Nothing ‘voluntary’ about it

(We have reproduces below excerpts from four of the 26 affidavits filed in the Gujarat High Court)


Asgarkhan Babukhan Pathan, aged 30 years, a labourer, formerly resident of Darbarnagar, Navapura, Vatwa, Ahmedabad, residing at the Jahangirnagar Relief Camp, camp no. 9, Vatwa:

Since February 28 when a mob attacked my home and looted and burnt it, I and others from the neighbour
hood had to leave the area to save our lives… Since June 1, 2002, due to arm twisting method of the district collectorate, the camp organizers were compelled to close down the camp and all us victims have been asked to leave the camps and the camp has been declared closed… The homes of several victims have been burnt completely and therefore it is not possible to go back and reside in our respective houses.

At present about 600 people are still taking shelter in the same place where the camp existed till June 1, 2002 under the open sky… No relief is being given to the camp organizers as the collectorate has already closed down the camp. All 600 of us are now depending upon private parties for food…

I have not yet received any compensation amount including the amount of Rs. 1,250 for loss of utensils, which the state government is required to give as per the GR. I have received no compensation for the loss of my home, a loss that amounts to Rs 50,000.

Rafiqbhai, son of Jamalbhai Lohar, aged 46 years, a welder by profession from Idar, Sabarkantha district, residing at the Muslim Sankalan Samiti, Relief Camp, Nazirabad, Panpur Char Rasta, Ahmedabad:

I came to the camp on February 28 with my five children between 11 and 20 years of age. On March 2, after a mob had looted and burned my home. I am still in the camp that has been asked to close down. Some 260 card holders are still at the camp and the camp is running. Only a few victims have been given the cheques of meagre amount towards compensation. I have received Rs. 27,700 for my home though the loss I suffered was Rs. 4 lakh.

We are residing under the open sky and victims of inclement weather.

Javed Munnabhai Sheikh, the administrator of the Patrewali Masjid relief camp, Saraspur, Ahmedabad:

There are 358 families, ie, 1728 inmates in the relief camp of which I was a manager. The liaison officer from the collectorate was regularly verifying our records and the number of inmates. The district collector had mounted the pressure on me to close the camp. One method used was checking the number of inmates very often during odd hours. On all previous occasions, the district collector had counted the inmates and their number had tallied with the official figure.

In fact, more than Rs 60,000 is yet not given by the district collector to the camp organizer for provisions. A cheque dated May 3, 02 was handed over to me on June 18, 2002.

It was due to this constant harassment that the camp organizers had sent a letter on June 14, 2002 to the deputy collector for closure of the camp which was readily accepted by the office of the district collector. The inmates have not reduced despite the closure; the state government refuses to take over the camp and the lack of provisions from the government makes it difficult to continue.

We had written a letter to the deputy district collector, Mr. Virani, dated June 10, 02 requesting disbursement of the amount of compensation. However, the same was not heeded. Most of the inmates in the camp are from Ambica Mill compound situated near Khokhra bridge and Choksi Chawl in Gomtipur area. The homes of these inmates were completely destroyed during the unfortunate incidents that followed Feb 27, 2002. Few houses in Ambica Mill compound are being constructed by an NGO, namely, ‘Jan Sangharsh Manch’."

Mohammed Raza Ahmed Saiyed, aged 39 years, a labourer and presently an organiser of Jahangir Relief Camp, Registered Camp No. 9 at Saiyedwadi, Vatva, Ahmedabad:

The camp had commenced on February 28, 2002 onwards, at which time the total number of inmates in the camp were 1738; these reduced to 1678 by May 31, 02. The inmates are from the Vatwa area whose homes have been completely destroyed and they are too scared and afraid of returning to their respective homes. No compensation amount for repairs of the house has been given. Further, Rs. 7/- per person per day is yet to be given to the victims. The total outstanding amount is approx Rs. 7,07,128.50 towards the camp organizers.

Since June 4, 02, due to immense pressure and arm-twisting method of the district collectorate, the camp organisers were compelled to write a letter to the district collector to close down the camp and all victims have been asked to leave the camps. The office of the district collector had threatened the camp organiser, i.e., myself of implicating him in some criminal offence if the relief camp was not closed down merely because while checking the camp some inmates were not present.

I explained to the collector that since the checking took place on June 4, 5 and 6, 2002 in the scorching heat of around 45 degree Celsius, it was not possible for the inmates to stay in the camp in the afternoon and they were taking shelter under trees and nearby houses. The checking took place without informing the camp organisers.

I, the camp organiser was also told by the collectorate that the outstanding quota of food grains for the previous three weeks would be given if I handed the closure letter. Due to all this pressure, I was compelled to write a letter to the state government asking for closure of the camp. On writing such letter, the food stock was supplied and the camp has been declared closed. (annexed copies of the letters exchanged between camp management and collector).

The houses of several victims have been burnt completely and therefore it is not possible to go back and reside in our respective houses. There are now 600 people depending upon private parties who sponsor food for victims. If this situation continues, the private donors would also find it impossible to spend money and provide food for the victims. None of the inmates in the camp run by me have received the amount of Rs 2,500 for utensils. Further the amount of compensation of the completely damaged houses is yet to be given to any of the inmates. Lastly, since the camp has been declared to be closed down, even the municipal corporation does not care for maintaining cleanliness and even water supply has been stopped. All the victims are residing under the open sky and facing prospects of monsoon with trepidation.

Archived from Communalism Combat, July 2002 Year 8  No. 79, Cover Story 3,



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