those near and dear ones of more than a 1500 people burnt (official figure is 672) or stabbed alive in the cities and villages be properly distributed Rs 1 lakh[100,000] compensation, as belatedly declared by the government?
Can those Hindu fanatics of VHP-Bajrang Dal-BJP be curbed and stopped from carrying on their nefarious design to implement the 'socio-economic boycott of the entire minority community'? (according a leaflet distributed in nooks and corners of Gujarat- an anonymous handout, of course)
Answer to all these questions in one sentence stands as follows:


How can you treat NaMo as a criminal when he himself claimed to 'working hard to provide relief and rehabilitation to victims of violence'' In that case, don't you remember that he changed his tune after the prime minister reportedly gave him his 'piece of his mind' ( in his 'carnage is a blot on nation' speech), after three days of mayhem'

Answer again is this: NaMo is capable to play a double role; he is indeed bent upon propping up the so called 'Hindu wave' he helped in creating by sabotaging real efforts at amity and rehabilitation, in devious ways. He is considered to not only having a high degree of hubris, but having an extremely dogged character. Was he not closing his eyes to just half a dozen dirty toilets for 3,000 victims in a camp' Or sending just 500 kg of low quality rice for 8000 in another camp'

Most glaring fact of life in the camps is a frightening sense of insecurity still haunting those thousands of homeless people. A deadly fear has gripped them. Chief Minister seems to be completely blind or ignorant or happy about it.

In fact, that is what he is doing, according to a wide range of NGO activists actually involved in relief work in the 18 makeshift relief camps here and there including those inside Muslim shrines, schools and in the tents on open grounds. The government only recognized whatever camps were opened by the NGOs. It has established none of them anywhere in the state so far. People have fled away far and wide from villages to save their life after their homes were torched.

Besides, the state government has not yet formed a disaster (man-made) management committee, different from whatever was functioning for Kutch earthquake victims. No move has yet come from the government to plan the rebuilding of burnt-out houses. Nobody knows how was this to be done.

How would those factories burnt by the mobs be rebuilt, at least six plastic factories on Godhra-Vadodara road, six more at Bhavnagar and several at Rajkot and Surat, rendering hundreds of Hindu and Muslim workers jobless ' How was this famous Lucky Film Studio of Nadiadwala at Halol to be rebuilt' Who is going to take care of 120 destroyed restaurants at Ahmedabad city alone, two luxury hotels at Bhavnagar and many more at various other towns'

The government has not yet started any systematic survey of destroyed properties and huge financial loss to the state and people. But some rough estimates of losses are available in local media reports. They could be compiled as follows:

(i) Rs 2,500 crore caused by most of the closed down shops, industries and commerce in loss of business;
(ii) Rs 1,000 crore in Surat city only due to heavy damages to two textile mills, lots of handloom weaving factories and other industries, according to Kashiram Rana, Union Textile Minister from Surat;
(iii) More than 10 crore due to burnt down 60 glittering Opel Astra automobiles parked inside the GM Motors unit at Halol;
(iv) More than 2 crore at the Lucky Film Studio nearby;
(v) Rs 4 crore worth damage due to burnt down Honda City and brand new Accord fleet of cars at Landmark Honda showroom at Thaltej on Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway- burnt down by a VHP mob taking it as a showroom of some muslim, though, it belongs to Hindu partners ;
(vi) Rs 600 crore loss to hotel industry at Ahmedabad city alone due to closure, according to Ratanprakash Gupta, president of the city's hotel 'restaurant association. He said at least 20,000 workers survive on these hotels and restaurants who were rendered jobless and many missing. Many of those were migrant workers who have left the state causing a big slow down in revival process; only those who sirvive on selling vegetables in the city are worth 2 crore, who incurred great loss;
(vii) Rs 500 crore on the burnt down restaurants at Ahmedabad, plus innumerable small cabins and restaurants on highways and small towns;
(viii) According to leading Gujarati daily, at least 20,000 two wheeler and 4,000 cars were burnt down at various spots in the city; thousands more at Rajkot, Vadodara, Bhavnagar and scores of trucks too on KaloGudhra, Ahmedabad-Bhavnagar or Rajkot, Mehsana-Ahmedabad and Surat Vadodara highways. (including cars of late Ahsan Jafri, former MP and Prof. Bandukwala). They are all lying like skeletons around everywhere 20 to 30 vehicles lying broken or burnt every one kilometer inner streets of the city alone. Most of the vehicles belonged to innocent Hindu customers when the garage owners ran away for life (most of them Muslims) while those vehicles torched by frenzied mob everywhere. All the state road transport buses and city buses were withdrawn before bandh days after at least 7 buses were set on fire.
(ix) Besides those six plastic units burnt down at Halol, mob burnt 9 trucks carrying the cars. Three big industries were heavily damaged at Shapar Veraval area in Saurashtra, six plastic and other industrial units at Rajkot, several at Vadodara, Surat, Godhra and Bhavnagar inside GIDC estates (industrial sheds of the government)
(x) Gujarat edition of Times of India reported that incidents in Gujarat will haunt the IT industry nationwide. International captains of IT industry are stunned and they are hogged by the carnage here, highly damaging the investment climate. Gujarat Industries minister Suresh Mehta said this was a temporary phase, but he is not able to give any guarantee of speedy revival.

It may be mentioned that big fear now haunting the state is a breakdown in new investment ' domestic and foreign ' which was expected after the last month's well organized 'Resurgent Gujarat' seminar. A financial daily editor Jayanti Dave wrote that it may turn out now into a 'dispersion' instead of 'resurgence.'

According to another report, diamonds, textile and chemicals constitute 88 % of Gujarat's total exports of Rs 49,500 crore in 2000-2001, but now they have been severely hit by the communal carnage. The government lost at least Rs 100 crore in taxes, says Financial Express (Gujarati edition).

One of the loudest comments heard about NaMo here was regarding the police inaction ' or even 'connivance' at many hot spots. NaMo doggedly refused to deploy the army for two days and two nights of Bandh. Later on he proudly declared at least a 100 deaths in police firing on rioters and more than 3,000 arrests. But a local English daily reported that in the first three days of intense bloodshed police lacked leadership all over the state. In many places mobs went moving into the cars and two wheelers torching and looting the goods of targeted shops without any hindrance. Congress party had to organize a dharna in front of NaMo's house at Gandhinagar to demand deployment of the army.

How many riotous vehicle numbers were taken by those 700 city traffic police or 50 of them in Vadodara' The answer is zilch. Is it not true only half of them were deployed, most of whom watched the mayhem or even encouraged the mobs' Why did not the police commissioner deploy all the forces available' Why the traffic lights were switched off under an excuse that 'there was no traffic on Bandh day''?

Even when hordes of people came on their vehicles in an area like Muslim Society, an elite area at Navrangpura, where the DCP Traffic Saminullah Ansari stays, not one constable was around. So depressed was he that the word going around in IPS circle is that he would like to quit the job or get a cadre transfer 'to a less communal state.'

Several calls to the city police commissioner for help from late MP Ahsan Jafri went unheeded. Later they fabricated a story about Jafri's action of firing at the crowd and alleged pouring of the acid too on the crowd resulting into the mob arson!

Actually, when the former prime minister I.K.Gujaral visited this spot where Jafri was burnt alive with 38 others, the words he mumbled were : 'How could one fire from this first floor in a very narrow lane inside the cluster of houses when the mobs broke down the walls and surrounded all the houses of Gulmarg Society, setting fire to all the vehicles parked in these small open courtyards''?

For the record, police had 18 companies of SRP on Bandh day, but not all were in position. Almost 40 policemen were on 'sport duty', who were not recalled. A number of officers were with the DIG office, CID Crime, Anti-Terrorist Squad and Armed Units ' but they were not called. There were no preventive arrests on Bandh eve, despite an atmosphere of extreme provocation. No intelligence gathering on possible violence in any of the affected cities was done. No confidence building measures to bring about amity between the two communities were taken at all.

Situation in distant towns and villages remained even more lawless, as no policeman or military reached there for four-five days of carnage. Even now, we read the reports of dead bodies newly found out in farms or factories, and more murders being committed in distant villages of Central and North Gujarat.

A whisper heard inside the anti-NaMo BJP circles here was that NaMo's removal question might be taken up only after the Rajya Sabha poll on March 23rd, as BJP had to win three seats here, including that of the party president and of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel. But then, there would also be an another excuse to finish the 80 municipal elections before any political change was planned' People however strongly feel the need for a drastic change in political set-up.

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