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Communal Violence in Dhule: A Report by Independent Citizens’ Intitiative

by Independent Citizens Inititive, 21 October 2008

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Independent Citizens’ Intitiative

N.D Suryavanshi - Senior Advocate, Dhule District, Medha Patkar - National Alliance of People’s Movements, M.B. Shah - Littérateur, J.G. Khairnar - Principal, Gopinath Landge - Senior Reporter , Prof. Shyam Patil - Narmada Bachao Andolan, Dhule, Avinash Patil - Social Activist, Anti-Superstition Campaign , Vinod - Rashtra Seval Dal, Sandeep Barve - Yuvak Kranti Dal visited the riot – affected areas on 9 october 2008

Background:

The communal riots in Dhule which erupted after 16 odd years, the previous one having taken place in 1992, that too for a very brief period have shocked not just the progressive community of socially conscientious individuals and organizations, but also the average peacefully living and peace loving citizens and common people of Dhule and elsewhere who could never even imagine the ourburst of violence. The brutal attacks by strong mobs of communally frenzy youth equipped with arms have shaken the people of Dhule who always believed that their city and district was not ’riot – prone’.

It is not the curfew, but the communal tension that suggested to the various organizations and the people of Dhule, the need for the administration and civil society to be pro-active with short term and long term measures and processes that need be planned. It was this that made our group take up a visit of the various communities in the riot – affected areas, the relief camps and also meet the concerned Government officials. The team of the below mentioned social activists and eminent citizens had visited various parts of the Dhule district on the 9th of October, 2008 in order to understand and assess the situation and make recommendations for action.

Context and brief history of the violence:

The communal tensions in Dhule though sparked off with an incident on the 5th of October, were silently brewing for some time, with provocative posters of the Hindu Rakshak Samiti that were pasted all over the district by Hiraman Gavali of the Samiti and local Corporator, Mahesh Mistry. Some organizations especially Movement for Peace and Justice and some eminent persons had a delegation to the Superintendent of Police, Dhule with a plea that the poster be removed. There was no prompt action as it had to be a political decision. We are also told that on the 5th, Mr. Sabri Sheik Bangarwal of Congress (I) had a welcome procession of hundreds of Muslims on his return from Haj and when it reached the Prabhakar Talkies, someone allegedly pelted a stone at the one of the banners of the Hindu Rakshak Samiti over there. It was immediately presumed that some one from the Muslim community must have done this, quickly snowballing into violent attacks against the Muslims. Some of the Hindus invited a group from a nearby place where they had gathered. This was followed by a clash among the two groups leading to a series of shops of the poor Bora
(Muslim) community (crackers’ shops) on the Agra Road being burnt.
Subsequently, there was the violence in Gajanan Colony which then spread to other parts of the city the same day. Houses in Sitaram Chawl, Sonya Maruti Chawl and localities near railway station were brunt on the same day.

Visits to the affected areas and relief camps:

The Fact Finding team visited the severely affected – looted, burnt and
destroyed communities including Gajanan Colony, Shivaji Nagar, Sitaram Chawal, Sonya Maruti Chawl, Shanti Nagar etc. as also the relief camps in Arihant Mangal Karyalaya, market yard, relief camp of the Hamal Mapadi Sanghatana at the Dhule Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee and the National Urdu High School Relief camp, all run and managed by different people belonging to different voluntary organizations and communities, both Hindus and Muslims, but separately.

We also interacted with hundreds of victims and tens of officials. We tried to
investigate into both, the causes and the effects of the riots as well as the
political elements and role played by the administration, state and district
level officials. Views and contributions of the various social organizations
was noted and the adequacy of the relief and the feasibility of rehabilitation
was discussed with the camp organizers and the people and a broad yet limited plan for our own intervention and contribution were initiated.

Visit to Gajanan Colony, the worst affected Hindu community:

We began our visit with the Gajanan Colony where there was a lot of arson and burning by cylinder blasts. We were shocked to see the entire property in tens of houses as well as shops fully burnt, including bicycles and motor cycles reduced to ashes. It was amply clear that the inside cylinder was mainly used for blasting, while we were shown one small cylinder, near the house of Valmik Chowdhury, which was exploded. Residents were not sure of the number of attackers and said that people in mobs from anywhere between 300 – 400 came.
People were constantly referring to ’outsiders’ who had come with weapons
etc. We saw many burnt houses and spoke to the affected, including a CRPF Jawan, Tukaram Shankar Chowdhury, whose house was burnt down by a cylinder blast and when he returned home from duty in Assam, he witnessed everything. A little further, Sanjivani clinic of Dr. P.R Chauhan was in ashes. People narrated to us shocking incidents of mob fury. Two to three persons also reported that their hand carts and push carts were destroyed and not their houses. Some people had revealed to us that they had to shut themselves for hours together in the lavatories, to escape the violent attacks.

Gajanan Colony is an area with a majority of the population belonging to the Hindu community, while there is a significant Muslim population immediately next to it at Gaffoor nagar. One of the apparent reasons for the clashes to intensify may also have been the common ground in between Gafoornagar and Gajananad Nagar, which was used by both the communities for the morning ablutions, over which and there used to be some frictions earlier as well, we gathered.

Gajanan Colony and Gafoornagar resembled a virtual war zone, with the
(imaginary) lines of fear and hatred clearly drawn. We could clearly witness
strong communal feelings against the Muslims. The community has still not
settled down in peace and has not yet started to think about accepting the
neighbours. They infact did not allow us to visit the Muslim locality next
door. People were demanding police chowkies at Gajanan Colony and strict action against the criminal actors. Some also pointed but to a man moving in the next community as one who was involved in the crime but could not name anyone. Most of them, supporters present, all Hindus were in a revengeful mood but the local people who lost everything were in pain and anguish.

People from Gajananad Nagar were at the Arihant Mangal Karyalay relief camp, where we met the women and children and held a separate dialogue with them. Only one or two women, upon being asked and encouraged by men spoke to Medha Patkar about the molestation. Lata Vinayak Marathe, along with Sangeeta Bai Chowdhury who was said to have returned to her village Kussuba, complained that both of them were taken to a ’big’ house in Gafoornagar and were molested. She did not seem to be clear and consistent in description but said that it did happen. The men, who were referring to their experiences were sure that the women had been raped. No other women had complaints of that sort, but they told us that they had left their homes after the attacks started taking place and hence the houses were raided and brunt when empty. The whole community feels insecure in vicinity of the Muslim community. (The whole incident continued from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. as per the information).

Visit to the camp at the Market Yard

At Shivajinagar, where most of the affected are Hindus, a relief camp was being run at the market yard, in the premises of the Dhule Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee. This camp was in the vicinity of the Azad Nagar police station and being managed by the Hamal Mapadi Sanghatana, with Appa Khatal as the in charge. Women swarmed us with their complaints as soon as we reached.
Women and men, mostly told us that their houses were not burnt, but few were attacked and people were threatened. The shop of Deepak Dhandhere was fully destroyed. Some people who had complained of loot are Sonabai Gambhir Pawar, Sushilabai Nikam and Suman bai Suryavanshi. Chudaman Shendge and Julekar’s families from Shivaji nagar had taken shelter in Babubhai Patel Vakhar Nagar near the market yard. Relief is being provided by some relatives and neighbours with the supporters from the religious community organizations. Support in material and money also came from outside places, such as Amalner and Jalgaon. The camp was visited by Former Minister and senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse. They people here keen that a housing scheme be started for them and a new community is established. We, however, feel this demand may not be justifiable
as an immediate measure since communities which are mixed need to be
re-established with harmony, as before and seclusion, if provided for, will
bring in more of a divide. They have a nearby place in mind too. There is a
strong demand for a separate police station at Shivajinagar. "If possible,
the Azad Nagar police station must be shifted or preferably, a new police
station must be started at the 80 feet road in Shivajinagar", people insist.

There are hundreds of children, women and men and children in each of these camps. Most of the survivors of the violence are mill workers and daily wage labourers or small traders from poor households, while a handful are employees with the Government all of whom are completely destitute with the attack, with tears in their eyes and anguish in their hearts. The complaint we heard was that no high ranking Govt. official or political leader visited the area and could promise them of building their future. No compensation has been decided for the material losses, even by the Chief Minister. There are about 200 houses badly destroyed in Gajanan nagar and the losses would run into crores of rupees and must be compensated for by the State Government.

Destruction of houses of Muslims and violence against them in different areas:

Whilst the destruction of houses of the families belonging to the Hindu
community, having taken place at a stretch at two or three places, is more
visible and may arouse hard feelings against a certain community in the minds of some people. But one only has to look a bit deeper to realize the fact that the Muslim community has as well been deeply scarred by the mob violence. The impacts are visible at numerous places, in a scattered manner though. Apparently, even the media had not covered the attacks on the Muslim colonies as much as they had covered the attacks on the Gajanan Colony colony. We had visited these areas where the homes of Muslims were burnt.

We visited Sitaram nagar chawl and other nearby areas, where many houses of Muslims were burnt. We were pained to see a series of deserted houses with black embers on the ground and the smell of dried black ash in the air. The only sign of life over here seemed to be a few frightened dogs that tried to convey the violence amidst the charred debris. We were told that about 20 houses in Pinjari chawl, 15 houses in Shantinagar, 5 houses in Sonya Maruti colony and some houses in Surat wala building and Hajinagar were all burnt down to ashes. 10 – 15 houses of Muslims in Mohadi and Wani villagers were attacked leading may women to flee for their lives through the fields and many women in the process had become injured or got fractured.

At Sitaram chawl, we also saw the relief being collected by the Hindu residents for their Muslim brethren all of whom expressed anguish that their decades old neighbours were attacked. These ordinary mill workers were in fact against this violent communalism. Many denizens of the area, told us in unison that the local people, whether Hindu or Muslim, simply don’t have the physical capacity or mental inclination to inflict this gruesome violence and that too on this scale. They are in fact absolutely against violence and would never resort to it. We had also met Rameshrao Dabhade, neighbor of Jaffer Mistry who too had helped save the family of his neighbor, but not his house and hence was very sad. Jafferbhai, Rameshrao and his family members narrated that there was a total amity among the two communities and in fact they had set up Ganapati and
celebrated the festival together. Some of the locals had infact tried to rescue the Muslim women and took them to their relatives’ houses. "It is surely the work of some groups from outsiders", they said, who came in mobs of hundreds in trucks and vandalized the houses.

Relief camp at the National Urdu School:

We reached this camp in the afternoon where more than 3000 people from the Muslim community were staying. The men were staying on the ground floor and the women and children on the first floor. The people were upset that neither the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister nor any official had visited them thus far. However, when we asked the Collector about the visit of officials to the affected areas, she said that she had personally visited the National Urdu School Camp and had put the DSO and Dy. Collector on the job. Women and men at the camp came from various village communities where houses of the minorities were burnt and staying in those villages became impossible against violence and threats. and also included those from Dondaicha and other villages, who were wanting to go back, but without security could not think of going back.

At the Sarvajanik Hospital: Shocking Revelations of the Violence inflicted
against minorities

We encountered a series of gross cases of violations upon our visit to the
Sarvajanik Hospital at Azad Nagar which is being managed by the Muslim
community since decades. The Sarvajanik Hospital was started by the Bohra
community and has been rendering medical services for persons from all
communities, beyond religious lines, for many years.
We were shocked to see that all the beds in the male and female wards were full of injured, beaten up and burnt patients and felt that the Hospital was seriously falling short of adequate beds and resources. Though the Hospital has specialists like orthopedics, it requires more resource support. There are patients both from the city as well as from different villages such as Mohadi. Some women were admitted and more were coming in with fractures and wounds from beatings.

One grave and repeated complaint which we heard from all of them was that the patients of the minority community were not only not being admitted at the Govt. Civil Hospital but also not being treated properly and fully. They were infact being beaten up for 2-3 days and driven away. The same treatment was being meted out to social workers who were attempting to admit the sick and injured. "The Dean at the Civil Hospital is not even lifting the phone and even if he lifts it, he is callously putting it aside", they burst out. All those who were driven away or discharged from the Civil Hospital told us that the doctors inside were stopped from treating them by a crowd of some fundamentalists, who threatened everyone and also took to beating a few. We personally witnessed how the very few that were admitted were unfairly and inhumanly discharged from the Civil Hospital, even as their burns and wounds were fresh. We were appalled to learn that the number of Muslim patients at the Civil Hospital can be counted on fingers, though the casualties and injuries amongst Muslims is equally, if not more high. We also received complaints of social workers, who had taken Muslim patients to the Civil Hospital being roughed up.

People at the hospital also complained to us that the parents and relatives of the dead are not able to see the bodies of their deceased dear ones for 3-4 days. We have also heard that some doctors were persecuted, in particular, for treating Muslim patients. The Hospital of Dr. Mobin Siddiqqui, for instance, was completely razed to the ground and burnt down. The driver of the Civil Hospital ambulance, Masood and Muzaffar, who used to assist with welfare work in the hospital was badly beaten up as well.

Some more incidents of atrocities and violence perpetrated against Muslims:

There are many cases of attacks by violent mobs as well as by the police. From the kind of cases of police violence we heard, one of the conclusions we could draw was that the police had entered the first few houses in every row and tried to terrorize and intimidate the people. There are glaring incidents of people being shot, beaten up, dragged on the road, pulled out from their homes, workplace, acid thrown upon them etc. We were also told that in quite a few cases the police merely witnesses as mobs ransacked the houses and beat people.

We recount herewith a few of them:

• We were informed of a shocking incident that a 26 years old Muslim
youth, Saleem Murteja Ansari was shot right in his fore head, by an unnamed police official at Azad Nagar who caught hold of Ansari’s collar and fired right into his forehead. The complainants, who spoke to us at the Sarvajanik Hospital, told us that the Post Mortem revealed a bullet injury in the fore head.

• In a similar incident, we were told that a young Muslim youth, son of
Raheem Driver, a resident of Devpur, Madinaghar was shot dead from a private gun by the brother of one Mr. Kailash Chowdhury, former NCP Corporator of Mahadevpur. We were told that the local youth groups including the Golden Group had given representations to the SP, on the continuing atrocities, including those by the police but to no avail. The people also accuse some influential locals, including one Mr. Dilip Chowdhury, who engages in horse racing.

• From the complaints we were receiving, we understood that many Muslim
residents from Mahadevpura were beaten up. Shakeel Khan who was on his way to the Masjid was badly beaten up and so Mehmood. Mohd. Asim was badly beaten up in the Masjid.

• Shainaz Bee R/o Tirangaa Chowk was badly beaten up by the police on her legs and thighs. She was virtually pulled out of her house on 06-10-2008 at 7:00 p.m. in the night. She is now in the Female Ward of the Sarvajanik Hospital undergoing treatment. Safeena Sheik was ruthless beaten in a similar way by the police.

• Aziz Ahmed, presently undergoing medical treatment at the male ward of
the Sarvajanik Hospital informed us that fanatic mobs moved around in trucks, hurling stones and bottles filled with acid in many houses in Mahadevpura for more than 4-5 hours. He himself was badly beaten up and an acid glass bottle hurled at him. Two of his uncles and two brothers are at the police station, he says. We had witnessed one more case of acid attack in the Hospital and there is reason to believe that there would be more such cases elsewhere.

• Nazir Hasan of Garibnawaz nagar who had gone to the Dutt Mandir, Devane was badly beaten up and his mother-in-law and three young daughters were taken away and he was brought to the Hospital by some good Samaritan. Their whereabouts are not known till date.

• Nisar Ahmed (30 years), who along with constable Salem was moving to
take shelter was brutally beaten up by a mob of 15 – 20 people and was
dragged for an hour, during which he had become unconscious, but was still
dragged. In a critical state of injury, he was admitted just for day at the
Civil Hospital and was discharged.

• Mohd. Farhan, a 5 year old child had gone to Devpur to participate in
the Id and today has ended up with a fracture in his hand.

• The President of the Dhule District Minority Cell of the NCP was as
well badly beaten up when he was in fact trying to help the police control the violence.

• Saleem was beaten up near the emergency ward and had acid wounds. He said goondas who had come to the Hospital were in the car of the local Corporator Mahesh Mistry and that he may also be able to identify them.

• Haji Jumma Makhan Pinjari of village Fagne was beaten up and had a
fracture. He went to the Police station and made a complaint. An FIR was
registered under various sections including Sec. 324, 506, 436, 427, and the police gave him a letter referring him to the Civil Hospital. He was unable to reach there because of the curfew and lack of food. He, therefore, stayed at the police station for a day and then came to the Sarvajanik Hospital.

• Sadik Sheik was worst hit at Kabirganj and all that he was doing was
that he embraced two little children who were frightened with the blasts took and gave them some courage.

• Police entered the house of Ansari Imran, Mohd. Murtuja, early morning on the 8th. This was close to the Machhibazaar police station. This was the first home of the entry of the Muslim locality. Over here, they threw kerosene, but did not resort to arson.

Many Muslims, men and women were beaten up and driven away by the SRP and police when the people were in their daily chores or work. Some of the relatives of the patients are in jail / police custody and their whereabouts are not known. The relatives were/are not informed of the details of their arrest and detention, which is against law and Supreme Court Guidelines.

It also appears to us that the Muslim community was threatened by the police on the 2nd and the 3rd day, which can be a communal reaction within the police force. It is significant to note that there were no complaints from the Hindu community of any atrocities or excesses by the police, where as we happened to listen to umpteen number of grievances against the police from the Muslim community.

Role of the media:

Many victims of the violence reported that some sections in the media,
indulging in biased reporting and did not / could not cover the full facts or
repeated the telecast of ill-based reportage, which is actually increasing the
violence and causing it to spread like wild fire. In particular, they pointed
out the Ekvira Channel of Mr. Sharma for indulging in this.

Interface with the District Collector:

Subsequent to the visit to the various areas impacted by the violence and the relief camps, the citizen’s team had an interface with the District Collector Ms. Prajakta Lavangare and a team of senior officials for about an hour on a range of issues and the future course of action that needs to be taken and concerns that must be addressed on a war-footing. The Collector informed us that doctors from the Municipal Corporation are asked to take rounds of various camps. She assured that there shall be no discrimination in health- care treatment. She also assured that the State Commission for Women would be urged to intervene in the matter to ensure that the specific concerns of women are addressed.

We also impressed upon the District Collector the need to immediately hold a meeting with all the organizations and concerned citizens interested in
communal harmony in Dhule and ensure that those who are keen to re-establish peace and provide relief assistance must be allowed entry into the affected areas and the camps. The administration and relief groups must reach out to the various camps.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

There is no doubt that the whole process of political interactions to
instigation that seems to have led to the riots is complex and complicated.
Unless, this is dissected and put forth, neither the co-operation of
communities can be enlisted nor the Govt. or society would be guided on the right path of communal harmony.

Multi Member Judicial Commission to be appointed:

• It is, therefore, necessary that a Multi Member Judicial Commission
under a former Judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court is appointed to independently investigate and report on the cause, effects and further actions to be initiated, within a fixed time frame. The Commission must also comprise of senior social activists working on issues of communal harmony, peace and justice and senior law enforcement official/s of proven track record of human rights compliance and secular credentials. The Commission must also be provided the full assistance of a Special Investigation Team, comprising of doctors, lawyers, social workers, experts and police.

• Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Commission must include investigating
into the causative factors and forces behind the communal riots, the sequence of events and resultant impacts and recommending future course of action for the state and civil society with various civil and political organizations. Violence by communally frenzy mobs

• There are grave concerns of many human rights violations of people
belonging to both Hindu and Muslim communities impacted by the violence and strife. Cases must be registered on the basis of complaints received from each and every victim/survivor. All such persons, whose names are being suggested by the victims as being responsible or indulged in the violence or instigation, must be immediately summoned for investigation and action initiated as per law.

• All those how had indulged in communal violence and caused destruction of life, limb and property must be dealt with as per law, no matter how so ever high or influential.

• We also heard many allegations and counter allegations of women from
either community being raped and molested by men from the other community. We could not hear such complaints, prima facie, from women though. The Women’s Commission and the police must urgently investigate into the veracity of all the complaints and initiate appropriate legal action and render justice to the women, wherever necessary.

Atrocities and excesses by the police:

• We recommend that all the police atrocities and excesses as narrated by
the victims/patients/survivors/ and their relatives, young and old, male and
female, be urgently registered and inquiries made. Towards this end, it is
urgently necessary that all the complaints of both the communities are lodged by the police specially camping at the relief camps/hospitals, which should forthwith be converted into FIRs.

• If the specific officials who are being accused cannot be identified,
the Officer(s) in charge must be held responsible and action initiated.

• We also demand that the Guidelines of the Supreme Court of India in the
D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal must be fully complied with.

• It is necessary that security is provided by establishing a police
station at Shivaji Nagar and police chowkies at Gajanan Colony as per
people’s demands.

• The police must be given special trainings on the appropriate laws,
D.K. Basu Guidelines, communal harmony and secular mandate of their occupation.

• All the victims of the violence must be provided free legal aid by the
District Legal Services Authority.

Right to food and other amenities at the relief camps:

• Adequate food grains and food supplies must be ensured at all the
relief camps, belonging to or run by any community as per the Interim Orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in W.P. No. 198/2001 (PUCL vs. UoI). In particular, the order of 35 kgs of rice per person myust be immediately implemented. All riot affected persons must be provided Antyodaya cards for the next few years.

• Necessary amenities such as toilet blocks, and water facilities must be
made available so that no community conflicts erupt.

Violence in medical treatment and health care:

• The serious complaint of many patients of the minority community not
being admitted at the Civil Hospital and not being treated, or treated
adequately or unfairly discharged as also being beaten up has shocked us. We were appalled to learn that the number of Muslim patients at the Civil Hospital can be counted on fingers, though the casualties and injuries amongst Muslims is equally, if not more high. We also received complaints of social workers, who had taken Muslim patients to the Civil Hospital being roughed up.

• The administration must urgently address these gross violations and
ensure that any one from any community is given proper treatment at the Civil Hospital.

• Social workers should be appointed to not just help into admission, but
also for follow up of their social and economic problems with the
administration. They must be provided a sense of guarantee that neither they nor the patients they bring would be ill-treated or tortured.

• A team of the district administration, headed by the Collector and
accompanied by the health and police department officials must visit the
Sarvajanik Hospital at Azad Nagar.

• There is a pressing need for health care at all the relief camps,
including psychiatric care and trauma counseling. Honorary doctors from the Civil Hospital many visit the camps and organize health camps providing
specialist services. Some teams of Govt. doctors may also be posted at the
large camps as in the National Urdu School.

Ascertain details of the life and property lost, ensure rehabilitation and
compensation

• Government must come out with clear statistics and details about the
total number of deaths, injuries, properties burnt etc. at the earliest.

• The Panchanamas of the houses burnt and property looted in many
communities at Gajanandnagar, Sitaram Chawl, Pinjari chawl etc. should be
written down at the earliest by law enforcement officials with the involvement and support of social activists and this must lead to appropriate disbursement of fair and just compensation for the losses incurred at the earliest. While the Govt. has assured us that Panchnamaas are being made, we feel the process must be expedited in the best interests of peace and justice.

• It has been the experience that listing always creates problems and the
officials must go to the relief camps and hospitals and ensure compensation to every one.

• Appropriate Compensation must also be provided to all those who have
become disabled. (as per the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, in the case
of persons who have suffered permanent injury/ disability).

• Education for children must be provided at the camps.

Provocative literature and media mispropaganda to be stopped

• We note with deep dismay that despite some concerned citizens,
including some who, are part of this fact finding team, having made a written representation to the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Sunil Kolhe, (much before the violence erupted) to remove these posters on the grounds that they were objectionable and had inflammatory statements and were bound to lead to communal frictions, the SP merely said that he would remove ’one statement’, which is objectionable, which too did not happen properly. Even today, we can see the posters, calling upon Hindus to ’rise up’ against a certain community.

• It’s very clear that the banners and posters erected by the Hindu
fundamentalist organizations had very provocative and inflammatory statements instigating the Hindus to ’rise up and fight’. We recommend that all these sign boards must be urgently removed and any provocative literature being displayed/distributed must be banned. Legal action must be urgently initiated.

If necessary, the process of amendment of appropriate laws must also begin.

• As mentioned, we have heard from people that biased reporting and
CD’s shown in the villages by one or two channels have increased the strife
in some areas. The State must chart an effective media strategy to counter
rumors and play a role in spreading the message of communal harmony. The Press
Council of India must ensure that the media does not contribute to the violence in any way, but only performs its role of reporting the facts.

Next Steps:

The communal violence has deeply scarred the peaceful atmosphere of Dhule and it would take quite a while before the town and its villages limps back to normalcy. There is a pressing need for relief materials, including blankets, medicines, clothes etc, for the families at the relief camps. After the preliminary assessment, we hope to reach some relief materials to some camps that require them most. We note with concern and dismay the fact that the visits of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister have been very limited and did not include camps such as the National Urdu School, where thousands are staying and with very limited relief having been available from the district and state administration.

It would also contribute to peace and communal harmony, if political leaders visit all people affected by violence and not just victims from their own communities. For example, the Sarvajanik Hospital was visited by the Fisheries Minister Mr. Anees Ahmed and another Minister Siddiqqui, while the senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse visited the camps and colonies of the Hindus at Shivajinagar. Strict action as per law must be initiated against anyone who attempts to disrupt the secular fabric of the country. Many of us, civil society organizations are planning for a Peace March of people of all faiths and communities. We urge the administration to as well actively support and participate in this process and play its constitutional role in ensuring peace and secularism.