Gujarat Carnage - Documenting the Aftermath
Shared Footage Idea
Neeraj Sahay, July 21st, 2002
Source: Personal E-mail
for those of you who missed our first two mails on the shared footage idea....a small group of us came here to ahmedabad in the middle of may, with a view to create a bank of footage about the pogrom. the idea was that this footage could be used by like minded filmmakers to make several films which would cover all the aspects of the genocide in gujarat. we also tried to assist the legal effort by recording testimonies or visual evidence where necessary. this is an effort of a group of individuals funded by themselves and some friends. in terms of people coming in to chip in with their time and effort, we were a little lacking...we hope that the 'shramdaan' of those who came will bear fruit and many films will be made from this footage, which, if sensibly distributed, will go some way in stemming the growing tide of fundamentalism
we're now entering the last leg of our stay in ahmedabad. there has been quite a bit we've managed to do (thanks to everyone) and some things that we have not been able to do. below is a summary of both, and what the shape of our current plans are. the important thing in this phase, we think, is to close the many individual stories we've begun which can be seen by themselves, or strung with other things to address larger issues/ canvasses. also there are some stories which we haven't begun shooting, but have lined up, which are very important which we've to shoot start to finish. looking at these lists here is what we plan:
4 manweeks of shoot to wind up in ahmedabad consists of:
1. documents illustrative of :
- police atrocities/ role of police in 'riots'
- criminal injustice practiced and supported by the state
- pain on loss of life/ property/ livelihood
- apathy in relief camps
- inhuman compensation
- token rehabilitation
- sustained threat and discrimination
- spread of violence to 'well off' people as well
- secular valor in the face of adversity
- islands of sanity
2. interviews to contextualise the situation in gujarat (not necessarily of the victims themselves, but those that have been engaged with gujarat for a long time, in various fields):
- general history of class/ caste forces in realpolitik
- specific history/events of the last decade
- the socio economic context of this carnage in general, and the main massacres in specific.
- the role of media
- the debate of riots vs. carnage/ pogrom/ genocide
- the participation of women, dalits and adivasis
- processes and strategies of struggle for justice in a belligerent state
the above are just things that are still hanging open. i think we've done substantially more than that, which is the kind of work that requires breadth of coverage (e.g. the situation of people with the closing of camps, both in urban and rural areas; the rath yatra and associated things etc.). and we also have 'closed' quite a number of stories. which meditate one or the other aspect of the whole thing.
with more resources and hands in here, we could also do the following, which we have not been able to:
1. not been specifically able to cover illustrative cases on (though we have leads and access):
- brutality specific to women
- violence through medical intervention/
- communalisation of health care
- processes initiated with witnesses of the main carnages
- the debate on the participation of women, dalits and adivasis
2. cover the situation in rural gujarat with adequate breadth and select aspects of it in depth.
we're also suffering from a lack of versatile hands for:
- logging, transferring, capturing, production back up.
i feel the most crucial stage of this project is to do a decent logging, with cross indexing etc. in some form which is easily accessible and open to data manipulation (in the sense of sorting by areas, or keywords, or incidents etc.). we're working on it, but the base of it will remain a thorough and commented log. its crucial for the whole thing to work to have each and every interview/ vox pop/ group interview etc. transcripted and available in electronic form. this is the thing going on parallel with the wind up shooting. so we need people to come here and help us wind up the shooting. and we now really also need people everywhere to chip in from wherever they are and do transcripting/ rough logging. we can provide cd's, vhs, audio tape or whatever form they can work with, along with some kind of instructions (numbering, classifying etc.) and who to co-ordinate with and how.
we have been working with cameras lent by people and often these are not in the best shape. we have ended up spending a packet on repairs and servicing. we also require tapes(hi 8, minidv, vhs-c, vhs), mikes, batteries, blank cd's and any equipment that you think could be useful to us. look forward to your help in this regard.
keep us going, do write in, love and regards, neeraj.
note from gurpal:
just wanted to add a note of thanks to all friends who have chipped in with money...we are keeping an account of where it is being spent and shortly it will be posted to all....
and we are also looking for articles, books, still photos, news clippings from now or earlier, which may be in any way relevant to a study of the current situation in ahmedabad/gujarat....
please be in touch