Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia



I. Overview

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 intolerance. [1]

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. [2] 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. [3]

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”. [4]

The alleged encounter death of Ishrat Jehan Shaikh, Javed, Jishan Johar, and Amjadali Akbarali Rana alias Salim [5]  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. [6] 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. [7]

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. [8]

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. [9]

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. [10] 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 110 metres. [11]

[1] . Gallery vandalised over Durga painting, The Times of India, 30 January 2004

[2] . Rape, murder charges against Kadi PSI, The Indian Express, 28 November 2004

[3] . Please refer to the NHRC Annual Reports

[4] . SC orders review of all Gujarat riot cases, The Hindustan Times, 18 August 2004

[5] . Lashkar terrorists shot dead, The Hindu, 16 June 2004 

[6] . ‘99.9% Pota accused in Gujarat were Muslims’, The Asian Age, 16 July 2004

[7] . Gujarat, MP to bring in POTA-like law, The Hindustan Times, 20 September 2004

[8] . CID questions Gujarat human rights activist, The Indian Express, 11 June 2004

[9] . IG or IAS officer, Dalit is still an untouchable, The Times of India, 29 June 2004

[10] . Thirsty Gujarat celebrates as Narmada dam height raised, Kutch to drink, The Indian Express, 17 March 2004

[11] . Narmada team cuts short tour, The Hindu, 15 December 2004