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Genocide in Rural Gujarat: The Experience of Dahod District
A report prepared by
Forum Against oppression of Women and Aawaaz-E-Niswaan
Bombay, June 2002
The fear that camps will be closed down is very real and has actually been implemented in many cases. People are being forced to go back to their villages and many times it has meant setting up some sort of camps in the villages and shifting people there from outside as was done in the case of Fatehpura, Sukhsar and Sanjeli on different dates. There has been, however, another kind of pressure also at work. This is being termed doing a "compro" and some villages have already agreed to do this.
To get the people to go back, the State authorities are having so called peace meetings in which along with the State officials, the people from both the communities sit down and have a discussion on the ways in which peace can be restored. Conditions are put on the minority community to take back all the complaints where individuals have been named and to say that the mob was made up of unknown people. This is the minimum that is being asked for "allowing people to go back to their own homes"! And these discussions are being held in the presence of the State officials. Obviously there can be no written testimonies to these processes but we have been told in many villages about the ways in which these pressures are acting.
In Jhalod, such pressure was put right when the violence was going on. In Piplod also people have mentioned that there has been a pressure to take back the names and complaints. In places like Fatehpura, people were brought back to the same village right at the beginning and so they have not named anyone in any case. In Sanjeli the names of the accused have not been included in the registered FIR although people had given them in their written complaint. Besides, the police have also added some incidents, which never happened and were not reported, in the complaint filed by the people of Sanjeli. Affidavits have been filed correcting the omnibus FIR made by the police for the village.
The main demand from the Muslims, on the other hand, for returning back to their villages has been that action is taken against those named in the complaints. Far from doing this, in almost every place the police have refused to file FIRs which include the names of the accused persons. In some places people are able to fight back but in others they are conceding to the pressure. In some villages like Piplod, people are also now fighting with the administration to remove the Hindu shops that have come up in place of the burnt and destroyed Muslim shops.
In rural areas, people do not have many choices about relocation. At times they also have land and other livelihood options in the village itself which makes it very difficult for them to go anywhere else. Hence we feel that the pressure to compromise is very high and in most places as time goes by and as the State machinery does not seem to act against the guilty, more and more people will be forced to make this "compro" as it is called by the local people.