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In "We Have No Orders to Save You," Human Rights Watch reported on the arbitrary detention and filing of false charges against Muslims during and after the initial attacks. The practice remains largely unchecked in many parts of Gujarat. R. Bibi, a Muslim woman in her sixties from Naroda Patia, described the frustration and helplessness felt by many Muslims in the state: "When my boys go back [to Naroda Patia] the police harass them. The police take their names down and say that you killed our people, the Hindus. So first they attack us and kill our people and then they put cases against our children. Now where are we supposed to go?"104 Numerous lawyers have also described to Human Rights Watch a climate of impunity and increasing apprehension on the part of witnesses in key cases. One lawyer monitoring cases in Ahmedabad told Human Rights Watch: "there's a fear within the community that they're going to be implicated with false cases with which they have no connection."105 This chapter focuses on police shootings, the manipulation of victims' postmortem reports, and the filing of false charges against Muslim victims of police shootings. Many victims cannot afford to pay bail, or to secure attorneys to represent them.106

Police Shootings
In April 2002 Human Rights Watch reported that in almost all cases documented in Ahmedabad the police led the charge of the mobs, aiming and firing at Muslims who sought to protect their homes and their loved ones. According to a report drafted by the Gujarat police, of the 184 people killed in police shootings, 104 were Muslims.107 A government official told Human Rights Watch that an overwhelming majority of the eighty Hindus killed were Dalits.108 Postmortems and medical certificates reportedly have also been manipulated to hide any evidence of police shootings, indicating instead that the deceased were killed or injured by stabbing or sword injury during their participation in the riots.109

In March 2002, Human Rights Watch visited Chartoda Kabristan camp, located on the site of a Muslim graveyard in Ahmedabad. Many of its several thousand residents were sleeping in the open, between the graves. Several camp residents recounted to Human Rights Watch the manner in which the police shot and killed their relatives during the attacks. Twenty-five-year-old Abdul Aziz, a resident of Panna Lal ki Chali, near Chartoda Kabristan, witnessed the killing of his brother by police gunfire. He told Human Rights Watch:

On the 28th afternoon at 3 p.m. my younger brother was returning from work. The police said that a curfew was in place. A crowd gathered to attack. The police was leading the crowd. They were looting and the people followed, looting and burning behind them. The crowd was shouting, "Go to Pakistan. If you want to stay here become Hindu." The police very clearly aimed at my brother and fired at him. He was twenty-three years old.110

Twenty-two-year-old Mohammed Salim from Bara Sache ki Chali told Human Rights Watch that most of the deaths in his neighborhood were caused by police shooting. He described a pattern testified to by many interviewed by Human Rights Watch:

The Hindus called us outside to fight. When we came out, the police fired on us, twelve to thirteen people died.... They said come forward, then they started shouting, "Kill the Muslims, cut the Muslims, loot the Muslims." The police were with them and picked out the Muslim homes and set them on fire. The police aimed and fired at the Muslim boys. They then joined with the Hindus to set fire to the homes and to loot the homes. The police were carrying kerosene bottles and shooting and setting the bottles on fire. The others were carrying swords and trishuls.... None of the deaths from our area were from the Bajrang Dal, it was all from police firing.... The police came inside [the Chartoda Kabristan area] and fired.111

According to data collected in May 2002 for the Citizens' Initiative-sponsored report Rebuilding from the Ruins, the postmortems for these deaths state that the deaths were due to stabbing. Twenty other youths had been picked up from the camp during police combing operations. At the time of the Citizens' Initiative investigation in May 2002, they remained in custody and had not been officially charged.112

Investigations conducted in Ahmedabad by SAHR WARU-Women's Action and Resource Unit revealed that police raids and mob attacks that started on February 28, 2002 continued well into April 2002. Many of the victims of indiscriminate police shootings were women. At the height of the violence on March 1, 2002, N. Bibi stepped out onto the balcony of her apartment in Gomptipur. She was hit by a bullet. The postmortem report issued by the hospital erroneously states that her death was "due to shock from stab injuries." Fearing the consequences of pursuing a legal case, her father has since withdrawn his complaint.113

During a police raid in Gomptipur, Ahmedabad on April 21, 2002, police opened fire "on whomever they saw" and obstructed efforts by local residents to seek medical aid for the victims.114 Twenty-two-year-old Naziabanu and her father rushed back into their home when the police arrived. As they were closing their doors, they were shot. Ten minutes later, after the police had left, neighbors came forward to take them to the hospital in an autorickshaw. The vehicle was stopped at a police point at the edge of Sarangpur Bridge. The neighbors assisting the injured victims were dragged out and beaten. They testified that had Naziabanu and her father reached the hospital on time, they may have been saved.115

Also on April 21, a forty-two-year-old female resident of Doctor Ki Chali, Gomptipur was shot in the head. She was in the neighborhood's public toilet area. When another resident carried the victim's dead body to the victim's home, the police reportedly followed the trail of blood to her home and proceeded to assault her father and her son. The police officer responsible for the killing has been transferred from his post.116

On the night of April 27, 2002, mobs pelted stones and explosives in the locality of Bengali Vas in Chandola, Ahmedabad. Afraid that their homes would be set on fire, Muslim residents gathered across the canal close to their homes. They claim that the mobs called the police, who arrived fifteen minutes later and began assaulting them. The residents ran back inside their homes for shelter. The police broke down their doors and began assaulting men, women, and children with sticks or the butts of their guns. They then began shooting.117 Seven people were killed, two of them women. A total of fifty-five men and women were severely injured.118

False Charges Against Victims
According to lawyers and nongovernmental groups working with victims in Gujarat, in an effort to cover up their own participation in the violence, the police have instituted false cases against a number of people injured by police gunfire. According to Sheba George, the head of the NGO SAHR WARU,

The attitude of the police is this: anyone who has been injured must have participated in the riot. We know of six women who were fired upon by the police and now have charges filed against them. Can you imagine the amount of money they have to spend each time they go to court? They have general charges filed against them, charges for rioting. But the women have not been given the FIRs. They just get picked up.... There was a case of a woman who had been beaten with an iron rod on her legs. She was beaten so badly and was still taken to jail. She had a breastfeeding baby with her. We later took her to give a statement to the police and they started asking if she was Bangladeshi. We don't expect any legal remedy with this government now in place.119

Also included in the SAHR WARU report were the events of March 1, in Soni Ka Khet, Millatnagar, Ahmedabad, as thirty-five-year-old Sairabanu Mehmoodmiya Sheikh was proceeding to the open ground near her home to throw out the garbage, the police fired tear gas on the Millatnagar residents. She said she was shot as she waited for the smoke to clear. Sairabanu was eventually booked under Indian Penal Code sections 143, 147, 148, 149, 302, 307, 335, 436, 427, and 188 for: rioting; rioting armed with a deadly weapon; unlawful assembly; murder; attempted murder; causing grievous hurt; mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy property; mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees; and disobeying the order of a public servant. She was detained in Central Jail for twenty-four days in September 2002.120 Others injured in police shootings were also booked under similar provisions. Among them were five men who were detained and kept in jail for two-and-a-half months. They were released after a local leader posted their bail. A woman named Saberbanu was held in Central Jail for twenty-four days though she had no offense registered against her in the complaint. 121

On March 20, 2002, in Saiyyedwadi, Vatva, police reportedly opened fire, without warning, on a group of women as they were gathering for their evening prayers. A total of eight people were injured, six of them women. Two victims died on the spot. Among those injured was a woman named Mumtazbanu who was disabled in one leg. She said she was standing outside her house when the firing began. As she attempted to get back inside her house, the police shot at her, injuring her second leg. Mumtazbanu was taken into police custody in May 2002. Her case came up for hearing in January 2003.122

Najmabibi told SAHR WARU that she was dragged out of her home by the police and beaten on her legs, abdomen, and hands. She was taken to the Shah-e-Alam Dargah camp and from there was admitted to a hospital. Her injury certificate does not implicate the police. Rather it states that she was "Beaten by opposite party on right thigh with sticks during riots." As part of her treatment, five rods were inserted into Najmabibi's leg. As of January 2003, she still could not bend her leg and could only afford to get two of the five rods removed. Although her husband registered an FIR, providing details of the assault and naming the police inspector involved, he has not been given a copy of the statement despite repeated visits to the police station.123 In November 2002 Najmabibi was taken into police custody. She was released after her husband secured her bail. In January 2003, the police were in the process of preparing a chargesheet against her.124 Another Muslim female resident of Bengali Vas, Chandola, was taken into custody, along with her two-and-a-half-year-old child, on August 21, 2002. She was released three days later after paying a Rs. 10,000 (U.S.$213)125 bail. She has been charged with looting houses and for being part of the attacking mob.126

104 Human Rights Watch interview with R. Bibi, Ahmedabad, January 2, 2003.

105 Human Rights Watch interview with attorney monitoring Ahmedabad cases (name withheld), Ahmedabad, January 2, 2003.

106 In stark contrast, many sangh parivar members accused of attacks against Muslims have been assured of VHP-financed legal representation. On March 9, 2002, the Indian Express, an English daily, reported that even before chargesheets were filed, the VHP mobilized a team of fifty lawyers ready to defend accused VHP and Bajrang Dal members in court. The VHP's Gujarat state general secretary, Jaideep Patel, himself accused of leading the Naroda Patia massacre stated that the Godhra victims, and those accused of post-Godhra crimes had "fought a religious battle. They also fought to protect Hindu lives under attack. Not only the VHP and Bajrang Dal, the whole community should come forward to help them." Joydeep Ray, "Riots: Parivar picks team for legal battle," Indian Express, March 9, 2002.

107 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. I, p. 194.

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

109 Human Rights Watch interview with Sheba George, head of the NGO SAHR WARU, Ahmedabad, January 3, 2003.

110 Human Rights Watch interview, Abdul Aziz, Ahmedabad, March 23, 2002.

111 Human Rights Watch interview, Mohammed Salim, Ahmedabad, March 23, 2002.

112 HIC, YUVA, Rebuilding from the Ruins, p. 32.

113 SAHR WARU Women's Action and Resource Unit, "Monitoring Minority Rights. Women who were victims of Police Firings in part of Ahmedabad City (March - April 2002): Present Status," January 2003, p.5.

114 Ibid., p. 4. Many Muslim youth were also killed or detained by the police in Gomptipur on February 28, 2002. See Human Rights Watch, "We Have No Orders to Save You," pp. 50-51.

115 SAHR WARU, "Monitoring Minority Rights," p. 4.

116 Ibid.

117 Ibid., p. 7.

118 Ibid., p. 18.

119 Ibid.

120 Ibid., pp. 11-12.

121 Ibid., p. 18.

122 Ibid., p. 15.

123 Ibid., pp. 7-8.

124 Ibid., p. 9.

125 At this writing, one U.S. dollar was equivalent to 47 Indian rupees. Converted figures have been rounded off.

126 SAHR WARU, "Monitoring Minority Rights," p. 10.

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