Secretary Kerry Highlights Condition of 2002 Gujarat Riots Victims Under Modi

US Secretary of State John Kerry releases the 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, at the US Department of State in Washington, DC, on April 13, 2016

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Washington, DC – Top US diplomat in a recent report reiterated the concerns about the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots that killed thousands and forced the US to deny visa for years to Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat. The visa was issued only after Modi became the Prime Minister of India.

The detailed Congressional-mandated annual 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in India, released by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, continued to raise its concerns about those riot victims not receiving justice so far.

Citing the 2002 riots under the leadership of Modi, the report said, “Civil society activists continued to express concern about the Gujarat government’s failure to hold accountable those responsible for the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 persons, the majority of whom were Muslim.”

“On September 16, the Gujarat High Court’s acting Chief Justice assembled a new bench to hear the appeals from Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi, along with others who authorities had sentenced to imprisonment for their role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. This was the fifth bench to hear these petitions,” the State Department report noted.

Even though the Modi led Bhartiya Janata Party portrays a rosy picture of the current government, the State Department report alleged, “A lack of accountability for misconduct at all levels of government persisted, contributing to widespread impunity.”

Backing with several instances, the report said, “There were reports that the government and its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals and insurgents.”

On the 2002 Gujarat riots, the report updated, “During the year Zakia Jafri appealed the rejection by the Gujarat High Court of a petition challenging a special investigative tribunal’s conclusion finding insufficient evidence to prosecute 63 individuals, including police, security, and other senior state government officials accused of complicity or dereliction of duty in the 2002 Gujarat riots.”

The report highlighted, “developments in efforts to hold officials accountable for the New Delhi anti-Sikh killings of 1984,” noting, “The Delhi High Court transferred proceedings in the case pertaining to Congress leader Sajjan Kumar’s involvement in the “encounter” killing in Sultanpuri during the anti-Sikh riots from one judge to another after the families of those killed cited lack of confidence in Kumar’s court.”

While the Modi-government “maintained a monopoly on AM radio stations and restricted FM radio licenses to entertainment and educational content,” several Indian State governments continued to ban, “the import or sale of some books due to material that government censors deemed inflammatory or could provoke communal or religious tensions.”

“For example, on April 16, Gujarat police enforced the cancellation of a book release event and ordered the author, Mufti Abdul Qayyum, to refrain from references to a 2002 attack on Akshardham Temple in Ahmedabad, to “avoid a law and order” problem. The autobiographical account entitled ‘Gyarah Saal Salakhon Ke Peeche’ (Eleven Years Behind Bars) described his version of events after authorities convicted him for terrorism based on planted evidence,” the report described the episode.

“Separatist insurgents and terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, the northeastern states and the Maoist belt committed serious abuses, including killings of armed forces personnel, police, government officials and civilians. Insurgents were responsible for numerous cases of kidnapping, torture, rape, extortion and the use of child soldiers,” the report said.

Overall, the report noted that not only abuses by the police and security forces but also disappearances, hazardous prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention and lengthy pretrial detentions are the most significant human rights problem in India.

“The most significant human rights problems involved police and security force abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape; corruption remained widespread and contributed to ineffective responses to crimes, including those against women, children, and members of scheduled castes or tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe,” the report said.

“The frequently grim examples detailed in this report strengthen our resolve to promote fundamental freedoms, to support human rights defenders and to document and promote accountability for violations of human rights,” Kerry noted.

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