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Muslims in Gujarat continue to be denied equal protection of the law. Although the government initially boasted of arrests in the thousands following the communal violence, many of those arrested have since been released on bail, acquitted, or simply let go. In "We Have No Orders to Save You," Human Rights Watch reported that the Gujarat state administration was engaged in a massive cover-up of the state's role in the massacres and that of the sangh parivar. Though eyewitnesses filed numerous police First Information Reports (FIRs)32 that named local VHP, BJP, and Bajrang Dal leaders as instigators or participants in the attacks, few if any of these leaders were arrested. Reportedly under instructions from the state, the police faced continuous pressure not to arrest them or to reduce the severity of the charges filed. In many instances, the police also refused to include in FIRs the names of perpetrators identified by the victims and registered what are known as "omnibus FIRs," where the accused is identified only as "an unruly mob" or "a mob of 10,000." Police had, however, filed what were shown to be false charges against Muslim youth arbitrarily detained during combing operations in Muslim neighborhoods that had been largely destroyed. Officers who tried to keep the peace or act against murderous mobs were transferred or faced the wrath of their superiors.33

The patterns identified in "We Have No Orders to Save You" continue unabated throughout the state. According to local activists, those who remain in jail largely belong to Dalit, Muslim, or tribal communities. Moreover, due to manipulations in the filing of chargesheets and FIRs, shoddy investigations, and a biased judiciary, the instigators and ringleaders of the attacks may escape prosecution altogether. Police refuse to register rape cases, collect forensic evidence, or conduct panchnamas34 at the scene of the crime. Police have also failed to conduct search and seize operations to locate weapons and looted materials. Witnesses who initially came forward to file FIRs and identify their attackers have since been harassed, threatened, or bribed into turning hostile on the witness stand or simply not showing up when the case goes to trial. In exchange for being allowed to return to their homes, Muslims are being forced to withdraw their cases. Local officials have actively participated in facilitating such "peace" negotiations.35 Many who have filed complaints, or who themselves were injured in police shootings, have also had false charges filed against them. As a result, at this writing not a single person had been convicted for the post-Godhra violence against Muslims. Attackers roam with impunity in their old neighborhoods, threatening more violence if anyone speaks out against them. Following the BJP electoral win in December 2002, many activists and victims have simply given up on pursuing avenues for justice.

The neighborhoods of Naroda Patia and Gulbarg Society were the site of two of the deadliest massacres in Ahmedabad. Human Rights Watch visited both sites in March 2002, three weeks after the violence began, and interviewed numerous eyewitnesses to the attacks who at the time were residing in relief camps. Details of both cases are provided in "We Have No Orders to Save You."36 In January 2003, following directives from senior police officials, the police began closing the files on the Ahmedabad massacre cases, adding that they had no proof against the BJP and VHP leaders who were named in the complaints. Most of the witnesses who had identified the leaders as instigators of the attacks had changed their statements.37 By the end of February 2003, a few days shy of the one-year anniversary of the start of the violence, the Times of India reported that trials had begun in just one of the 961 "riot cases" from Ahmedabad:

Of the total 961 riot-cases, evidence against the accused could not be gathered in 414 cases, resulting in non-filing of charge-sheets. Only one trial has begun out of the remaining 509 cases in 30 police stations! In 38 other cases investigations are yet to conclude. None of the big names alleged to have led the marauding mobs, which killed nearly 500 persons in Ahmedabad, have been booked. The police officials say, "There is no evidence against the big wigs." The `fall guys' in the riot cases are mostly those from to the lower strata... While there is no move to arrest the "master-minds", experts say that the cases are far from reaching their logical conclusion. Trials in 509 cases are yet to begin as not a single case has evidence and related documents. According to officials in prosecution department, not even 3% of the cases have been committed for trial. "Most of the cases still continue to have lacunae due to which they have not been able to pass the preliminary scrutiny of the metropolitan courts." These courts analyse charge sheets and the case-related documents before allowing trial. Till date, the metropolitan courts have found only about 25 cases fit for trial. Of these `fit' cases, hearing has begun in just one. The case pertained to the massacre of 39 people, including former MP Ehsan Jafri, at the Meghaninagar's Gulbarg Society.38

The Naroda Patia Case
On February 28, 2002, at least sixty-five people were killed in Naroda Patia by a 5,000-strong mob that torched the entire locality. Countless others sustained severe burns and other injuries. Women and girls were gang-raped in public view before being hacked and burned to death. Homes were looted and burned while the community mosque, the Noorani Masjid, was destroyed using exploding gas cylinders. The crimes in Naroda Patia were among the most brutal in the state. An eyewitness to the murder of a six-year-old boy named Imran who testified before the Citizens' Tribunal described, for example, how "petrol instead of water was poured into [the boy's] mouth. A lit matchstick was then thrown inside his mouth and the child just blasted apart."39

At least six BJP workers, who are also VHP activists, were identified as participating in the massacre. FIRs were registered against them but the police were instructed not to arrest them. One police officer told Indian Express, an English daily, "It is politically incorrect to arrest them and we are under tremendous pressure not to act against them."40 Maya Kodnani, a BJP MLA from Naroda, and Jaideep Patel, the Gujarat secretary general for the VHP, were identified as ringleaders of the attacks.41 There are numerous FIRs registered against each of them. Human Rights Watch spoke to eyewitnesses who placed both Kodnani and Patel at the massacre site on February 28, 2002, leading the mobs. Several people who testified before the Citizens' Tribunal were also eyewitnesses to crimes in which Kodnani and Patel were implicated. One eyewitness noted that, "they were also instrumental in encouraging other accused to commit violent sexual crimes."42 Their names, however, did not appear in the preliminary chargesheet filed for the Naroda Patia case by the crime branch police in June 2002. Police officials reportedly claimed that they could not find any evidence against them. As a result they were neither arrested nor declared fugitives.43

According to an attorney working with the Citizens' Initiative, a collective of nongovernmental organizations:

Dr. Jaideep Patel and Dr. Maya Kodnani are both important political leaders who have been elected on the BJP ticket during these elections. And this is one reason why, right from the beginning the police has tried its best-maybe under political pressure-to ensure that no statement or no complaint, FIR, which includes the names of Dr. Jaideep Patel or Dr. Maya Kodnani are included in the chargesheet which is filed before the court, even though a number of statements and complaints had gone to the police. In fact the Citizens' Initiative itself had sent some of the complaints to the commission of police by registered [mail] to have full proof evidence, still their names are not included in the chargesheet.44

Key witnesses who gave statements to voluntary organizations, or before the Citizens' Tribunal, stating that Patel and Kodnani were present during the Naroda Patia massacres have themselves been charged with crimes in an apparent bid to silence them. On August 5, 2002, charges were filed against Bismillah Khan and eleven others, all eyewitnesses to Kodnani and Patel's participation in the Naroda massacre.45 Their attorney explained the suspicious nature of these charges to Human Rights Watch:

There is a complaint against both Jaideep Patel and Maya Kodnani by some people. Bismillah Khan plus eleven others were witnesses but they have been charged with the February 20 [2002] murder of an unidentified boy. None of their names were in the complaint for that case. Six months after the February 20 attack there was a further statement accusing Bismillah Khan and eleven others. The police said that the identity of the boy was revealed six months later, and investigations led to Bismillah Khan and eleven others. So there are murder charges against these twelve. The bail application for Bismillah Khan was rejected by the sessions court. Bismillah Khan and a few others are in jail now... Bail applications are immediately granted for Hindus, but they always say to wait for the chargesheet to be filed before applying for bail for Muslims. Bismillah Khan is appearing before a Muslim judge, but they are even more scared than Hindus. A Muslim judge may be under greater pressure by the Hindus.46

The language used in the chargesheet prepared for the Naroda Patia case also underscores the partisan bias of the police. The chargesheet omits the names of several of the accused, and, far from describing the military-like precision of the planned attacks, classifies them as reactions to violence instigated by Muslims. The Naroda Patia chargesheet reads, "The unruly crowd at Naroda Patiya went on the rampage after a mini-truck driven by a Muslim man ran over a Hindu youth and the mutilated body of a Hindu was recovered from the area... the crowd was anguished by the incident."47 Human Rights Watch was unable to find any independent reports to corroborate this claim.

Afsara, a Muslim woman in her forties, was a resident of Naroda Patia. Her eldest daughter, Noor Jahan, her father-in-law, and her brother's wife and his two children were all killed on February 28, 2002. Afsara's two remaining children, her son Sharukh and daughter Shah Jahan, survived but suffered serious burn injuries. Afsara filed an FIR with the police but believes that the police released those that she identified, along with many others. She told Human Rights Watch:

We registered an FIR while the children were in Civil Hospital. I recognized two people and I put down their names. I didn't recognize any one else. How are you supposed to recognize people in a huge mob? There were so many of them, how could we recognize them, we were trying to run to save our lives... As soon as [Chief Minister] Modi came in after elections, they were all released. We went back to Naroda Patia and saw the people who had been released. They're back.48

When asked whether she was prepared to testify in court, Afsara responded: "What testimony am I going to give? I've gotten tired of giving my testimony. Nothing happens, what's the point of talking. It also doesn't bring peace to talk about it."49

Khalid Noor Mohammed Sheikh lost nine family members in the massacre in Naroda Patia, including his pregnant thirty-year-old daughter Kauser Bano. Her belly was cut open and the fetus was pulled out and hacked before she was killed. Though Sheikh is willing to testify to what he saw, he claims that the police refused to properly register his complaint and that other witnesses in the case are being forced to back down, one by one. He told Human Rights Watch:

The attackers wore underclothes that were white, with brown scarves tied around their necks. They had swords, hockey sticks, pipes, arson, diesel, petrol, acid, and so many things to attack us with.... We tried to save ourselves and battle it out from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eventually we got tired, but people continued to throw pipes and swords and stones at us. And then at around 5:30 or 6:00 they surrounded all the people, including women and children from two to ten years of age. They encircled them and burnt them alive. There were also many rapes. Many women were defiled of their dignity.

I took [my daughter] Kauser to the hospital for delivery the day before the attack. She was ready to deliver. But the doctor said there was time and to come back in the morning. But there was no morning after. By then it was all over. And the tragedy is that the people who ripped my daughter's child out of her body and killed her are walking about freely. Why does it have to be this way?... The government should forbid these people from going free because if they've committed crimes today, tomorrow they could do even worse things. We voted for our government, but in our time of need, there is no support for us. The government should realize that on this earth, everyone is equal because we are all Indians. So why these kind of crimes against us? We just want peace and quiet, that's all. We don't want anything else. We want to live under the principles of love and compassion. This is my request and this is my testimony. Please make every effort that the criminals get punished. Even if they don't get punished a lot, they should at least get punished a little.50

Sheikh added that when he went to the police to register a complaint "they didn't write the information down. The police did not record any names in the FIR. We told them but they didn't.... There's also barely anything about the destruction and damage to our house. They accounted for 1,500 rupees only."51 Sheikh claims that six of the witnesses in the Naroda Patia case have been bribed into recanting their testimony, and that as a result, the main accused have been set free:

Now those people are free and sitting at home. The government should punish them. Their actions were criminal. If we do something small, they drag us to jail and that's that. But in this case things are so different... In our case, in Naroda Patia, of our eight witnesses, six have been lost. So what are the remaining two to do? Now the statement of one or two people won't carry much weight in court. If I say that this happened, there are so many others who are going to say, no it didn't happen. When six people are going to contradict what I say, then my testimony won't have much weight. We are always there, within their view. They can do anything to us. They can even make a so-called accident happen.52

Clutching to the photos of his family members who were killed, Sheikh pointed to each one, reciting their names and relationship. "There were two small children, whose names were Asif and Rafique, my son Sarmaddin, my wife Jehnabi, my daughter-in-law Shah Jahan, my sister-in-law Noor Jahan Begum, my daughter Kauser, my sister-in-law's daughter Sufia Bano, and my wife's brother Ismail Bhai Goda." He added, "These photos are all that I have left."53

The Gulbarg Society Case
In the neighborhood of Gulbarg Society, Chamanpura, Ahmedabad, more than 250 people took refuge on the morning of February 28 in the home of Ehsan Jaffrey, a former member of parliament and a Muslim. An ordeal that began at 10:30 a.m. ended seven hours later and left at least sixty-five dead, including Jaffrey himself, who was hacked and burned to death. The closest police station was less than a kilometer away. The two Ahmedabad Home Guards already stationed at Jaffrey's home had only sticks as weapons and according to eyewitnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch provided no protection; one said the guards "were watching and laughing as the attacks took place."54

In a petition submitted to the National Human Rights Commission, the Citizens' Initiative stated that the mob, estimated at 5,000, had grown since morning in Gulbarg Society. Jaffrey made countless phone calls to the police, the chief minister, and the central home minister among others asking for protection but to no avail. The telephone lines were cut after the neighborhood's homes were set on fire. Armed with swords, pipes, acid bottles, kerosene, petrol, hockey sticks, stones, and tridents, the mob was unrestrained for six hours. Among the perpetrators identified were workers and local officials of the VHP and Bajrang Dal.55

Jaffrey had actively campaigned against Chief Minister Narendra Modi during state by-elections in February 2002, just days before he was killed. Jaffrey urged people not to vote for Modi because of his RSS ties, and asked them to vote for Congress instead. The BJP lost two out of three assembly seats in the elections that took place on February 23, 2002.56 Modi was elected from Rajkot, the third constituency, but by a much-reduced margin from the previous poll.57

As with Naroda Patia, the names of the main accused do not appear in the chargesheet filed for the Gulbarg Society case.58 While the government initially appointed Assistant Commissioner of Police P.N. Barot, an officer with strong VHP connections,59 to investigate the Gulbarg Society incident, it later transferred the case to someone else.60 According to an Ahmedabad-based lawyer who has been helping to collect victim affidavits and who wishes not to be identified, the names of the main instigators, including the police and the main VHP leaders, are included in separate FIRs but those FIRs have not been included in the chargesheet. Most of those charged, he added, are Dalits and other lower-caste community members.61 The Gulbarg Society chargesheet states: "It was after the firing by Jafri on members of the mob (of 23,000) that the mob got violent and attacked the locality."62 According to eyewitnesses, including Jaffri's wife, Razia, Jaffrey fired a warning shot in the air to disperse the mob but never fired at anyone.63

Another attorney whose life has been threatened for his role in helping victims pursue their cases told Human Rights Watch that the witnesses in the Gulbarg Society case are under continuous threat:

The main accused are giving them threats saying, "We will file cases against you if you move forward with your testimony." When the victims call the police and say, "Arrest the accused, they are threatening us," the police respond by saying, "That's our work, you leave it alone." The police are also being bribed. They don't use the names of the accused and they don't testify in court. No families have returned to Gulbarg Society. It looks exactly as it did months ago. Their residences are not livable.64

Human Rights Watch spoke to one such witness whose son has been missing since the attack on Gulbarg Society. A police sub-inspector (PSI) visited the witness in her home and promised that he would help locate her son. In return, he asked her to sign a piece of paper stating that the police came to save the victims in Gulbarg Society. The witness told Human Rights Watch what happened next:

I said I wouldn't sign it and he ripped up the paper. Then he brought another piece of paper saying that if the police hadn't arrived at 5:30 p.m. then we all would have been killed. He asked me to do this because he said that his job was at stake, and that he would be transferred.65

The attorney helping her with her case explained that the police sub-inspector had been implicated in "private firing" on the crowd earlier in the day, that is, not as a police officer. The attorney claims that a statement from the witness stating that he arrived after 5:30 p.m. would help clear those charges.66 A total of eighteen eyewitnesses have submitted sworn affidavits to the trial court hearing the case detailing other blatant attempts to subvert the Gulbarg Society investigations.67

The problems associated with the Naroda Patia and Gulbarg Society investigations, including the harassment of witnesses, are also found in other parts of the state. During their visit to Gujarat to determine the feasibility of holding early elections, members of India's Election Commission documented similar patterns from almost all of the twelve districts that they covered. According to the Election Commission report:

Everywhere there were complaints of culprits of the violence still moving around scot-free including some prominent political persons and those on bail. These persons threaten the displaced affected persons to withdraw cases against them, failing which they would not be allowed to return to their homes. In Dhakor (Kheda District), the team was told by a delegation, in the presence of senior police officers and the district administration authorities, that the culprits had been identified before the police but no arrests had taken place and the main culprits continued to threaten the villagers to withdraw their FIRs. The team has cited many other such cases from almost all the 12 districts covered by them.68

In Gujarwaha village in Sabarkantha district one Muslim family had resided amidst 3,000 Hindu households for over thirty years. When the mobs came, Zubeida Razak Memom and her family members ran to hide in the fields. Zubeida filed an FIR against the villagers who burned down her house. In turn the villagers filed a complaint against her alleging that she poisoned the village well. They threatened more trouble if she dared to return to the village; she had no plans to go back.69

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO based in Delhi, has been helping to monitor cases in Panchmahals district. As with other districts, numerous incidents have been cobbled together in one case. A CHRI representative spoke to Human Rights Watch about these and other patterns in the cases the organization was handling:

Four or five incidents have been combined so there will only be one trial. There is no demarcation of incidents. In one case the prosecution's witness is the brother of the accused. Things like that. One case we are handling has gone to trial. An individual FIR exists. A mother has named nine people as the accused. Her whole family was wiped out. One person was arrested. The other eight are classified as absconding [fugitives]. They have been accused of murder and rape. The mother says that those supposedly absconding are roaming freely in the village. The PSI goes and buys fruits and vegetables from one of the accused in the morning. I followed him one day and then went to talk to him at the police station. He said they can't find them. I asked him how much fruit he was buying these days.70

CHRI also asserted that most of those arrested were charged with rioting or dacoity71 but not with murder or rape. While some face reduced charges, many have escaped arrest altogether. She added that contrary to mandated criminal procedure the police have not initiated any attachment proceedings for fugitives. As in other districts, witnesses are also facing threats to their security. "Witnesses are threatened in the middle of the night in their homes. They are told, `Don't open your mouth. Remember February 28? That will happen to you.' And there's nothing we can do about it." Some of the cases being monitored by CHRI have also ended in acquittal. In one particular case, sixty-nine people were burnt in a tempo [vehicle] on their way to Panchmahals district. The case was dismissed in two hearings and all the accused were acquitted. Many of those arrested belong to the Muslim community. Among them are those who were injured in police firings."72

Non-Prosecution of Rape Cases
As documented in "We Have No Orders to Save You," scores of Muslim girls and women were brutally raped in Gujarat before being mutilated and burnt to death. Given the large number of people who are still missing and believed dead in Gujarat, as well as the large scale burning of bodies that accompanied the killings, it is difficult to ascertain how many women and girls were subjected to sexual violence. Evidence recorded by the Citizens' Tribunal suggests that as many as 250 women and girls were victims of "gross sexual crimes."73 Unofficial estimates are much higher.

Muslim women and girls in Gujarat were stripped and paraded naked, gang-raped, mutilated, and burnt alive. Iron rods and other objects were inserted into their bodies. In some cases, the police reportedly opened fire on Muslim men who tried to save them.74 One mother reported that her three-year-old girl was raped and killed before her eyes.75 The police also participated in much of the violence against women. Many women were also the victims of police shootings.76

The justice machinery has done little to investigate or prosecute these cases. The Gujarat government failed to implement recommendations made by the National Commission of Women that would facilitate reporting of rape cases like the posting of female police officers in relief camps and the creation of women's cells in police stations focusing on crimes against women during the violence.77 Sexual violence against women and girls remains under-reported and prosecutions face numerous obstacles. Problems include a lack of medical examinations for victims of sexual violence, large-scale destruction of evidence, refusal to register rape cases in FIRs or include them in chargesheets, deficiencies in Indian rape laws, and the silencing of rape victims by members of their own community due the stigma that often accompanies such crimes.

The Ahmedabad-based NGO SAHR WARU-Women's Action and Resource Unit has collected numerous affidavits on cases of sexual violence. Sheba George, the head of Sanchetna, told Human Rights Watch: "We found sixty cases that we cross-checked with eyewitnesses. For forty of them we have the women's names and in twenty they are unnamed.... In Gomptipur, a police sub-inspector was named as one of the attackers. Women also claimed to be molested by members of the Rapid Action Force. Yet there have been no prosecutions."78

Like many in the state George expressed extreme frustration and hopelessness at the lack of avenues for justice, exacerbated by the BJP's electoral win in December 2002 (see Chapter XI). She added: "What are the options now? If you told me today that we could get justice, I could bring so many women willing to speak, but there is no justice.... We even asked for special magistrates to handle the cases but didn't get them. Even if we prepare the cases, where is the scope for justice now?"79

Sophia Khan, an attorney with the NGO Vikas Adhyayan Kendra in Ahmedabad, is also monitoring women's cases. She told Human Rights Watch:

Victims were again victimized because the accused are very politically influential. In some cases the accused don't even know what the charges are against them but they go to the witnesses and tell them to withdraw the rape case even though the case had never been filed. Then they start bargaining, saying "We will pay you." But the woman has no say. In one case, the brother took the money. And besides, if she had proceeded with the case, they would not have been able to stay in their area.80

Khan explained that rape cases, already difficult to prove under existing Indian law, are all the more difficult to pursue when the evidence of a rape has been destroyed:

There is not much hope in the rape cases. There are so many loopholes in the procedures. And the section on rape itself is patriarchal. Most rape victims were brutally killed and then burned. So there is no evidence left in our existing framework. Just a woman's testimony is not enough. And there was no postmortem and no dying declaration. By the time they got to the police, it was so late, they couldn't get medical exams. The accused inserted iron rods in women's vaginas. This is not simply molestation, but it does not fall under rape in our laws. They are very patriarchal laws.81

As reported by the Hindustan Times in June 2002, Ahmedabad's Joint Commisioner (Crime) P. Pandey admitted that it would be difficult to prosecute rape cases given that much of the evidence was destroyed when the victims were killed and burned. He added that five cases of rape were registered as part of the Naroda Patia case and two as part of the Gulbarg Society case though none of the victims were alive. The article adds that in many instances the police simply refused to file rape charges or gather the necessary evidence.82 Fearing for their lives, many rape survivors also hid for days before approaching the police, making it all the more difficult to provide medical evidence.83

The cobbling together of numerous cases into general or "omnibus" FIRs (see above) has also made it impossible to pursue rape charges. Rather than listing identified individuals, FIRs simply blame the violence on "mobs." The police claim that mob violence cannot be separated into specific crimes. Sultana Feroz Sheikh told the Washington Post, "The police...said that a Hindu mob attacked a Muslim mob.... I am not a `mob,' I am a woman who was gang-raped by three men. How can I hope for justice when they don't even register my complaint properly?" She added, "To my surprise, the police said I cannot file an FIR. They said an FIR had already existed for that day's events."84

An attorney working with the Citizens' Initiative explained how chargesheets have been manipulated to keep out rape charges:

Chargesheets are being doctored or engineered in a specific way, to ensure that political leaders are kept out of the net of the investigation. Any serious major offense of rape against women is systematically diluted or kept out of the chargesheet filed before the court. To give you an illustration, in one of the cases there is a statement where it has been said that twenty men raped five women. This is part of the summary of the chargesheet, but if you look at the entire chargesheet and look through all the statements, there is not a single statement where this fact has been mentioned. Obviously this statement was there before the police when the chargesheet was being prepared, but under certain instructions or pressure, this was removed from the chargesheet, so there is no statement corroborating the allegation that is included in the summary. On the contrary there is a statement by the victim saying that if she has mentioned any such thing, anywhere else, it is not true. Now it would not have been necessary for her to include this statement if she had not earlier alleged that she was raped.85

In addition to losing their battle for justice, rape victims in Gujarat have also had little access to healthcare and trauma counseling. According to a report issued by the International Initiative for Justice in Gujarat (IIJ), formed by Indian and international women's groups in response to the targeting of women during the violence in Gujarat,

Survivors of sexual violence have little access to counseling, and issues relating to their sexual and reproductive health and rights are neglected.86 We found very little attention paid to issues relating to pregnancy, abortions and sexually transmitted infections as a consequence of sexual violence, and were appalled at the lack of safe spaces for women to recover and defend themselves. The medical system has also proved to be unresponsive to the needs of women who have been victims of violence including sexual violence.... The few women who tried to bring charges of sexual violence have found the legal and investigative systems totally unresponsive to their needs. In many cases, it is the police who were the instigators and perpetrators of sexual violence against Muslim women.87

As with cases of sexual violence against women throughout the country, many survivors have been silenced by members of their own community who want to hide their "shame." As a consequence, families have forced young girls to get married in an attempt to hide the fact that they were raped. The IIJ report states: "We met many mothers who admitted to us that they had been compelled to send their daughters `away' or marry them off to men who they knew to be unsuitable. The failure of state agencies to prosecute perpetrators of violence means that rapists are free to continue to threaten and taunt women on a daily basis."88 As men fear for the safety of the women and girls in their family, greater restrictions are being imposed on their ability to move around freely.89

The IIJ report also found that administrative procedures were "insensitive to, and obstructed access to redress for victims, such as widows' pensions, school admission, [and] documentation for `missing persons.'" A lack of focus on difficulties faced by single women, widows, and female heads of household whose traditional systems of support have collapsed was also noted.90

Bias in the Courts
Should a case surmount the obstacles associated with the police registration and investigation of cases and finally reach trial, Muslim victims must then deal with the biases of prosecutors and members of the judiciary. A government official explained:

It's not just that the witnesses are turning hostile, it's that the judges and prosecutors are also against them. They will not get justice.... Even the public prosecutors are VHP men; the judges are their men. And in any case, the police has already botched up the case. Where witnesses are willing to testify, the public prosecutors try to turn them into hostile witnesses, or they just adjourn them. I see no chance of any case ending in a conviction. There have already been a dozen acquittals in Panchmahals [district].... At some point someone approached me to ask about the cases and I wanted to say, "Get used to the fact that you are living in a Hindu rashtra and not a secular state." I have never felt so defeated.91

Lawyers representing Muslim victims have also not been spared. According to attorney Sophia Khan, "In courts the lawyers who took up cases for Muslim victims are being harassed or pressured."92 In his testimony before the Citizens' Tribunal, senior solicitor Iqbal Hawa spoke of the disturbing communalization of the Gujarat bar at all levels. His testimony, paraphrased in the Citizens' Tribunal report, read:

The bar association (rural district court) had passed an oral resolution that no advocate should take a brief from a Muslim client. The witness also referred to the two-year-old controversy over the appointment of PN Oza, the Gujarat state prosecutor. The appointment was made out of order of seniority simply because he was, and continues to be, a member of the RSS. Without getting into specifics, as it would involve the question of contempt of court, this witness referred to the fact that in Gujarat state, since 1998, even judges were appointed because of their political affiliations to the ideology of the ruling party.93

Justice A.P. Ravani, a former chief justice of Rajasthan and eminent citizen of Ahmedabad, testified to the acute insecurity felt by Muslim judges, citing the case of two High Court Muslim judges in Ahmedabad who were forced to flee their homes and seek shelter the day after the Godhra attack.94 He also deplored the treatment of Muslim lawyers since the violence began. The bar room of the old High Court, which currently houses the Ahmedabad rural courts, has ten to fifteen tables allotted to lawyers belonging to the minority community. The tables were removed and destroyed and obscene slogans were written in their place during the attacks.95

The Shah-Nanavati Commission of Inquiry
In March 2002 the Gujarat government appointed retired High Court judge K. G. Shah to head a state commission of inquiry into possible police inaction or direct complicity and administrative failure during Godhra and its aftermath. Shah's close association with the BJP government, including his participation on a panel of lawyers representing the state government before the Supreme Court, left many questioning his ability to conduct an impartial investigation.96 In May 2002, Justice G.T. Nanavati, a retired Supreme Court judge, was appointed chairperson of the commission.97 The scope of the commission's inquiry is limited to events starting on February 27, 2002 and ending on April 30, 2002.98

Human Rights Watch spoke to Secretary Patel and Under-Secretary Vijayanand. While they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the commission, they did explain that the commission would likely require more time than had originally been allotted to finalize its report. Secretary Patel stated:

We are a fact-finding commission. We submit our report to the government under the terms of reference given to us. We call witnesses, eyewitnesses, and affected persons. There is no mention of any particular case in our terms of reference. We have a general mandate. After the Godhra carnage, violence spread all over the state. It is likely that more time will be required for the preparation of the report. It is difficult to say in what time frame the commission will be able to complete the report. Originally we were given three months, then asked for six more months, then six more months. June 2003 is the new deadline for the completion on the report.99

Subsequent to our interview with Secretary Patel, the Shah-Nanavati commission's deadline was indefinitely extended. Starting on July 15 they will hear cases from four of the worst-hit districts, namely Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bharuch, and Narmada. The commission has already traveled to numerous districts to collect affidavits and depose witnesses. When asked publicly about the evidence collected on the role of the police and district administrations Justice Nanavati responded, "the evidence recorded so far in other districts do not show any serious lapse on the part of police and the civil administration."100

The history of government-appointed commissions of inquiry in the state, and the country, also raise doubts as to whether the commission's recommendations will be followed.101 The recommendations of two commissions of inquiry established following the 1969 and 1985 riots have yet to be implemented.102 Numerous commissions of inquiry officially appointed to investigate communal riots in India since the partition of India and Pakistan have indicted sangh parivar-affiliated groups for their role in violent crimes against India's minorities yet no action has been taken against them.103

32 The initial reports of a crime recorded by the police.

33 See Human Rights Watch, "We Have No Orders to Save You," Chapter VII.

34 An on-site incident report written by the police, requiring five signatures.

35 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. I, pp. 109-110.

36 See Human Rights Watch, "We Have No Orders to Save You," Chapter III.

37 Sourav Mukherjee, "Police closing files on Ahmedabad riots," Times of India, January 10, 2003.

38 Sourav Mukherjee and Amit Mukherjee, "Trial begins in just 1 of 961 riot cases," Times of India, February 24, 2003.

39 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. I, p. 39.

40 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 52.

41 Manas Dasgupta, "Gujarat VHP leader named in FIR on Naroda incident," The Hindu, March 19, 2002.

42 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 41.

43 Manas Dasgupta, "Chargesheets filed in Gulmarg Society and Naroda-Patiya massacre cases," The Hindu, June 5, 2002.

44 Human Rights Watch interview with Citizens' Initiative attorney (name withheld), Ahmedabad, January 2, 2003.

45 Teesta Setalvad, "Criminal State: A year after the state-sponsored genocide in Gujarat, justice for the victims remains a distant goal," Communalism Combat, February 2003 [online], (retrieved May 18, 2003).

46 Human Rights Watch interview with attorney for Bismillah Khan (name withheld), Ahmedabad, January 2, 2003. On December 3, 2002, Jaideep Patel survived an assassination attempt. He was shot twice by two men on a motorcycle as he was leaving his home. Amy Waldman, "Hindu Nationalist Wounded in Attack by Gunmen in India," New York Times, December 4, 2002. The police have launched a major crackdown in Naroda Gaon, a neighborhood close to Naroda Patia, to search for his attackers. According to the Bismillah Khan's attorney:

In Naroda Gaon, ninety young boys, virtually all wage earners have been either short-listed or chargesheeted by the police to be the accused in the case where Jaideep Patel was attacked during his election campaign. They have brought attempted murder charges against these 90. One boy named Abbas was beaten in custody. His father came to us and when we went to provide bail, the father said, "We don't want to make any allegations against the police." The boy also refused to say that the police had beaten him. He was so scared. Many people were taken before Jaideep Patel and he said it wasn't any of them. (Human Rights Watch interview with attorney for Bismillah Khan, Ahmedabad, January 2, 2003.)

47 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 110.

48 Human Rights Watch interview with Afsara, Ahmedabad, January 5, 2003.

49 Ibid. See Chapter IX for a discussion of problems with government compensation for Afsara's family.

50 Human Rights Watch interview with Khalid Noor Mohammed Sheikh, Ahmedabad, January 5, 2003.

51 Ibid. At the time of the interview, Sheikh had only received Rs. 1,000 for damages to his home, though he estimates his losses at Rs. 500,000: "The television, tape, fridge, radio, fans were all there and they were destroyed. At this point, there isn't even a spoon inside my house." He had received Rs. 450,000 from the government as compensation for the deaths in his family: "I still have checks to pick up for the deaths of my family. Every month checks come in different amounts. I've only received one check in my son Sarmaddin's name. I have four more people to collect checks for. The check that came for my daughter, I have given that money to her husband. I didn't take the money for my daughter." Ibid.

52 Ibid

53 Ibid.

54 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Ahmedabad, March 22, 2002.

55 Citizens' Initiative, "Sub: Asking for appropriate action in the communal riots of February 2000 in Gujarat." (Signed petition submitted to the National Human Rights Commission of India, New Delhi), March 2002.

56 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. I, p. 32.

57 Ibid., p. 17

58 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. I, p. 34.

59 "Pro-VHP officer to prove worst massacres," Asian Age, March 25, 2002.

60 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. I, p. 34.

61 Human Rights Watch interview, (name withheld), January 2, 2003.

62 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 110.

63 Sheela Bhatt, "Ex-MP Jaffrey's widow relives a day of terror,", March 2, 2002 [online] (retrieved June 5, 2003); Luke Harding, "A vision of hell in Indian city gorging on violence," Guardian, March 2, 2002.

64 Human Rights Watch interview with attorney (name withheld), Ahmedabad, January 3, 2003.

65 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Gulbarg Society witness (name withheld), Ahmedabad, January 3, 2003.

66 Human Rights Watch interview with attorney (name withheld), Ahmedabad, January 3, 2003.

67 Teesta Setalvad, "Gujarat-One year later," Communalism Combat, April 2003 [online], (retrieved May 20, 2003).

68 Election Commission of India, "Press note: General Elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly," August 16, 2002, p. 24 [online] (retrieved June 5, 2003) [hereinafter Election Commission of India, "Press Note."].

69 Habitat International Coalition, Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action, Rebuilding From The Ruins:
Listening to the voices from Gujarat and restoring people's right to housing, livelihood and life (Ahmedabad: Citizens' Initiative, 2002), p. 55 [hereinafter HIC, YUVA, Rebuilding from the Ruins].

70 Human Rights Watch interview with CHRI representative, New Delhi, December 24, 2002.

71 Dacoity is defined under Indian Penal Code Section 391 as robbery committed by five or more persons.

72 Human Rights Watch interview with CHRI representative, New Delhi, December 24, 2002.

73 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 108.

74 Ibid., p. 40.

75 Ibid., p. 41. Representatives of the central government have displayed extreme callousness at reports of sexual violence in Gujarat. During a parliamentary debate on Gujarat on April 30, 2002, for example, Defense Minister George Fernandes stated: "There is nothing new in the mayhem let loose in Gujarat... A pregnant woman's stomach being slit, a daughter being raped in front of a mother aren't a new thing." Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 39.

76 See Chapter V.

77 See National Commission for Women, "National Commission for Women Report of the Committee Constituted by the National Commission for Women to Assess the Status and Situation of Women and Girl Children in Gujarat in the Wake of the Communal Disturbance," [online], (retrieved June 25, 2003).

78 Human Rights Watch interview with Sheba George, Ahmedabad, January 3, 2003.

79 Ibid.

80 Human Rights Watch interview with Sophia Khan, Ahmedabad, January 4, 2003.

81 Ibid. Under sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, rape is defined as sexual intercourse against the will or consent of a woman and is punishable by seven years to life imprisonment. Penetration is narrowly defined as "sufficient to constitute sexual intercourse," that is, penetration by the penis. Sections of the Indian Evidence Act also allow for evidence relating to a woman's "immoral character" to be introduced into evidence. These and other legal obstacles to the prosecution of rape cases led to a review of rape laws by the Law Commission of India. Their report can be found online at (retrieved June 25, 2003). For more on the obstacles to prosecuting rape cases, see Human Rights Watch, Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's Untouchables, Chapter IX; and "Do Rape Laws Favour the Accused?" [online], (retrieved May 12, 2003).

82 Raveen Thukral, "Not much evidence to bring rapists to justice," Hindustan Times, June 17, 2002.

83 Rama Lakshmi, "Rapes Go Unpunished in Indian Mob Attacks; Muslim Women Say Claims Are Ignored," Washington Post, June 3, 2002.

84 Ibid.

85 Human Rights Watch interview with Citizens' Initiative attorney (name withheld), January 2, 2003.

86 For more on the problems related to the mental and physical health of survivors of sexual assault, see the report Medico Friend Circle, "Carnage in Gujarat: A Public Health Crisis," May 13, 2002, pp. 21-24.

87 International Initiative for Justice in Gujarat, "An Interim Report," December 19, 2002, pp. 2-3 [online], (retrieved June 3, 2003). IIJ is comprised of jurists, activists, lawyers, writers and academics from various parts of the world. Representatives of IIJ visited areas in and around Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and and Panchmahals, Gujarat between December 14 and 17, 2002 to investigate, among other things, the violence inflicted upon women since February 27, 2002. International Initiative for Justice in Gujarat, "Press Release," December 19, 2002 [online], (retrieved June 3, 2003). IIJ investigations also found that police, prosecutorial, and judicial member connections to the sangh parivar "clearly impairs the course of justice." Evidentiary requirements that prevent the prosecution of rape charges without sufficient medical reports and other corroborating evidence were also highlighted. Ibid.

88 International Initiative for Justice in Gujarat, "An Interim Report," p. 3.

89 A similar trend was observed in Bombay following the 1992-1993 riots there. The wearing of burqas by Muslim women and girls became much more common. Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 158.

90 International Initiative for Justice in Gujarat, "An Interim Report," p. 4.

91 Human Rights Watch interview with Gujarat government official (name withheld), Ahmedabad, January 5, 2003.

92 Human Rights Watch interview with Sophia Khan, Ahmedabad, January 4, 2003.

93 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. I, pp. 210-211.

94 Ibid., p. 207; Human Rights Watch, "We Have No Orders to Save You," pp. 46, 60.

95 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. I, p. 210.

96 Shyam Parekh, "Riots probe panel faces credibility crisis," Times News Network, March 11, 2002.

97 "Nanavati's appointment challenged," Times of India, June 15, 2002. Justice Nanavati is also heading a commission of inquiry into the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. The then-ruling Congress (I) party has been charged with complicity in the killing of over 2,000 Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 following the assassination of Congress party president and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguard. The commission's report is likely to be released by the end of the year. "Anti-Sikh inquiry report likely by end of year: Nanavati," The Press Trust of India, May 18, 2003.

98 "Godhra probe: No evidence of lapse against govt," Times of India, May 19, 2003.

99 Human Rights Watch interview with Secretary Patel, Ahmedabad, January 4, 2003.

100 "Godhra probe: No evidence of lapse against govt," Times of India, May 19, 2003.

101 State governments in India share a common history of appointing judicial commissions of inquiry to quell public outcries against police excesses during large-scale communal and caste clashes. Although these commissions do serve a political function, their findings, if and when released to the public, are frequently in favor of the state. Those that criticize the state are rarely implemented. The report of the commission singled out various state officials for their role in inciting violence against Muslims. See also the history of Tamil Nadu government-appointed commissions of inquiry into attacks against Dalits in Human Rights Watch, Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's "Untouchables," Chapter V.

102 Anil Pathak, "Traditional hot-beds of strife remain relatively quiet," Times of India, March 5, 2002.

103 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 73.

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