Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Situation in Gujarat

Just got an email from Shalini Gera, a friend and fellow activist. I have supplemented the material below with with a few things I have received from other sources since (and fixed a couple of typos). Shalini's request is to please consider emailing the draft letter included below.

First a message from Biju Mathew and Angana Chatterjee:
"Several phone calls from India in the last few hours suggest a fast deteriorating situation in Gujarat. To prevent a post-Godhra type of pogrom (which several folks say is possible) it is crucial the Central government take a more aggressive stance and act to prevent the same."
Veena Dubal of Berekeley adds:
"So far, there is limited assessment of the people killed, but a lot of questioning about why there was so much police fire. The Centre has sent paramilitary troops to Gujarat and told the Gujarat government to take all steps to control the violence. But letters from panic-stricken NRIs always puts the pressure on.

Please take this action (fax, email, phone) and forward to as many people as possible ... anything to prevent another 2002."
Biju has quickly drafted a statement (see below), detailing some of what has been happening in Vadodara.

Please take a moment to telephone and fax it to the PM, Home Minister and Sonia Gandhi. If you can't phone/fax, email is also welcome.

Please forward this mail to as many lists and individuals as is possible.

The phone /fax numbers are as follows:

Prime Ministers Office
Telephone: 91-11-23012312.
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857.
email: manmohan@sansad.nic.in , pmosb@pmo.nic.in

National Advisory Council
23018651 (FAX)
email for Sonia Gandhi: soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in

Home Ministry
Phone: 23092011, 23092161 Fax: 23093750, 23092763
email: svpatil@sansad.nic.in

News Updates:
From the Asian Age (doesn't open in Firefox; sheesh!): http://www.asianage.com/main.asp?layout=2&cat1=1&cat2=22&newsid=223099&RF=DefaultMain
Yahoo News on Gujarat: http://news.search.yahoo.com/news/search?p=gujarat
Google News on Gujarat: http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=gujarat&btnG=Search+News

------------draft letter - modify as u see fit ----------------

Mr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India

Mr. Shivraj Patil
Home Minister of India

Ms. Sonia Gandhi
Chair, National Advisory Council

I am writing to you today with a deep sense of urgency and anguish at the fast developing situation in Vadodara, Gujarat. In the past several hours the forces of Hindutva (VHP/Bajrang Dal) and the State machinery of Gujarat government have been involved in mass violence and attacks on the Muslim community in various parts of the city. For several of us here, 10,000 miles away we have already received details of major attacks at the Sabina and Bahaar colonies, at Pani gate and at Haathi Khana/Mansoori Khabaristan. News that we have received indicates that in both Sabina and Bahaar Colonies the police have been standing by while the VHP mobs have encircled the said colonies. At Haathi Khana, which is one of the poorest Muslim neighbourhoods in Baroda,, we have received calls that the police has forcibly entered homes and taken away several male members of households. While we have already received such news, the government of India has this far only issued a brief statement of caution aimed at the Gujarat government.

Given the record of the Narandra Modi government, the Central Government should be very clear that its active intervention in the situation is critical. No effort must be spared to ensure that a post-Godhra like situation is not created where pogromatic violence carried out. We urge the Prime Ministers office and the Home Ministry to act immediately and prevent any further deterioration of the situation.

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