IX. RELIEF AND REHABILITATION
Inadequate Compensation (Official and Independent Studies)
The Gujarat state has paid
out a mere Rs 1.5 lakh (Rs 90,000 in cash and Rs 60,000 in Narmada Bonds)
as compensation to the next of kin of those killed in the violence of
A detailed memoranda to the
United Progressive Alliance (UPA I) not to mention three public meetings
held by victim survivors, pointed out these glaring inadequacies.
Between 2002 and 2006, CJP
had been pursuing the matter legally and through advocacy with the
political class. CJP and its team worked out a reasoned basis for the
actual amount that should be paid as compensation for death given judicial
precedents set after the 1984 anti-Sikh carnage.
They argued that the amount
declared by the state of Gujarat was inadequate and arbitrary, and
amounted to a failure on the part of the state to fulfil its
In April 2007, a team of
representatives from various districts of Gujarat presented this data to
the then union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, and the chairman of the
National Commission for Minorities (NCM). The delegation also met the
general secretaries of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Prakash
Karat, and the Communist Party of India, AB Bardhan.
A significant landmark with
regard to compensation for riot victims was a ruling of the Delhi High
Court six years prior to the Gujarat violence. In 1996 the Delhi High
Court directed the payment of Rs two lakh plus interest from 1984 onwards
(amounting to a total of Rs 3.5 lakh) as compensation for those killed in
the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
On that basis, and allowing
for an average seven per cent annual rate of inflation from 1996 to 2002,
the amount of compensation for victims of the Gujarat genocide should be
approximately Rs three lakh, with the interest on this amount being around
Rs one lakh. Thus the amount of compensation for those killed in the
Gujarat violence of 2002 would be over Rs four lakh each.
Following this rationale, it
was argued that the Gujarat government’s ceiling of Rs 1.5 lakh, and the
payment of Rs 60,000 of this in bonds, was wholly illegal, arbitrary and
unconstitutional. CJP and its counsel maintained that the amount should be
in consonance with the state’s obligations under Article 14 (guaranteeing
equality before the law) and Article 21 of the Constitution of India and
should therefore be fixed at Rs four lakh as detailed above. Compensation
for injuries/disabilities sustained should be pro rata or proportional to
With regards to
compensation for victims of rape and other sexual offences, the actual
number of rape cases far exceeds the official figures. Many victims were
killed and burnt beyond recognition. Others were too terrified to record
complaints. At the Shah Alam relief camp in Ahmedabad, where many refugees
of the violence took shelter, accounts of victim survivors indicated that
a much larger number of rapes in fact took place. The same is true of
other areas in Gujarat.
To date, no compensation
has been paid to the victims of such heinous attacks. In the PIL
before the Gujarat High Court, CJP has argued that constitutional
obligations require the state to make full and appropriate compensation,
of an amount not less than that made available in the case of death (i.e.
Rs four lakh), to such helpless women and children.
In March 2003, Legal Action
Group, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Communalism Combat had
filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court challenging several
questionable acts by the state of Gujarat with regard to compensation for
the victim survivors of the genocide.
The total amount earmarked
for relief by the government of Gujarat, including compensation for
deaths, emergency rations in the relief camps and compensation for
destroyed homes, was an abysmally low Rs 205 crore, of which the state
received Rs 150 crore from the government of India.
In February 2003, the
Gujarat government even announced its decision to return Rs 19.10 crore to
the central exchequer, stating that adequate compensation had been made.
The CJP petition queried the
arbitrary disbursal of compensation, the returning of central funds unused
when, in fact, paltry amounts had been paid to victims, and also demanded
an enhancement of the compensation scheme. CJP and its team was then
authorised by the court to inspect records in all state districts and city
collectorates since there were gross discrepancies between amounts claimed
by victims and those actually disbursed by the state.
In the course of this
inspection as many as 8,358 survey forms were collected from 12 districts
of Gujarat between 2003 and 2006.
The position as regards
compensation for houses that were damaged or destroyed is equally adverse.
The Gujarat government fixed an arbitrary ceiling of Rs 50,000 as
compensation for the destruction of homes and in most cases has paid only
a pittance of this inadequate amount.
In its August 2002 report,
the Women’s Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women (WPC) noted
that the Gujarat government had informed the committee that 4,954 houses
(2,023 urban and 2,931 rural) had been "completely destroyed" and that the
amount of compensation disbursed for the same was Rs 7.62 crore.
This would mean that an
average of around Rs 15,000 was paid for each completely destroyed house.
The construction of a house costs approximately Rs one lakh in rural areas
and approximately Rs two to three lakh in the urban areas. As a result,
nearly 5,000 families have been unable to rebuild their houses or make
alternative provisions for their shelter or accommodation.
The committee recorded that
it had been informed by the Gujarat government that 18,294 houses had been
partially damaged (11,199 urban and 7,095 rural), for which Rs 15.55 crore
had been paid as compensation. This works out to an average of a mere Rs
8,500 per house. The committee in fact noted that a number of recipients
had shown them cheques made out by the state for as little as Rs 40 to Rs
200. The detailed survey conducted by CJP now corroborates this pathetic
Moreover, the state
government has refused to accept even those estimates of losses contained
in panchnamas prepared by its own officers. Initial losses were
recorded in panchnamas prepared by state officials after site
visits or inspections. Although recorded by government officials in the
presence of panchas, or witnesses, these panchnamas were
later rejected by the state. After the panchnamas had been
collected by local police stations at various relief camps in the normal
course, the state asked district collectors to appoint teams that
conducted their own surveys. Predictably, the losses and damage shown in
these survey results were drastically reduced to protect the state’s
interests and public image.
In the PIL before the
Gujarat High Court, CJP has argued that the ceiling of Rs 50,000 is
entirely illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional and the amount should, in
consonance with the state’s obligations under Articles 14 and 21 of the
Constitution, be fixed at Rs 1.5 lakh in rural areas and Rs three lakh in
the urban areas. Compensation as per losses indicated in the official
panchnamas (subject to the above ceilings) should also be paid.
The Gujarat government’s
denial of the panchnamas, its response to victims’ losses, only
exemplifies its overall approach to a people who had suffered so
grievously. It negates, yet again, the Gujarat government’s claims that it
had fulfilled its constitutional obligations of compensation. On the
contrary, it highlights the government’s continuing reluctance to provide
just and fair compensation to those who had already lost so much.
In July 2002, the Gujarat
government announced that the relief camps which sheltered thousands of
displaced refugees had been voluntarily closed down by camp organisers.
This was yet another example of the state’s manipulation of the truth.
Even documents prepared by the state establish that the camps were
forcibly closed down following threats and coercion by officers of the
state. (In August 2002, the chief minister callously dubbed the relief
camps "baby-making factories".) In fact, the camps were forcibly closed
down in anticipation of a visit from the Chief Election Commission, in an
attempt to establish that ‘normalcy’ had been restored.
More often than not, the
state’s so-called technical teams carried out ex parte visits (in the
absence of victim survivors) to sundry business establishments. Their
reports were never made available for public scrutiny. The compensation
amounts paid on the basis of these reports are so meager and inadequate as
to confer further insult or injury upon those who had already lost their
livelihoods and property. Ignoring the earlier panchnamas, during
the course of the PIL the Gujarat government also demanded that the
victims prove their losses "conclusively" and by adopting "proceedings in
By the state’s own
admissions to various national bodies, it is evident that the Gujarat
government has spent a total of Rs 55 crore for compensation. The balance
of funds came from a central government grant of Rs 150 crore, of which
the sum of Rs 19.10 crore was returned unused.
Apart from the obvious
lacunae in compensation awarded to victims of the genocide, which have
been detailed above, the aggregate figures themselves illustrate a glaring
The government estimated
that the total loss to property alone was well over Rs 600 crore
The total amount awarded
as compensation, including compensation for deaths, rations to relief
camps, etc, was in fact only Rs 185.90 crore (including Rs 119 crore spent
on providing rations at refugee camps and Rs 17.90 crore awarded as
compensation for those killed)
There is a pattern of
behaviour that establishes that the government of Gujarat intends to
deny dignified compensation to the victims of the mass carnage of
2002. What is required is an independent comparison between the
discrepancies in the official records, the losses recorded in the FIRs,
police statements and panchnamas, and thereafter by the technical
survey team. Significantly, the government informed the WPC in August 2002
that almost 5,000 houses had been completely destroyed. In the same
breath, the Gujarat government defends the ceiling of Rs 50,000 per home
when far greater losses have been suffered.
In effect, the compensation
paid is pitiful even where FIRs and panchnamas were dutifully
Whereas ration in the relief
camps was given to 1,60,753 persons as per the Gujarat government’s own
records, relief money and money for rehabilitation were given to a far
reduced number. This is a gross discrepancy that appears to victimise the
inmates of relief camps who were and in some cases still are internally
displaced persons or refugees. And given their refugee status, it would be
reasonable to assume that each one of them should have been entitled to
rehabilitation or compensation.
The following method of
dispensation of compensation must be adopted by the government in order to
effectively rehabilitate victims of the communal carnage:
obligations require that compensation of at least Rs three lakh plus
interest from 2002 be paid to the relatives of those killed.
should be paid as compensation for disabilities and serious injuries.
Women who were
raped or sexually abused must be given compensation equal to that awarded
for persons who were killed.
The ceiling amount
for house compensation must be raised to Rs 1.5 lakh in the rural areas
and Rs three lakh in the urban areas.
based on a fair assessment of data and records, including the
panchnamas contemporaneously recorded, must be paid along with the
interest amount accruing from 2002.
After visiting Gujarat in
October 2006, the NCM has recommended that a policy whereby in addition to
providing mandatory sums agreed for immediate compensation – it should
also include money for rehabilitation.
The NCM has highlighted that
a specific policy dealing with internally displaced persons in the context
of communal violence is important, especially in situations where the
threat against minorities is perceived to be continuing, where the
criminal justice system – as in Gujarat – appears not to be working and
there is ongoing discrimination and exclusion.
The NCM has argued that the
policy must further include provisions for those wishing to return home as
well as provisions to facilitate their return and restore the displaced
families to their original conditions of living. All these remain in the
form of recommendations alone.