'We should not forget Gujarat carnage'
New Delhi, Nov. 11: There is lots happening in India but we should not forget Gujarat and what happened here in 2002, said social activist Father Cedric Prakash here at the India Social Forum. Father Cedric was speaking at the discussion on "Gujarat Carnage: Is there Hope?" in front of a packed hall on Saturday evening. He said recommendations of constitutional bodies like the NHRC should be legally binding on the government and should form the basis of the comprehension package to victims. The discussion, which was organised jointly by Forum for Justice in Gujarat and India Social Forum, felt that the government should enact a law under the universal entitlement framework for victims of such communal violence as the Gujarat carnage 2002. It deliberated on the issue of comprehensive package on the lines similar to the compensation awarded to Sikh victims of communal violence in 1984 by the Central government. Several leaders have been deploring the fact that the compensation package was woefully inadequate. The percentage of compensation compared to the official damage came to a meagre seven per cent and the government actually returned Rs 19 crores to the Centre, saying there was no need for the money. Many of the victims were given compensation as low as Rs 60 to Rs 500 and most of the compensations was in the range of Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,500. Highlighting the issue of displacement, activist Farah Naqvi said there is still around 5,000 to 10,000 families are still living in make shift relief camps with almost no civic amenities. The state government does not recognise these relief camps and the families need to be rehabilitated and sources of livelihood have to be found for them. She said there should be a policy to deal with those who are displaced due to communal conflict just as there is for those displaced due to development and SEZs. Social activist Swami Agnivesh said there should be mass-based peoplesí movements with progressive politics to drill the minds of political leaders so that the state cannot withdraw from its "blatant irresponsible act" of making Muslims secondary citizens in general and in Gujarat in particular.