asks Modi Govt To
Explain Lax In Riot Probe
Times Of India
28 May, 2003
NEW DELHI: The National Human
Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Gujarat government to explain
why riot victims were not deposing before the Nanavati Commission, probing
last year's sectarian violence in the state.
Clearly displeased by the
way the commission was functioning, NHRC chairman AS Anand said: "We
have written to the state government to explain to us what steps have
they taken to ensure an environment where the victims would fearlessly
come out to record their complaints.
"It is not just a matter
of fair trial. The state should ensure that
the victims are not under any pressure while deposing before the
commission. We are waiting for their reply to do the needful."
The NHRC's stringent criticism
of the state government and the
commission came after Justice G.T. Nanavati's controversial statement
giving a clean chit to the police and the administration.
Nanavati heads the two-member
commission investigating the sectarian violence in Gujarat last year
that killed over 1,000 people.
In a television interview
last week, Nanavati reportedly
said: "Evidence recorded so far did not indicate any serious lapse
on the part of the police or administration in controlling the communal
The statement was extensively
criticised by human rights groups,
which pointed out that the commission had yet to record evidence in
the worst hit areas of Ahmedabad and Vadodara districts.
The commission is expected
to release a final report after the probe has been completed and should
not make such statements in between, said activists.
Said Anand: "We convened
a high-level meeting on the day this
(Nanavati's) statement was published in the newspapers. We are
monitoring the situation."
Nanavati retracted the statement
and said the press had misquoted him.
Human rights groups, including
the NHRC, have squarely blamed the police in the state for tacitly supporting
the rioters in the
violence that continued for nearly two months.
Activists said victims were
not coming forward to depose before the commission because they had
been intimidated. Police were allegedly threatening people. And many
riot victims were simply in no frame of mind to tackle another confrontation.
Those who did manage to give
a statement before the commission were doing so against tremendous odds.
The Nanavati Commission has
received 3,000 complaints from riot victims since its appointment in
March 2001. The last phase of the recording of evidence will start on