Damage to Muslim shrines ‘violation of minority rights’

Damage to Muslim shrines ‘violation of minority rights’

The SC has kept the next hearing on this issue on January 13.

By Mahesh Trivedi

Published: Fri 28 Nov 2014, 1:18 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:37 AM

Ahmedabad — The Islamic Relief Committee, Gujarat (IRCG) has told the Supreme Court that the state government’s offer to pay Rs 50,000 each for repairing the 500-odd religious structures damaged during the 2002 communal riots was not acceptable to it.

Counsel of the IRCG submitted before the apex court that the damage to mosques and mausoleums during the three-month-long Hindu-Muslim clashes in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Gujarat was a violation of the fundamental rights of the minority community.

Yusuf Muchhala, who was summoned by the SC for hearing, also said that the ex-gratia amount would not compensate for the violation of rights, and the court had to decide whether the destruction of shrines during the violence should be considered as violation of rights.

The SC has kept the next hearing on this issue on January 13.

Earlier in its affidavit filed before the SC, the IRCG, which has been fighting a legal battle with the state administration for the past 12 years, had described the amount offered as ‘pittance’ and ‘mockery’.

The sworn statement questioned the BJP regime’s sincerity as it had doggedly refused, despite the Gujarat high court’s insistence, to formulate a policy to compensate for damaged shrines till in August last year it agreed to shell out funds for repairing the religious structures.

According to IRCG, the compensation given for damage to even houses ran up to Rs 500,000 and hence that for the much larger 535 shrines should be substantial, and estimated the damage to mosques to Rs 8.5 million.

The IRCG had moved the Gujarat high court in 2003 seeking directions to the state government to repair 294 Muslim shrines targeted by Hindu rioters on the ground that the state was the custodian of life and property and had failed miserably to protect the shrines.

But the state government had blatantly refused to pick up the tab all these years saying a secular state had no such policy and was under no such obligation till the Gujarat High Court in 2012 lambasted the then Modi government for its ‘inaction and negligence’ during the riots and ordered it to ‘repair and rehabilitate’ the shrines.

The state government had then challenged the High Court order in the apex court but took a U-turn last year prompting opposition Congress leaders to comment that the climb-down was a move to woo Muslims ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

About 1,500 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the riots that erupted after 59 Hindus were burnt alive in a train fire near Godhra in central Gujarat on February 27, 2002.


More news from WORLD