One of the most telling testimonies presented before the Tribunal was that of an expert witness on the recorded words of a police officer on Star News on March 9: “Wahan factory mein aag lagi hai, GIDC mein… haan…aag lagi hai… factory Hindu-Muslim mix thi, is mein ek partner Muslim tha, baki ke sab partner Hindu the.” (“In GIDC a factory is on fire… yes… it is on fire… the factory was jointly owned… one partner was a Muslim and the rest were Hindus.”)
Extensive evidence recorded by the Tribunal points to the devastating loss of property by the Muslim community in the state. Relying on detailed tabulation of losses computed by community leaders at the village, city and district levels, independent groups estimated the total loss to the Muslim community at not less than Rs. 3,800 crore. (Except where otherwise stated, the figures for losses given below have been computed by business representatives of the community and social activists). The pre-planning, precision and scale of destruction calls for massive reparation by the Gujarat state.
The Muslim community in Gujarat was one of the most prosperous in the country and its contribution to the economy of the state, pivotal. The fact that the economy of this section of the population has been crippled suggests a sinister motive behind the destruction.
Evidence provided by prominent businessmen belonging to both the Muslim and Hindu communities point to the systematic destruction. The destruction of two establishments on CG Road — Pantaloon Showroom and the Hero Honda Showroom — in a posh area in Ahmedabad, is illuminating. The Pantaloon Showroom is a partnership of Hindus and Muslims, with the Muslim partner owning only a 10 per cent share. The Copper Chimney restaurant, though owned by a Hindu Punjabi, was targeted. Those instigating the attack were obviously well-informed, for very few people knew that the owner had recently signed a deal with a Sheikh in the Gulf.
Information was gathered from the Registrar of Companies, the Revenue and the Sales Tax departments. Significantly, several months prior to the carnage, the widely circulated local Gujarati daily, Sandesh, had published a list of all Muslim-owned establishments in Ahmedabad with ‘Hindu’ names. Was there some unstated purpose behind the publishing of this list? Was it used as a ready reckoner by those who destroyed these establishments later?
According to Shri Narendra Brahmbutt, president of the Ahmedabad Hotel and Residents Association, the hotel sector alone has suffered a staggering loss of Rs. 260 crore. Suppliers to the hotel industry suffered losses to the extent of Rs. 60 crore. As many as 6,700 workers belonging to the majority community have been rendered jobless due to the burning and arson by the fanatic militia.
Details of losses
Muslims estimate losses due to the prolonged closure of shops, industries and commercial establishments in the state to be no less at Rs. 3,000 crore. (The Gujarat Chambers of Commerce and Industry puts the figure at Rs. 2,000 crore).
Approximately 1,150 hotels were burnt or looted on the National Highway from Vapi to Vadodara and on to Palanpur. The total estimated loss to property and investment in looting and damage alone, across the state, is Rs. 760 crore.
- A Rs. 600 crore business loss for the hotel industry in Gujarat.
- At least 20,000 workers in the hotel industry were rendered jobless and many are missing. Ironically, many of those who lost their jobs were non-Muslims, indicative of the long–term impact of destruction and terror on all sections of society, not just the 10 per cent strong Muslim minority that is the immediate target. Nearly 7,000–8,000 Rabari boys were rendered jobless in Gujarat because Muslim hotels were burnt and destroyed, according to the evidence of Tejabhai, a Rabari leader recorded by an expert witness.
The transport godowns on the National Highway have suffered damages to the tune of Rs. 12 crore. In addition, losses suffered due to the burning down of over 1,000 trucks are estimated by transport operators belonging to Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara Godhra and Himmatnagar, at Rs. 60 crore. The truck operators’ insurance claims for the cumulative damage amounted to Rs. 830 crore.
- More than Rs. 10 crore lost due to the burning down of 60 Opel Astras parked outside the GM Motors unit at Halol.
- Rs. 4 crore lost due to the torching of the Honda City and Accord fleet of cars at the Landmark Honda showroom at Thaltej, Gandhinagar.
- The Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation estimated a loss of Rs. 12.50 crore and transport companies have lost business amounting to Rs. 70 crore.
Though overt violence has ended, ethnic cleansing continues in the form of the economic decimation of the minority in Gujarat. The Tribunal is particularly disturbed by the fact that it is not just the ordinary worker of the Sangh Parivar, even ministers and other Hindutva leaders are involved in instigating the economic boycott of Muslims from behind the scenes.
- Halol:17-18 factories destroyed.
- Vatwa: All Muslim-owned factories in GIDC area destroyed.
- Mehsana: All Muslim-owned factories destroyed.
- Dahod–Godhra: Large factories destroyed.
- Naroda Fruit Market: Muslim-owned fruit shops destroyed.
- Kabadi Market, Ahmedabad: Destroyed.
- Bharuch: Muslim-owned shops and showrooms destroyed in Bharuch city.
- Ankleshwar: All Muslim–owned factories in GIDC area destroyed.
- Sabarkantha/Chhotaudaipur/Banaskantha: Muslim–owned shops, hotels and commercial establishments destroyed.
- Factories which had insurance cover have lodged claims worth Rs. 400 crore.
- On National Highway No. 8, about 90 per cent of the commercial establishments, including small shops, godowns and factories, have been completely wiped out.
- Standing crops in Panchmahal, Mehsana, Dahod, Sabrakantha, Banaskantha and Kheda districts were burnt by the miscreants.
- Motors installed in the fields for drawing water were stolen.
- Borewells in the fields, which cost anywhere from Rs. 50,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh, were damaged beyond repair. At least 7,000 such borewells of Muslim agriculturists from all over Gujarat were destroyed.
- Large and small agricultural landholdings of Muslims in Gujarat where economic and social boycott still continues have been taken over by powerful interests dominated by the BJP/RSS/VHP and BD.
- More than Rs. 2 crore lost in damage to the Lucky Film Studio.
- Hundreds of crores lost due to the arson of thousands of houses and buildings. At least 75,000 homes were seriously damaged in the destruction, of which 10, 204 were burnt down completely. At least 10,000 shops were targeted, of which over 2,100 were completely ransacked.
- A Handloom Expo was on in Ahmedabad when the Godhra tragedy took place. All the Muslim artisans from Kashmir and West Bengal were attacked and their displays destroyed.
- It is abundantly clear that the economic destruction took place mainly because of inaction on the part of the state government. Hence, the responsibility for rehabilitation need lie squarely with it. But the government has not even assessed the damages, nor laid down any guidelines for payment of compensation. Unfortunately, even the insurance companies, such as the New India Insurance and others, have not even considered the legitimate insurance claims of businessmen in many areas.
While ignoring the genuine and pressing relief and rehabilitation needs of the survivors, the sponsors of the carnage and their cadre have now resorted to a crippling economic boycott against Muslims in many parts of Gujarat. In Gandhi-nagar, Mehsana and Sabarkantha districts, truck and auto drivers are facing a severe economic boycott thanks to the machinations of politicians like Gujarat ministers, Shri Nitin Patel and Shri Narayan Lalludas Patel.
In Vadodara, there have been, at least, over two dozen instances of Muslims being told by their Hindu employers not to come to work. In Por and Paliyad villages in Gandhinagar district, villagers who had returned were facing the severe impact of hunger and loss of livelihood due to the refusal by village Patels (who dominate the panchayat and who are politically associated with the BJP) to buy milk (from milch cattle) or to hire Muslim women as farm labour on the land belonging to the majority community.
Though overt violence has ended, ethnic cleansing continues in the form of the economic decimation of the minority in Gujarat.
The Tribunal is particularly disturbed by the fact that it is not just the ordinary worker of the Sangh Parivar, even ministers and other Hindutva leaders are involved in instigating the economic boycott of Muslims from behind the scenes. Home minister Shri Gordhan Zadaphiya and revenue minister Shri Haren Pandya, ministers Shri Narayan Lalludas Patel, Shri Niteen Patel, forest minister Shri Prabhatsinh Chauhan, minister for cottage industries, Shri Ranjitsinh Chawda, BJP MLAs Sushri Amita Patel and Sushri Maya Kotdani and Dr. Jaideep Patel (Gujarat VHP’s vice–president), among many others, have been named by the eyewitnesses, in this context.
Archived from Communalism Combat, November-December 2002 Year 9 No. 81-82, Economic Destruction