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There has been an unimaginable marginalization of Muslims in Gujarat. They have no trading power. The middle class segment of Muslims has been wiped out and set back. They have no benefits and won't get any benefits from this government.

- Sheba George247

Independent nongovernmental groups estimate that, as a result of the large-scale destruction of homes, properties, and businesses in Gujarat, the Muslim community has suffered an economic loss totaling Rs. 3,800 crore, or approximately U.S. $760 million.248 The prolonged closure of shops, industries, and commercial establishments in the state has also hurt the economy as a whole rendering thousands of Muslims and Hindus jobless.249 Across Gujarat, over 1,100 Muslim-owned hotels, over 100,000 homes, around 15,000 business establishments, 3,000 handcarts, and over 5,000 vehicles were badly damaged or completely destroyed.250 Discriminatory economic boycotts, ghettoization, and the deliberate targeting of businesses and income-generating mechanisms such as handcarts, taxis, autorickshaws, and trucks, have economically crippled the already pauperized Muslim community of Gujarat. In many places, the Hindu community has also been hard hit. Reports have surfaced of Hindu traders committing suicide out of economic desperation. Their businesses were paralyzed for months after the violence and many have been unable to pay off their loans to banks or loan sharks.251 This chapter looks at the phenomena of ghettoization and boycotts in Gujarat, as well as the long-term psychological and educational impact on Muslim children.

Successive episodes of Hindu-Muslim violence in Gujarat (in 1969, 1985, 1989, 1990, and 1992) have resulted in the increasing ghettoization of the state's Muslim community.252 The pattern is now reinforcing itself as Muslim residents once again look for safety in numbers and refuse to return to what is left of their residences alongside Hindu neighbors. The reconstruction of homes has largely taken place along communal lines. Muslims cannot work, reside, or send their children to schools in Hindu dominated localities. As the segregation of communities continues hopes for community dialogue or reconciliation have dissipated.

Gagan Sethi of the NGO Janvikas laments that NGOs in Gujarat have become "experts in building ghettos." Together with the NGO Navsarjan, Janvikas has participated in the post-violence construction or repair of over 1,200 homes in Gujarat. Members of the Muslim community and nongovernmental organizations have stepped in where the state has failed, first with the running of relief camps, and now in the reconstruction of homes. Sethi told Human Rights Watch, "First we tried to reconstruct homes where people were already staying. But when they were not willing or even allowed to go back then we had no choice but to build homes in Muslim-dominated neighborhoods." Sethi described a five-month long peace process in Panchmahals district where Janvikas tried unsuccessfully to broker peace between Hindus and Muslims in a violence-torn neighborhood.

On the 27th of every month a procession is taken out from Godhra, Panchmahals, and other hubs.253 The Bajrangis254 move in trucks to Muslim areas and shout filthy abuses; they are looking to provoke the Muslims. Sometimes they get the reaction they want: Muslims start stone-throwing. Then the Bajrangis go on a rampage and beat them up. This is what happened when we were trying to broker peace. Finally, the day before yesterday, we gave in and said to the Muslims don't go back.255

An employee of the NGO Navsarjan is overseeing the reconstruction of homes in Sabarkantha and Panchmahals districts. She stated that the government did not provide any support for the reconstruction of homes. The funding came exclusively from NGOs or private donors. Payal confirmed that none of the new homes for Muslims were being built in Hindu areas. She told Human Rights Watch:

When the violence happened, their homes were completely burned. They were injured, attacked, and completely looted. At that time they had to leave their homes, they had to run to save their lives, and they took nothing with them. By the time they could go back to look at their homes, there was nothing left. So literally they have nothing, only the clothes on their back. We've been helping them since the beginning. Now they are suffering from other problems. They can't go back and live with Hindus.... The reconstruction of homes is not in the areas where they lived before because those are Hindu areas and Muslims don't want to live with Hindus anymore because they are afraid. So the homes are quite far from where they used to live, and where there are majority Muslims. That's where they wanted to construct their homes. As a result, all the construction work that we are doing is in Muslim areas. We are not doing any construction in Hindu areas.256

Payal added that the people they were helping got some money from the government "but not enough to get them back on their feet. They received anywhere from Rs. 2,500 to 15,000 [U.S.$53 to $319] for damages to their homes but that is so little compared to what they lost."257

Discriminatory Economic Boycotts
In "We Have No Orders to Save You," Human Rights Watch reported that a pamphlet calling for the economic boycott of Muslims had resurfaced in the state following the March 2002 attacks. The pamphlet, which was issued in the name of the VHP's office in Raanip locality, referred to Muslims as "anti-national elements" who molest Hindus' sisters and daughters and who use money earned from Hindus to buy arms. It called on its readers to institute a complete boycott of goods and services proffered by Muslims, adding that Muslims should not be hired in Hindu establishments and should not be allowed to rent property. It also cautioned Hindus to be "alert to ensure that [Hindus'] sisters-daughters do not fall into the `love-trap' of Muslim boys" and called on Hindus to vote, but "only for him who will protect the Hindu nation."258

According to a February 2003 report in the Bombay-based periodical Communalism Combat, a year after the beginning of the violence, economic and social boycotts were still widespread in ten out of Gujarat's twenty-four districts:

In most areas of Ahmedabad and Vadodara and villages of Gandhinagar, Vadodara rural, Anand, Panchmahal, Mehsana, Kheda and Dahod, insidious economic and social boycott continues to cripple the Muslim minority that is still reeling from the effects of last year's brutal violence. It is only the villages and areas that have a sizeable Muslim population that has built up a steely resistance to the politics of hatred and division through the security of numbers - ghettoisation is the stark solution in post-carnage Gujarat.259

Many Muslims remain unable to farm their fields, sell their wares, return to their businesses, operate commercial vehicles, or retain their jobs, including in the public sector.260 Janvikas director Gagan Sethi explained the relevance of the illicit liquor trade in Gujarat-a dry state-to the violence, and the rationale behind the economic boycotts:

There is a Hindu mafia and a Muslim mafia in Gujarat. Muslims controlled illicit liquor trade in Gujarat until Latif was killed.261 When you control the liquor and the mafia, then you have money. So in previous riots both sides used to fight. In the past ten years, Muslims have been taken out of the liquor trade. Dalits have come up with active VHP-BJP support.262 So when this riot happened, it was the last bit, the Muslims were removed from their money and muscle. That's why it was one-sided.... The main liquor dens are in Ahmedabad and Baroda. From there the branches flow.... There are two ways to kill a trade. For example, Muslims dominate in the wholesale fruit trade. You can either kill the source in Ahmedabad or see to it that the retailers cannot sell them because of economic boycotts. Slowly, non-Muslims start to take over small trades in villages. What will and won't be boycotted is decided by the VHP at the local level where the VHP is the empowered economic goon. Ultimately, the independent fiefdom of VHP goons at the local level are run with blessings from the top.263

Shah-e-Alam camp resident R. Bibi told Human Rights Watch that like many others, her two sons were having a hard time finding work because of their Muslim names:

They don't give business or employment to Muslims. Even now they're not giving work to anybody with a Muslim name. Even my own sons are unemployed and just roaming around here and there. They don't have any work to do. One of them used to do welding work, and the other one was a rickshaw driver, and even the one that was killed used to have a rickshaw. Now nobody is giving work. They are saying, "Go, there is no work for you." Even my son who has two young children doesn't have a job. Now he's gone to his in-laws' home, he doesn't know what else to do. And what is he supposed to do, where would he go? Where will we go? We even had shops in Naroda Patia, but they haven't opened them up yet. There's no public to go to the shops. How are they going to run the shops without a public there? They live in fear. They sleep in fear.264

Afsara's family members were also finding it impossible to earn a living:

There's no work going on, we're just sitting here. We got a car, my husband got a car on loan and he's driving that, but there's no other employment. I used to do sewing work and kokhri-khati. But I can't do that work anymore, I can't go back there. And there's nobody else to work. My older daughter was killed and Shah Jahan can't work [she is covered in burns]. So how are we going to work? First we're afraid to even go back to Patia. That's where I used to do my job, and there's no work here. The NGO gave us a sewing machine, but it needs a motor, it needs thread, it needs some other things. There's no table, there's no scissors, how am I going to use the machine? We have no means right now.265

The Effect on Children's Education and Identity
Following the violence in Gujarat in February and March 2002, more than 33,000 children were forced into relief camps throughout Gujarat, representing one-third of the total displaced population.266 In addition to being raped and burned, children also bore witness to the brutal crimes against their loved ones. Human Rights Watch spoke to several children who have yet to fully resume their education and have received no psychological counseling.267 Many suffered severe burn injuries that still cover their arms, legs, and in some cases, their entire bodies.

Muslim parents are afraid to send their children back to their old schools. According to Martin Macwan, head of the NGO Navsarjan, "Muslim children are not going back to their old schools largely because of insecurity. Children don't feel safe in schools with no Muslim population. The opposite is also true. In Juhapura, Ahmedabad, a majority Muslim area, there are no Hindu students."268 R. Bibi told Human Rights Watch:

Everyone used to go to school. Now my daughter-in-law's children are going to school near the home that they were given, that they are living in now. First they used to go to the SRP (Special Reserve Police) school in Naroda Patia. Even the SRP people attacked us. From all sides we were getting attacked. We were surrounded. Why would we send our children back to the SRP school when the SRP themselves were attacking us? Now our children have seen anything, so of course they're scared. They have seen so many people being cut, being killed, being burned, so of course the children are going to be scared. There is no question of us being able to go back there now. The school that they're going to now, they're secure there because that's our area - meaning Muslim area. There are Christian teachers there. I haven't gone home since the violence and riots started - and I won't go back and I don't want to go back.269

As reported in "We Have No Orders to Save You," children's education certificates were destroyed together with other personal belongings when their homes were looted or set on fire. The government did little to replace these certificates or facilitate the resumption of Muslim children's education following the violence. Under financial constraint, many children have dropped out all together to become child laborers.270 The education of girls, already of low priority, is being given even less importance in dire financial times.271

Soon after the violence, principals of English-medium schools in Gujarat were threatened with violence by VHP members if they did not expel Muslim students from their institutions. According to one report, parents were told by school officials to remove their children from these schools on the grounds that their safety could not be guaranteed.272 These tactics are helping to ensure that Muslim children are increasingly confined to madrasas, or Muslim-run religious schools, where education is imparted in Hindi or Urdu-limiting severely the students' career prospects273 and effectively requiring them to have a religious rather than secular education. Simultaneously, sangh parivar-run schools throughout Gujarat and other parts of India continue to impress upon Hindu children a message of religious intolerance.274 The end result could be toxic to relations between communities for generations to come.

In addition to the enormous impact on their health, education, and psychological well-being, children in relief camps also struggled with issues of identity. According to one study:

The impact of living like refugees in camps in subhuman conditions for months together increased the feeling of discrimination experienced by children at a time when most Hindu families they knew were safe in their homes. "We feel like outsiders, people who are not wanted," one child said. The carnage impacted the children's sense of self-worth and created immense confusion in their minds about their identity: Are we insiders or outsiders, Indians or Pakistanis, citizens or criminals? Commonly used terms such as "We" and "They," "Us" and "Them" indicated the sharp divide between communities.275

Dr. Satchit Balsari, a research associate at the Program on Humanitarian Crises at the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, made repeated visits to Gujarat between August and October 2002 to assess the mental health and education status of children affected by the violence. Balsari met with over one hundred children in relief camps in Ahmedabad and Panchmahals district. A child psychologist from Delhi accompanied Balsari during his visits to Gujarat. Together they worked with children and facilitated the expression of their emotions through art. Invariably the children's drawings were replete with images of bombs, guns, swords, burning homes and mosques, and mutilated bodies.276

Balsari told Human Rights Watch: "The children were deeply traumatized. Their notions of identity of self and others were very warped. Their understanding of the protective role of the state was also permanently altered." When Balsari asked Muslim children who they thought was responsible for what had happened to their lives they responded, "the Hindus did this. The Hindus are those that grow up to be Bajrang Dalis277 or police officers and kill Muslims." Balsari added:

The children remember the police firing at them. There were instances in which children approached the police for help but were turned away. All of them remembered that the police fired upon members of their community who were trying to defend their homes. They also recalled how the ambulances didn't come to their aid. They now see the state as an extension of the larger Hindu community and not as a non-partisan secular protective. Some wanted to grow up and become police officers so they could own a gun and kill the people who did this to them. They said they recognized the people who did this to them. Some were even their neighbors.278

Balsari also spoke to several Hindu children and found that their understanding of the events that had transpired was very much dictated by what they were told in their homes, their school, or what they heard on the street: "The children in the majority community thought that a majority of those in relief camps were Hindus when the opposite was true. A few even cited Godhra to justify the so-called backlash adding that Muslims should `go to Pakistan.'" Balsari echoed the fears of many activists in Gujarat about the deep communal divide that had permeated all levels of Gujarati civil society. "A secular voice isn't reaching the children of either community. The religious space has been taken over by extremists and fundamentalists on both sides while sane voices are reluctant to engage in the religious sphere. The polarization between the two communities is so strong, which will only contribute to continuing cycles of violence."279 He then cautioned, "Muslim children are now vulnerable to extremists in their community because they have lost so much and have been so pushed against the wall that they have very little to lose."280

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

248 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 44.

249 For a more detailed account of the economic devastation caused by the violence in multiple industries see: "Economic Destruction" in Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II.

250 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 27.

251 Rasheeda Bhagat, "The great divide in Gujarat," Business Line (The Hindu), December 11, 2002.

252 The term ghettoization is defined here to encompass economic and other circumstances that result in the impoverishment and segregation of members of a minority group from the larger community.

253 The 27th is significant as the date of the attack on Hindus in Godhra, which took place on February 27, 2002.

254 Members of the Bajrang Dal, the militant youth wing of the VHP.

255 Human Rights Watch interview with Gagan Sethi, Ahmedabad, January 5, 2003.

256 Human Rights Watch interview with Navsarjan employee (name withheld) Ahmedabad, January 3, 2003

257 Ibid.

258 The full text of the pamphlet can be found at (retrieved June 1, 2003).

259 Setalvad, "Gujarat-One year later."

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

261 Abdul Latif was a mafia leader in Ahmedabad who controlled the illicit liquor trade in the eighties and won several municipal elections as an independent. "When pride is prejudice," Indian Express, June 4, 2002.

262 For more on the recruitment of Dalits by the sangh parivar, see Chapter XI.

263 Human Rights Watch interview with Gagan Sethi, Ahmedabad, January 5, 2003.

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

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

266 Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity, vol. II, p. 39

267 For more on the children's mental health concerns, see Medico Friend Circle, "Carnage in Gujarat: A Public Health Crisis," May 13, 2002, pp. 18 -21.

268 Human Rights Watch interview with Martin Macwan, Ahmedabad, January 2, 2003.

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

270 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Dr. Satchit Balsari, Boston, May 15, 2003.

271 HIC, YUVA, Rebuilding from the Ruins, p. 67.

272 Human Rights Watch, "We Have No Orders to Save You," p. 31.

273 S.N.M. Abdi, "Hindu hoodlums warn school heads to remove Muslims," South China Morning Post, April 9, 2002.

274 See Smita Narula, "Overlooked Danger: The Security and Rights Implications of Hindu Nationalism in India," Harvard Human Rights Journal, vol. 16, Spring 2003.

275 HIC, YUVA, Rebuilding from the Ruins, p. 63.

276 See for example, (retrieved June 1, 2003)

277 Members of the Bajrang Dal, the militant youth wing of the VHP.

278 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Dr. Satchit Balsari, Boston, May 15, 2003.

279 Ibid.

280 Ibid.

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